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Do carbohydrates cause weight gain?

Angela Lemond
Nutrition & Dietetics
One gram of carbohydrate provides your body with 4 calories. Eating more calories than what your body needs of any macronutrient -- carbohydrates, protein or fat -- will cause you to gain weight. In order to maintain a healthy body weight, regular exercise is recommended. And carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy used during physical activity.

Be wise when choosing all foods. And in particular, consume high quality carbohydrates such as those contained in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans and grains. Also make room for the carbohydrates contained in dairy, as they bring a good amount of nutrients to your diet. Combine those foods with appropriately portioned extra lean protein foods and healthy fats. Minimize your intake of high carbohydrate foods that provide little to no nutrition like high sugar or highly refined grains, breads, cereals and baked goods. Following these recommendations will help balance your diet and help in maintaining a healthy body weight.
Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
If you eat too many carbs and do not exercise to burn off the extra calories, carbohydrates can cause weight gain. For weight loss, limit carb intake to approximately four servings a day. Make at least half whole grain.
Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

No. Carbohydrates are a macronutrient, so is protein and fat. You find carbohydrates in bread, cereal, starches, potatoes, fruit, some dairy products, and even vegetables. If eating carbohydrates caused weight gain everyone in the world would be overweight. Weight gain is a result of eating too many carbohydrates (along with fat and protein). The major culprits of weight gain that are carbohydrates are highly processed foods loaded with fat and sugar, such as desserts and baked goods, to name a few. There are healthy forms of carbohydrates that can help lose weight, such as starchy vegetables, whole grains, lentils, and beans.

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics
Sugar intake can lead to weight gain if not properly balanced. All carbohydrates are broken down into “sugar” in the body. Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred fuel source. When we consume more carbohydrates (sugar, bread, cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes, peas, corn, dairy, beans etc.) than our needs we store some in our liver and we convert the rest and store as body fat! Remember to consume ½ your plate fruits and vegetables, ¼ plate lean proteins and ¼ plate whole grains.
Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics
No. The simple act of eating carbohydrates will not cause weight gain. However, eating too much carbohydrate (or fat or protein) can lead to weight gain. Carbohydrates include all bread, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables (especially starchy ones), milk and sweets. Can you imagine cutting all of these from your diet? I can’t.

Carbohydrates are essential for good health and are the body's preferred source of energy. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that you get 45-65% of your calories from carbohydrates. The key to managing your weight is to practice balance. Instead of downing big plate of pasta or rice, a pint of ice cream or bag of chips, choose healthy carbs like whole grains, beans and fruit and practice portion control at every meal. Get more information on serving sizes by visiting MyPlate.gov.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.