Do Carbs Make You Gain Weight?

Does Eating Carbs Make You Gain Weight?
Veggie-Quinoa Mega Bowl. Courtesy of Hungry-Girl.com

Carbs can be downright confusing: Some sources claim that eating carbs can hinder weight loss and cause weight gain; others say carbs are a diet essential. I’m Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien, and I’m here to clarify the truth about carbs.

There are rumors out there that eating carbs can be detrimental to your diet. Low-carb diets have gone through periods of being super popular for weight loss. But here’s the deal:

Reality: Carbs Don’t Make You Gain Weight; Excess Calories Do

Carbs don't cause instant weight gain, but starchy carbs do have a tendency to be calorie-dense. And if you eat too many calories, you’ll probably put on weight, whether those calories are from carbs or another nutrient. Sure, it’s a problem if your diet consists only of carbs, but it’s also problematic if you’re skipping them completely. Carbohydrates play an important role in your diet; they provide energy to your body. The name of the game is balance: The USDA recommends that 45 to 65 percent of an adult’s daily calorie intake comes from carbs, with the remainder of calories coming from a mixture of protein and fat.

When it Comes to Carbs, There Are a Few Things to Keep in Mind

1. Not all carbs are created equal.

Certain carbs are better for your health than others. It’s important to limit refined carbs, which are prevalent in foods like processed white bread and cakes.

The process of refinement means the whole grains have been extracted, removing much of the fiber and nutritional value and leaving you with sugary carbs and empty calories. 

A better way to fill your daily carb quota is with complex carbs, which are found in whole foods like oats, whole grains, beans, green veggies, and potatoes.

Complex carbs are low in sugar and tend to be high in fiber. And fiber takes longer to digest than other carbs, so it keeps you satisfied and feeling full for a long time. That’s definitely true for me — if I snack on something like an apple, I’m much less likely to reach for a candy bar later in the day.

2. Even complex carbs can be calorie-dense, so watch your servings.

Always read nutritional labels, and practice portion control. One of my favorite ways to enjoy calorie-dense carbs in moderation is to bulk up the serving size with low-calorie foods like veggies: You get the health benefits of the carbs, plus a big portion and a low calorie count!

Check out this guide to bulking up portion sizes with veggies.

Need recipe inspiration?

Veggie-Quinoa Mega Bowl
Double whammy: This recipe provides healthy carbs in the form of both veggies and whole grains. Oh, and did I mention that it’s delicious? Perfect for a hearty lunch or dinner!

For more tips ’n tricks, plus guilt-free recipes, food finds, and more, sign up for free daily emails at hungry-girl.com!

Continue Reading