Let’s get one thing straight.
Excess carbohydrates to many people will mean water retention and body fat so by reducing carbs in the diet, this can be a great way to lose a few pounds.
The “meat and nut” breakfast is a great start for most people and I can personally say from experience and having trained hundreds of clients to great success, eliminating carbs in the morning and replacing this with good quality protein and fats will have a favourable effect on body fat, energy and mood. The “Paleo diet” looks at this further and suggests that should eat like we evolved and adhere to a paleolithic diet like our cavemen ancestry. Again from personal experience, this is a great way to live and perform effectively in the gym and throughout life.
Can we stay on a Paleo based diet for ever and still function? The answer is yes we can and many do….
But what if you want to add carbs back into your diet after living the low carb life? We all love carbs don’t we? They taste great and makes us feel great (temporarily at least) but generally, many of us can’t tolerate them too much or we gain weight and have other health issues.
There seems to me to be a lot of confusion with the various techniques and protocols that exist within the general public and I can see where the confusion lies.
Do we need carbs? When should we eat them? If I eat them after 7pm will they make me fat? Can I eat carbs for breakfast. What are the best sources?What’s the difference between high GI and low GI? These are common questions I hear every day. All these questions and many more are being bandied around by the media, and on TV, is it any wonder people are confused?
To add more confusion to an already mind boggling subject with have things like carb cycling, carb back loading, IIFYM (If it fits your macros) or flexible dieting and of course my favourite, Intermittent fasting.
Carbohydrates when used correctly, can be very beneficial for losing body fat and maintaining muscle mass. Let me correct that, carbohydrates are essential in seriously reducing body fat and achieving a “ripped” physique or body for both men and women. Insulin, which is secreted by the pancreas when we consume carbs is a highly anabolic hormone which means it promotes the gaining of muscle tissue. The opposite of this is catabolic.
More on that in a bit
Assuming that most people reading my post are in the City, not full time athletes and are just looking to lose a bit of body fat and improve their health, let’s leave many of those protocols alone for now and look at what I believe to be an effective way to stay lean, have lots of energy and perform to your best in and outside the gym.
After a workout, you body is in a state that has been called a “metabolic window” meaning you have an opportunity to replenish your body with carbohydrates, protein and as many nutrients possible. This will help the body recover and the carbohydrates will reduce the amount of cortisol released from the body. After a workout, your muscles are very sensitive to insulin so contrary to what I said before about ingesting carbs, we now have a wonderful opportunity that you need to seize with both hands. Any workout in the gym actually puts the body in a catabolic state which means the muscle tissue has a chance of being broken down and used for energy. Enter the PWO shake. Most of you use whey protein straight after a workout which is a must. A great way to add carbs to a low carb diet is to now add carbs to that shake in the form of maltodextrin. It’s during this nutrient timing that the body will use these carbs rapidly and as I mentioned before, cortisol will go down, you testosterone will rise and you should preserve your muscle mass and get the fat burning mechanisms well and truly turned on. That is the abbreviated version of a very complicated chain of events.
That’s just great, I hear many of you saying. Liquid carbs in my post work out shake, is that all we get? Well no, that’s not it.
I’ve mentioned the cheat meal many times before which you can find here so I won’t go into that now, but a cheat meal is an excellent way for you to enjoy carbs and satisfy your cravings and it will actually help in your fat burning efforts.
How else can we add carbs back into the diet and still keep the fat burning stoked high?
Well I would suggest still being very smart about your carb intake and ask yourself the question “have I earned these carbs?” If on a particularly heavy training day you have your post workout shake with a mix of whey protein and maltodextrin but you could also have a good source of low GI carbohydrates such as sweet potato with your evening meal. The old wives tales of not eating carbs after 7pm is complete rubbish. Your body is far too smart for this, its the overall carb intake for the day that is more important, not the time you ingest the carbs. In fact, eating carbs at night will promote a restful sleep by raising your serotonin levels.
This in turn will promote the release of more growth hormone which is the bodies most potent fat burner.
Yes, carbs at night are better for you than eating carbs in the day and most certainly won’t make your store fat
So to recap.
A typical day could go something like this –
Breakast – 3 whole eggs, half an avocado.
Snack – 10 almonds and blueberries
Lunch – Chicken/tuna salad. Table spoon of Extra virgin olive oil
Pre workout snack – 1 scoop of whey protein, 5 macadamias
Post workout shake – 2 scoops of whey, 1 scoop of maltodextrin or high high GI carb drink.
Dinner – steak, green vegetables and 1 sweet potato. 1 tsp of fish oil
Here we have a sample diet that is high in protein, high in good quality fats and has a moderate amount of carbohydrates and certainly enough to keep most people satisfied, without hampering their fat loss efforts in the gym!
Look out for a post coming soon on carb cycling and IIFYM (if it fits your macros)
Gavin @ UCF