The Great Carbohydrate Debate

When it comes to the carbohydrate debate, the questions are endless.  Should we limit carbs?  Increase carbs?  Time our carbs? Everyone is on one side of the fence or the other no matter what. The piece of advice I always give is, what kind of landscape do you want, and what is needed to treat that landscape?  Then you’ll know which side of the fence you choose.

See, it’s like this.  We need carbs, but we don’t.  Sometimes! Well, it depends.  And that’s the truth!  So how do you know what you need?  Let’s start by bringing awareness to the things we should consider before we begin pounding potatoes and every “paleo friendly” dessert recipe (or the opposite; micro-analyzing every piece of fruit with suspicion that it’ll make you gain 5lbs. by looking at it).


#1 Reason We Question Carbs: Weight Loss  

(a)  If you are just starting out a Paleo Diet, by way of the standard American diet, then you are already eliminating so many carbohydrates that you’ll likely lose weight without counting carbs at all. Primarily because you’ll be giving up things like bread and cereal. However, contrary to popular belief, carbs are not just bread and cereal.  Vegetables are carbs.  Fruits are carbs!  But if you’re already removing those refined and complex, processed carbs and sugar by following a Paleolithic Diet, then you are replacing crap with nutrient dense foods and your body will be happy.  Don’t stress by obsessing over every gram of carbohydrate.  

(b)  On the flip side of this, if you are not exercising or keeping a regular workout routine of any kind, then you don’t need many carbs because you’re just not using them.  This take it easy with the “paleo dessert” recipes.  Also, some people have metabolic disorders that do require a bit more supervision over carbohydrate intake.  So I say, if you’ve been on a Paleo Diet and lost weight in the beginning but no longer seem to have the weight loss momentum you did in the beginning (and you’d like to drop additional weight), then transitioning to a more 40/40/20 plan would be helpful.  That’s 40% protein, 40% healthy fats (which often come with the protein, so no need to add more), and 20% carbohydrate.  You could also simply increase your activity levels or exercise intensity and not change a thing.  There’s wiggle room in there, so supervise and do what works for you. 

Alright, so with that out of the way, let’s keep it simple here and just lay it out.  When should you count carbs and when is it really unnecessary?


When you should limit (or count) carbs:

  • If you have conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, PCOS, or endometriosis.
  • When trying to heal fungal infections, candida or leaky gut
  • If you have neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinsons, Alzheimers or Spinal Muscle Dystrophy
  • In some cases of cancer
  • If you are not very active or have regular exercise routines
  • If you started a Paleo Diet and lost weight, but are no longer losing weight and still have 20+ lbs to go


When you don’t have to limit (or count) carbs:

  • If you are highly active or perform high intensity exercises or long duration workouts
  • If you are struggling to recover from workouts
  • If you have adrenal fatigue
  • If you are a woman and are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • When you are not trying to lose weight and simply want a nutrient dense meal plan