Skip to Content

The truth about carbohydrates


While Scott Pilgrim may have had no idea of the potential dietary and waistline consequences from eating an extreme amount of bread when he exclaimed, “Bread makes you fat?” in his 2010 movie, many of us already have that seared into our mental dietary filing cabinets.

After all, everyone knows too many carbs makes your stomach swell and can make you gain weight. Aren’t there whole diets dedicated to not having carbs?

Well, yes, there are, but you actually need carbs more than you think you do.

In fact, if someone is cutting carbs out of their diet, they are actually denying their body an essential need for energy and nutrition.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans actually recommends that, of your total calories, carbs should be between 45 to 65 percent, so about 225 to 325 grams a day (if working on a 2,000 calorie a day diet).

Carbs not only give you energy, but they actually protect you against disease and illness, such as cardiovascular disease and, thanks to the fiber in most carb-rich foods, type 2 diabetes.

And, while carbs are usually one of the first things that people cut out of their intake when they’re trying to shed a few pounds, they can actually help control your weight, especially if your carbs are coming from the right places. “Evidence shows that eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can help you control your weight,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Now, keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to all carbs – not all carbs are created equally. Rather, the Mayo Clinic suggests that you get your daily carb intake from the following sources:

–          Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables

–          Whole grains

–          Low-fat dairy products

–          Beans and other legumes

They also recommend to limiting the amount of added sugars in your food. While it’s not harmful in small amount, in large amounts it can cause problems such as tooth decay (turns out your dentist was right all along for harping on you about eating too much candy when you were a kid), weight gain, and just overall bad nutrition.

Now you might be saying, “But wait, diets like the Atkins diet work and people have really lost weight using while on such diets!”

While yes, carb-free diets like the Atkins diet do work to help people lose unwanted pounds, you must understand that this is a company trying to sell you an idea. And their idea actually forces your body to go into starvation mode, according to Better Health USA.

In fact, any diet that is restrictive, simply of calories you eat and the quality of what you eat will help balance your body’s health and how much you weigh. In regards to carbs (and Atkins suggests this, too), this means limiting more starchy carbs and seeking them in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. As with all things, just keep balance in mind and keep in mind an idea of “everything in moderation.

Carbs are a necessary part of anyone’s diet and essential for proper body function. “Anyone who says differently is selling something.” Thanks Wesley.

Photo credit: Rachael Tulipano

About the Author

Julie Winsel

With a background in magazine and newspaper publishing with a splash of business-sense, Julie (Eckardt) Winsel is re-pursuing her passion for writing. Now living in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband and cat, she likes vodka-crans and getting caught in the rain.