Throughout recent years, carbohydrates have gained a bad reputation, as the single macronutrient that makes us store fat. Now, where did this come form and why?
Carbohydrates are a macro nutrient, much like proteins and fats. They carry 4 calories per gram, same as protein, and 5 calories per gram less then fats. Now, carbohydrates have gained a bad reputation predominantly from these 2 reasons:
- They spike insulin, which is know as the storage hormone. Upon consuming a high-carb meal, under the presence of insulin, the sugar (glucose) will be directed to other tissues in the body, and away from the blood. In a human with a normal glucose metabolism, this is what happens. Glucose then gets store as muscle/liver glycogen, to be used as fuel, or as adipose tissue (fat).
- Carbohydrates bind with water; practically on every gram of carbohydrates consumed, you will store about 2.7g of water. This happens because the kidneys hold on to sodium in response to carbohydrate consumption. Consequently, when you cut carbs, you see an immediate weight loss (which is, in fact, only water)
Yes, you might think, but do does this mean the cause fat gain? The answer is, only in the case they are consumed in excess. Glucose is the main fuel for our bodies, and so – carbohydrates are most certainly, not ‘the bad guy’. Consuming EXCESS carbohydrates will lead to weigh gain, but then, so will any other macronutrient.
In the past many studies have been done on this topic, and low – carb advocates often cite some of them that indeed showed greater fat loss in the low-carb groups, compared to low-fat one. However; these studies fail to equate for protein and/or caloric intake. And, yep you guessed it, the ones that do- showed no difference in fat loss!
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Even though carbohydrates have had a bad reputation, clinical studies as well as empirical data show that, ceteris paribus (all other things equal) low carb diets are not superior in terms of fat loss.