I guarantee you that there are at least two reactions to reading that word- "Omg YES. Where?!" & "Omg get them away from me now they make you fat".
I will be the first to say, carbs scare the living hell out of me. And in my quest to body acceptance, I am finding out I am not the only one. In fact, there are very, VERY, few people that I have met that can honestly say they have no qualms with carbohydrates. And yes, they are all boys.
When I first started seeing my dietician, Brooke, (who is the most awesome, patient, understanding, adorable human being I know, with a seriously enviable wardrobe), she asked me what my day looked like in terms of food. I told her and she asked me if I was eating no carbohydrates on purpose. "Um, duh. Carbs make you fat." Obviously I was the all knowing, all seeing, Goddess of Carbs. Then she asked me,
"How many carbs do you think you should be eating in a day?"
"Uhhhh, should? I don't know. 70-100?"
300. 3-0-0. THREE HUNDRED YOU GUYS. THREE HUNDRED CARBOHYDRATES PER DAY.
I didn't believe her. So I made her explain the logic and science behind that. In a way that even I could understand. So if I can understand it, so can you. Here it goes:
60 percent of your calories per day should be from carbs. I will tell you why in a minute. There are 4 calories per 1 gram of carbs. So, let's say you are eating 1,600 calories per day (don't eat less than that, seriously.) 1,600 calories x .60 (the 60%) = 960. Now, 960 divided by the 4 calories per gram of carb= 240 carbohydrates per day.
Okay so the 300 was based on 2,000 calories but you guys get the gist.
REJOICE THAT IS SO MANY YUMMY CARBS!
So why are we so afraid? Carbs are fuel. Nothing more, nothing less. We put WAY too much stock in what the media tells us (I'm lookin' at you Atkins Diet!). They provide the body with fuel it needs for physical activity and for proper organ function. If you restrict your intake of carbs, you will overeat them eventually. I promise.
So, why are low-carb/no-carb diets SO appealing? Because you lose weight and you lose it fast. There is no denying that. Spoiler alert though: It is physically impossible to lose 10 pounds of fat that fast. So what are you losing? WATER. Carbo-HYDRATE. AH HA! Why do you lose weight so quick on a no carb diet? Because each carbohydrate molecule is attached to a water molecule. Lose carbs, lose water. Boom. Guess what happens as soon as you put a carb in your body? All the weight comes back! Imagine that. You are not gaining fat, just like you didn't lose fat, your body is simply rehydrating itself. When I reintroduced carbs to my diet, I put on 15 pounds. In three months. Yiiiiiiiiikes. And every week, through my hysteric sobs, Brooke would remind me, "Your insides are rehydrating. Your organs are swelling back up to their normal size, your blood in thickening. You are gaining weight, not fat".
Research shows that the majority of people lose the same amount of weight whether they follow a carb-based or low-carb diet. This is because the main cause of weight-gain are calories: eating more calories than you burn will result in weight-gain, and vice versa. You could eat 4 Snickers bars a day or 5-6 healthy meals and lose weight either way. Calories in VS. Calories out. Period.
Another one of Brooke's favorite things to tell me is, "A carb is a carb is a carb." Are there 'good carbs' and 'bad carbs'? Ehhh sort of. There are simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates (candy, sugar, white rice, white bread, white pasta, etc) are not 'bad'. Bad is Lord Voldermort. Bad is not a slice of Wonder Bread. Wonder Bread did not kill Harry Potter's whole family and cause havoc on the wizzarding world. I'm just saying. Anyways, simple carbs spike your blood sugar faster than complex ones (whole grains, beans, starchy vegetables, brown rice, whole wheat pasta). This leads to a quicker energy peak, and a quicker come down, which is turn, makes you hungry sooner. Your body has to work harder to digest the complex carbs, thus, keeping you fuller longer. About 2-3 hours. Seriously, that's the difference. So if you like white rice better than brown, eat the damn white rice. Because it will do the same exact thing in your body. Pinky promise.