Will eating carbs make me gain weight?
It’s a common misconception that carbs are the enemy and that they promote weight gain. It’s true that some people eat too many carbohydrates – for example a giant plate of pasta and nothing else does not make for a balanced dinner. Cutting carbohydrates out, however, is not healthy either and can have many side effects.
Carbohydrates are a very important source of energy. They digest to glucose and serve as the primary source of energy for our muscles and brain. Carbohydrates are also stored in our muscles and our liver as glycogen and serve as a fuel source during times when we are not eating (ex when we are sleeping or exercising). If you drastically reduce your intake of carbohydrates it is true that the number on the scale will go down in the short term. This change in weight comes about because every gram of glycogen stored in your body has approximately three grams of water attached to it. If you reduce your intake or stop eating carbohydrates, your body will use up your glycogen stores and you will lose water weight.
Consuming too few carbohydrates, however, will make you feel tired and sluggish, make it difficult to concentrate, will suppress your immune system and your metabolism (for more details on this, read my post on fasted cardio), and will promote cravings.
So, while restricting carbohydrates may make the number on the scale go down initially, this reflects a loss of body water rather than fat. A low carbohydrate diet will make you feel unwell and is neither healthy nor sustainable long term. Instead, aim to make better carbohydrate choices.
- Aim to fill ¼ of your plate at meals with carbohydrates from grains or starchy veggies
- Read ingredients lists on cereals, granola bars, crackers and bread and look for ‘whole grain’ when possible
- Unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, avoid following a gluten free diet
- Include a variety of nutrient dense carbohydrates in your food routine, such as quinoa, rice, millet, whole grain wheat, barley, teff, white potato, squash, corn, and sweet potato. The more variety you have, the more nutrients you get and the more satisfying your meals will be
- Choose whole fruits and veggies more often than juice to reap all of the great benefits of fibre
Questions about your food routine? Book a free one-to-one nutrition appointment by calling x52131.
Visit the University of Guelph's Mental Well-Being website for more information on Mental Wellness. Also find other healthy living resources on campus and ways to get connected/involved in your campus community for overall mental health and well-being.