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Why we need carbs for weight loss

Today I'm bringing you some wisdom from Registered Dietitian, Maleah Grace. Read onward for a wealth of information about carbohydrate needs for weight loss!


Carbohydrate: “A large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues and including sugars, starch, and cellulose. …typically can be broken down to release energy in the animal body.” It is the basic building block of life for humans in the sense that we need it for EVERYTHING. Like Leah talked about at the beginning of the month, our bodies break down a carbohydrate into glucose (sugar), then break glucose down to make ATP. By doing this we create small units of energy that our cells use to keep us alive, to grow muscles, digest food, and do the things we love in our lives. Interesting fact? Our brain roles solely off glucose! It can make due with other compounds in states of starvation, but it really doesn’t like to. So why do “carbs” have such a bad rap?? Because companies can make a lot of money telling you to follow a fad diet. These companies took research showing that too many carbohydrates equals weight gain and ran with it. (They ignored the fact that if you eat too much of anything you will gain weight) They chose carbs as a pariah and it worked! The body needs all the macro nutrients!


1. Too many carbohydrates combined with excess energy intake? Likely weight gain, and insulin sensitivity which can eventually lead to diabetes

2. Too many carbohydrates with adequate or inadequate energy intake? Possible malnutrition from a lack of other important nutrients.

3. Not enough carbohydrates with excess energy intake? See number 2.

4. Not enough carbohydrates with adequate or inadequate energy intake? Low blood sugar, meaning lightheaded and headaches, muscle cramping, fatigue and even diarrhea, distention and gas.

So we have to find the balance here, between needing (and loving) carbs for our survival, and wanting to meet our goals. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%-98%) healthy people. There is an RDA for (almost) every nutrient that we eat! For carbohydrates, the RDA is 130g/day, and we start to notice serious problems under 100 g/day. This doesn’t take your physical activity into account or consider that your carbohydrate intake should be 40-60% of your total intake for the day! Once you get close to the RDA you start to run into the problems listed above and then some, because get this - your body needs carbs to break down and digest fat. Let me say that one more time. YOUR BODY NEEDS CARBOHYDRATES TO EFFICIENTLY BREAK DOWN FATS.

The way in which our body breaks down fats requires that fancy little ATP molecule I mentioned earlier to get the process going. Without ATP from glucose, the body has to take a few extra steps to break down fat. Now hear me out, I know this sounds counter-intuitive-you need to eat more to lose more? YUP! So where do you start? The internet makes it really easy to search how many grams of carbohydrates are in a serving of foods, so once you know approximately how much you are eating, you can reach out for some support to see how you can improve! If you want some help evaluating your intake, or making some changes, you are in the right place. If you want to know exactly the chemistry behind why our bodies needs carbs to digest fats, please give me a few hours to review my bio chem-and I’ll tell you! Please stay tuned on my social medias and check out my website as I will be taking online clients soon. In the meantime, come say hello! Leah can also help you with macro coaching and personal training. Maleah Grace, RD, LD

Leah Peters, Nutritionist

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