Have you heard this?
“You should only eat carbs at breakfast or around your workouts!”
Often there’s a convincing argument about blood sugar and insulin, so then you feel like you’re doing everything wrong because you eat carbs more frequently than that, or that something is wrong with you for wanting carbs at each meal.
Luckily, this is just a bunch of BS. And it fits into a larger pattern of diet industry BS.
Ever since Atkins came on the scene, “carbs are the enemy” has been a popular notion. But it’s taken several different forms.
There’s the 100% pure carbophobia where they say “only eat meat, fat, and above ground vegetables!”
But there’s also a more subtle form of carbophobia. It’s not loudly proclaiming that all carbs are bad all the time. Instead, they’re saying carbs are okay if they meet certain standards.
Instead of “carbs make you fat”, the gurus claim “carbs don’t make you fat if you do it my way.”
The unspoken implication being that carbs are inherently fattening, unless you obey the sacred doctrines from the diet gods. And it becomes masked in scientific sounding language.
While talking about how carbs increase insulin, they conveniently leave out that all meals increase insulin (with even some types of protein creating a greater insulin response than carbs) AND that insulin levels have no direct impact on weight gain or weight loss.
They leave out the fact that carbohydrates are your body’s preferred fuel source and that your body will literally break down protein and turn it into glucose.
Meaning, if you skip a potato and have two steaks instead of one, that second steak is likely turning into a potato!
Well, not literally. But your body is like “Look at all this protein! We need some glucose.”, and it starts the conversion process. And I don’t know about you, but I love carbs and if my body is going to get the glucose it needs anyway, I would rather it be after I get some delicious carby flavor.
It’s not just that carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source for exercise. They’re your body’s preferred energy source, period. Carbs are more important when exercising, but they are also important otherwise. Again, so important that your body will break down protein to get glucose.
If I were to point out all of the lies told about carbohydrates, this would probably become a full length book. Long story short: “Carbs are okay sometimes” is just a watered down version of the “carbs are the devil” nonsense from the 90’s and early 2000’s.
Does that mean that there is no value in eating more carbs at some times and fewer carbs at other times? No, you can certainly choose to eat more carbs at times when they’re more important.
It makes sense that after fasting for a full night’s sleep, you may want to get in an especially carb-rich meal. And if you’re burning more calories with exercise, that you may want to give your body more of the fuel that it uses for exercise.
So you can definitely choose to eat more at some times or less at other times. But it’s not a black and white issue where you need to avoid carbs altogether unless specific conditions are met.
Does that all make sense?
Carbohydrate intake is not what determines where your weight goes. The total number of calories you eat per day is what determines that. And ALL of your daily habits determine how many calories you take in.
Carbohydrates are one variable to play with to influence your calorie intake, but most likely, there are a half dozen or more other habits you can get into place that will make a more profound impact for you (and likely will balance your carb intake automatically, without obsessing over it).
BTW, I’m curious. What is the most ridiculous “only eat carbs if ____” rule that you’ve heard? Head over to my private Facebook group and let me know 🙂