Why excess carbs make you fat

Understanding carbohydrates in your diet will make a huge difference on your waistline. Here is my simplified explanation on carbs for you. Once you understand carbs and what falls under carbs you will clearly see why you may still be struggling with your weight.

One of the most common subjects I find when consulting with clients regarding their weight loss at Easy Health Wellness clinic is the misunderstanding of what exactly falls under the carbohydrate (starch) group.

Not having a clear definition of what to count as a carbohydrate on your meal plan can be just the reason why you’re are not losing weight –  or specifically burning fat as well as you would like.

Let’s make this easy and simple to understand

·         A carb is a food that is broken down to sugar

·         Sugar gives you energy

·         If you don’t burn up the energy then it is stored as fat

·         Thus eating excess carbs = weight gain

Refined Sugars

We all know these as the general list to have in minimal amounts and to actually avoid (almost like a diabetic list of no-no’s)

·         Sugar – already in its simplest form, gets absorbed immediately. Therefore if you haven’t eaten all day and you have a cool drink e.g. coke  or a chocolate bar, you feel better immediately as the sugar is taken up immediately

·         The same applies for sweets, chocolates, cakes, puddings etc. – what is added to the sugar is fat (basically cream, butter, full cream milk)

·         These are Refined Carbs and it has basically no (or very little) nutritional value and lots of extra kilojoules

We then have Starches

·         Bread, buns, rice, pasta, potato, couscous, pap, breakfast cereals, whole-wheat biscuits e.g. Provitas, rice cakes, popcorn, corn on the cob (mealies) and  pretzels

·         These differ in fibre content e.g. whole-wheat bread compared to white bread or white rice compared to brown rice, but the carb content remains the same

·         Starches are also broken down into sugar. They take a little longer to break down, especially foods that are higher in fibre, but ultimately they eventually become sugar

Fruit and Vegetables

·         These have natural sugars and also contribute to carbs in your diet

·         If you are diabetic you need to know that they will therefore influence your blood sugar levels, so portion control is important

·         100% fruit juice which has “no added sugar” is also high in carbs as it is a concentrated source of natural sugar

Dry Beans and Lentils

·         These are low biological value (LBV) protein and count as a starch in your diet

·         They contain soluble fibre and are a healthy choice but do remember to count the carb.


Now that you understand exactly what falls under carbs and you also know that carbs are broken down to sugar, think about all the foods in your diet that fall into these groups (healthy or unhealthy). You will quickly see how your diet is much higher in carbs than you thought. All carbs that are not used up are stored as fat.

Diets high in carbohydrates (even if they are from a healthy source e.g. low GI bread) eaten in excess will not help your waistline.


Written by Ajita Ratanjee, Dietitian at Easy Health Wellness



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