Good Versus Bad Carbohydrates: Busting Myths

March 27, 2018
The problem when it comes to losing weight is not the intake of carbohydrates, but the difficulty in distinguishing between good and bad carbohydrates. The first ones are fundamental for our health.

Even though they are delicious and irresistible, carbohydrates can be terrible if your goal is to lose weight. Needless to say, they increase the risk of suffering from diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders, heart failure, and diabetes, right? Well, there are good and bad carbohydrates. Let’s take a look.

In many sites on the internet, you can find people who claim that carbohydrates make you fat and sick.

You will also find some others, including dietitians, who claim that carbohydrates are indispensable for optimal health.

So, are there good carbs or not?

Myth 1: Carbohydrates inevitably make you fat

When you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks them into various types of sugars, among which include glucose. When it increases in your blood, your pancreas begins to secrete more insulin.

This allows the cells to absorb and convert glucose into energy. On the other hand, insulin is also involved in the storage of fat. For this reason, we talk about bad carbohydrates that cause weight gain.

However, not all carbohydrates are the same. Consider the following: an apple and a donut have approximately 25 grams of carbohydrates.

What do you think will cause your glucose levels to increase rapidly? The donut, of course.

Unlike the apple, which has 4.4 grams of fiber, the donut only contains 0.8 grams. The fiber helps delay the absorption of glucose in the blood.

On the other hand, the apple, thanks to its fiber, will make you satisfied longer, which translates into good carbohydrates.

For this reason, the type and quality of the carbohydrates you consume will determine how your body responds to them.

Myth 2: It is not natural for humans to have carbohydrate-rich diets


There is the idea of bad carbohydrates based on the fact that people formerly had very low carbohydrate diets.

However, if we look, the consumption of carbohydrates varied according to the latitude in which they lived.

It is said that the Inuit tribes, for example, not being able to have access to fruits and varied foods, consumed a very low amount of carbohydrates.

However, it is known that they obtained carbohydrates by chewing the skin of whales, walrus liver, berries, dried fruits, tubers, and seaweed when they were available.

The consumption of carbohydrates varied a lot among ancient cultures. Although some had to make extra effort, all of them consumed good carbohydrates.

Myth 3: You can only lose weight if you follow a ketogenic diet

lose weight

It is believed that the less carbohydrates you eat, the faster you will lose weight. Of course, by switching from a high-carbohydrate diet to a low one, you will lose body fat easily.

However, consuming less and less carbohydrates does not necessarily lead to losing weight faster.

In some people, weight loss with a ketogenic diet is greater because they end up decreasing their calorie intake because they either consume more protein-rich foods high in fiber, or eat less than they need.

However, another group of people do not lose as much weight, as certain hormones are regulated, such as cortisol, which increases when you do not consume good carbohydrates.

While this mechanism is normal, cortisol production can be negative for your health if:

  • You have adrenal fatigue.
  • Or, you do not get enough exposure to the sun.
  • Stress is impacting your wellbeing.
  • You do not sleep regularly enough.

Consider that the drastic reduction of carbohydrates without improving your diet and lifestyle does not necessarily accelerate weight loss.

Myth 4: Consuming too few carbohydrates can not hurt anyone


While many people are very good at a low carbohydrate diet, it may adversely affect your health.

In a pregnancy, for example, it is necessary to consume enough carbohydrates to make sure that the baby’s brain develops correctly. Also, without carbohydrates, you are likely to increase your protein intake.

If this reaches a consumption higher than 25% of the total calories, your baby could be born with low weight. You can even increase the risk of perinatal mortality for the baby.

In athletes, it could lead to lower performance, increase weight, or even need more time to recover from training.

When you have hypothyroidism and you follow a diet low in good carbohydrates, your insulin levels go down. This causes your body to not be able to correctly convert the inactive T4 hormone to the active hormone T3.

For this reason, the symptoms of hypothyroidism can appear suddenly. You could also be affecting the production of substances in your intestinal flora, which can lead to various problems, from obesity to skin diseases.

Myth 5: Low carbohydrate diets are dangerous and useless

low carb diet

A diet low in bad carbohydrates is a powerful therapeutic tool against:

  • Being overweight
  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Polycystic ovary
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

It is possible that many of these diseases are generated by the consumption of refined carbohydrates, but you can not judge all carbohydrates in the same way, because not all are bad.

That is why it is important that you learn how to reduce the bad ones and how to incorporate the good carbohydrates into your routine.

Consult with your doctor regarding your ideal diet according to your needs.