Do We Need Carbs to Survive?


Contributing Writer
Jeffrey Barkstrom

Common wisdom is that we need lots of carbs to think and perform athletically. Current research says otherwise. What’s the truth?
Carbohydrates come in two varieties. Simple carbs are things like sugars and fruits. Complex carbs are things like grains and potatoes.
During the 1970s, it became popular for athletes to “carb load” to have a temporary increase in energy levels for peak performance. Recently, athletes have moved away from carb loading and moved to fat burning. If a person reduces their carb intake, the body will switch over to fat burning mode. Fat burning mode has several advantages over carb burning. The body can only store a very limited amount of carbs, after a certain point carbs are then just turned into fats. Carb loading makes people fat. That limited amount of carbs is also why athletes “hit the wall” and lose all their energy. They have basically used up their entire carb supply and the body stops functioning.
Fat burning mode is good for several reasons. In fat burning mode a person loses fat! They burn it off! For athletes, fat burning mode is great because we have large amounts of fat stored in the body, so the athlete never hits the wall, aka their endurance is much greater.
Can we completely live without carbs? No, there are small amounts of carbs in vegetables and greater amounts in fruits that provide all the carbs we need. To lose weight, limit your carbs to 30 grams per day. To get to 30, you need to cut out the sugars and grains and limit the fruit.
If you’d like to learn about carbs or health topics, call our office at 665-5015, come to one of our free workshops or visit us on the web at Have a great day!
Jeffrey Barkstrom has been helping people with health and weight loss issues for more than 12 years. He has spoken at colleges, businesses, non-profits, national conferences and on television about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. He currently practices at Barkstrom Acupuncture PC, Natural Health Improvement Center in Jamestown, NY. Learn more at or at