Carbs; why do some people fear them and others love them?

Long ago we realized that eating bread, or carbohydrates in general showed us a quick increase in scale weight, and sometimes we felt bloated and clothes seemed tighter.  But now we have new knowledge that explains why it happens and why it shouldn’t be a concern. 

Let’s start from the basics: The food we eat is composed of a variety of nutrients. As the chemical structures of these nutrients are fairly large, we must break them down into smaller, unbound, more soluble units in order to be absorbed into the body.

Once absorbed, these smaller units become usable by our cells and once they enter the general circulation, their actual food source doesn’t really matter; once broken down and absorbed, the body doesn’t necessarily recognize the difference between the amino acids derived from whey protein in the form of protein powder or the ones derived from milk. Nor does it recognize the difference between glucose derived from whole wheat bread or the one from table sugar. And it doesn’t recognize the difference between monounsaturated fats from a hamburger or monounsaturated fats from olive oil.

Most carbs that people tend to vilify aren’t carbs but highly palatable foods combining carbs and fats plus flavorings that easily overeaten. Carbs will give you a lot more volume than fats. Fruits and vegetables are carbs. Spinach and leafy greens are great for energy and fiber.

Think about carbohydrates like they are little sponges, they absorb water, for every gram of carb you consume, your body holds onto 4 grams of water, so when you stop consuming carbs, your body starts flushing all that extra water that was bound to each gram of carbohydrate, this is the reason why some people think carbs make them fat or that keto works like magic when in reality, unless they managed a caloric deficit, it only flushes water weight that is regained the moment carbs are reintroduced.

On that note, a hydrated body performs better and carbs are a great source of energy to fuel your workouts as well as provide most of the fiber we need for health and well-being. Also, keep in mind that protein and carbs are 4 calories per gram and fats are 9 calories per gram. Fats are very caloric dense, meaning that a little miscalculation can put you over your calorie allotment quickly, and that’s the main reason why at some point the ketogenic diet stops working, and adding carbs back will have to happen gradually or you’ll get very bloated due to the sudden water retention, the scale will go up quickly as well but it is mostly water.

Also, did you know that protein can spike insulin as much or more than carbs? And that when meals are mixed they don’t offer the same response? 

Further reading:

Carbohydrate confessions:

Insulin an undeserved bad reputation (Part I of the series):

Calories: Total Macronutrient Intake, Energy Expenditure, and Net Energy Stores:

“The energy cost of storing dietary fats as triglycerides is lower than that of converting protein or carbohydrates into fat. Donato and Hegsted (1985) have suggested that in growing animals, dietary fat can be stored as body fat with little energy expenditure and, therefore, that dietary fat stored as adipose tissue fat still yields approximately 9 kcal per gram. In contrast, energy is required to store dietary carbohydrates as body fat, and 4 kcal per gram of dietary carbohydrate yields only approximately 3.27 kcal when stored as fat and subsequently oxidized for energy. Therefore, the ratio of the energy required to store dietary fat as body fat relative to the energy cost to store dietary carbohydrates or protein as body fat may be close to 9 to 3.27. That is, the conversion of fats in food to body fat (triglycerides) is more efficient than the conversion of carbohydrates or protein in food to body fat.”

The only difference is the fiber content, so if you get your fiber from other sources, white or wheat would be no different: 

Whole vs white bread:

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