While a number of factors can contribute to belly fat — including stress and poor sleep — carbs may play a role, depending on your diet. “Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body, broken down and utilized as glucose by our cells,” Gabby Geerts, a registered dietitian at Green Chef said. “If you consume more carbs than necessary, your body will convert glucose to glycogen, a storage form of energy. If you consume so many carbs that even your glycogen stores are at maximum capacity, the body will then convert this to fat.”

Insulin, the hormone that helps transport glucose to the body’s cells, also becomes less effective if you eat too many carbs. This means if you continually eat a high-carb diet, you’ll need more insulin to manage that workload, a condition known as insulin resistance. “As insulin efficiency continues to decline, more energy will be stored as fat,” Gabby explained.

So, if you think your carb intake could be to blame for you carrying extra weight in your middle, take a look at your diet, noting how frequently you eat carbs, what types of carbs you eat, your portion sizes, and what else is on your plate. “Adding a fat and protein will help slow the absorption and maintain more stable blood glucose levels,” Gabby said.

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