Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Carbs don't make you fat! The fitness myth about Carbohydrates and weight gain

There has been an abundant amount of time and energy spent on investigating the link between carbohydrate consumption and the increase of obesity in America. This is also the claim to most fad diets, "Carbs make you fat", "Don't eat bread, it's a bad carb", etc.

When reviewing that data on Americans food intake, it's interesting to note that in the early 1900s, the percentage of carbohydrates consumed was higher and fat consumption was lower than it is today, without the obesity epidemic that we're currently experiencing. It's only over the last two decades that there's been a significant increase in obesity. The research being done has concluded that there are two reasons for this dramatic rise: An increase in caloric consumption (eating too much) and a decrease in energy expenditure (not moving enough). Data published in 1996 by the US Department of Health and Human Services found that 60% of American adults are not regularly active and that 25% are completely sedentary.

The facts are very clear. America's increasing problem of obesity is not because of carbs, but because of an energy imbalance.

Our bodies need carbohydrates. This is why:
  • They provide satiety (keeping you full) by keeping the glycogen stores full and adding bulk to the diet.
  • They balance blood sugars levels (provided there is a consistent intake of low-glycemic carbs)
  • They are the perfect and preferred form of energy
  • They constantly need to be replaced, causing a craving that must be satisfied
  • Parts of the central nervous system rely exclusively on carbs
  • They efficiently burn and utilize fat and protein
The recommended carbohydrate intake:
  • 25 grams of fiber a day
  • should be between 60-70% of total caloric intake
  • Fruits, whole grains and vegetables are the preferred source of carbs

In conclusion, don't be afraid to eat carbs. They aren't bad for you. If you're worried about weight gain, take a look at the whole picture. Are you eating right (notice it's right, not less)? Are you working out regularly? Most importantly, are you being honest with yourself about your fitness and nutrition?

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