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Why Quality over Quantity Counts when we Talk Carbs

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Do you feel like you are continuously trying to cut carbs? Count carbs? Label carbs as the devil macro?

Carbs shouldn’t fall into this category. As long as you are eating the RIGHT ones. Research has recently revealed that metabolic disease does not sprout from how many carbohydrates we eat, but rather the TYPES of carbohydrates we eat.

Carbs fall into that space where it is a macronutrient that everyone has an opinion on it. Macronutrients are constantly being looked at and changing beliefs on what is right and what isn’t. “If it fits my macros” is a more prominent one lately, but we also have the “calories in calories out” and so on. We have people who believe that they can eat plenty of carbs but stay away from any sources of fat, and we also have people who reduce carb intake so much that they enter a state of ketosis.

We have more traditional communities like the Masai, Kavirondo, Turkhana and the Kitvan Islanders that live on 60-70 percent carbohydrates for their energy which is comparable to a typical Australian standard diet, yet the traditional communities are relying on their sources of carbohydrates to come from starchy tubers and fruits rather than processed foods (1).

These communities pull up to have healthy fasting insulin and blood glucose levels, lower levels of leptin, and almost no presence of diabetes, atherosclerosis or excess weight.

This shows us that replacing refined grains and adapting a more Paleolithic diet improves our health in many areas. By taking on a Paleo diet, our leptin levels can reduce by 30 percent and caloric intake by 20-30 percent (2) (3) (4).

Carbohydrate Density

Carbohydrates can be very different. The amount of carbohydrates present in 100 grams of food is what we call the food’s carbohydrate density, which is not the same or reflect the glycemic index of the food.

Plants have a low carbohydrate density compared to processed foods. Tubers, fruits and leaves store their carbohydrates as part of fibre-walled living cells. Because these carbohydrates are stored within the cells means that their max carbohydrate density can only be about 23 percent (5).

Meanwhile, with processed carbs like flour, sugar and grains are called “acellular” carbohydrates – they lack those intact cells. Because they lack them, their carbohydrate density can be as high as 75 percent.

By having these large carbohydrate dense foods consumed, our bodies have to work extra hard. They can easily cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), gut dysbiosis, leptin resistance and obesity because of the changes occurring in the gut microbiota. This leads to inflammation, which can lead to leptin resistance, which leads to over eating and weight gain.

So What do I do?

What we always tell you. EAT REAL FOOD.

Quality of the macronutrients is important. Our ancestors ranged from 8-70 percent carbohydrates in their diet with few health problems. It was only when they introduced Western foods they started to develop metabolic diseases.

Fresh, whole foods that are not or minimally processed and have their carbohydrates encased in cellular compartments are what we are aiming for. These foods will have lower carbohydrate density and will present to you with a plethora of micronutrients our bodies need.


(1) Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity

(2) Obesity is associated with hypothalamic injury in rodents and humans

(3) Low serum insulin in traditional Pacific Islanders-the Kitava Study

(4) A paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease

(5) Effect of cooking and pre-cooking on cell-wall chemistry in relation to firmness of carrot tissues;2-Z/abstract