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Do Carbohydrates Make You Fat?
Also, there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about carbohydrates. Thanks to Atkins, people have the misconception that eating carbs will make them fat. Here are some carb myths busted, plus some facts you didn’t know about carbs!
First, it is important to know that there are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Another way to describe them is as starches or sugars. Starches are pasta, potatoes, bread etc. But if sugars are sweet, sugar (the kind you buy in packets, and found in desserts, chocolate, cakes, etc.) includes honey and fruit.
The difference lies in the way it is absorbed by the body. Complex (or starchy) carbohydrates must pass through our system and be digested and used as fuel before being absorbed by the body. So they have a high ‘peak’ value – in other words, they keep us feeling fuller for longer and give us a better slow release of energy.
Simple (or sugary) carbohydrates are the opposite – they take virtually no digestion and are immediately taken up by the body as fuel – thus, they give us a quick, low energy rush.
The problem with carbohydrates comes when people eat too much simple food. It’s easy to eat too much sugary carbohydrate because the energy rush it gives us doesn’t last long and so we need less energy and another ‘fix’, partly because the sweet taste makes us crave more. When we eat large amounts of simple carbohydrates our insulin works overtime to keep our blood sugar levels even and this can lead to diabetes. Sugar, and most sugary things like sweets, biscuits, pop, cakes also provide energy in a very concentrated form (sugar is 100% carbohydrate but potatoes, for example, are only 30% carbohydrate) so it’s easy to consume a lot of calories in a relatively small amount of food, and of course This can lead to weight gain. Some scientists say that if sugar were discovered today, it would be a forbidden substance!
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are large, bulky, and contain a lot of water and fiber (like potatoes and cooked pasta) so you have to eat a lot of them before you can gain enough weight.
Why do we need carbohydrates? Also they ‘fuel’ the bodies. Our central nervous system, brain, liver, kidneys and muscles (including the heart) cannot function without glucose, which is broken down by the body to become carbohydrates. People who do not consume enough carbohydrates (for example, people following the Atkins diet) may experience hallucinations and damage to the liver and kidneys because the brain is not getting enough fuel.
If you starve yourself of carbohydrates, you lose weight, but you do so by artificially creating a state called ketosis – a state where the body cannibalizes cell tissue to artificially produce glucose – a substance found naturally in carbohydrates.
Yes, you will lose some fat if you follow Atkins, but you will lose a significant amount of muscle tissue and risk damage to your internal organs.
So how much should you eat? The World Health Organization recommends that 60% of your total diet should consist of carbohydrates. 60% of this should be only 20% simple carbohydrates (and this includes the sugars in fruit).
So… carbs. Yes, too much of the wrong kind can make you unhealthy and fat, but carbohydrates are an absolutely vital staple in our diet. Try to stick to the complex type and cut back on that sugar!
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