These Are the Facts About Carbs You Need to Know

janatun Islam
10 min readDec 12, 2020


Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

When you consider the three macronutrients contained in food (carbohydrates, fat, and protein), there is one in particular that people love to hate. 15 years ago, the low-fat craze developed, and fat-free products started popping up in just about every aisle of the grocery store. Nowadays, people have come to fear carbohydrates, and low-carb diets, such as the keto diet, have become increasingly popular.

Many who work in the fitness industry push the message that carbs are bad, unhealthy, and if you eat them, you will inevitably gain weight. However, there are also those on the other end of the spectrum, who preach the importance of following a high carb, low fat (HCLF) diet.

Now, rather than argue about which style of eating is correct, or tell you exactly how many carbs you must include in your diet, I’m going to debunk some of the longstanding myths about carbs.

The following science-backed evidence highlights both the importance of carbs in the human diet as well as some of the detrimental effects to be aware of. Hopefully, this will clear up some of the misinformation, and ultimately help you fuel your body properly in a way that works for you.

There is an ideal carb intake for longevity.

Studies have shown that there is a sweet spot in regards to how many carbs you should include in your diet. Unsurprisingly, it is a moderate amount.

In fact, Harvard Health cites the following study:

“The study, which included more than 15,400 people, upholds the old adage of moderation in all things. Researchers found that on average, people whose diets included moderate amounts of carbohydrate (50% to 55% of calories) lived about four years longer than people who ate lower-carb diets (fewer than 40% of calories from carbs) and a year longer than people with high-carb intakes (more than 70% of calories).”

Thus, it is evident that the consumption of carbs will not wreck your health. In this study, it is actually the low-carb diet that had the most adverse effect on lifespan. Therefore, if your goal is to promote a longer life, carbs are highly unlikely to deter you from that. If anything, they could tack on years to your life.

All carbs are not created equal.

Part of the reason that carbs have gotten such a bad reputation is because people confuse refined carbs with minimally processed carb sources. However, all carbs are not created equal. The highly processed and refined carbs can indeed have detrimental effects on your health.

According to Harvard Health, improvements made in mood and thinking occur for some people because they:

“Stop eating foods full of white flour and added sugar, says Dr. Rimm. Those highly processed carbs can cause a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar levels.”

Therefore, the highly processed, refined carbs are the ones that should be consumed less frequently to boost your overall energy, mood, and thinking. The minimally processed carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, are the sources that you should enjoy daily, as they are packed with nutrients and good for your health.

Here’s how to swap carbs for optimal health.

Rather than swearing off carbs completely, you can consider swapping some of the refined carbs in your diet for whole grain alternatives.

Harvard Health provides the following simple swaps you can try:

  • Swap white rice for brown rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, or wheat berries
  • Swap pasta made from refined flour for whole-wheat pasta or couscous
  • Swap white bread for whole-grain bread
  • Swap fried potatoes for sweet potatoes
  • Swap sugary breakfast cereals for an oatmeal cooked with fruit
  • Swap cakes, cookies, pies, and other low-nutrient sweets for fruit or 1 to 2 ounces of dark chocolate

When you swap out some of the refined carbs in your diet for minimally processed, nutrient dense whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, you also get rid of a lot of the added sugar, which can be highly addictive.

Not only will you gain health benefits from the vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients packed in foods like fruits and vegetables, but you’ll also avoid the sugar cravings and crashes that can result from refined carbs.

Final Thoughts

Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient that doesn’t need to be feared or avoided at all costs.

The brown rice I had in my taco salad for lunch yesterday provided my brain with a quick source of energy to write this very article. The plain bagel I ate for breakfast this morning was not as nutrient dense, because it was made with refined carbs. Still, it served an equally important purpose — to nourish my soul.

Food should be viewed for what it is — a source of fuel for your body. Carbs are an essential part of that fuel. They will provide you with quick energy to power through your day. If you fill your diet with a variety of foods that contain (mostly minimally processed) carbs, protein, and fat, you’ll quickly realize that you can eat healthy, stay fit, and enjoy your meals all at the same time.