If you’re embarking on a journey of fat loss and you hear someone tell you that carbs will make you fat, smack that person in the face. Seriously, just haul off and let your fists do the talking because anything less will only encourage such an individual to keep spreading lies and propoganda.

Okay, I should probably recall my opening statement and not encourage violence but this issue is so maddening! The carbohydrate lie can be found on millions of websites and printed in fitness books everywhere. There are individuals who preach it like the gospel. In their defense, they’re not trying to lie to you – they’re just completely ignorant in their knowledge of physiology and how the human body stores fat.

Fat loss has little to do with food separation and everything to do with how many calories you’re eating overall.

Myth 5 – Getting fat is a result of eating too many carbohydrates.

In all honesty, I can see why this myth has been propagated over the years. First of all, carbs will make you hungry for more carbs and this tends to encourage people to consistently overeat. Secondly, fitness gurus needed a new angle to preach fat loss if they were going to sell new diet books so why not preach the evils of the carbohydrate, since they increase appetite and encourage overeating? By warranting a system of appetite control, they effectively introduce a system of successful weight loss that will have new adopters dropping pounds and raving about the benefits of a low-carb lifestyle – but in truth, these individuals are simply eating less.

I think a more honest approach is to be aware of how carbohydrates work and realize that they’re not directly responsible for increasing your waist size.

There are basically two types of carbohydrates – simple and complex. The structure of the carbohydrate is actually what determines which type it is but in general, just know that complex carbs are typically “starchy” foods such as vegetables and whole-grain pasta.

Simple carbs are made up of simple sugars and these are the worst offenders when it comes to stimulating appetite. If you’ve ever grabbed a candy bar at the convenience store or guzzled a coke on a hot day, you’ve likely noticed that while these calories taste extremely good, they do little to blunt hunger.

Let’s illustrate with a comparison. There’s about 2,000 calories in a large movie popcorn with butter and a large drink. Add in a pack of gummy bears or M&Ms and you’re up around 2,300 calories. I could put this entire meal away in the first half of a movie and be ready to stop by McDonalds about an hour after the movie is over.

If I decided to fill up on baked chicken thighs before hitting the movies, I’d have to eat 17-20 thighs (depending on the size) to get those same amount of calories. If I did that, I’d be sitting through the entire movie with a pretty bad stomach ache and I doubt I’d want anything to eat the rest of the day.

chart illustrating examples of simple carbohydratesSimple carbs make you hungry and they don’t fill you up but carbohydrates still aren’t the reason a person gains weight – it’s because they don’t feel filled up and they make a decison to keep eating throughout the day. For those who continually make poor food choices and eat simple carbs and fat all day, it’s quite easy to ingest 5,000 calories a day or more of junk food. That’s a guaranteed prescription for adding bulk to the love handles.

Carbohydrates don’t make you fat – overeating makes you fat. You could eat nothing but twinkies every day and still lose weight.

Carbohydrates also help your hormones do their job and keeping hormones optimal is an absolute must when it comes to losing weight. Individuals who completely omit carbs from their diets often experience side-effects such as being cold all the time, extreme fatigue and even hair loss. That’s your body letting you know that it’s not getting what it needs.

I should mention that I love movie popcorn. It’s one of my favorite treats in all the planet. I have to eat it when I go check out a new film and it completes the experience for me. So what do I do? I simply fast all day before the movie, grab a large diet coke with my huge tub of popcorn and skip the butter.

I’ll still add the reese’s pieces because I love those with popcorn – but that brings my total daily intake of calories to about 1,500 and I typically need about 2,000 calories a day to maintain my weight. If this was all I ate today, I’d probably weigh less in the morning, despite consuming a huge amount of carbohydrates and fat. Instead, I’ll usually add in a protein drink later on, since my body was pretty much deprived of protein all day.

If your goal is fat loss, watch your daily calories. Try to fill the majority of those calories up with protein every day, but get some carbohydrates and get some fat. Enjoy the movie popcorn on occasion because you only live once! Eat less food overall on the days that you indulge in a lot of junk food.

At this point, you might be asking, “What about the fat? Maybe carbohydrates won’t cause a problem but won’t all that extra fat go straight to my stomach?”

The great news is that “overall calories” is king when it comes to losing weight and dropping body fat but there are some interesting points to be made regarding eating too much fat so be sure to read the next post as we discuss the myth of eating too much fat.