Why Carbs Don’t Actually Make You Fat

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

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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