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To gain weight, I have to take lots of carbs which I'm currently doing. My mum says eating too much carbs could cause diabetes. While her mum was diagnosed with diabetes, she said the doctor told her to refrain from excess carbs as that could alleviate her blood glucose level. As a medical student, it made me wonder, since carbs are converted to glucose, does that mean taking excess carbs would lead to a glucose rise in the blood?

Note - I once read that why its not good to take sugar in adults is because, as opposed to children, adults do not burn the excess calories from their body, but I exercise and I was told that in other to gain weight, I have to eat more calories than my body burns.

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  • You should of course at least test for insulin resistance before attempting this diet. Your mom is right, it could cause diabetes... if you are prone to it. All kinds of carbs raise the sugar in your blood, notably simple carbs such as sugar, which triggers a hormonal response in the form of releasing insulin to alleviate the blood sugar levels. You should stick to whole grain carbs: beans, oats, brown rice, brown pasta. If you are a power athlete you may find it useful to raise your insulin levels prior to heavy lifting. Apr 16 at 9:53
  • I don't think what you've read is correct. Every normally functioning individual should burn the excess calories, but at a different rate, called basal metabolism, which is closely correlated to the already-established body weight, body composition, height, gender and yes, age takes part too. Apr 16 at 9:55
  • For gaining weight efficiently you should eat more than you burn, a caloric surplus. Having a storage of glycogen and excessive intake of glucose will make you more performant and you'll be able to progress quicker. Just don't go over 15% of fat, unless you are a power athlete. Cardio improves the cardiovascular system, which contributes to burning excesive fats (especially containing glycogen, as it is the preferred source of energy for your muscles and brain) by improving blood flow. It also burns some calories immediately and for aerobics, the source of energy is air. Apr 16 at 9:59
  • Lastly, I'd like to recommend you supplement chromium picolinate. Read more about it online. Also regular checks for insulin resistance and do cardio every now and then. I am a power athlete ectomorph (hardgainer) 190m and from 10% to 14% fat I gained total of 15kg for less than a year. (Now I am 95kg) but I literally eat plain sugar sometimes! Apr 16 at 10:01
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Eating large amounts of carbs is not good if you already have diabetes or are prediabetic. But otherwise, whole grain carbs are very healthy. Type-2 diabetes is not caused by eating carbs, but by eating fat. This is explained in detail here. As pointed out in this lecture, countries like Japan where people used to eat large amounts of carbs used to have low rates of diabetes, and that changed when they started to eat less carbs and more fat.

Fat consumption at levels considered to be normal in the West is not only implicated in diabetes, it also causes cardiovascular disease. This was first rigorously established in the late 1950s, see also here for an article on this subject by the first author written more than 50 years later.

A more recent research result:

...the Tsimane, a forager-horticulturalist population of the Bolivian Amazon with few coronary artery disease risk factors, have the lowest reported levels of coronary artery disease of any population recorded to date.

And note how similar the diets of the Tsimane and the Africans in Uganda are, e.g. they both get less than 20% of their calories from fat.

In general, it's not good to argue on the basis of X is bad because it will cause adverse health effects to people suffering from disease Y. Take e.g. X to be strenuous exercise and Y to be heart disease. Exercise can lower the risk of heart disease, but once you got heart disease, the exercise intensity may need to be limited.

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  • Ideally, all the macronutrients should be taken in the correct dosage for yourself and at the right time. Healthy young people should really focus on fats and then on protein. Women should always focus on fats. If you live a sedentary life, carbs are almost always not the best option. Apr 16 at 10:08

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