Clearing The Air: The Truth About Carbohydrates

April 23, 2013


Forget what you’ve heard — carbs don’t lead to weight gain

Let’s get one thing straight: Carbohydrates do not cause weight gain. [caption id="attachment_7635" align="alignleft" width="300"]Don't scoff: Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy Don't scoff: Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy[/caption]

For years, we’ve heard America’s obesity problem is largely due to our consumption of carbohydrates. As a result, we’ve become a carb-obsessed nation, wanting nothing to do with the troublesome — if not delicious — cause of our dimpled thighs and flabby tummies. Most fad diets boast low-carb, high-protein meal plans.

I used to be afraid of carbs, too, until recently when I learned through my personal training certification program that our growing obesity problem isn’t due to carb consumption. It’s a matter of science: Obesity is caused by an energy imbalance; more calories are consumed than the body’s ability to burn them without any exercise.

So despite what everyone else is saying, carbohydrates are good for you and you should eat lots of them. Seriously! Carbohydrates — made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen — are the body’s primary source of energy, providing the body with proper blood sugar levels and determining the duration and intensity of a workout. A diet consisting of little to no carbs will dramatically affect your performance. Put simply: Without them, you’ll feel sluggish and weak.

It’s necessary, too, to make a clear distinction between the classifications of carbs:  simple and complex. Simple carbs are the ones you should eat very little of — including refined sugar, pasta and white rice. Complex carbs are the good stuff, including fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Complex carbs are awesome because they’re nutrient dense, giving our bodies the good stuff we need, including fiber, iron and B vitamins. The average daily intake of carbohydrates for adults should be 45 to 65 percent of total caloric intake, according to the Institute of Medicine.

So let’s review:

  • Complex carbohydrates are good for us and should make up the majority of our daily food intake

  • They give us the energy we need to push through workouts

  • Our bodies rely on carbohydrates, thus the reason why we crave them

  • Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are excellent sources of carbohydrates

What have we learned, class? Forget what you’ve heard. Eat more (complex) carbs! They’re good for you and will give you loads more energy than any low-carb diet ever will.

We’d love to hear your favorite carbs to consume before and after a workout. Let us know in the comments section below!


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