Do Carbohydrates Make You Fat ?


Who said that carbohydrates are to blame for being overweight?

Carbohydrates have been blamed in a set of excess weight since the XIX century, after the release of the brochure Banting – a man who dropped 30 kg per month, refusing to refined carbohydrates.

In the 20th century, Robert Atkins, the creator of a ketogenic diet, attacked carbs. Limit carbohydrates and other well-known diets: paleo, diet of the southern beach, Whole30.

Foods Rich In Carbohydrates

Why carbohydrates?

Fans of low-carb diets associate weight gain with the action of the hormone insulin. When you eat carbohydrates, the body turns them into glucose and carries them through the blood to feed the cells. When the blood glucose rises above 100 mg / dL, the pancreas produces an insulin hormone. Its task is to remove excess glucose from the blood. To do this, it stimulates the insulin receptors of liver, muscle and fat cells, they pass glucose and store it in the form of glycogen (muscle, liver) or fat (fat cells).

If a person eats a lot of carbohydrates, insulin often has to work on insulin receptors to dispose of glucose.

From this they lose sensitivity, the cells stop opening and take less glucose. The body throws out even more insulin to “reach out” to the cells and still remove the glucose from the blood. The hormone blocks the splitting of fat stores, stimulates the synthesis of fats in the liver, and after they are thrown out in the form of triglycerides into the bloodstream, turns them into fatty acids that are absorbed by fat cells. In other words, an excess of insulin makes you thicker.

In addition, the consumption of fast carbs – those that are quickly processed and sharply increase the level of sugar in the blood – leads to a constant hunger . When you consume such carbohydrates, the sugar level rises sharply, the body emits a lot of insulin, it quickly adds glucose, after which the blood sugar level drops sharply, and you again want to eat wildly, although very little time has passed. It turns out a vicious circle.

So, carbohydrates are still to blame for weight gain?

Before blaming carbohydrates in the obesity epidemic, let’s look at the results of scientific research.

StudyEnergy expenditure and body composition changes after an isocaloric ketogenic diet in overweight and obese men.2016 showed: if you keep a calorie deficit, it does not matter how many carbohydrates you eat. The first month participants ate a lot of carbohydrates, including fast ones: granola bars , pretzels and white bread. At the same time, they maintained a calorie deficit and lost 0.5 kg. The next month they ate a little carbohydrates and a lot of fat within the same calorie rate and again dropped 0.5 kg.

Two months – a short period, but there is a longer-term study Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion length in a year. And it also showed that both low-carb and low-fat diets fit equally well for weight loss.

Why do low-carb diets lose weight faster?

Scientists have suggested  that rapid weight loss on a low-carbohydrate diet is associated with a loss of water and a more meager diet.

The loss of water is due to a reduction in glycogen stores in the muscles. Each gram of glycogen binds 3 g of water. Going to a low carbohydrate diet, you reduce the amount of water in the body, so almost immediately you feel easier.

If you can not eat carbohydrates, you avoid a lot of opportunities to eat when you do not feel hunger: a piece of cake for a holiday in the office, chips before dinner, sweets with tea in the middle of a working day. As a result, calorie intake decreases and you lose weight.

But what about the feeling of hunger because of the jumps in blood sugar?

As we said above, after sudden jumps in blood sugar, hunger does come faster. But if we are talking about weight gain, it is not the carbohydrates themselves that are to blame but their sources. Three parameters are important:

  1. Glycemic index (GI) of the product. This is the rate at which sugar in the blood will rise after eating. Sweets, white bread, white rice, semolina, couscous, pastry, potatoes have a high GI and cause a sharp jump in sugar. Other vegetables, fruits, berries, legumes, cereals and greens due to high fiber content are not digested so quickly and do not cause sharp jumps of sugar.
  2. A combination of macronutrients. We rarely eat the product only with carbohydrates: many high-carb snacks contain a lot of fat. For example, in 100 g of chocolate contains 56 grams of carbohydrates and 35 grams of fat. In 1 g of carbohydrates 4,1 kcal, and in 1 g of fats – 9 kcal. It turns out that in chocolate only 229.5 kcal from carbohydrates and 315 kcal – from fats. It’s the same with cakes, french fries, chips and other quick snacks. If you consume carbohydrates in combination with protein, at the same weight
  3. Volume of portion. If we compare the volume of products of the same caloric content, fatty foods are generally less carbohydrate. For example, 200 g of ground beef contains 550 kcal from fat and protein. To consume the same amount of calories from carbohydrates, you can eat six apples, 625 grams of oatmeal or 2 kg of cooked broccoli. And if you add protein, you can eat 250 grams of boiled chicken breast and 200 grams of boiled rice. This amount of food will fill the stomach, for a long time will ensure you satiety and exclude snacks.


With the right choice of foods, carbohydrates will not make you dream about eating every half hour.

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