Skip to main content

There is no definitive answer to whether carbs are “bad” or “good.” It is important to recognize that all nutrients, including carbohydrates, can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in appropriate amounts. However, the type of carb that you consume is important. Simple carbs, or sugars, are quickly broken down and absorbed by the body, causing spikes in blood sugar levels. On the other hand, complex (starches and fibres) carbs such as those found in whole grains and vegetables, are absorbed more slowly and can provide sustained energy because your blood sugar is not rapidly spiking. Both simple and complex carbs have a place in a well-balanced diet, but complex carbs are generally recommended to help you feel satisfied and stay full for longer after eating.

Functions of Carbs

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for the body and are necessary for proper functioning. They have important roles in our bodies which include:

  1. Providing energy: Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body and are necessary for everyday activity and regular body functions. The brain and red blood cells only use glucose for energy (unless under extreme starvation conditions).
  2. Energy storage: When the body has enough energy, glucose will be stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver for future use.
  3. DNA building blocks: A little bit geeky but, some glucose is converted to ribose and deoxyribose – the building blocks of DNA! 
  4. Protein sparing: If you do not have enough glucose to provide energy for your cells, glucose will be made from your body’s proteins. Therefore, getting enough energy from food helps to prevent breaking down your body’s own proteins.

So should you be avoiding carbs?

In general, it is not recommended to completely eliminate carbs from your regular diet. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for the body and are necessary for proper functioning. There are overall health benefits to choosing foods with complex carbs such as wholegrains, and fruits and vegetables more often. It is also recommended to consume carbs in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet. There is no one-size-fits-all carb amount as nutrient needs vary from individual to individual.

There are some instances where it may be appropriate to limit carb intake. For example, people living with diabetes may need to carefully monitor their quantity and quality of carb intake to manage their blood sugar levels. Some people may also choose to follow a low-carb diet for other health reasons. However, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider or registered Dietitian before making significant changes to your diet, as everyone’s nutritional needs are different.


Reviewed by Annie Tsang, RD