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Joel Reece encourages students to know their eating habits and avoid excessive refined carbohydrates

An aisle of food in the C Store on campus

The amount of carbohydrates available on campus has an effect on a student’s lifestyle and diet, according to students and exercise and sports science professor on campus. They said a balanced diet of refined and unrefined carbohydrates is important for a healthy lifestyle. In reality, they added anyone can eat whatever they want if they exercise accordingly.

Joel Reece is a BYU–Hawaii assistant professor in Exercise and Sports Science. Reece said he believes the presence of carbohydrates on campus is not great. He said, “I think carbohydrates are a good thing for us. Often times, carbohydrates are looked at as being bad, but carbohydrates are the thing that provides energy for us.

“Our body wants us to use carbohydrates as energy before any other macronutrients. Carbohydrates are one essential macronutrient that we can use for energy – our body can use for energy – I think maybe the misconception about carbohydrates is like a simple carbohydrate versus a complex carbohydrate or carbohydrates from whole grains versus refined.”

Reece added, “Maybe there are too many refined carbohydrates on campus.”

Tale of two carbohydrates

The healthy balance between refined and simplified carbohydrates can affect a healthy diet, said Reece. According to, “Unprocessed carbs contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, processing them removes nutrients and results in refined carbs, which people sometimes refer to as empty carbs or empty calories.

“Refined carbs provide very few vitamins and minerals. The body processes refined carbs quickly, so they do not provide lasting energy, and they can cause a person’s blood sugar to spike.”

According to Reece, refined carbohydrates, when eaten, could be either used as energy or later stored, but too much refined carbohydrates cannot be converted into energy and instead converts into fat stored in the body.

Although carbohydrates turn into sugar once consumed, sophomore Jeffery Tang, a biology major from California, said he doesn’t think food plays a huge role in fat. He said people can eat whatever they want as long as they have the right amount of exercise. Tang said he was able to eat whatever he wanted due to balancing both calorie intake and exercise.

He shared from personal experience. “I used to have to eat 8,000 calories a day to maintain my body weight. If I started not eating 8,000 calories then I would lose weight. That’s why with [the] right amount of exercise, you can eat any amount of food you want.”

Brec Jorgenson, an undecided freshmen from Utah, said, “I think that carbs are a good thing on campus. Carbs should be an important part of a student’s diet, but not overdone.”

Jorgenson shared he thinks it’s not necessary to withdraw carbohydrates from a diet, but instead, it’s better to limit the amount of refined carbohydrates in a diet. The best thing to do is to balance both types of carbohydrates and exercise.

“I believe that students put in enough time [studying and staying active] that carbs will help them keep going. I do believe that loading up on carbs and not adding exercise into someone’s weekly schedule will not be helpful in the long run.”