The answer is neither or both, confused?
Firstly there are many cultures around the world who have a high carb diet. In fact if you look at the worldwide chart (in the comments) you will see that there are many high carb eating people around the world. Most of them are over 60% of their daily intake as carbs, some are as high as 80%! What you might find very interesting is the US has 49% of their calories as carbs, the UK has 50% as carbs, and Australia 46%, which are the lowest around the world! And yet they’re some of the fattest and sickest nations, yes?
Hmmmmm….So do carbs in themselves make you fat according to % of carbs in your diet, or is it your absolute amount of carbs, or is it the total amount of calories consumed altogether? or is it the type of carbs, such as added sugars?(in which you may eat more) Are the fatter countries moving less? How is gut flora comparison?
Another comparison is calories consumed worldwide, US tops it at 3770 calories per day(161g fat) followed by Austria at 3760 cal (163g fat). So going by these charts would you take away from this that we are fat because we eat too much and that macronutrient per se doesn’t matter? Yeah I would. Just to note there doesn't appear to be any countries who are generally LCHF.
Most of Africa isn’t known to be a fat nation. Highest caloric intake is South Africa at 2990(65% carbs). 70% of adult South African women and nearly 40% of men are overweight or obese.
The lowest amount of calories goes to the Democratic Republic of the Congo at 1590 (80% carbs)
I tracked down heath info and found that 1.9% of the Congo have a BMI over 30 and the average BMI is 21. Wait a minute….. so you mean to tell me the Congo have a high % of carbs compared with South Africa yet are slimmer? Can I remind you that the people in the Congo are eating 1590 calories compared to 2990 calories in South Africa. Could it be they are slimmer because they eat less perhaps? Well if you went by carb % alone you would think that they would be fatter, right? I mean 80% diet as carb would have the LCHF enthusiasts spinning! But you also could to take into consideration what the absolute number of carbs is. Well the congo is eating 318g carbs a day and SA 486g carbs. So while SA IS eating more carbs they are also eating nearly twice the amount of calories the congo is eating even though the % of carbs is less.
The whole high carb thing making you fat is the foundation of their business so they might wish to stay in denial. Someone else might think maybe its not the carbs per se but the total energy intake, activity level, sex, age If you feel hungrier on carbs look at what the source of the carbs are, starch or sugar, refined or whole, fibre or no fibre? This makes a huge difference in appetite regulation, satiety and fullness.
So the question remains why is the US eating more than all other nations and are one of the fattest nations than everyone else in the world, yet they have one of the lowest carb intake in the world and carbs are “suppose” to make you fat?
My thought are this
If your diet has a lot of foods that are high glycemic load foods or refined processed foods, yes, including soft drinks. (Energy dense and nutrient poor) Pretty much these are foods not just high in carbs but ALSO high in fat including trans fats and PUFA’s. These foods/drinks eaten in large amounts and/or often enough will give you high blood sugar and you will release more insulin to shuttle that glucose where it needs to go, and then your blood sugar levels will drop which can lead to low blood sugar due to the over compensation of insulin. So you crash and you may feel dizzy, faint, headaches and really hungry so you reach for a chocolate bar or biscuit or other refined product to quickly get that blood sugar level up so you will feel better and so the cycle begins. Add to this high cortisol levels from stress, and what does cortisol do? It plays an important role in glycogenolysis, the breaking down of glycogen to glucose and also increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis. This is making glucose from non-carbohydrate carbon substrates such as pyruvate, lactate, glycerol, and glucogenic amino acids.
So you end up eating more, you eat more you get heavier, your chances of metabolic syndrome go up, you may become insulin resistant and when you are insulin resistant you have an abnormal response to carbohydrates AND fats, and then you have free fatty acids and lots of glucose in the blood that has nowhere to go. So the beta cells suffer oxidative stress and inflammation due to the high nutrient exposure and then eventually apoptosis or auto cell destruction. Then you have type 2 diabetes.
So you have stress and highly refined foods/drink products that don’t satisfy, have empty calories, so you may end up eating more due to rapid drops in blood glucose and the food is highly palatable which make it easier to eat more energy dense/low nutrient food. This is food that is convenient and its everywhere you go. Plus you may have stress in your life causing your body to make more glucose. Which perpetuates the cycle. I don’t see any of these refined foods taking up a space in the guidelines, stop blaming the guidelines! Most people are not even aware of a serving size or the amount of fat/sugar/energy a food has.
Calories do matter as you see in the charts, it doesn't mean you have to count them, and there probably isn't a county in Africa that counts calories. Listen to your body to amount it actual needs not the amount you want. It is ok to feel hunger! Those of you that practise intermittent fasting will know what real hunger is!
The macronutrients per se don’t matter, what does matter is what that macronutrient is made up of and if that macronutrient is satisfying your hunger and/or causing you too eat more. If you have a diet high in carbs, you have enough protein for your body and this way of eating doesn’t cause you to eat more and keeps you healthy then there is nothing wrong with this way of eating! Something interesting, there is only essential fatty acid deficiency. In the same way we can make glucose from other sources if we need to we can also make all the fat the body requires if we need to. Yes glucose can be made into palmitate, which is a saturated fat(so theoretically we don't need to eat saturated fats but i love bacon and butter so that isn't going to happen!) Our body is pretty smart!
Just eat real food and eat what is right for your body, if what you are eating isn't getting you where you want to be then change, you just may be surprised what other ways of eating may achieve for you. Aim for nutrient density not macronutrients.
The best diet is the one you adhere to, the one you like eating, satisfies you, keeps you healthy, and covers all your nutrients. These is no right or wrong here. Let’s stop blaming one macronutrient please and just focus on having a whole food diet. No one is saying don’t eat junk food, just be mindful, reduce the amount you have and also the frequency. There is a big difference in calories, fat and sugar in 2 tam-tams than there is a whole packet!
Do you know how much you are REALLY eating? and does your body actually need that amount? I support many different diets, from LCHF to paleo, to higher carb, to gluten free/dairy free, each person is an individual so let’s treat them as one and stop putting everyone the same box. What I don’t like is people either lying, not telling the whole truth or perhaps ignorance on not knowing any better just to suit their agenda. Not cool!