Do carbs make you fat? Does protein make you bulky? Find out the truth

In the world of health and fitness, there have always been some ridiculous claims when it comes to dieting and exercise.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 12:08 pm
Jamie Wilkinson

Whether it’s an extremely biased study or listening to a friend who lost a few pounds following the latest fad diet, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused about what works and what’s a pile of nonsense.

Here I have a list of three common ‘myths’ that people would believe when it comes to getting leaner, fitter, and stronger.

‘‘Diets are boring and bland’’

Diets are as boring as you make them. When people want to lose weight they instantly throw away their favourite foods and head to the local shop to pick up kale, spinach, and whatever green food they can find.

We struggle to do things in half measures, most of us are either all in or all out, and this does us no good when it comes to creating a dieting structure that we can stick to.

The best diet is one you can stick to long-term.

So if you are four days into your ‘new week, new me’ and you are already dying to get to the weekend to have a takeaway, chances are your approach is too restricted and too extreme.

Without getting too technical, losing body fat is all about being in a calorie deficit. That means you simply need to eat fewer calories than you burn daily.

Of course, it’s a smart idea to fill your body with nutrient-dense food - but a big mistake many people make is they don’t leave any room for the foods they love.

Eating 100-200 calories per day of chocolate or crisps isn’t going to slow weight loss up as long as your calories are tracked and you stay within your targets. The best thing is, that as you are eating foods you love, you won’t find yourself wanting to binge out as much come the weekend.

‘‘Carbs make you fat’’

Carbs do not make you fat, but eating too many of them might, but that’s the same when it comes to over-eating any food group.

Have you ever weighed your pasta before putting it in the pan? Or had a check of how many recommended servings of cereal you are having?

It’s not carbs’ fault, we are all just generally very bad at food portioning full stop.

It comes back to calories in; versus calories out.

If your portions are too big and you are over-consuming in calories you will never drop a pound of body fat

Whatever your stance is when it comes to tracking calories, spending a month or two keeping a food diary can be super beneficial.

You will have a much greater appreciation of calories, food portioning, and learn how to eat the right quantities for your body.

‘‘Protein makes you bulky’’

When we hear the word ‘protein’ many of us instantly think, ‘muscles’, ‘bodybuilding’, and ‘manly.’ What people don’t realise is that protein is very lean, low in calories, and it helps you feel fuller for longer and helps you recover after vigorous exercise.

With all that in mind, it shows the protein is essential for anyone who is looking to manage their hunger, recover well and is extremely useful for those who are dieting. I promise if you were to add more protein to your three main meals, you will feel much fuller and satisfied for longer. One scoop of whey protein has around 90kcals per serving and has around 22g of protein. There aren’t too many snacks that fall under the 100 calorie mark, let alone providing us with a welcome protein hit that will help keep hunger at bay.

For those who are concerned they are going to turn into the hulk overnight after a few protein shakes and chicken breasts, please don’t panic! To gain muscle you will need to be consuming more calories than you burn, train super hard in the gym for months/maybe years, recover and rest, as well as having a good protein intake. Gaining muscle can be much more difficult than you imagine so don’t worry, if you aren’t strategically trying to pack on some size, having a protein-rich diet won’t magically increase your muscle mass or body fat levels.

No matter what your goal is when it comes to your physical health, your dieting/training structure should be created around your lifestyle, your likes/dislikes, and be something that you can stick to.

Looking after your health and feeling better will require more than a few short weeks of extreme restriction while motivation is high, you need to play the long game.

Can you imagine never eating carbs again?

Are you destined to spend every morning in the gym for two hours?

Are you going to give up chocolate, alcohol, and takeaways forever?

Whatever your approach, prioritise balance. Tell yourself you are going to spend the next 6-12 months revamping your lifestyle.

You don’t need to give up carbs and you don’t need to spend every waking day in the gym.

All you have to do is learn more about portion control and fill your diet with food that you love and that nourishes and fills you

Create an exercise regime that’s realistic and that you can stick to. It could be an exercise class, swimming or even just going for a walk. Whatever it is, make it a priority and pencil it into your weekly schedule.

Leave plenty of time for hiccups, bad days, and nights out with friends and family, because that’s what life is all about. The second you feel your ‘diet’ is restricting your lifestyle, the more you will wonder why you even bothered starting.

Play the long game, master calorie control and food portioning, love your exercise and results will come.