Why are Carbohydrates Always the Bad Guys in the Movie?

January slope, time to go on a diet if we have done excesses in the Christmas holidays … As we want to return to weight as soon as possible, we go to the fad diet that promises results without effort and in a jiffy . The vast majority of these diets – if not all – have the common point of being very low in carbohydrates or carbohydrates (CH). Thanks to this, it seems that these are always detrimental to health and weight control . But are carbohydrates as bad as they paint us? Should they really be removed?



Let’s start by explaining the types of carbohydrates  that exist in order to better understand the reason for all the fuss.

  • Simple carbohydrates

The simple carbohydrates are a source of instant energy. They are found naturally in sugar, honey, fruit and dairy products and as an added ingredient in pastries, pastries, juices with sugar, sweets, soft drinks, jams, commercial sauces, etc.

  • Complex carbohydrates
    • Complex carbohydrates with energy function

Sugar is in structures that need greater digestion to be absorbed, so it provides energy more slowly and for a longer time. Here we find legumes, tubers, cereals, wheat or derivatives, such as pasta, bread …

    • Complex carbohydrates with regulatory function

Fiber gives structure to vegetables and has a regulatory function in our body. Among the CH with a regulatory function are vegetables, whole fruits, legumes, nuts and whole grains and their derivatives.


We have seen that there are different types of carbohydrates and that, therefore, we cannot put them in the same bag of “harmful to health”. We just saw that vegetables and fruits, well known for being healthy, would also be classified as CH, to the surprise of many. Likewise, it is necessary to know that glucose, the energetic substance in which these foods are converted in our body, is the preferred nutrient of neurons and that all cells of the body are able to take advantage of them, such as, for example, muscle cells. In other words, our body uses this sugar to perform both mental and physical activities.

In addition, if we consume  unrefined carbohydrates , the fiber content of these foods helps us regulate blood sugar. This means that the stool rhythm does not suddenly increase, avoiding constipation and “feeding” the digestive microbiota (intestinal microorganisms that are increasingly attributed more positive functions). And we do not stop there, since, along with the energy and / or fiber content, there are also vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which participate in multiple organic reactions and prevent cellular aging.


It may be that, after seeing  what carbohydrates are for , doubts about their beneficial properties will be cleared up. However, there are more ways to justify your benefits. A little over a year ago, a prospective study and meta-analysis (review of all the studies carried out on the subject) was carried out. In it, they observed that both very high and very low carbohydrate consumption are detrimental to health 1 .

There are very specific situations where a strict diet with a minimum intake of CH has more benefit than harm. This therapeutic diet is the so-called ketogenic diet , which has shown very positive results in treating refractory epilepsy and some rare diseases . Even so, it is good to remember that this diet will always be accompanied by a follow-up by health and nutrition professionals , as well as vitamin and mineral supplementation because it is unbalanced and deficient in micronutrients.


If they have so many beneficial functions and it is proven that they are necessary , why eliminate carbohydrates in fad dietsCurrently, in the western world there is a very high consumption of simple and refined CH .  This change, together with a sedentary lifestyle, has exponentially increased the number of people affected by  overweight and  diabetes , among many other diseases. This shows that it is the simple and refined CHs that should be reduced to the maximum from the usual diet.

The ‘fad diets’ use this data in their favor and encompass all carbohydrates as harmful . Also, let’s remember that they aim to lose weight in the shortest possible time and with little effort . How do they do it? Very easy, by not providing CH with the diet , the body consumes its glucose reserves, which are stored with almost three times the amount of water. In short, the weight lost is largely water-based and not fat-based .

It is known that the health benefits of losing weight are obtained lose the fat, not water . This can be achieved with balanced diets , adjusted in energy and CH, which are healthy, varied and appetizing. The fad diets do not meet these characteristics and are deficient in nutrients. Fortunately, they are difficult to maintain in the long term. If so, they could have unwanted effects due to their high protein content (halitosis, constipation, gout, kidney stones, etc.) Let’s add that, depending on the source of these proteins, we will greatly increase the contribution of saturated fats. . Which are known to be the cause of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, what perhaps seemed like a good solution could be complicating health on the other hand.


A diet where half of the energy for the day is in the form of  complex carbohydrates is the most appropriate 1 in the vast majority of life situations. To know the individual recommended amount it is necessary to go to a dietitian-nutritionist. We must provide them with quality foods such as vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits, nuts, etc. The diets with carbohydrate intake greater  than indicated are very harmful to health. On those that abound in added sugars such as: soft drinks, pastries, juices, snacks, and refined or fiber-free foods. These types of diets are the culprits of the bad reputation of the CH. On the other hand, a Severe carbohydrate restriction also does not imply better health. Especially if that restriction includes eliminating fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, etc. for being products of great nutritional wealth.

In short, you have to eat quality carbohydrates and not get carried away by fad diets.

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