The Real Truth Behind Carbohydrates And Why You Need Them

How many of you have carbohydrates in your diet? I imagine if you are losing weight you are or you may have limited your carbohydrate intake to try and lose more weight? If you are doing this at the moment or have done before I want you to STOP! I am going to explain why you need carbohydrates in order to lose weight and what happens to your body when you reduce them significantly and when you cut them out completely.

The Role Of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are your primary energy source and your body needs them especially if you exercise regularly. Carbohydrates are not your enemy and you should be consuming them throughout the day. For many of you if you are losing weight you tend to cut out carbohydrates altogether in an attempt to lose more weight quickly. When you do this you will lose weight quickly but the likelihood is that it won't be body fat and you won't lose it from the areas you want to. This is because your fat that you have on your body in the areas you want to lose it from (bum, thighs, arms, stomach) are areas that have stored fat for a while and therefore will take effort and proper nutrition to rid the fat.

The Problem

When your body has been used to having carbohydrates and then you suddenly drop them from your diet or seriously reduce them to 30 grams or lower per day, your body doesn't agree with it. It will go into something called 'state of alert' which ultimately puts your body into a fat storing machine. Fat lasts longer on your body than muscle and the body is doing this to protect you as it thinks it's going to starve. You need to tell your body otherwise and the only way to do this is by eating healthy, nutritious foods that contain carbohydrates. The key is not too eat too many however, as eating too many carbohydrates throughout the day release a hormone within the body called insulin. When this hormone is released the body can then store some of the carbohydrates that your body doesn't need as fat. Unfortunately there is no set amount of carbohydrates I can tell you to eat that will be adequate for your body as you are all so different and what might work for you, will work differently for someone else.

The Solution

First of all do not cut out carbohydrates, this is a definite no no!! My advice to you would be to have your carbohydrates first thing in the morning for breakfast and around your workouts. Good choices for breakfast are porridge or weetabix as both these choices will give your body a steady release in energy. I then suggest that your plan your carbohydrates around your exercise for the day and good choices here are foods like sweet potato, brown rice, brown pasta etc. Be sure to eat them 2 hours before your workout and then approximately 1 hour after exercise. Like I have already mentioned before, your body is going to be different to someone else's and with this said you will need to see what works for you. To give you an idea, I have spent months assessing how many carbohydrates I need and what works best for my body. You should do the same so you can understand how your body works and how much you need.

Final Tips

Remember carbohydrates are your primary energy source so when you lack in this food group, your body will turn to glycogen stores and muscle as fuel. This is bad as it will weaken and lower your metabolism and the rate your body burns fat. Eat healthy foods that are slow release in energy as these foods will keep you from feeling sluggish and tired. When you feel tried, the choices you make with foods become less informative and you are more likely to pick something unhealthy and high in sugar. So keep your choices smart and make sure you have planned what you are going to eat. Finally, trial and error is how you will ultimately find out how YOUR body works and for this you will need to give yourself weeks or months to see what works best. It may seem like a lot of effort but once you know how your body works and you know how many carbohydrates you should have, you will change your body. Weight loss, weight gain, tone up or maintain, by knowing your body you will be able to change it without radical drops in food or going onto a crazy diet. Keep it simple and you will get there.

About the Author

Job Role Nutritional and Fitness Advisor Qualifications Premier International Diploma in Personal Training, Nutrition and Sports Massage Therapy Scott has always been active growing up being involved in different sport teams and individual sports such as boxing and Jiu Jitsu. It wasn't until Scott dislocated his left knee during a Jiu Jitsu Competition when he developed a new passion which was going to the gym. Scott studied an International Diploma in Personal Training, Nutrition and Sports Massage Therapy which he has used for over 8 years in the Fitness Industry. Scott has been successful in his field in the UK and in other countries of the world. He has helped many people achieve their goals in Fat Loss, Weight gain, Hypertrophy and other areas of Health and Fitness. Scott is very passionate and is a big motivator who is going to provide you with expert advice and looks forward to helping you with your goals. There is more to see of Scott as he will be competing in Fitness Modelling competitions this year and next so keep a look out for him.


  • Jon

    Hi, i agree with everything written in this article about eating a good amount of carbs, BUT i have lost fat on legs and bum by cutting carbs, FACT!
    I am not trying to criticize this article because i read every post on this site and i do love them all (keep em coming) But i cannot see how it is possible Muscle can be burned before Fat. From testing diets myself the last few months and ongoing now and again i do not believe i have lost any Muscle, also from everything i have read over the years i have never heard of muscle burning before fat.

    So please could you clear this up for me and confirm if this is scientific fact with evidence i can take a look at??

    • Scott Riches
      October 28, 2013 Scott Riches

      Hey Jon

      The article is aimed at people that want to lose weight but do so by cutting out carbohydrates which in my opinion is silly. If you check out any articles or blogs by Brad Schoenfeld it will back this up. However, this was aimed at people that drastically cut carbs. If someone was on paleo, or supplemented correctly this may not be the case. The article is aimed at people who cut carbs out, won't touch them for 2 months (approx) to try and lose fat and then consume them again. Hope this helps :)

      • jon

        Hi, well I have cut them to 30g but only on burst of 2,3days in a row max, I do think I lost fat but I have read muscle can be lost when you bfat is at a level considered LOW, tho I dont know what Low is exactly, but thanks anyway, keep the articles coming please :)

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