Carbohydrate is essential macronutrient and do not consider it as something bad for your health. In fact carbohydrates are the primary source of energy that is required by body cells. Carbohydrates are of different types, such as sugars, starches, and fiber. Sugar is a simple carb, while starch and fiber is complex category of carbohydrate.
Nowadays there is a frequent buzz that carbohydrate is the main culprit for weight gain. Yes, carbohydrate can cause weight gain in some cases, especially if you eat lot of sugar which is a simple carbohydrate. But if you select and eat right type (complex carbohydrate) and amount of carbohydrate, you are less likely to put on weight.
Why Do Carbohydrates Make You Gain Weight?
Eating carbohydrate in the first place is not the reason for weight gain, but eating wrong type of carbohydrate is the principle reason of weight gain. To understand it more easily you should know some facts of carbohydrates.
- Retention of water: After the carbohydrate from the food that you eat is digested, it is turned into glucose. Body uses glucose as fuel. The leftover glucose is converted into glycogen, a polysaccharide. It is stored in liver and muscles as an energy reserve. When the body needs fuel, glycogen is turned back to glucose. Glycogen has tendency to make the muscles store extra water. This retention of water can lead to weight gain. For this reason when you stop eating carbohydrates for few days, you find that some amount of weight is lost too fast. The glycogen storage is used up by the body and the water build up is also released with it.
- Insulin action: All types of carbohydrates whether simple or complex become glucose after some period of time. As glucose enters into the blood, pancreas receives the message and start secreting hormone insulin. The extra glucose after its consumption by the cells is stored in the form of glycogen in its storehouse liver and muscles. However, a point is reached where extra storage of glycogen is not possible. This extra is converted into fat, which may lead to weight gain.
- Wrong choice of carb: You are likely to gain weight easily if you eat sugary foods such as pastries, pie, ice cream, fruit concentrate, cakes, and foods that contain sugar. This is because refined sugar gets digested rapidly and you feel hungry again after sometime. Sugar that is available from fruits, vegetables, cereals, whole grains, nuts and beans is not absorbed as quickly as simple sugar. As a result it takes time to get converted into glucose. Starchy and fiber foods thus maintain steady level of glucose in the body and can be utilized as fuel completely. It also reduces risk of binge eating.
From the above discussion, one thing is clear that you may gain weight if you eat foods that have excess of sugar and are high in calories. Often foods that are high in simple sugar are also high in calorie content because certain ingredients that are high in calories are also used with sugar. For example butter, cheese, cream, oil etc. All these ingredients are high in calorie. So eating such food with ample calorie is definitely going to contribute weight gain.