Do Carbohydrates Make You Fat?

A lot of people think that eating carbohydrates will make them fat. Here is all the information you need about carbohydrates and how they can affect your weight, as well as advice on how much carbohydrate you should be eating!

Two Kinds of Carbohydrates

Firstly it is important to know that there are two kinds of carbohydrates, Simple and Complex. Another way of describing them are Starches or Sugars. Starches are foods like pasta, potatoes, bread etc.; sugars are sweet and consist of sugar (the sort you buy in packets, and find in sweets, chocolate, cakes etc.) and fruit. Another way of thinking of complex or simple carbohydrates is to consider their GI rating.

What is the Difference?

The difference is in the way they are absorbed by the body. Complex carbohydrates take a while to go through our system and be absorbed by the body and used as fuel.

Simple carbohydrates are the opposite - they take virtually no digestion and are taken up almost immediately by the body as fuel giving us an instant, short energy rush.

So Can Carbohydrates Make You Fat?

Like all food, carbohydrate can make you fat if you eat too much of it! However, it is the simple carbohydrates that you need to watch out for. Because we like the sweet taste of simple carbohydrates, and because the energy rush we get from them is short-lived and leaves us feeling hungry, it is easy to over-eat simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates provide energy in a very concentrated form (sugar is 100% carbohydrate!), so a small amount of it can contain a lot of calories!

Also, when we eat high amounts of simple carbohydrate our insulin has to work overtime to keep our blood-sugar levels even, and this can lead to diabetes. Some scientists say that if sugar was discovered nowadays, it would be a banned substance!

On the other hand it is very hard to over-eat complex carbohydrates because they tend to be big, bulky, and contain a lot of water and fibre (a potato only contains 30% carbohydrate - most of it is water), so you would have to eat a lot before you consumed enough to cause weight-gain.

Why Do We Need to Eat Carbohydrates and How Much Should We Be Eating?

Our central nervous system, brain, liver, kidneys and muscles (including the heart) cannot function without glucose, and glucose is only found in carbohydrates - not fat and protein. People who do not eat enough carbohydrate can suffer hallucinations, liver and kidney damage, and other health consequences.

The World Health Organisation recommends that 60% of your entire diet should consist of carbohydrates. To work it out on an individual basis, you should be eating around 5 grams of carbohydrate per kg of bodyweight for a sedentary person, and a range of 6-10 grams carbohydrate for an athelete.

So…Carbohydrates. Yes, too much of the wrong kind can make you unhealthy and fat, but carbohydrates are an absolutely vital staple in our diets. Just try to stick to the Complex kind and cut down on that sugar!

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