There are few things in this world that cause such disruption and argument other than the simple question of do carbs make you gain weight.
Last decade was the “fat free decade”.
Your house was filled with fat free jelly, fat free chips, and even fat free bacon.
I mean, fat free bacon!? What insanity!
Yet we have seemingly transferred over into the “low carb decade” it seems.
Mainly because of the reason that when you have a bit more carbs than usual you wake up the next morning and the scale isn’t your friend.
Therefore you automatically deem carbs make you fat.
Or my personal favorite whenever someone reaches out to me say on a dm via instagram and tells man “man, I know about eating less calories and moving more, but whenever I eat carbs I just can’t seem to drop the weight! It doesn’t make sense!”.
Well yes, it doesn’t make sense because it is inaccurate, that would be why.
In this article I am going to answer the question of do carbs make you gain weight. Buckle up and get ready because I don’t want you mis interpreting anything I say here. I want you to leave knowing exactly what the truth is behind this question.
Read top to bottom, side to side.
Deal? Good. Let’s find out what these devilishly delicious carbs really do.
Do Carbs Make You Gain Weight?
Top 3 Myths Associated With Carbs
When it comes to carbs and weight gain there is often much misinformation and emotion backing each side of the argument.
My goal with this article is to give you an evidence based resource that will give you the scientific backed information on each of the topics we will discuss below.
First, let’s cover the mammoth of them all, do carbs make you gain weight?
#1 Do Carbs Make You Gain Weight?
If you want the simple answer to this question it is no, they do not.
Yet if you are here reading this article you probably want to know a bit more in depth, so let’s cover it.
Let’s first start by establishing the only way your body gains weights or loses weight.
For you to gain weight you need to be consuming more calories than your body is burning over an extended period of time. This is called being in a calorie surplus.
Vice versa in order to lose weight, you need to be consuming less calories than your body burns over an extended period of time. This is called being in a calorie deficit.
These are the laws of thermo dynamics. You, your sister, or your dog cannot defy them.
Let me give you a quick example.
There was a study done * that had obese individuals be put on a diet.
This diet was rather simple. It consisted of white rice, fruit, juice, and sugar.
Aka, all carbs.
Want to know the average amount of weight loss per individual?
141lbs. Yep, you read it right. The average weight loss was 141 lbs.
But how? All they ate was white rice and sugar?!
The reason they were able to lose weight was because the diet they were on controlled calories and put them into a calorie deficit.
Despite the fact their diet was 100% only carbohydrates they still lost body fat.
If that isn’t a “proof is in the pudding” slap in the face, idk what is. Pudding also sounds very good right now but I digress.
The Second Thing Is…
I want you to think about this for a second.
If carbs inherently make you gain body weight, let me ask you.
If you ate one piece of bread every for 30 days straight and that is all you ate the entire day, would you gain fat?
I am sure not. You would probably starve to death, right?
When I ask people that question they automatically go to “well duh no of course not, you’d need to eat more carbs!”.
My response is always well wait a second, if it was the carbs that made you gain weight and that’s it then it shouldn’t matter in what amount.
If it is a carb it would inherently make you fat, right? FYI: when people who say carbs make you fat then I question them on it, they don’t like hearing this too much.
They proceed to tell me no you would need to eat more carbs and if you did you would gain weight.
The response back to that would be “well, okay, so it is not necessarily the carbs that would make you gain weight, it is the fact that you would eat too many of them, correct?”.
They nod their head in agreement and think they got me now!
Only to find out they are proving my point. Eating carbs doesn’t inherently make you fat, eating too many carbs does, just as eating too much protein would or too much fat would.
It is not the singular macronutrient of the carbohydrate that makes you gain weight, rather it is what we talked about earlier.
The only way to gain weight is through the overconsumption of calories over an extended period of time.
Therefore when it comes to the question of do carbs make you gain weight, once again the answer would be no they do not.
Do Carbs Make You Gain Weight ? Devils Advocate
We just debunked the myth that carbs make you gain weight and found out the only way you will gain weight is if you eat too many calories for too long of a time.
To play both sides of the fence I want to offer this.
Carbs are absolutely amazing. They are the 8th wonder of the world in my eyes. I love them and love to eat them.
They are delish, convenient, and very palatable.
I mean who doesn’t love some white rice? I eat at least 8 cups per day.
Yet carbs are the main source of energy in our bodies (which is why you should not cut them out but, I digress).
This means that when we eat carbs they get burned and used as fuel rather quickly, leading us to not be satisfied for an extended period of time.
Therefore what can highly palatable, delicious, and non filling food sources lead to?
Easy over consumption of them.
It may be true that it is much easier to over eat on carbs and go into a calorie surplus than it would be say protein.
Protein is a much more satiating nutrient. It leaves you full and satisfied for hours on hours.
Carbs don’t which makes them easier to keep eating and eating all day long.
In which case in this instance, yes carbs may make you fat, but it isn’t inherently because of the carbs.
It is because you are too many of them leading to consuming too many total calories. It is going back to the our laws of thermodynamics, you would be eating too many calories.
So, what can you do to fix this?
Simply put this is why eating protein is so damn important.
One of the number one things I work on with my online coaching clients is getting adequate protein into their day.
I promise you if you get adequate protein in your day it will be a hell of a lot harder to over eat on carbohydrates.
If you want to learn more about protein, how much to eat, and why it is so important for fat loss, head HERE to watch my full YouTube video on that.
The types of carbs you eat can make a difference as well.
For myself and my coaching clients I always try to steer them towards majority complex, high fiber, nutrient dense carbs.
Things like quinoa, oatmeal, white or brown rice, sweet potatoes, any and all fruits, to name a few.
This is not to say you cannot or should not have other forms of carbs.
Yet this is to say that focusing on getting quality carb sources will leave you full, satisfied, with great energy levels throughout the day leading you much less likely to overeat in the long run.
Now that we have gone over in depth the question of do carbs make you fat, I want to have some more fun with carbs and cover two other myths people like to throw around with yet again, not much science backing them.
#2 Don’t Eat Carbs After 7pm
Truthfully, I don’t even know where this myth started at.
All I know is it’s been around forever and is one of the most common misconceptions that get thrown around the fitness and nutrition space on a daily basis.
I want to put an end to it right here right now.
The last 5-10 minutes of your time were just spent on educating you about how carbs do not make you fat, too many calories does, so I won’t beat the dead horse anymore.
Rather just want to reiterate the fact that it doesn’t matter if you eat carbs at 7am or 7pm. 10pm or 3pm.
If you eat an apple at 6:59pm it is 100 calories. If you eat the same apple at 7:01pm it doesn’t magically turn into 1000 calories, it is still the same 100 calories.
As long as you are in a calorie deficit you will lose weight, no matter what time of day or how many times a day you eat carbs.
One less thing to worry about huh?
Yet I will say this…
If you eat carbs after 7pm and weigh yourself the next morning, the scale very well may go up.
There are two reasons why this may happen. Spoiler Alert: Neither one have to do with your gaining body fat.
The first reason the scale may have gone up is because you simply have more food in your stomach than you normally do.
Think about putting an empty glass on a scale, then filling the glass up with water and replacing it on the scale again.
It is going to weigh more with the water in it simply because the water adds more content to the glass.
The same thing is going on with your body. If you have a late meal your body will have more food content in your stomach than you may normally have.
This will read to the scale reading a bit higher, yet remember, this has nothing to do with fat gain.
The second reason is because if you eat carbs a bit later at night you may store some water weight the next morning.
For every 1g of carb you eat your body stores 3-4g of water in your body.
Therefore let’s say you had a big night of pizza and pasta. You could easily wake up the next morning 2-5 lbs heavier on the scale.
Again, not because you gained fat, rather simply because you gained water weight.
Remember, the scale is going to fluctuate for so many different reasons. If you want to learn more on why the scale fluctuates and how it is normal, read my article HERE .
Also remember there is a big difference between weight gain and fat gain.
Just because you gained weight, doesn’t mean you gained fat.
Vice versa, just because you lost weight, doesn’t mean you lost fat.
I talk more in depth about this in my YouTube video HERE .
For now, just now that in the short term yes the scale may fluctuate eating carbs after 7pm.
Yet when it comes to long term results, as long as you are in a calorie deficit, you will lose weight.
#3 Insulin Makes You Fat
Last but not least when the question of do carbs make you gain weight gets brought up, the topic of insulin always gets brought up.
To this I simply will point you to the beginning of the article where the individuals who ate nothing but rice and fruit lost 141lbs on average.
Do you think it would be possible to do that if insulin made you fat?
On top of that I once again ask you to use common sense.
If you ate one Twinkie everyday for 30 days straight and that is all you ate the entire day, would you gain fat?
I think your answer is the same as before.
Furthermore I would like to point out that eating protein also spikes your insulin levels as well.
Yet nobody is quick to shout that out or claim protein makes you gain weight.
The truth remains once again, if you are in a calorie deficit, you will lose body fat.
If you want to know how many calories you should be eating to lose body fat, I have a free calorie calculator here if you want to check it out.
Do Carbs Make You Gain Weight? Final Word
I hope what you received from this article was the following
- Carbs do not make you fat, eating too many calories does
- As long as you are in a calorie deficit, you will lose body fat
- Carbs can temporarily store water weight leading the scale to be fluctuating in the short term, yet this has no impact on your long term progress
- You should not be afraid of carbs
Re read that last bullet point.
I cannot tell you how many come to me, whether a tik tok or instagram dm, an email, or someone signing up for coaching with me, truly terrified of eating carbs.
When I say terrified, I mean genuinely scared and anxious.
My plea to you would be to try it. Try counting your calories for 30 days straight.
Actually weigh your food on a food scale to be accurate with your counting. Make sure you tack every bite and snack.
Aka make sure you are in a calorie deficit because I promise you with all of my heart if you do, you will see you can eat 100, 150, 200g of carbs and still lose body fat.
I have multiple of my clients doing it as I write this article. You can too.
You don’t have to be afraid of them but the only way to face fear is to attack it head on and show yourself it is true.
I promise you can do this. If you have any questions or concerns drop them below.
If you want to possibly see if we may be a good fit for coaching together I am going to link my application form HERE.
Be well and happy carb-ing.
https://www.drmcdougall.com/2013/12/31/walter-kempner-md-founder-of-the-rice-diet/ rice and fruit diet , patients lost an avg of 141 lbs.
3 Replies to “Do Carbs Make You Gain Weight?”
This article changed my mind and my believes about carbs. I thought that they are my enemy, turns out they are not.
Its all about calorie deficit and balance.
Thank you so much, love from Israel❤
this makes me so so so happy <3 thank you for taking the time to read and I am glad it helped 🙂 If you liked this article and it changed your view on carbs.. I have an article on here as well about my thoughts on keto and why carbs are essential... I think you may like that one too 😉 <3
I needed that! Great article, thanks.
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