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Will eating carbohydrates make me fat?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Eating simple carbohydrates can make you fat, because they are easily turned into sugar; as opposed to healthy carbs, like vegetables, fruits and 100% whole grains. Watch as internal medicine specialist Michael Roizen, MD, explains the difference.
Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

No, carbohydrates do not make you fat. Eating too many calories and too little activity causes weight gain. Carbohydrate breaks down into simple sugars, the main one being glucose. Glucose is your body’s primary fuel. It is stored in the muscles and liver, and use for immediate energy needs. In fact, glucose is the fuel that keeps your blood sugar stable throughout the night, and the best fuel for your brain. All carbohydrates break down into simple sugars, and are crucial to life. Carbohydrates will not make you fat, that is as long as you are not eating too many calories in general.

Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics
Carbohydrates will only make you fat if you eat too many of them. Carbohydrates have the same amount of calories/gram as protein. Too much of any food will make you gain weight. Carbs are the preferred food for athletes, because they provide energy. Carbs are your friend. Your brain prefers carbohydrates.
Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
Fitness
No. Eating more calories than you burn makes you fat, whether those calories come from carbohydrates, protein or fat. Any amount of food/calories you consume over the average amount of calories you burn will be stored as fat. At the end of the day, it is our fitness unfriendly environment that forces us to sit or not move most of the day, combined with our biology that has hardwired us to eat when food is available (and all of it) whether we are hungry or not that has led to overweight societies in developed nations. Americans eat ~250 more calories per day than they did a decade ago and they move less because of technology and lifestyle. Just remember one thing, excess calories make you fat.

Carbohydrates provide the bulk of calories in the diet for most of the world's population. They represent the major energy source for the average American as well. Daily intake should be at least 50 percent of total caloric intake, and 50-70 percent is often recommended for athletes. This large amount is recommended because carbohydrates are relatively easy for the body to break down so they provide a readily available source of energy. All that said, stick to fibrous carbohydrates like vegetables and whole grains. Refined carbohydrates such as bleached grains and sugar products should be avoided as much as possible. Fibers are complex carbohydrates that are largely indigestible. They are beneficial in that various types of fibers have been shown to decrease cholesterol, slow sugar absorption, increase the feeling of fullness, and change the rate of digestion. Most diets should include 25-30 grams of fiber daily.

Continue Learning about Carbohydrates and Health

Why Should I Avoid Eating Refined Carbohydrates?
Why Should I Avoid Eating Refined Carbohydrates?
What's the Difference Between Refined Carbohydrates and Slow Sugars?
What's the Difference Between Refined Carbohydrates and Slow Sugars?
How Does the Body Use Carbohydrates?
How Does the Body Use Carbohydrates?

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.