T Nation

Do You Really Need Carbs?


I don't feel any different without 'em...I feel perfectly fine. Im bulking and Im just wondering if I need them? I mean I've read quite a few times that there are no essential carbohydrates and that people have made gains on fats and protein.
What can be detrimental as long as I'm in surplus of cals?


not bashing, but do you read any other threads in this forum? This has been answered and yesterday's article also brought up the carb controversy.


No. The only thing you need is protein. I think the whole "carb tolerance" thing is mental and this is coming from a classic endomorph.

Carbs didn't make me a fat kid, eating too much made me a fat kid.

Furthermore, I'd much rather have oatmeal for breakfast than a handful of almonds.


I read that but it seemed like a very obscure article that left too much untouched...I found it hard to take it too seriously


well it was an interview and not an article on the actual subject matter, but the discussion after the article really got into some good detail about carbs and their usefulness.

lots of good info

and of course the thread of Sugar or Fat


I like how people say there are no essential carbs.

Last I checked, carbs are a nutrient. Which by definition means something we need to live.

Carbs aren't evil. Man processed carbs are the kind we need to ingest less of.



glucogenic amino acids are converted to glucose for all the body's sugar needs. you can survive with just proteins and fats, but carbs are essential to thrive.


Need them for what? To live? No. To gain muscle? No, but they really help a lot especially when consumed correctly.


that term does not necessarily mean they are needed to live


While I was exaggerating a LITTLE bit...

LyleMcdonald sez:


My question is, why wouldn't you want to eat carbs? They taste good, improve performance in the gym, fill out your muscles and allow you to hold a pump, keep your hormones humming along, and they're filled with vitamins, minerals and fiber (well, the unprocessed ones are at least).

COULD you survive eating 0 carbs? Sure, but it would be a pretty lame existence if you ask me.


You're right, my fault.




Yeah, plus a life without oats, sweet potatoes, rice, Lucky Charms, bread, etc. Is a life I don't want to live!


essential to live.........pretty sure those who were in concentration camps didn't worry whether carbs were essential to live or not when they were fed .001ounce of goop every 2 days. Having made that drastic statement, JM is right. Why would you not eat them? Man has been eating apples and blueberries for a pretty long fucking time.

Seeing as we all go to the gym, and hopefully train our asses off, lets not worry if we REALLY need carbs? Just enjoy them and take in as many calories as you need for your goals.


what is meant by "they keep hormones humming along"?


leptin is primarily impacted by calorie and carbohydrate intake, fat has little impact.

insulin (a key anticatabolic hormone) is also effected by carbohydrate consumption.

SHBG binds up free testosterone when carb intake is low (one of the reasons some people experience low sex drive on low carbs).

serotonin is also effected by carb consumption, often leading to insomnia or poor sleep quality on extremely low carb diets.

carbs also influence fullness signals after a meal, with numerous studies showing carbs having a more satiating effect than fat in the short term (fat impacts long-term hunger more). Protein, however, is the most satiating nutrient of all.


they may hum, but much of this can be erratic, and not necessarily beneficial


With regard to the argument that fats, other than essential fats, are not "required":

Man has, in nature, tried the protein-only diet. I believe the term in the Arctic for it is "rabbit starvation" or something like that. Resulting from eating only or almost entirely rabbit, or other very lean meats. Essentially no carbs, extremely little fat.

The problem is that protein alone cannot supply maintenance calories.

The solution found in the Arctic for this was keeping stocks of fat from other animals that, when only very lean meat was eaten, would be consumed as well to fill out enough calories for maintenance.

With regard to the reverse, having only lean meat and carbs and only the essential fatty acids, I suppose that could be done but what studies there have been on the effect of fat intake on testosterone production suggests that T would be low.

But yes, my understanding is that protein plus carbs, with fats cut to only EFA's, is long-term survivable. (As is protein plus fats with no carbs, which unlike the above is not T-suppressive.)


Insulin, caloric intake, melatonin, ghrelin, and other adipokines regulate leptin. It is far more complex than "carb intake."

Insulin regulates SHBG, not carbs. Insulin can be secreted without carbohydrate consumption.

This may or may not be true, but high insulin levels also lower serotonin.