Human genes have not changed for the past 100,000 years. 8,000 years ago, there were no grains, bread or pasta. Our digestive tracts have not evolved to handle the kind of high-carb diet without having adverse biochemical reactions in our body.

Every time I eat with my parents, friends or any other human being, I am given the quizzical look for avoiding carbs. So why do I avoid carbs and why should you?

Firstly, what is a carbohydrate?

Candy – Yes, it’s a carb.
Rice, Pasta, Noodles, Cereals – Yes, it’s a carb.
Vegetables – Yes, it’s a carb (complex carb).
Fruits – It’s a living sugar tank, what do you think? (Yes, it’s a carb)

Why does the body need carbohydrates? Carbs get digested into sugar. The brain uses glucose as part of its energy source. Glucose is stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen.

Glycogen in the muscles are used for exercise. The brain uses glycogen from the liver. The liver has limited capacity to store glycogen and it is depleted in 10 – 12 hours. That is why we eat carbohydrates every day.

For normal human beings, the muscles can store around 300 – 400g of carbs. The brain stores 60 – 90g.* In total, the human body can store around 500g of carbs.

Glycogen acts as in immediate energy reserve for our muscles during exercise. However, inactivity will also mean the glycogen tank remains full.

What happens when the glycogen tank becomes full?

Excess carbs becomes converted into fatty tissue. Therefore, even though you may be snacking on that fat-free yogurt bar now, excess carbs in the form of oats end up as excess fats. (see that dustbin over there..?)

If I have not convinced you to dump that yogurt bar yet, remember any meal or snack high in carbs will cause a rapid rise in blood glucose, the pancreas secretes insulin to lower the levels of glucose in the blood.

Insulin is a storage hormone, evolved to put excess calories in the form of fat in case of future famine. For the same reason, insulin also tells the body not to release any stored fat.

Therefore, when you eat too much carbohydrates:

  1. You get fat.
  2. Because you are also unable to utilize body fat for energy, you will also stay fat.

To put it simply, carbs > sugar > insulin spike > fats.

Case closed.

(In my own experience, there’s a small population of people who are able to stay skinny regardless of their diet due to their good genes. For most of us, dieting is extremely integral to maintaining hormonal balance in the body.)

*Typical Carbs – One slice of bread has about 12 grams of carbohydrates. One typical chocolate bar may have about 50 grams of carbohydrates. A medium potato has about 35 grams of carbohydrates.

Edit: I do not encourage the complete zero-carb diet, as I said above, we need carbs to replace our glycogen tank and our body functions day to day on glucose. However, given the sedentary lifestyle of most people, eating carbs for breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper is a sure way to obesity and healthy problems.