The Truth About Carbs and Belly Fat

Before you read this blog, test yourself on your carb knowledge.dreamstime_s_23349729
How Evil are Carbs?

Surprised?

If you thought that carbs made you fat, you’re right and you’re wrong.

Calories you don’t need for energy as fuel for body processes in the amounts that you consume them make you fat. If all of your calories come from carbs, and you consumed too many calories from those carbs, then yes, carbs make you fat. If you eat a mix of carbs, proteins, and fats, then carbs, plus proteins, plus fats are what’s making you fat.

Too many calories causes your body to convert them into triglycerides that gets stored in your fat cells. The source of the calories doesn't matter!

Too many calories causes your body to convert them into triglycerides that gets stored in your fat cells. The source of the calories doesn’t matter!

Do you think your body sorts its calories by source?  It says….

“the carb calories go to the belly,dreamstime_s_28945394

the protein calories go to the biceps,dreamstime_s_24227503

and all the fat calories go straight to the rear!”dreamstime_s_26527597

That’s not quite right. 

Here is how it really works:

Excess calories from Carbohydrate Storage

Some excess calories you consume from carbohydrates are stored in your body in the form of glycogen. Glycogen is a complex carbohydrate. It’s stored in your body primarily in your muscle and liver cells.Every 1 gram of carbohydrate gets stored along with 3 grams of water.

“According to Iowa State University, a healthy adult body can store about 500 grams of carbohydrate. Skeletal muscles store about 400 grams or glycogen, the liver stores 90 to 110 grams of glycogen and your blood circulates roughly 25 grams as glucose. This means your body is capable of storing about 2,000 calories of carbohydrates.”

Excess calories from Protein and Fat Storage

When your glycogen stores are full, your body then stores excess calories from carbohydrate as fat. Not only are excess calories from carbs stored as fat, excess calories from fat and protein intake are stored as fat too.  Adipose cells, or fat cells, store the extra calories in the form of triglycerides, a type of fatty acid.

“Most of these fat cells are found between your skin and muscle while others surround your organs, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Everyone has a different number of fat cells, but it’s the size of the cells that matters more.”

Too many calories from any source – proteins, carbs, and fats – causes weight gain.

3,500 unburned calories makes for a weight gain of approximately 1 pound of body weight, according to MayoClinic.com. When you eat too many calories that your body doesn’t need for energy the triglycerides accumulates inside your adipose cells causing the cells to expand and increase in size. After enough fat cells enlarge in an area, you begin to look fat.

As for carbs causing belly fat, that common premise for many popular weight loss plans, seems to be false. Genetics and hormones are the factors that determine the placement of stored fat on the body.

Conclusion
  1. Carbs are the body’s favorite source of energy
  2. Simple carbs that come from refined grains and sugars are a quick source of energy. Think of a match. You light it and burns out quickly. Simple carbs are often found in processed foods that contain both added sugars and added fats and few nutrients.
  3. Complex carbs, such as whole grains and legumes are a long-lasting form of energy. Think of a candle. You light it and it burns for a long time. Complex carbs are also a good source of other nutrients and fiber.
  4. Belly fat is a combination of genetic, hormones, and excess calories from all sources – proteins, fats, and carbs.
  5. Losing belly fat is not as simple as not eating these 5 foods.
  6. To lose belly fat you need to lose weight.
  7. Lose weight by eating a balanced, calorie-reduced diet that allows you to enjoy any and all foods in moderation.dreamstime_s_9024959
  8. And getting regular moderate and high intensity physical activity.

 

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.