Home / Healthy Eating / Carbs are NOT the enemy!


There are so many trends and methodologies with nutrition now a days, it is hard to keep it all straight. Everywhere you turn you are bombarded with new tips and tricks to losing weight and keeping it off. My current method, and what has been a super successful for me, is counting macros. This means finding the winning combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat that works best for my training regimen. Macros, hand in hand with my NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) calorie burn targets how many calories I need to consume per day and how much from each macro nutrient. Seems complicated- but I promise it’s not!

Educating myself on each macro both through my training program with my coach as well as my physiology classes I’m taking for my pre-physical therapy program, I’m learning a great abundance on nutrition and how our bodies work in general. One of the things that still blows my mind and I hear consistently is to lose weight, people think they need to cut down or stop eating carbohydrates. I for one am a major fan of all types of carbs. So why would I ever stop eating them? Carbs get a bad rep but I’m going to explain as simply and as briefly as I can, why our bodies NEED carbs.

In our bodies, carbohydrates are primarily needed for muscle function and performance. Especially if you’re in the gym multiple times a week, and certainly if you’re doing resistance training and trying to build muscles, carbs are essential. When consumed, carbs are broken down into smaller units of energy that are moved into the bloodstream, throughout the body, and either used right away- or stored for energy later. During workouts, this reserve of carbohydrates is used when muscles begin to fatigue and look to the glycogen (carb) storage for relief. If there is no relief from carbohydrates in the system, the body will next go to protein to break down for the energy needed to ensure your body keeps going with whatever activity you’re putting it through. (Sidenote: the energy stores needed isn’t just for working out. Everything from breathing, to talking, to walking, to sitting reading this article burns calories and keeps your body alive and well). While the body will find ways to feed itself, it may come at cost to your goals for working out. If your body needs to tap into the protein reserve, that may have an impact on your ability to maintain and build muscle mass. So, for those trying to build muscle, a greater intake of carbs is almost necessary to help reach the goals you’re looking to reach.

Now I’m sure many of you know people who don’t eat carbs or stick to low-carb diets and question everything I’m saying for the “pro-carb” lifestyle. But at the end of the day, any diet WILL work for weight loss if you burn more calories than you consume. So many DO find success with low carb plans, but at what cost? Low carb diets frequently need to be met with a mindful intake of extra supplements. Any time you take out, or cut down  certain macro-vitamins and minerals , your body will be effected. I’ve personally also found less carbs equals less energy. Your body needs to adapt to finding new ways to find energy than it is used to, and a lot of times you will feel the “drag” of low-carb diets in workouts and every day activities.

To conclude my rambling, if you’re still with me at this point, I would like your takeaway to be that carbs are not what is causing the issue with any diet plan (unless of course you have a condition like gluten intolerance). The key is all three macros (protein, carbs, and fat) in moderation to one another. If you feel like you constantly kick butt in the gym and are super active outside of the gym and are not seeing a lot of progress; it may be time to check in on your nutrition. With fitness, workouts equal only about 30% of your results. 70% is what you consume and nourish your body pre-and post workout. Find the right combination of what works for you, and that is how you will find the most success! If you are feeling puzzled,  feel free to ask me further questions either at FITT-RX or at msandilands@sbcglobal.net.

Megan Sandilands, Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor at FITT-RX

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