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The Skinny on Carbs

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fit 401 The Skinny on Carbs

No carbs after 6pm or was it 8pm.  Carbs…only in the morning.  Go carb-free!


We’ve heard all the different philosophies and it seems that carbs always take the fall for meal-plans-gone-bad.  The truth is, carbs are essential to muscle gains and weight loss.  That’s right! You need carbs for weight loss too.

While carbs are a necessary element in a good diet, many people become confused about what specific carbs to eat. This is completely understandable. Eating the wrong carbs is disastrous to a diet and produce negative fitness results too.  Let’s explore why…

3 Types of Carbs

Before we discuss why carbs are an important part of your diet, you’ll need to understand the three specific types of carbohydrates:

Simple– Often found in foods like sugary cereals, candy, white breads, chips and sports drinks, simple carbohydrates are quickly broken down when they enter the body. Simple carbs provide short bursts of energy that do not last for very long.

Complex– Foods like whole wheat bread, rice, oats, sweet potatoes, and pasta contain long chains of sugars called complex carbs. The body takes longer to break down these types of carbs, so they provide you with energy for longer periods of time than simple carbs do.

Fibrous– Green /leafy and most vegetables, often called roughage  are great fibrous carbs. These types of carbs help you feel full much longer than other carbs because the body takes longer to digest them.


A Little Science

When you eat carbohydrates the body breaks them down into a substance called glucose, which is used for energy. When glucose enters the blood, insulin is produced. When eating simple carbs insulin levels rise and fall quickly.  This leads to cravings of more simple carbs and ultimately binge eating.  For many, the term binge eating is what leads us to believe all carbs are bad.  This is just not true.

Because of this association, we often eliminate carbs form our diets completely, especially when trying to lose weight or get lean.  This is a big mistake.  When you remove carbs from your diet entirely, your body cannot function properly. Your body needs the insulin produced from eating carbohydrates. Without them, you may experience feelings of lethargy, headaches, or brain fog. The key is eating the right types of carbs and when to eat them.

I know what you’re thinking…So how do no-carb diets work? Actually, they don’t. Carbs hold water in the body. When they are eliminated from the diet, mostly water weight is lost which quickly returns once the dieter starts to consume carbs again. Ever heard the term yo-yo diet? That’s an example.  It is also pretty much impossible to maintain a no carb diet for very long, so it is not a real solution if you want to get in shape and stay in shape.

The Big Secret

As I mentioned earlier, the secret to keeping carbs in your diet involves choosing the right carbs to eat, when you should eat them, and how much to consume.  Here are some simple guidelines to follow:

  •  Selection

Avoid simple/processed carbs like sugary cereal, potato chips, energy bars, and white bread, and candy.

Instead rely on a good variety of natural complex carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole grains.

Fibrous carbs found in roughage can keep your digestive system running smoothly and have a negligible effect on blood sugars, so these are essential as well.

  • Timing

Fibrous carbs can be eaten at any time of the day, but the majority of your complex carbs should be consumed right before and after your work outs, as well as, the first part of your day.

  • How Much

Take care to limit the portion sizes you consume when eating carbs. Make sure they are appropriate. Eating large portions can have a negative effect on the body because there is only so much room for glucose in your body’s muscles. When the muscles are unable to house any more glucose for energy, the remaining carbs are turned into and stored as fat.

Remember: everything in moderation.


If you are trying to lose weight or get fit, don’t eliminate carbs from your diet. Carbohydrates are a much needed component that, when consumed correctly can produce great fitness results by providing you with the energy you need to work out and lose unwanted weight quickly.

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