Why You Should Be Eating Carbs

I’m sure you are familiar with the word “carbs”. It seems to be one of the most popular nutrition-related words of all time.

Carbohydrates, or “carbs”, are one of the three macronutrients. Macronutrients are the nutrients that provide us with calories. The three macronutrients are carbs, protein, and fat. (Alcohol also provides calories, but is not considered a “macronutrient”, nor nutritious whatsoever).

Despite what you may have heard, carbs play a very important role in the human diet, especially for athletes and those with specific medical conditions.

The current 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend that carbohydrates make up 45-65% of our daily calorie intake.1 That means, if you consume 2,000 calories per day, about 1,000 of those calories should come from carbohydrates.

If you’re curious, here is the general macronutrient breakdown for adults according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines:

Macronutrient% Daily Calories
Carbohydrates45-65
Protein10-35
Fat20-35

So, why so many carbs?

Carbs are our body’s primary source of energy.2 They supply energy to all the cells in our body in the form of glucose (broken down carbs).

Free solo climber Alex Honnald eats carbs and is mainly plant based as well in an effort to reduce his dietary impact on the planet. Read more on Alex’s dietary take here.

In fact, some cells use only glucose as energy. For example, red blood cells are completely dependent upon glucose for energy.2 The brain also requires glucose to function, unless under extreme starvation conditions, such as ketosis, in which it is forced to adapt. 

Carbs help make important macromolecules.2 I’m sure you have heard of DNA. DNA is the carrier of our genetic information. Did you know that DNA requires a sugar called “deoxyribose”, which is made from glucose?

Carbs save our body from using protein as energy.2 I’m sure this one will draw attention.

If you do not eat enough carbs, your body will break down its muscles to make glucose.

I repeat:

If you do not eat enough carbs, your body will break down its muscles to make glucose.

Why would anyone want to do that? 

Carbs prevent ketosis.2 You’ve heard the word, or maybe variations of the word, but do you really know what it means?

In very brief terms, ketosis is the condition that results from having high levels of ketone bodies in your blood.2 Ketone bodies are made when fat is used as energy.2 Fat is  used as energy when you do not eat enough carbs. (For more details, keep an eye out for our upcoming article on all things “keto”!)

Have a personalized program created to meet your macronutrient needs and catalyze your success towards your goals with Registered Dietitian Alyssa Fernandes, MS or Elle Baker, MS. Book your appointment today!

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