The populist social media bandwagon has demonized carbohydrates as the perpetrators of the obesity and diabetes epidemic. We are told to “quit sugar”, “avoid gluten” and to “stop eating all carbohydrates” as they make us fat.

Carbohydrate critics or “carbophobes” blame all carbohydrate foods for stimulating the production of insulin, which in turn causes the pancreas to wear out and our bodies to get fatter and fatter. In summary, carbohydrates are nutritional villains sabotaging our efforts to be thin.

The problem is – these messages are oversimplified and scientifically inaccurate. The reasons why carbohydrates are not villians, but nutrient heroes are outlined below:

  • Our food source contains many types of carbohydrates. There are carbohydrates found in soft drinks, and sweets, as well as pastas and rice, breads and grain foods, dairy products as well as legumes and fruits. Many of these carbohydrates contain important nutrients including vitamins, minerals and fibre for healthy bodily functions. Eliminating nutrient dense carbohydrate foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains and dairy foods would compromise your nutrient intake, especially fibre and therefore compromise your health.
  • Carbohydrates are the preferred fuels for many organs of our body. Research has shown that the brain needs approximately 140g and the red blood cells need around 50g of carbohydrate per day to function normally. Our muscles, especially the fast twitch ones such as the muscles used for sprinting, also prefer carbohydrate than any other nutritional fuel.
  • Although carbohydrate foods stimulate insulin production, choosing low GI foods limits this insulin response as much as reducing your carbohydrates intake. Therefore, using low GI carbohydrate foods enables you to get all the nutrients from carbohydrates with minimal insulin production.
  • Carbohydrate foods taste good!


In summary, there are good carbohydrates! Infact, carbohydrate foods are vital for our bodies to function. Despite this, it is important that we make good carbohydrate choices suited for our individualized nutritional needs. Accredited Dietitian Nutritionists are specially trained at recommending the right amount and type of carbohydrate required for optimal health whether you have diabetes or not.

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