Are Carbs Evil? The Devil is in the Detail!

Carbs have been demonised in recent years and there is, perhaps, some justification for this.

devil cupcake

But whenever you eat a carbohydrate, any carbohydrate, exactly the same thing happens: it all ends up broken down as some combination of glucose, fructose or galactose (for those of you lucky enough to have plenty of the enzyme lactase). These then pass through your liver which takes what it needs, converts any excess fructose or galactose to glucose and only glucose enters the blood stream were it is used for energy or stored in your muscles. If every type of carbohydrate you consume ends up as glucose in your blood stream whats the problem? Processed foods high in sugar are easy to over consume and they often lack any micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc). The same can be said for processed foods high in sugar and fat except that, well, they’re also high in fat. Missing, in most cases, is your intestines bestie, fibre!  If your body has more glucose than it needs it will turn it into fat. So is the problem just over consumption? No. Two other factors are important. The first is how quickly the carbohydrate is absorbed and raises your blood sugar and insulin levels. The second is you! The second factor depends on your goals, your activity levels, your body composition and your genetics. As a rule you should stick to carbs with a low glycemic index (increase blood sugar slowly), although keep in mind that in a mixed meal it’s the composition of the total meal that determines this. If your training is intense high glycemic carbs combined with protein around training time is probably a good idea. This will give you energy when you train and help drive amino acids into your muscle cells. Otherwise, your genetics determine how well you tolerate carbs and you’ll need to experiment with what suits you best. body types If you’re naturally lean try starting with 55% of your calories from carbohydrate (25% protein, 20% fat), if your naturally chubby try starting with 35% of your calories from carbs (35% protein, 40% fat). And remember that over time and training experience tolerance may change. So the answer to the question, are carbs evil, is that it depends on the details!