Carbs Don’t Make You Fat, Calories Do

Q: Carbs seem to simply make me fat. Even low Glycemic Index carbs. Does this mean I need to stay off them forever to lose weight and keep it off?

A: It’s not just the carbs that are making you gain weight. It’s consuming more calories than your body needs. The carb-heavy foods that we know (and sometimes love) are often loaded with calories.

Instead of giving up carbs all together (something I personally could never do), I always recommend eating a balanced diet so that you satisfy your nutritional needs as well as your cravings.

The most important thing is to understand how many calories you are consuming and burning. Do a little homework. Keep a food diary for two weeks and calculate the amount of calories you consume at the end of each day. There are approximately 3,500 calories per pound of body fat, so if you eat even 100 calories more than your body burns per day every day (surprisingly easy to do), you can add a pound every month. Twelve pounds a year!

Here’s a bonus tip: Increase the amount of fiber in your diet. This will not only help you feel full and eat less but according to recent studies those on a high-fiber diet lost more fat from around the abdomen than those on other types of diet plans.

Learn more:
Glycemic Index and Weight Control
Master Your Metabolism
Weight Loss Action Plan

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.

Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at drbrent@care2.com.

30 comments

Valentina R.
Valentina R.3 years ago

Well said, Melissa. This article and its assertive title make very little sense.

Melissa G.
Melissa G.3 years ago

Calories themselves have no basis in the biological processes that make one fat. A calorie is simply the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1°C. Body fat is created when the body converts excess glucose into glycogen in the liver and the body doesn't use the glycogen; then the liver converts it to fat. The only way our bodies make glucose is from the breakdown of carbohydrate. That being said, high carb foods go hand-in-hand with high calories. BUT...eating a diet based on foods comprised of mostly protein and fat, even though the capric content is higher, will not make one fat, because the elements necessary to create body fat are absent.

Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey4 years ago

Calories absolutely matter more than any type of diet. There were no fatties in the concentration camps- Japanese, Vietnamese or German, though I am sure some of them had low thyroid, insulin resistant or whatever the current excuses are for overeating.

Nimue Pendragon

No kidding.

iii q.
g d c.4 years ago

everything in moderation...

iii q.
g d c.4 years ago

everything in moderation...

Samantha Shira
Samantha Shira4 years ago

thanks for the post

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers4 years ago

Thankyou.

P B.
P B.4 years ago

I respectfully disagree. The kind of diet that is healthy for a person who's never been obese and has a healthy functioning metabolism does not work for those who have developed even slight insulin resistance. Dana Carpender and Gary Taubes have written excellent, well-sourced books on the subject, it would benefit anyone who's had long struggles with weight to read their work.

P B.
P B.4 years ago

I respectfully disagree. The kind of diet that is healthy for a person who's never been obese and has a healthy functioning metabolism does not work for those who have developed even slight insulin resistance. Dana Carpender and Gary Taubes have written excellent, well-sourced books on the subject, it would benefit anyone who's had long struggles with weight to read their work.