The Truth about Carbohydrates (Carbs)


We have had many success stories at Ignite which we are very proud of. But recently I was talking to one of our clients(Audrey) and how far she had come with training, nutrition and mind set. But her response to her results got me thinking. She said “yeah but Sean, I have lost weight, feel great and people still think it’s down to reducing carbs and they don’t realise how hard I have had to work to get where I am”.

So Why are Carbs the enemy when it comes to weight loss???…Or are they???  In this post we will focus on frequently asked questions we get asked about carbs to hopefully help you overcome the confusion around carbohydrates.

What we need to know about carbohydrates

Carbs along with Protein and Fats are Macronutrients(micronutrients are found in vitamins and minerals). Deciding on what type and how often we need to eat them can be very confusing.

There are many different kinds of carbohydrates usually falling under the category of refined/whole carbohydrates.

Refined(Simple) carbohydrates are quickly digested due to their lack of intact fibre are highly processed, stripped of fibre and usually have added sugar. These mostly come from grains and other plants.
Whole(Complex) carbohydrates, contain loads of fibre and are predominantly plant-based and are digested slowly as their fibre isn’t removed.


Examples of Refined: bread, cereal, pasta, sweets, alcohol and foods and drinks with added sugar.
Examples of Whole: Vegetables, fruit, Greens, Grains.

Now that we know what they are its important to know what they are used for, which is for Energy. In fact all 3 Macro nutrients can be used for energy but carbs are utilized faster than Protein and Fats so are “faster acting” and are preferred in and around training times.

Recently I spoke with Team Sky Head Nutrition Coach James Morton at the yearly Sigma Nutrition conference and his take on carbohydrates was fascinating when it came it his athletes.

 He said “Optimal carb intake will depend on multiple factors including activity levels(high intensity days to Low), goals( for the week or month), preference(on how they react to different carb sources) but for his athletes he gave general guidelines when starting to with a new athlete.

“So there is no universal number I asked?”

He said “I would however work out over calories for the day, Prioritize Protein, Fat and the remainder would be carbs( which would be a good starting point but again individualized and goal dependant)”

There are a few other base lines you could start with for 2 weeks and see how you progress(always remembering this is only a starting point and not fixed).

There are literally 100’s of articles, studies and trails out there on carbohydrates and i could talk for days on the subject and to be honest i think I’ve tried it all Low Carb, No Carb, High Carb, Carb loading, Carb back loading and the list goes on.

 For Fat Loss: Although it’s possible to lose body fat with a “high-carb low-fat diets”, low-carb diets are very effective for producing short-term fat loss because they reduce appetite.

Not Counting vegetables/Greens …

Sedentary people with a lot of weight to lose, less than 50-100grams of carbs a day as this will massively improve the body’s ability to burn fat.

Active people(weight train 3 times a week and stay active/walk on the other days) 100 to 175 grams of carbs is a good starting point.

Very active people who train hard but want to lose fat, anywhere from 175 to 300 grams a day is a good starting point.
Again all of this can be very confusing when trying to work out how many carbs to eat per day as Biologically we are driven to seek out carbohydrate-rich foods, which are rewarding, stimulating but the above are juts guidlines and are by no means set for any individual.

 To sum up….

  1. Do Carbs make you fat? No!

Excess calories do or more precisely You gain fat when you eat more calories than you burn. Good to note though, Eating refined Carbs can stimulate food intake, making it easy to overeat. Combine this with the sedentary and it is a recipe for disaster, extra weight and body fat.

  1. Carbs Cause Type 2 Diabetes?

A whole other topic in itself but all the facts aren’t out there about Type two Diabetes yet. Type Two has been linked with excess body fat and sedentary lifestyles… and it has often been referred to as “Dia-Obesity”.

  1. How Many Carbs Should I have Per Day?

This is completely person dependant so there is no universal number. I would however work out over calories for the day, Prioritize Protein, Fat and the remainder would be carbs( which would be a good starting point but again individualized and goal dependant)

  1. Does My Age affect Carb intake?

Again Completely Person Dependant and Adding on to point 2. Diabetes is a lack of poor insulin management in the body. Similarly as we get older, our bodies ability to manage insulin can reduce but Why? Is it because we less active which in turn will result in muscle lose? Again i state person dependant…if you stay active, weight train 3 times a week and move having crabs at any age should not be a problem.


For more information of the right guidelines for your body book in for a free consultation today with us here at Ignite Health & Fitness. We are conviently located at Unit 3, Howth Junction Business Park Dublin 5 Kilbarrack, Dublin, D05 AX70.

Why not check out some of our client testimonials too!