Let’s get to the bottom of the question: Do carbohydrates make you fat? What is it about the allegations of the low-carb scene?
Carbohydrates are not bad, per se, and they mostly have become the villains since the Atkins diet, Keto, etc. Today we’re resolving the circling myth to the question “do carbohydrates make you fat.” So, let’s jump right into it.
How many carbohydrates a day make you gain weight?
An important basis is that the body differentiates between a calorie deficit and excess calories even with higher carbohydrate consumption. Some harmful processes only jumpstart carbohydrates when there is an excess of calories.
In the calorie deficit, it doesn’t matter how many carbohydrates you eat – your body won’t make fat from it. This also applies indirectly to fructose, which is in the pillory.
Which carbohydrates make you fat?
There is fructose, which we can find in fruit and in cane sugar. And there is glucose from which complex carbohydrates – starch – are made.
Fructose in fruit does not make you fat, because the energy density is too low and fruit has fiber and vitamins in his luggage.
Fructose in cane sugar (sweets, lemonades) and fruit juices (> 80% fructose) clearly lead to obesity, and this from just 30 g of pure fructose daily. From this amount, the liver begins to make fat. However, at this level sports can completely compensate for this.
In summary: Fruit does not make you fat, table sugar and fruit juices do. As long as you exercise regularly, however, this will not make you gain weight.
Today I am concerned with glucose in the form of starch: rice, pasta, bread, dumplings, pasta, etc. It is about statements a.k.a. “Noodles make you fat”. And it’s about blood sugar (glucose in the blood) after eating.
Do carbohydrates make you put on pounds? Four approaches
1 – The Randle cycle or: avoid fat and carbohydrates together!
A certain Mr. Randle published a study in the 1960s that dealt with the metabolism of large amounts of carbohydrates and fat – at the same time.
He discovered that blood lipids and blood sugar block each other. The fats prevent the absorption and burning of blood sugar. In turn, excessive blood sugar levels can prevent the burning of fat.
In this case, high blood sugar and high insulin levels are present. The sugar, however, cannot enter the cells, and one speaks of temporary insulin resistance.
This, on the other hand, can end in chronic insulin resistance. In addition, due to the abnormally high blood sugar level, there is an inflammatory reaction, which causes further problems.
Insulin resistance and inflammation in the body are unfortunately also the preliminary stage of diabetes mellitus, which is often accompanied by overweight.
If this type of reaction (temporary insulin resistance and inflammation) occurs more often, your body makes fat from the excess blood sugar because it somehow wants to protect itself from the constant blood sugar surges.
Fat and carbohydrates – Combinations you should avoid:
Rice and coconut milk
Pasta with cream sauce
Dumplings with pork
White bread with butter and jam or chocolate spread
Suggestion: Either you avoid both in combination, or try to increase the protein and fiber content (lean meat + lots of vegetables) in this meal. This buffers the adverse effects.
A side effect of this “metabolic reaction” is also a lack of concentration and thus the classic food coma on Sunday afternoons.
Note: This is easily possible at different times. A carbohydrate lunch and a high-fat dinner six hours later? That’s no problem at all.
Severe overweight and carbohydrates
If you carry a little more body fat (> 20%) with you, a constant “spill-over” happens in your fat tissue, in which fat simply gets into the bloodstream. This is one reason why overweight people are often advised to eat a low-carbohydrate diet (and lose weight).
You just learned why: the fats from the adipose tissue suppress the absorption and utilization of carbohydrates.
2 – Processed grain products and modified starches
It is about processed grain products (flour products) as well as modified starches (industrial junk food), the most concentrated sources of starch at all.
People who are sensitive to sugar experience a sharp increase in blood sugar after such a meal. The body then responds with an inflammatory reaction to protect you from systemic sugar shock.
As a result of this inflammatory reaction, a lot of blood sugar is pumped into the fat cells, which then produce fat from it.
With which people does this occur? Quite simply. With people who practically feed on such products (daily frozen pizza and croissants) and who move little or not at all. Experience has shown that these have poor insulin sensitivity (poor insulin action).
Should you exercise regularly and consume the products mentioned in moderation, your body will not produce any fat from them (more on this under number 4).
Avoid or reduce such products completely (no grain at all) or try to eat grain in its original forms, such as sourdough bread or cooked grains.
For various reasons (more chewing performance, more fiber), this does not lead to an excessive rise in blood sugar.
3 – Physical inactivity makes you gain weight
This applies to everyone who sits or lies on the couch for the majority of the day due to work, age or illness. However, prolonged physical inactivity leads to insulin resistance and obesity.
Why? Nature has provided carbohydrates as a reward after an effort: after a hunt, or after fasting, or an ecstatic dance around the campfire. Then the insulin effect increases, and the cells can absorb the sugar better because they are “hungrier”.
However, if you have been lying on the sofa for 5 hours and maximally moved the remote control, you cannot do anything with the carbohydrates at this moment.
Conversely, physical inactivity means what has been proven in many studies: Who only sits (e.g. desk work) or lies down (e.g. hospitalization, couch potato) has a poorer insulin effect and runs the risk of an inflammatory reaction.
More about this here too: Lose weight without dieting and exercising – Natural Tips
So, if your everyday life looks something like mentioned above, you have two options:
Build more exercise into your everyday life: walks; getting up every now and then; a standing table; integrate Tabata and/or HIIT exercises into your lifestyle. They boost your metabolism.
If point one is only possible to a limited extent, make sure to eat a carbohydrate-reduced diet. Focus on healthy fats and protein sources in order not to expect your body to experience excessive inflammatory reactions and to avoid obesity.
Are carbohydrates fattening? An interim conclusion
The previous chapters dealt with metabolic conditions that lead to an inflammatory reaction. In this context, carbohydrates lead to obesity.
You can prevent this by doing the following:
1- Eat fat and carbohydrates separately
2- No sugar
3- Avoid junk food
4- No processed grain/modified starch
5- Build activity and exercise into everyday life (Daily Workout Motivation)
In order for you to begin to lead a reasonably healthy, normal life, these foundations were very important to clarify today’s question.
But doesn’t the body form fat from carbohydrates at some point when there are simply too many? If pasta exceeds a certain amount, won’t it make you fat all by itself?
We now want to investigate this question:
4- From what amount does the body produce fat from carbohydrates?
We call this process de novo lipogenesis (DNL). This process only takes place in two body tissues: in the liver and in the fat cells.
Dr. Hellerstein (1997) has devoted half of his career to this process.
He writes: De novo lipogenesis (DNL) practically does not take place in a healthy body. The body does not make fat from carbohydrates if you take into account the 5 points mentioned above.
He writes “… DNL can occur, but it generally does not.” (DNL can occur, but usually does not).
And that is exactly the central point of today’s article: Your body will, in common normal stage, contrary to popular belief, not make fat from carbohydrates!
Human foie gras – When does the body make fat from carbohydrates?
In Hellerstein’s studies, test subjects (mostly male, athletic and 20-30 years old) are fattened with carbohydrates from solid foods in order to measure DNL.
This resulted in some very interesting points that I would like to briefly pass on to you:
What is built into the adipose tissue is not the former carbohydrates, but nutritional fats.
Single meals with carbohydrates up to 500g did not lead to DNL in healthy, reasonably athletic subjects.
Day-long carbohydrate fattening did not lead to DNL in these people either.
Only from a daily amount of >800g carbohydrates did DNL occur. This is the point at which the starch stores in the body are full.
If there are excess calories, all the fat in the food gets stored, but no conversion of carbohydrates into fat takes place.
Drinks with a lot of simple sugars (glucose and fructose) very quickly led to DNL and fat storage.
So don’t panic about rice and the like, they won’t make your muffin edge grow and thrive. Unless you eat 2 pounds of rice a day, you should not have anything to worry about.
If you don’t believe me, try the following experiment: Try not to eat anything other than rice on an ordinary, active day. Consume as much as possible. You will notice that it is practically impossible to overeat and gain weight from a reasonably natural carbohydrate source (whole food, here unprocessed rice).
You will only if you …
1- Spend the day on the sofa
2- Grind the rice into flour and bake rice bread or the like from it
3- Drown the rice in plenty of coconut milk
Carbohydrates only make you gain weight if you:
1- Constantly mix fat with carbohydrates and at the same time consume too little protein and fiber
2- Are physically inactive
3- Carry a lot of excess weight with you and don’t change anything
4- Consume too much sugar (cane sugar) and fruit juices/lemonades
5- Eat too much junk food and processed carbohydrates
I hope that with today’s article and the question “Do carbohydrates make you fat?” I have a little bit removed the fear of the ‘bad’ carbohydrates.
In moderation and in a natural environment, your body weight will not move upwards if you incorporate healthy, low-pollution starch sources (e.g. rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, some pseudo-cereals) into your everyday life and do not eat more than your stomach allows.
Because a healthy and well-balanced diet can and should contain quite a few carbohydrates.
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