Myths and facts about carbohydrate diets

One of the biggest nutrition myths today is that carbohydrates are the enemy of your diet and therefore should be avoided. Myths and facts about carbohydrate diets

There are countless myths around this food group… but what is true in all these statements?

Dietitians -nutritionists have spent many years trying to deny all these statements, but it can be very difficult to raise awareness among the population because they have been transmitted generation after generation and there is also a lot of misinformation about it.

Next, I’ll try to clear up some of the misconceptions that are so common among our people.Let’s talk a bit about why carbohydrates are necessary and why we shouldn’t be so afraid of this (unfairly) mistreated nutrient.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are macronutrients consisting of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules that give our bodies energy.

In addition to their energetic function, they also have regulatory functions (they are involved in the synthesis of ATP and also in that of nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA) and plastic (since they are part of the connective tissue structure). Myths and facts about carbohydrate diets

What are the main sources of carbohydrates?

Foods rich in carbohydrates are mainly tubers (such as potatoes or sweet potatoes), legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans…), whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, couscous…), fruits , vegetables and vegetables, and dairy products .

Other sources of carbohydrates would be sugary drinks (soft drinks and juices), as well as different sweeteners such as sugar, honey or syrups, and other foods such as sweets (cookies, pastries, sweets…).

What types of carbohydrates do we find?

We will classify them by structure:

Simple carbohydrates:

  • Monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose, ribose, xylose…) and disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, maltose).
  • They are quickly absorbed.

Complex carbohydrates:

  • Polysaccharides (starch, glycogen…).
  • They are slowly absorbed.

Dietary fiber:

  • Insoluble fiber (Cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, resistant starch).
  • Soluble fiber (Inulin, fructooligosaccharides, pectins and gums).
  • It is neither digested nor absorbed.

Dietary fiber is  not assimilable, that is, when we ingest it, it undergoes practically no type of transformation throughout our digestive tract until it is eliminated with the feces. It is neither absorbed nor digested. We find it especially in vegetable sources such as fruits, vegetables, tubers, legumes and whole grains.

What functions does dietary fiber have?

  • Increase the volume of stool, decrease its consistency and shorten transit time through the digestive tract, helping to prevent constipation .
  • It serves as food for intestinal bacteria, favoring the growth of “good organisms” in our intestinal microbiota
  • It slows down the absorption of fats and sugars from food, which helps to regulate cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood.

Is it better to consume whole grains?

Endosperm, bran, and germ make up cereal grains

When we consume a refined cereal, we are eliminating the bran and the germ, with which we only consume the endosperm . This means that by refining the cereal, we are removing a large part of the nutrients that compose it, such as fiber, different B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron and potassium, in other words, we are creating a product of very high quality. low nutritional interest.

At a caloric level there is practically no difference, so I encourage you to incorporate whole grains into your day to day , since they are not only more nutritious, but by providing more fiber, they help us stay more satisfied for longer. In this way it will be easier for us to avoid pecking and to be more aware of our choices. In addition, the consumption of whole grains is also related to the reduction of blood cholesterol levels, a decrease in the risk of suffering type 2 Diabetes, and ensures a correct composition at the intestinal microbiota level.

Do carbohydrates make you fat?

There are no foods that in themselves make you fat, it is the whole of our diet that will determine that we end up gaining weight. This is due to the energy balance , if we consume more energy than we spend, this balance will be positive, with which we will gain weight. On the contrary, if we follow a hypocaloric diet in order to lose weight, this balance will be negative.

So, analyzing our food intake, not macronutrients, will be key.
This surge would also occur if we ate too much fat (nuts, oil, olives) or protein (egg, meat, fish…)
As our country abuses carbohydrates (pastries, sweets, sugary drinks, processed pasta with harmful sauces), people tend to mistrust them all.

The important thing is to eat the amounts necessary to cover our needs and maintain a healthy weight . And you may wonder, what amounts do we need daily? This will depend on many factors: age, sex, degree of physical activity… We should not consume the same amount of ” film and blanket ” on a rainy day, as on a day when we go on an excursion to the mountains and walk 15km.

Carbohydrates at night, yes or no?

This is one of the most common concerns that dietitians-nutritionists have to deal with on a daily basis. As we have just seen, weight gain will not be conditioned by the introduction of this food group, but in the end what we must assess is the daily calculation . It is important that we stop worrying about the ” timing ” in which we introduce this group of foods and commit ourselves to their quality . Myths and facts about carbohydrate diets

Why do we lose weight so fast if we remove foods rich in carbohydrates?

Our culture abuses pasta, rice, and bread (refined cereals, pastries)
Due to two considerations, eliminating certain foods immediately causes weight loss
  1. By eliminating this source of energy, popular diets (the fact that they are popular does not mean that they are recommended ) incorporate protein and vegetables. which we are eliminating and replacing with lower-calorie items (we change the hydrates for vegetables).
  2. As glycogen stores are exhausted, water weight is lost. Reintroducing this group of meals replenishes muscle glycogen stores, thus we gain weight.

It’s necessary to follow a balanced, nutritious, sufficient, appropriate, and safe weight loss diet prescribed by a dietitian-nutritionist.

Several diets promise rapid and instant results, which might be harmful.
These diets prohibit numerous foods and are difficult to follow.
We struggle with food because of this.
We’ll hit the weight in a few months by enduring atrocities, then return to our former lifestyles.
Again and over.

The only diet that works is to develop excellent habits, which takes time but yields long-term results.


  • Healthy diets must include carbohydrates, but choose the best (vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains).
  • Always prioritize the integral option if there is one.
  • Introduce carbohydrates if you are following a weight loss diet, it will help you stay satiated for longer, having more control over anxiety and avoiding possible binge eating .
  • Reducing the consumption of foods with added sugars can offer us benefits on our health. Remember that abusing these products can lead us to suffer from different ailments such as obesity, diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia , cavities,…
  • Refined cereals before athletics or intestinal flu

Producers, cooks, and customers add free sugars to honey, syrups, fruit juices, and concentrates.
If we can lower our intake to 5% or below, we can reap various health benefits.  Myths and facts about carbohydrate diets

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