Tip: Avoid the Carb Cults

It's time to relax and use some common sense when it comes to carbohydrates. Here's a reality check.

Trigger Warning: Carbs Are Okay

Lifters need carbs to build muscle, perform well, and feel awesome.

Oddly, that common sense statement – backed by at least a hundred years of collected real-world experience – is highly offensive to some people. For them, their diet has become their religion. They're often as fanatical as a newly minted vegan, only their sacrament involves eating as few carbs as possible.

Let's step back and take a cleansing breath. Carb reduction is great for very overweight, sedentary people. But lifters and athletes, whose gym and sport activity has given them good insulin sensitivity, need them for healthy hormone levels and optimal performance.

The Carb Pendulum

The problem here is that damn on/off switch that most people have in their heads. That's the black or white, all-or-nothing way of thinking favored by people who don't like thinking very much. It's either:

All carbs are Hitler! Carbs are a Russian conspiracy! Carbs gave me a wedgie in the 7th grade!
Eat all the carbs, even the junk, because a calorie is a calorie! And calories in, calories out... or um, something!

In the wacky world of diet and nutrition, the pendulum always swings all the way to one side or the other, never stopping in the middle where common sense resides.

The low-carb crowd, some members of the paleo tribe, and the people who've taken "keto" to eating-disorder extremes, send out the wrong messages. While there's a time and place to reduce carbs for fat loss, it's seldom necessary to go zero carb. Just choose better carbs, and time them right.

What are better carbs? Well, here's my list:

Carbs to Consume

  • Specialized workout nutrition supplements
  • Rice. Yes, even white rice. Preferably even.
  • Potatoes. All types.
  • Beans. All types.
  • Oatmeal and buckwheat
  • Fruits and veggies

Carbs Not to Consume

Come on, you already know. You don't need a complete list of blatantly obvious crap. But take note that there's no bread on this list, no breakfast cereals, and no sugar-coated crappola. In fact, nothing on this list has ever made anyone fat in the entire history of fat people.

No to Carb Cults, Yes to Good Carb Choices

So why do the no-carb cults demonize things like potatoes, beans and (I'm not even kidding here) carrots? Usually for minor reasons they've blown out of proportion that actually have little to no impact on your health or body composition.

Making good carb choices is just common sense once you stop listening to the glassy-eyed diet cults out there.

Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram