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Essential Guide to Carbohydrates: Do Carbs Make You Fat?

Updated: Mar 7

In the quest for optimal fitness and physique, carbohydrates (carbs) play a pivotal role that often gets misunderstood.

This guide dives deep into the world of carbohydrates, debunking myths and providing actionable advice for anyone looking to improve their physique and performance.

Learning How to Handle Your Nutritional Weapon….

Carbohydrates are like the double-edged sword of nutrition. On the one hand, they're the swift and powerful allies in the battle for energy and muscle recovery, similar to a knight's trusted blade during a fight.

Consumed strategically, they fuel the body for peak performance, aiding in the swift victory of muscle growth and endurance.

On the other hand, wielded without care or precision—much like a sword handled recklessly—they can become foes.

Overindulgence and choosing the wrong types (simple sugars over complex carbs) can lead to an accumulation of excess weight gain, insulin resistance, and unwanted fat gain; like the sword causing harm to its bearer.

Like any weapon, the benefits or detriments of carbohydrates depend largely on how they're used: skillfully managed, they're invaluable allies; mishandled, they can turn against you, impacting health and body composition negatively.

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What Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients (alongside proteins and fats) that provide energy to the body. They are found in a wide variety of foods, from grains and legumes to fruits and vegetables.

Various Carbs

Structurally, carbs can be classified into three main types: sugars, starches, and fiber. Each plays a unique role in nutrition and has different effects on the body.


The Role of Carbohydrates in the Body

Carbohydrates serve several critical functions in the body, including but not limited to:

  • Energy Production: Carbs (not fats) are the body's preferred energy source, especially during high-intensity workouts.

  • Muscle Preservation: Adequate carb intake helps prevent the body from using muscle tissue for energy. We gotta keep that hard-earned muscle.

  • Metabolic Support: Carbs help regulate blood glucose levels and support thyroid function, both of which are crucial for metabolism.

Understanding these roles is essential for optimizing your diet for muscle growth and fat loss.

Carbohydrates and Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin is a hormone that allows cells to take up glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream. Enhanced insulin sensitivity means the body can more efficiently use carbs for energy and muscle growth, rather than storing them as fat.

To improve insulin sensitivity, here are some key considerations:

  • Timing: Consuming carbs post-workout when the body is more insulin sensitive.

  • Quality: Choosing complex carbs (like sweet potatoes and oatmeal) over simple carbs (candy, baked goods, sugary drinks).

  • Quantity: Adjusting carb intake based on activity level and body composition goals.

Carbohydrate Timing for Optimal Performance

Timing your carbohydrate intake can significantly impact your performance and physique. Consuming the majority of your carbs around your workout period; pre- and post-workout can be a body comp cheat code.

This strategy takes advantage of the body's heightened insulin sensitivity during and after exercise, promoting muscle glycogen (stored energy in muscles) replenishment and growth while minimizing fat gain. Win-Win!

The Glycemic Index and Carbohydrate Selection

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood glucose levels. Selecting low to moderate GI carbs for most meals to maintain stable blood sugar levels and support sustained energy release will be best.

However, higher GI carbs may be beneficial post-workout (along with protein for mandatory amino acids) to rapidly replenish muscle glycogen.

Glycemic Index

Fiber: The Forgotten Carbohydrate

Fiber, often overlooked in discussions about carbs, plays a crucial role in digestive health, satiety, and overall well-being.

It’s Important to include a variety of fiber-rich foods in your diet, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, to support gut health and aid in body composition goals.

How much Fiber?

Men: 30-38 grams daily; Women: 21-25 grams daily.

The bare minimum I’d recommend is 10 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume.

Customizing Carbohydrate Intake

Since everyone's body responds differently to carbs, I’d recommend starting with a baseline carb intake and adjusting based on your body's response, performance, and goals.

Factors such as current body fat percentage, metabolic rate, and activity level should dictate your carb consumption.

Pro-tip to get you started:

Match your carb intake 1:1 with your protein intake. So, 1 gram of carbohydrate for every pound of body weight (or goal weight).

Start there and adjust accordingly.

Common Myths About Carbohydrates

  • Myth 1: Carbs Make You Fat. It's not carbs per se that contribute to fat gain, but an excess calorie intake. When consumed in moderation and aligned with your energy expenditure, carbs are essential for fueling workouts and supporting recovery.

  • Myth 2: All Carbs Are Created Equal. The source of carbs matters immensely. Whole, nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources offer more health benefits compared to processed and refined carbs.

Different Carbs

  • Myth 3: Low-Carb Diets Are Best for Everyone. While low-carb diets can be effective for certain individuals, especially those with specific metabolic conditions, they are not universally the best option. Performance athletes and those with high activity levels may require higher carb intakes to support their energy demands.

The Bottom Line - Do Carbs Make You Fat?

Carbohydrates are unfairly demonized due to misunderstanding and abuse. Chosen wisely and consumed in moderation—they can be a beneficial, energy-giving part of our diet.


Used as intended, carbs can help improve your body composition, supercharge your resistance training, and maximize your energy levels.


So next time someone tells you, “Carbs make you fat”, or “Carbs are bad”….


Gently remind them, “Carbs aren’t bad…. They are just misused and misunderstood”.


After all, a good craftsman never blames their tools.


See ya next week,

Coach Michael


77 views1 comment

1 comentário

Janice Chan
Janice Chan
29 de fev.

Great insights, coach! I loved the breakdown. Feel like I always overlook fiber and I want to try to incorporate it more!

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