Free Shipping On Orders Over $75. Get Prime Delivery At Our Amazon Store!


Your Cart is Empty

by Tony Gjokaj June 13, 2024 4 min read

Carbs—friend or foe?

If you're diving into fitness and nutrition, you've likely encountered conflicting advice about carbohydrates.

Are they essential fuel for your workouts, or the sneaky culprits behind weight gain?

In this ultimate guide, we’ll break down the myths and truths about carbs, exploring their role in your diet, how they impact your body, and the best ways to incorporate them for optimal health and performance.

Whether you’re a carb lover or a skeptic, get ready to learn how to harness the power of carbohydrates to fuel your fitness journey and support your overall well-being.

Let's dive in!

What Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates, or carbs, are one of the three macronutrients that your body needs to function properly.

They are the body's primary source of energy.

Carbs can be found in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products.

They are often categorized into three types: sugars, starches, and fibers.

Carb Controversy

A lot of the controversy around carbs centers on the hormone insulin.

Some believe that insulin causes fat gain, but that's not the case.

Evidence has shown that insulin response doesn't directly affect fat storage.

For instance, a study done on obese women found that both high-carb and low-carb diets resulted in similar fat loss, regardless of insulin sensitivity.

What’s crucial is understanding how your body responds to carbs so you can tailor your diet to fit your needs.

Types of Carbohydrates

Not all carbs are created equal.

They come in various forms based on the number of sugar molecules they contain.

Here's how you can break them down:

  • Sugars: These are simple carbs, also known as simple sugars. They are found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and milk products. Common sugars include glucose, fructose, and lactose.

  • Starches: These are complex carbohydrates that are made up of many sugar molecules. They are found in foods like bread, rice, pasta, and some vegetables (e.g., potatoes and corn).

  • Fibers: These are also complex carbs but unlike starches, fibers cannot be broken down into sugar molecules. Instead, they pass through the body undigested, helping to regulate the body's use of sugars and keeping hunger and blood sugar in check.

Why Do We Need Carbs?

Carbohydrates are essential for providing energy.

When you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into glucose (blood sugar), which is used for energy by your cells, tissues, and organs.

Any extra glucose is stored in your liver and muscles for later use.

Benefits of Carbs

  • Energy Production: Carbs are the body's main source of fuel. They are especially important for the brain, which relies on glucose for proper functioning.
  • Protein Sparing: By providing energy, carbs allow protein to be used for its primary functions, such as muscle repair and growth, rather than being used as an energy source.
  • Fat Metabolism: Carbs aid in the oxidation of fats. Without enough carbs, your body cannot efficiently burn fat.
  • Digestive Health: Dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate, is crucial for maintaining a healthy digestive system.

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

Not all carbs are created equal.

It's essential to focus on quality rather than quantity.

High-Quality Carbs

These are unprocessed or minimally processed carbohydrates that contain the fiber found naturally in the food.

Examples include:

  • Whole grains: Brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, whole wheat bread
  • Fruits: Apples, berries, bananas
  • Vegetables: Leafy greens, broccoli, carrots
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas

Low-Quality Carbs

These are processed and refined carbs that have been stripped of most of their fiber.

Examples include:

  • Sugary drinks: Sodas, sweetened teas, energy drinks
  • Pastries and sweets: Cookies, cakes, donuts
  • White bread and pasta: Made from refined flour

    Cutting Carbs and Weight Loss

    Low-carb or ketogenic diets claim you can lose weight faster by cutting carbs. This might be true initially due to water weight loss from reduced glycogen stores. However, long-term studies show that high-carb and low-fat diets can be just as effective in weight loss as low-carb diets.

    The key is finding what works for you.

    Restricting carbs can be an easy way to cut calories, but remember that fruits, vegetables, and complex carbs provide essential micronutrients and fiber.

    How Many Carbs Do You Need?

    The amount of carbohydrate you need can vary based on factors such as age, gender, activity level, and overall health.

    However, general guidelines recommend that carbohydrates should make up about 45-65% of your total daily calories.

    If you're following a flexible dieting approach, carbs are the last macronutrient to calculate after proteins and fats. Here’s a quick guide:

    Protein:Multiply your body weight (in pounds) by 0.6-1 to get your daily grams of protein. Multiply this by 4 to get your protein calories.

    Fats:Allocate 20-30% of your total calories to fats. Divide this by 9 to get your daily grams of fat.

    Carbs:Subtract your protein and fat calories from your total daily calories. Divide the remainder by 4 to get your daily grams of carbs.

    Remember that no matter what, calories determine the rate of weight gain and loss, as proven in this study here.

    Carbs and Exercise

    For those who are active or engage in regular physical exercise, carbohydrates are especially important.

    They provide the necessary energy to fuel your workouts and aid in recovery.

    Before exercise, consuming carbs can help maintain energy levels, while post-exercise carbs can replenish glycogen stores and aid in muscle recovery.

    Finding Your Best Diet

    The best diet is the one that works best for YOU!

    Some people thrive on high-carb diets, feeling energized and satisfied.

    Others do better on higher fat diets.

    Pay attention to how you feel after meals to determine your optimal balance.

    Carbs are a valuable energy source, so don’t demonize them.

    Ensure you’re also getting enough protein and healthy fats.

    I hope this helps you on your journey to a better life for yourself.

    Thank you for reading!

    Tony Gjokaj
    Tony Gjokaj

    Tony is the Owner of Reforged. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help millions exercise their way out of depression and anxiety.

    Also in LIFT Your Mood

    5 Ways Exercise Can Help With Depression
    5 Ways Exercise Can Help With Depression

    by Tony Gjokaj July 11, 2024 3 min read

    Depression is a common but serious mood disorder that affects how you feel, think, and handle daily activities.

    While many treatments are available, one of the most effective and accessible methods for managing depression is exercise.

    Regular physical activity can have a profound impact on mental health, offering both immediate and long-term benefits.

    In this post, we are going to explore 5 ways exercise helps with depression.

    Let's dive in!

    Read More
    5 Benefits of Beta Alanine: What Is Beta Alanine?
    5 Benefits of Beta Alanine: What Is Beta Alanine?

    by Tony Gjokaj July 10, 2024 3 min read

    Beta-alanine is a popular supplement in the fitness and bodybuilding community, known for its ability to enhance performance and delay muscle fatigue.

    But what exactly is beta-alanine, and how can it benefit you?

    In this post, we are going to enter the world of beta-alanine and explore its top five benefits.

    Let's dive in!

    Read More
    5 Goal Setting Principles For Your Fitness Journey
    5 Goal Setting Principles For Your Fitness Journey

    by Tony Gjokaj July 04, 2024 3 min read

    Setting goals is like plotting your course on a map: without a clear direction, you’ll just wander aimlessly.

    Proper goal setting can make the difference between achieving your fitness aspirations and feeling like you're running in circles.

    In this post, we are going to go over five key strategies to set yourself up for success.

    Let's dive in!

    Read More