We investigate whether eating carbohydrates really can give you 'Carb Face'.

Last weekend, being the very sophisticated adult I am, I attended a dinner party. A real, grown-up, dinner party.

It was exactly how a dinner party should be — good company, interesting conversations, plenty of wine, and most importantly, a truly obscene amount of food.

While I’m tempted to list all the things I ate simply because it makes me so happy, I’m a little bit scared of being food shamed. So let’s just say nachos and lasagna both made an appearance. Oh, and Tim Tams. And chocolate strawberries.

And maybe just a slither of cake….

I ate A LOT.

‘This can be my cheat day!’ I thought to myself, despite not at all adhering to a healthy diet on any other days of the week. ‘Healthy eating starts tomorrow!’ I promised.

But when I awoke on Sunday morning, something wasn’t right. It was… it was my face.

After scouring the Internet for some sort of representation of how it looked, this is the closest I’ve found:

My face was swollen. All around my jawline was noticeably puffy. At first I thought I was just hungover and my eyes weren’t yet functioning properly. But then I remembered two words I’d heard years ago. And my heart sunk.

Carb. Face.

Yep, carb face. When I’d heard girls talk about it, I thought they had just managed to find a new way of criticising their appearance.

They’d come up with another ridiculous way to deter women from eating the deliciousness that is doughnuts and bread and rice and EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD IN THE WORLD.

But then it happened to me. So I had to know: is carb face an actual thing, or is it something women have invented that reflects a ‘fat feeling’ rather than any physical reality?

Speaking of food, most of us have been eating these ones the wrong way. (Post continues after video.)

When I asked Melanie McGrice, an accredited dietitian and member of the Dietitians Association of Australia, she was slightly taken aback.


“When it comes to diets and effects caused by food, I’ve heard of most things, but until now, I’d never heard of people getting a ‘carb face’,” she responded.

“Physiologically it doesn’t really make sense either, as we don’t really store glycogen (carbohydrates) in our face. Glycogen is mainly stored in our muscles and liver.”

Interesting — but surely I needed a second opinion, so I asked dietitian Katie Marks about carb face. Within her response, four words stuck out very clearly: “Never heard of it.”

At first I felt silly. Here I was, lamenting my existence because I gave myself ‘carb face’ on the weekend (#firstworldproblems). But two experts, both extremely well-versed in diet-related symptoms and conditions, had no idea what I was talking about. (Post continues after gallery.)

Indeed, there is some evidence for an association between carbohydrate intake and fluid retention, although carbs are said to have only a “mild influence.”

But if two dietitians had never come across it, or heard about it in their training, can carb face really be described as a ‘thing‘? It’s clearly not running rampant and bothering a huge number of people.

After some reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that carb face probably doesn’t exist — and even if it does, we definitely shouldn’t worry about it. If I worried about carb face, I’d get so stressed I’d probably turn to more carbs for comfort.


As women, we are far too hard on ourselves when it comes to food and our appearance. And obsessing over a couple of extra kilos or water retention or puffiness, especially in the absence of any negative health consequences, is a waste of our energy.

Energy that could (literally and metaphorically) be far more well spent contributing to the dynamic conversation at the dinner party party.

Have you heard of any weird food “phenomenons” like this?

Featured image: NBC.

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