Carbohydrates get a bad rap. You’ve heard the myths such as “Don’t eat carbs after 6pm or they’ll make you store fat!”. And although it’s technically true that you don’t need carbs to survive, your body’s preferred source of fuel for activity is carbohydrates. So, why should you care about them? Today we’ll cover four brief points: 

  • The benefits of Carbohydrates
  • Will Carbohydrates make you store excess weight?
  • Are Carbohydrates good or bad?
  • Final Recommendations.


The benefits of Carbohydrates

There are two main benefits of carbohydrates I’d like to point out: Firstly, they are the preferred source of fuel for higher intensity activities such as lifting weights and playing sports. Carbohydrates are broken down and converted into glucose and glycogen. In particular, glycogen is stored in muscles for immediate access during activity. Failing to consume enough is “a limiting factor of performance during sessions in which high exercise intensities are required” (1). Secondly, they are sources of dietary fibre. Starchy Carbohydrates such as Rice, Pasta and Bread and Non-Starchy Carbohydrates present in vegetables and fruit contain fibre. Importantly, there is strong evidence “that healthy diets, in which fibre content is aligned with dietary recommendations, are protective against the development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, cancer mortality, and all-cause mortality” (2).


Will carbohydrates make you store excess weight?

Carbohydrates alone don’t cause excess body fat storage. Excess body fat results from prolonged energy surplus. Research indicates that various dietary patterns, including those with high or low carbohydrate content, can effectively manage weight and health. This suggests that different proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can be suitable, including high carbohydrate diets. Notably, in weight reduction, adherence and support effects may be more important than specific nutrient prescriptions (3). Thus, a general diet recommendation focusing on high or low carbohydrate intake may be irrelevant outside of specific metabolic conditions such as Diabetes. Instead, personalized dietary plans should be emphasized. With this in mind, you shouldn’t fear consuming high levels of carbs assuming your total energy intake is appropriate for you.

Are carbohydrates good or bad?

I hope it’s clear that I’d argue “yes!” carbohydrates are good. However, the quality of the dietary pattern matters more than the total carbohydrate intake. This includes incorporating healthy fats, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and maintaining an appropriate energy intake (4). The Mediterranean Diet exemplifies this approach. However, some carbohydrate sources may be less advantageous, such as highly processed foods and those high in simple sugars. These lack the nutrients found in whole foods. Consuming carbohydrates rich in fibre, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals provides numerous benefits. We recommend a diet high in complex starchy fibres like rice, whole-grain breads, and pasta, as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables. It’s important to limit dried fruits and fruit juice to manage energy balance effectively.

Final recommendations

Unless due to medical contraindications, you shouldn’t skip out on carbohydrates. We recommend you consume a balance diet that includes a variety of starchy and non-starchy sources. We don’t want to leave you without giving any practical recommendations. Starchy serving sizes can include 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta and noodles or about 1/2 a “medium potato” (75g). Non-starchy serves include 150g or a “medium” sized apple, pear and banana and 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli, spinach, carrot and pumpkin or 1 cup of raw leafy greens. A general guideline is to consume at least 7 serves of fruit and vegetables, and 6 serves of grains, daily (5). If you’re looking for expert guidance in getting strong and figuring out how nutrition plays a role, you can contact us here.


  1. Carbohydrate Availability and Physical Performance: Physiological Overview and Practical Recommendations – PMC (nih.gov)
  2. Food for Thought: Fibre intake for optimal health: how can healthcare professionals support people to reach dietary recommendations? – PMC (nih.gov)
  3. The Impact of a High-Carbohydrate/Low Fat vs. Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Performance and Body Composition in Physically Active Adults: A Cross-Over Controlled Trial – PMC (nih.gov)
  4. Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance – PMC (nih.gov)
  5. Eat For Health