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Don't Be Afraid Of Carbs!

You Need Them For Survival...& Making Those GAINS!

Posted by JoeHurricane - January 26th, 2015

Carbohydrates. For most of us, they fall into one of two categories - friend or enemy.


We either think they're great because we have been told to pack on muscle, you need to be eating lots of carbs, or we hate them because as a result of eating too many carbs, we carry a bit, or a lot, of unwanted fat.

Evil Carbs

We've all heard the common theme - if you want to lose weight, go on a low carb diet, because carbs are the devil's sidekick. In the past we were told not to eat fat, because that would make us fat. Now, it is all about carbohydrates and how they tend to make us store fat.


Everything above is absolutely true. Carbs are the main macronutrient responsible for making us store fat (that and eating in a huge caloric surplus, and without exercising). But does that mean we should cut out carbs all together? No way. If you did, it simply wouldn't be sustainable.

Why Do We Need Carbs?

If you have ever heard of someone who went on a low carb diet, you probably found that their diet didn't last very long at all. Put simply, we need carbohydrates to function. Carbs are the main energy source for the body. This is before we even start talking about adding in exercise to your daily regime.


In order for things like your brain, liver, kidneys and of course muscles to do what they are supposed to do, you need to be feeding them carbohydrates.

Also, if you take away carbs from your diet and therefore your body, you are forcing your body to resort to other means of providing your organs with energy.


The energy we get from carbs is glucose, and as you may already know, all things that end in 'cose' are a type of sugar. When there are no carbs to provide us with that much needed glucose, the body has to find a new way to get it and what is the first source it normally looks to for that energy? Protein.


Protein's main job is to fuel and replenish your muscles. Of course, proteins are the building blocks for muscles. But when you starve the body of carbohydrates, proteins are given a new job - to keep the body in working order. And what does that mean? It means the proteins are no longer working on building your muscles, there's simply more important things at stake. Carbs are good for other things too, like eliminating waste.

How Many Carbs Should I Eat?

So now we know carbs are, like protein and fat, an essential macronutrient. They remain, however, the key macronutrient to manipulate when you are aiming for fat loss, or muscle gain.


Low carb diets, if you are after a lean, muscular body, are the way to go. Low carb diets are also the way to go if you want to lose excess body fat. But just how low is low enough, how low is too low, and what is deemed high?


A good rule of thumb is to eat no more than 1g carbs per lb of body weight when trying to lose weight. When trying to gain muscle, a good rule of thumb may be the same, but could be as high as 1.2-1.5g carbs per lb of bodyweight. Some will say percentages are the best way to map out your carb intake, such as 40% of your overall caloric intake should be from carbs. There is also the method of calculating your BMR and your lean body weight, to find out your daily protein and fat goals. Once you have your calories from protein and fat, the remainder of your calories, theoretically, should come from carbs.

Should Everyone Follow This Advice?

These, however, are only GUIDELINES. They are not set in stone, and it takes some trial and error from person to person to see what works best for them. Another thing to remember is an excess of protein can be damaging for the kidneys, so you shouldn't simply load up on protein to avoid carbs.


There is also the issue of total calories needed for growth which needs to be taken into account. Ectomorphs, or so-called 'hard-gainers', often have lightning quick metabolisms, and need a lot more calories than the average person. This also goes for teenagers. Because of this, carbs may become even more important than usual. That fast metabolism may allow you to eat a higher amount of carbs than others, because you have a body which will burn through them and fail to store them as fat. Therefore, in order to put on muscle, you need to be giving your body enough fuel, and often you will find extra carbs are needed to give you that boost.


For those who aren't lucky enough to have fast metabolisms (it slows down for everyone eventually), and for those who are carb sensitive, carbs should be limited, but still present in your diet. The main concern for all when eating carbs should be what sort of carbs you are eating, which brings me to my final point about various carb sources.

What Choices Do I Have When It Comes To Carbs?

There are complex and simple carbs. Complex, or starchy carbs, are things like potatoes, rice, bread, oatmeal, pasta, vegetables and more. Simple carbs are your sugar-laden foods - candy, raw sugar, jam, honey, and even fruit. Complex carbs should make up most of your diet, and simple carbs should be rare. Here's a way to remember the two - To help your flex, eat complex. Eating simple can give you pimples. (a bit cheesy but I had to think of something XD)


Fruits are the odd ones out when it comes to simple carbs. Fruits are good for you, and contain lots of important vitamins and mineral, so you should always have fruit in your diet. However, you don't want to load up on fruit because of their natural sugar levels. Even natural sugar can be bad for your health if you consume too much.


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Conclusion

So there you have it guys, a bit of information to help you better understand carbohydrates and why you should be eating them on a daily basis. Whether you are out to gain muscle, lose fat, or just live a happy, healthy life, carbohydrates are an essential part of your diet. The next time you think that your best bet for reaching your goals will come from drastically reducing your carbs, stop and think about whether you will be hindering or helping yourself.


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MEMBER COMMENTS

Arjun17

Really great article man! :D

Amin_C

This is a great article. Finally.

Amin_C

Except for one thing: not all vegetables are complex carbs. Just a few, like potatoes. Most are simple I believe. Simple carbs with fiber and loads of cellulose. 

Amin_C

Although tecnically Fiber could be considered a complex carb, so from that point of view all fruits and veggies would be a combination of simple and complex carbs.

JoeHurricane

Thanks @amin_c! That's a good point you make about potatoes..You might be right actually..but they're still great carbs to have in your diet! haha.

EssCee

Great article - i followed the above advice when i posted a similar question on the forum. Only point i would add is you have to be patient to see the results :-)

JoeHurricane

Glad you liked it @esscee! Yeah that goes for a lot of things fitness-wise - be patient :)

Scott_Herman

@esscee patience is a virtue!

john74

Diet is tricky for me, I'm still trying to figure out a good one that will work. This article had some golden advice thx!.

JoeHurricane

Glad it was useful @john74!


There are lots of delicious AND healthy carbs out there!


Jump in the @forums if you have any other questions about your diet.

Scott_Herman

yeah the @forums are a great place to go for lots of helps and advice @john74.

Check out this article as well!

http://muscularstrength.com/article/building-your-meal-plan-calculate-protein-carbohydrates-fat

heyhay5212

Good content. I'm glad you set the record straight about carbohydrates. The body needs at least 120-130g of carbohydrates just to maintain normal body and brain functions so low carb is not the way to go fora sustainable lifestyle. 

heyhay5212

No bro science here.  Just real facts! @scott_herman.

JoeHurricane

@erica_stibich your post was blank too! You and @scott_herman both had it happen! haha.


Is it just that you guys don't really want to leave comments on my articles?

JoeHurricane

right on @heyhay5212!


And glad you liked the article, gotta have those carbs!

jmboiardi

Jordan,


Excellent article on a sometimes confusing and controversial topic.  I need to make one slight correction if I may.  When the body is low on glucose, and therefore insulin, the body releases large amounts of growth hormone.  Growth hormone preserves muscle and protein and tells the body to burn body fat for fuel.  When this is done consistently, it is called ketosis as the body uses ketone bodies from fatty acid metabolism to fuel the body.  This is why Intermittent Fasting is so effective for maintaining muscle and burning fat for natural athletes and why synthetic growth hormone makes the bodybuilders of today so large, lean, and muscular.   There is a catch though:  the body can go at most 80 hours without food or carbs before it starts to cannibolize muscle for fuel.  People who try to sustain ketosis by limiting their carbs to no more than 25g per day will get extremely lean provided they keep their protein intake high but this is not the body's preferred state and is best reserved for pre-contest preparation.  The main issue with carbs is people eat too much of the wrong kind - simple, processed carbs.  If people eat the carbs and amounts you have listed in your article, carbs will be an asset not a liability :-)



JoeHurricane

Thanks for the correction John! Always learning, which is great...The more I learn about this stuff the better! :)

Scott_Herman

I can go 300 hours with no food or carbs.  because my power level is ovr 9000!!!!!!!

But seriously, great article @joehurricane and great addition @jmboiardi, I hope you can write more content soon.  

JoeHurricane

OHHH YEAAH! Who needs carbs anyway...just give me some Senzu beans and I'll be good to go! 


You got it @scott_herman, I hope so too!

crood

i'll not give up my bowl of rolled oats just because some freaks panic about every type of carb :P Thus completely agreed Joe.  We need a certain amount to function, and the good kind. What we surely do not need is candy round about the clock. If even at all. I don't even miss it anymore :)

JoeHurricane

Don't listen to them @crood! haha. I need to start eating more oats!

Adawg38

Couldn't have said it better myself. I'm a carboholic and when I cut carbs my energy is out the window so I stick around the 40% like you said or 1g per pound of body weight. You can still cut by having a little higher carbs and lower fats as well but I choose to cut more carbs because like I said I'm a carboholic and when I have them about twice as much that is where my weight gain comes from. My fats and proteins have always been in a healthy range.

JoeHurricane

Right on @adawg38, those carbs are all important for making sure you can hit it hard!

Whisper

Terrific article Joe! Short and to the point, just the way I like it.
To be honest I needed to refresh my knowledge of carbs and nutrition a little bit :)

JoeHurricane

Thanks man! It's almost as good as your article, right?! :P

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