Are Carbs Bad For You? Do They Make You Gain Fat?

If you’re wondering if eating carbs will make you gain fat then this article will provide you with the truth that can be hard to find with so much conflicting advice.

This is because Keto zealots have been touting that carbs spike insulin levels and that in turn, makes you gain fat.

Although carbs do spike insulin levels. The act of your insulin levels spiking isn’t what makes you put on fat.

You put on fat because you’re in a surplus of calories.

This means that you’re eating more calories than your body burns.

Carbs Get A Bad Reputation But They’re Not Actually Bad, They’re Beneficial

carbs aren't bad infographic.

Carbohydrates aren’t bad.

It’s common to hear that if you want to lose fat. “You must cut out carbs”

You’ll actually lose quite a bit of weight if you cut out carbs. But most of this will just be water weight.

This is because when you eat carbs you store whatever amount of glucose that isn’t initially used. And this is stored as glycogen.

And you store glycogen in your liver and muscles.

For every gram of glycogen stored, you also store 2-3 grams of water.

When you stop eating carbs. 

You lose most of this water weight.

Resulting in a big drop in your scale weight.

Your performance also decreases in your strength training workouts.

This is because glucose, and especially the glycogen in your muscles helps fuel your workouts.

And because you’re not eating carbs performance decreases.

Most people will do fine eating carbs.

Carbs are also full of important vitamins and minerals. 

Especially in foods like fruits, vegetables and grains.

But carbs generally get a bad reputation.

This is because most people think of highly processed carbs like sweets, candy, doughnuts etc.

Getting the majority of your food from carbs like these won’t do you any favours.

But you can eat some of your carbs from these foods.

Under one condition. 

You must get the majority of your carbs from good healthy whole foods. 

Foods like those shown on the left side of the graphic.

Carbohydrates Do Spike Your Insulin Levels But That’s Not What Makes You Fat

And for anyone who thinks that carbs make you fat because they “spike your insulin levels”. 

Insulin is a hormone that regulates the metabolism of carbs, fats and protein by promoting the absorption of glucose from the blood into your liver, and your muscle and fat cells.

In other words, insulin helps your bodies cells absorb nutrients. 

This causes a spike in insulin at first and then a drop until all nutrients are absorbed. Your insulin levels then return to a baseline level when all nutrients are absorbed.

So insulin levels spiking isn’t what makes you put on fat.

Eating more calories than your body burns makes you put on fat.

This is true whether you eat highly processed carbs or not.

If You Want To Keep More Muscle & Strength While Losing Weight And Actually Lose Fat You Need To Be Eating Carbs


As you now know, carbs are extremely important for fueling your workouts. And if you’re following a Keto approach, your strength levels will be far less than what they could be.

Contrary To Popular Belief A High Carb Diet Will Yield The Best Results For Most People

If you’ve been reading my content for a while now you’ll know that muscle is a by product of strength. And when you get stronger your muscles have to get bigger to keep on lifting progressively heavier weights over time.

This also rings true for muscle retention purposes. If you want to keep as much muscle as possible you need to be eating a high carb, high protein low-fat diet if you want to get the most out of your workouts.

Because of the high carb diet, your muscles will be replenished with glycogen enough to boost the effectiveness of your workouts.

But What About The Keto Zealots?

The keto diet is all the craze right now. And I’m all for following what you can stick too and what works.

But the fact is a keto diet isn’t necessary to make progress. Although some people may try to make you believe that it is.

And people who follow the keto diet only lose a significant amount of weight because.

  1. They’re not storing as much water weight compared to if they ate carbs.
  2. They’re in a calorie deficit.

All Being Equal, If You Ate A Keto Diet Or A Diet High In Carbs And Ate In A Similiar Calorie Deficit You’d Lose A Similiar Amount Of Weight

Once you’re in a calorie deficit you have to lose fat. This is because your body needs to make up for that energy deficit. By using up your fat stores.

Your body can also breakdown muscle and use that as energy. This is one of the reasons why it’s super important to eat a high protein diet and resistance train when you’re in a calorie deficit. This will ensure that you lose fat and not muscle.

This is true whether most of your calorie intake comes from a high carb or the keto diet.

A keto diet is just a high fat diet.

Click below to read a good article on the ketogenic diet by Mike Matthews.

Essentially your body is like a gas tank that you can keep filling up.

And it stores this excess energy as fat.

This excess fat stored would help you In hunter-gatherer times when food was scarce.

It’s Easier to Gain Weight If You Eat Lots Of Highly Processed Carbohydrates

Processed carbs like crisps, cakes pretzels etc.

Highly processed carbs like, potato chips, pop tarts, and the like aren’t very filling and they encourage overeating.

These food companies have the main objective of making these foods as tasty as possible.

So that you keep coming back for more.

And that’s one of the reasons why they’re so easy to over-consume on.

They’re easy to overeat on because they contain lots of calories and they’re not very filling.

Which isn’t a very good combination.

Pick Fibrous Carbs So That You Can Stay Full And Cover Your Nutritional Bases

Fibrous carbs, fruits and vegetables.

When most people think of carbs they think of the highly processed kind but they fail to mention the whole food options that are extremely important for your health.

Im talking about foods such as fruits, vegetables grains chocolate (that was a joke). But surely you can see what I mean.

If you’re completely failing to eat any of these foods then you’ll be missing the mark nutritionally.

If You Fail to Eat Carbs You’re Missing Out

Carbs are tasty, foods like chocolate, bread, cake, pizza etc. These foods are delicious. And part of any sustainable dieting approach. This is because “diet” in Latin can be translated to ” way of life” or “regimen” this means that your diet should fit in with your life, and not be your whole life.

Because Most Diets Don’t Fit In With The Majority Of Peoples Lives, Most People Give Up

Restrictive diets, like keto, carnivore, the military diet, eating Clean etc are too restrictive for most people, and that’s why I believe that everyone should use a flexible dieting approach personalised to them.

But What About People Who Don’t Do Very Well With High Carb Diets?

There will be a certain number of people who find that a high carb diet doesn’t feel that good for them. They find that eating a high carb diet makes them feel sluggish, tired and succumb to brain fog. Although this could be because you have poor insulin resistance, in that case, a higher fat diet may be the best option for you. But if you’re like me and you feel good on a high carb diet. Then going high carb will suit you best.

This isn’t a bell curve either. You can have a moderate carb or a moderate fat diet and feel your best. It makes sense to try different approaches and see which one feels best for you.

But most people will do best on a high carb, low fat diet.

So What About Sugar?

Sugar is just a carbohydrate. Its neither good nor bad and can be consumed as part of a calorie controlled diet. The problems come when you eat too much sugar and go over your calories.

If you want to learn more about sugar click on the link below for the full article I wrote on it.

The Bottom Line On Carbs

  1. Carbs don’t inherently make you fat, overeating does. And if you just put some time into seeing how you respond to a low carb or higher carb approach this will help you find out the best dietary choice for you.

2. For most people carbs will be beneficial by helping you retain more lean body mass while in a calorie deficit. And helping you gain more strength in a calorie surplus.

3. Carbs are your bodies primary source of energy. And they get stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen which helps fuel your workouts. If you eliminate carbs from your diet your performance won’t be as good.

Published by henrypaget

Hi, I'm Henry and it's my mission to help you succeed with your fitness & health.

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