The Playbook For The Modern Man

Carbs Don’t Actually Make You Fat & A Nutrition Coach Explains Why

To french fry, or not to french fry?

“I’ll skip the bread – I’m on a low-carb diet”. It’s a common saying that’s become almost biblical in today’s physique obsessed world, but apparently we’ve been looking at it wrong all along and the humble carbohydrate is more friend than foe – if treated with respect.

Graeme Tomlinson is a personal trainer and nutrition coach who boasts over 350,000 followers on Instagram. On his latest journey into the world of diet myth busting, Tomlinson explains the misconception behind the “don’t eat it because it’s got carbs and you’ll get fat” notion.

He pinpoints the problem to the negative connotations that carbohydrates have been increasingly subjected to over the past 30 years. According to the nutritionist, it’s mainly by those who erroneously sympathise with the notion consumption of carbs will impact body fat more so than any other macronutrient source.

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So if carbs aren’t evil then who is? It’s the caloric density within the carbs which often skyrockets in the best tasting foods we love to indulge in.

“Pizza, pasta, chips, bread and pastry all fall inside the umbrella of ‘Don’t eat it because it’s got carbs and you’ll get fat’, yet if we examine the exact ingredients in such food we can immediately assert that carbohydrates are not the only caloric variable present. The examples displayed on the right of this graphic represent foods which contain calories from carbs, protein and more pertinently, fat – which houses caloric density.”

Tomlinson breaks it down by explaining that there are 9 calories per gram of fat whilst there are only 4 calories per gram of protein and carbs.

“Therefore the presence of protein and fat (via additional ingredients) within food will increase its overall caloric worth. Calorie balance (of any macronutrient ratio) determines body composition. Not carbs.”

Easy enough to understand. Tomlinson goes on to explain that the long winded argument that ‘carbs make you fat’ is futile when you consider that fruits and vegetables are mainly made up of carbohydrates.

“By persecuting carbs in such generic terms, one would be inadvertently claiming that ‘broccoli makes you fat’,” adds Tomlinson.

According to the nutrition coach, the secret to reducing body fat has long been more about creating a negative energy balance – that is, burning more energy than you consume – irrespective of your carbohydrate intake. The omission of carbs from your diet will create a calorie deficit but the same process also

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Cutting out carbs may create a calorie deficit, but the same result also occurs if fat and protein are removed. The issue is that most foods we eat today contain all three macronutrients so splitting them up is never ideal (unless you like pizza without toppings). In this case, Tomlinson says that the most realistic approach is to address overall caloric worth of food.

“Then you can realise that carbohydrates can feature in any dieting goal.”

Now that sounds like a plan. Hold our gnocchi.

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  • oldhess

    I love that what makes you an expert is the number of Instagram followers. I weep for our future. While what he’s saying is partly true he is missing a huge part of the equation and that is hormones. When your diet is rich in carbs your body creates more of the hormone that tells your body to store these excess carbs. And how does your body store that kind of stuff? Yep, as fat. While what he is saying is partly true he is missing a bigger picture of how the body reacts to carbs.

  • rbfx4x

    The old calories in / calories out theory. The reason carbs make you fat has nothing to do with calories. It’s insulin. It’s one of many reasons why 99% of those who cut calories to lose weight end in total failure.

  • Macro Four

    Such stupidity in this article one hardly knows where to begin.

  • Nom DePlume

    It’s just “more than,” not “more so than.”

  • Deshon Husband

    Bs Carbs have not gotten a bad rep all these years its been about fat thats why every so called healthy product is low fat.

  • dansari

    Kind of agree with this article and all the comments about insulin – but another thing missing from this article and the coach’s analysis is the types of carbs eaten. Low glycemic index *meals* won’t raise insulin as much as low.

  • Carmen Flores

    This is very true, finally someone gets it!!

  • gordon_wagner

    I can’t post, but I can reply. That’s interesting.

    I’ve lost over a hundred pounds by cutting out carbs. So I don’t particularly care what some guy on some site I’ve never heard of has to say. It sounds like another Big Ag shill, telling people that keto diets are somehow bad for you — when all they want is to sell more carb-heavy empty nutrition. They’re terrified that people will continue to realize what we’ve been fed all these years is not what we ought to be eating.

  • Atticus Rex

    This is why you don’t listen to simpletons with no…. no as in zero… understanding of human physiology. Tomlinson, stick to lifting weights and grunting.

  • notsofastnow

    This article misses a key point. Some carbs cause insulin spikes, which lead to inflammation in addition to inevitable weight gain. The old calories in, calories out model has been disproved by recent studies that show different metabolic responses to different foods, or that insulin resistance caused by constant carb overload makes weight loss difficult for some people.

    In fact, NBC and the Biggest Loser are now being sued by former contestants who cannot maintain their weight, even on a reduced calorie diet. The show’s approach to weight loss, which was centered on a sharp reduction of calories, screwed up their metabolism.

  • Paul Melzer

    There are carbs and there are carbs. The author at once makes the differentiation between whole food carbs like fruits and veggies, but then lumps them together with processed carbs like breads, pasta, processed sugars, etc., giving them a free pass because their somehow combined with other macronutrients. Call a spade a spade, please: processed carbs are truly bad for your health—varying from individual just HOW bad—and removing them from your diet will be a good thing. The human body was never meant to consume most of its calories from grains and sugars, plain and simple.

  • Lou DiMarzo

    This is such bullshit. They just don’t want you to try low carb diets because they know it works! I’ve been on Keto since June and lost almost 50lbs. So don’t tell me carbs don’t make you fat. Lol all these fitness celebrities saying it doesn’t work is cause there losing out on money now that people have found a real way to lose weight!

  • http://www.formerfatguy.com Rob Cooper

    Well this article wasn’t received so we’ll was it. My suggestion is to follow the advice of doctors who follow a low carb diet and scientists who study it rather than a coach. I was a nutritional coach at one time myself. I realized there was FAR more to it than CICO

  • Dar Astara

    Baloney. The science is not on his side. What makes you fat (or unfat) are your levels of insulin. Period. Decreasing calories in or out will only affect your glycogen stores. Carbs trigger insulin more than anything else. Veggies are great, especially if you throw a little butter on them. Do your research.

  • Kevin Criswell

    um….no sorry no special hormone is released when you eat just “carbs”. study up on the diffrence between HOW the body processes simple vs complex carbs.
    You make the mistake most are by lumping all “carbs” into the same category when the reality is to focus on how insulin operates and how simple carbs trigger a diffrence in insulin response vs how complex carbs trigger an insulin response.

    You can eat a diet VERY rich in complex carbs such as vegtables and reasonable amounts of fruit and whole grain carbs and not have the liver create vast amounts of liver fatty deposits where a diet rich in very simple carbs “sugar, bleached breads and flour” will create vast amounts of liver fat.

  • Kevin Criswell

    SIMPLE carbs trigger large insulin responses, complex low GI index/load carbs do not

    Its the same as diabetics like me and my family have dealt with for years

  • Kevin Criswell

    exactly, and the annooying part is low carb people like to group all carbs in the same category when in fact there is a huge diffrence between simple/complex carbs and how they load the glycemic

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/eugenechristopher Daniel E Moore

    Ketosis is not about calorie restriction. It’s about getting your body fat adapted to where it burns fat instead of glycogen (sugar) as fuel. When your fat adaped due to ketosis and you train on an empty, fasted stomach, you burn reserve fat as fuel. It’s a way to drastically reduce your body weight. Then when you reach your goals you can start to add healthy carbs and the weight will not come back. If you start eating typical American food then the weight will come back because weight gain is caused by high fat high carb diet. Carbs are not the enemy if you have a low bodyfat and yes, you can still lose weight eating carbs but it will take much longer. Extra pounds cause many different health issuses like cardiovascular disease, inflammation, diabetes, to name a few so using a ketogenic diet to get rid of those extra pounds fast is a very reasonable and healthy way to lose the extra weight in order to avoid the potential health risks from having a higher bodyfat.

  • matthew

    needs to go back to school and study .carb make you sick .fat and rots you from within do not eat it.period .its a fight agsint truth and the big food giants

  • Topher

    I was on a calorie restricted diet and lost 20 lbs in 2 months. Significantly reduced my simple carb intake, increased my protien and complex carb intake.

    Keto is a fine short term diet but am not sure how good it is for people long term. Lose the weight then go back to eating like your great grand parents. Smaller portions of whole, unprocessed food.

  • Maureen K Barker

    I agree with Oldhess. I am a nutrition coach and have been personal training for 20 years. My best results are with clients that restrict carbs and increase good fats.

  • Aaron

    Ugh…Insulin is a hormone.

  • toddhuntley73

    Like people on low-carb diets think ” broccoli makes you fat” , LOL, oh brother. Do a little bit of research before you write an article please!

  • Cary s

    All wrong !! All f’ing wrong! Man people need to do their research!! Cheers

  • Red Pilled Cuck

    Wrong, complex carbs will trigger insulin, just not as aggressively. As a diabetic you should know this, otherwise you would not need an insulin bolus after a low GI meal.

  • http://www.aaleil.com A.A. Leil

    Like others have said it’s all about how refined carbs promote insulin resistance. If you are serious about understanding this issue ignore this article and go read The Obesity Code.

  • http://www.aaleil.com A.A. Leil

    Want to know why big aggro promoted low fat? Fat is a primary inducer of satiety signaling in the brain. It’s in their interest to promote low fat foods so it’ll take longer for you to feel satiated and you’ll eat/spend more on food.

  • Anon

    He didn’t say otherwise. Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit.

  • Anon

    No, they end in failure because it’s hard to maintain a calorie deficit over a long period of time.

  • Anon

    Actually, that was the opposite of what was said.

  • rbfx4x

    It has little to do with calories. CICO theory falls flat on it’s face when hormones like insulin and glucagon join in the equation. I am one of those who never lost weight with calorie restriction and exercise. I only lost weight when concentrating on insulin.

  • Dave Burrell

    So here is the thing, get off you fat arse and stop typing a response and do some exercise. Then eat when hungry, and what will make u feel satisfied. Then stop. Probably a good idea to eat food that hasnt been screwed with. The end

  • Scott

    Also agree, the fear of losing clients because keto actually works. His ideas seem about 20 years behind in the truth and just keeps paddling the carb is ok to eat drum

  • Aaron

    He did, actually. Regardless of the kind of carbs you eat, insulin is a special hormone that is released to break down the glucose from carbs. The difference between “simple” and “complex” is the glycemic index, meaning that low GI foods will release insulin slower than higher GI foods. For some people with insulin residence or type 2 diabetes, even low GI foods can spike the creation of insulin. This is why these folks may find it difficult to lose weight on a conventional diet, but have so much success on a low carb diet like keto.

  • oldhess

    I’m sorry my explanation wasn’t academic enough for you. If you’d like I can refer you to peer reviewed scientific journals on complex carbs and the glycemic index that states they still stimilate the insulin released into the bloodstream. I was keeping it low key for the layperson.

  • NWxSW

    Yup, this was some Instagram ‘coach’s’ commons sense advice being peddled as facts. Naturally there is no scientific data presented to support his theory.

  • NWxSW

    Exactly! Where is ANY data he has to back this up?

  • Barbara Showell

    Not quite. It depends on how quickly your body breaks down those carbs to stimulate hormonal releases, including insulin. So complex carbs, low glycemic index carbs don’t cause any more problem than protein or fat. Fact is, we really do best on all three in reasonable amounts. Registered Nurse here, daughter with associates in food sxience.

  • Anon

    No, he didn’t. Insulin isn’t a “special” hormone. It’s a hormone. He didn’t say it wasn’t. Btw, studied biochemistry. PhD in chemistry.

  • Anon

    All mixed foods stimulate insulin, including protein-rich ones, to a point. However, the difference between simple and complex carbs isn’t academic or an aside. It’s important and significant. Perhaps take a class or 2.

  • Anon

    CICO counts. You weren’t in a deficit, or not for long enough — hence, you didn’t lose weight. Period. Most people, including you most likely, vastly underestimate their consumption. Proof that calorie restriction always works? Google the MN semi-starvation experiments of the 1940s. 100% of participants lost weight with calorie restriction. Same with the Concentration Camps during the war. Educate yourself.

  • Aaron

    You’re really going to argue the semantics of the word “special” and then tout unverifiable credentials literally under an anonymous name? Hahaha! Bye Felicia

  • Barakuda

    Just because something is low fat doesn’t make it low calorie. Plus it is all about healthy fats and healthy carbs. Anything with to many calories is bad. That is why Vegetables are so good. They low calorie yet keep you full. The most important thing is to get nutritionally dense food.

  • Barakuda

    Just depends on the carbs you eat. Not all carbs are equal. Most food with bad carbs are high in calories and low in nutrition. And yes eating to many calories no matter the type can and will make gain weight.

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