Carbohydrates: The Confusing World Debunked

Carbohydrates: The Confusing World Debunked

Carbohydrates have always been controversial, with some people labeling them as "bad" and avoiding them altogether. But what are carbohydrates, and are they all that bad? In this episode, we explore the world of carbohydrates and debunk some of the most common myths associated with them.


First things first, what are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients (along with protein and fat) that provide energy to the body. They are found in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Carbohydrates are divided into two categories: complex and simple.


Complex carbohydrates are made up of long chains of glucose molecules and take longer to digest, providing sustained energy. Examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, and whole fruits. On the other hand, simple carbohydrates are made up of one or two glucose molecules. They are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, providing a quick burst of energy followed by a crash. Examples of simple carbohydrates include table sugar, honey, fruit juice, and processed snacks.


Now, let's move on to the common myths associated with carbohydrates:

Myth #1: Carbohydrates are bad for you and cause weight gain.

Reality: This is the most common myth associated with carbohydrates. But the truth is excess calories, not carbohydrates specifically, lead to weight gain. Populations with high-carbohydrate diets, such as the Okinawans in Japan and the Tarahumara in Mexico, have traditionally been lean and healthy.


Myth #2: Carbohydrates are less satisfying than protein and fat.

Reality: Starches such as potatoes, rice, and beans are filling and satisfying due to their high fiber content. Dr. John McDougall, author of "The Starch Solution," recommends focusing on complex carbohydrates as the primary energy source in the diet, as they are more nutrient-dense and provide sustained energy.


Myth #3: All carbohydrates are created equal.

Reality: Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Natural sources of sugar, such as fruit, are an essential part of a healthy diet due to their fiber content and nutrient density. However, added sugars and processed foods with refined grains and sugars should be avoided in favor of whole, plant-based foods.


Myth #4: A low-carb diet is the best way to lose weight.

Reality: While a low-carb diet may result in weight loss in the short term, it is not a sustainable or healthy approach to weight loss. Complex carbohydrates provide essential nutrients and fiber, which are necessary for overall health. Instead of cutting out carbohydrates altogether, focus on consuming whole, plant-based foods as close to their natural state as possible.

In his book, "The Starch Solution," Dr. John McDougall provides a comprehensive guide to the health benefits of a plant-based, high-starch diet. He argues that many chronic diseases that plague modern society, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, are largely preventable and reversible with a whole-food, plant-based diet.


In conclusion, carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet. Still, it's important to distinguish between complex and simple carbohydrates and focus on consuming whole, plant-based foods as close to their natural state. Please don't fall for the common myths associated with carbohydrates and give them a chance to fuel your body with sustained energy and essential nutrients.


Grab yourself a copy of The Starch Solution.

Click here to listen to my interview with Dr. John McDougall.