Welcome back, LIFTnation! Thanks for joining me as we explore this final segment on the TEOF, which deals with the most mysterious and misunderstood Macronutrient of them all…CARBS. As a self-proclaimed recovering CARBOPHOBIC, I can attest that even a casual reference to the nasty “C” word ( no, not THAT one, you perv! ) triggers within me an ominous cringe. So, if you’re anything like me and you subconsciously tend to recoil from the thought carbohydrates, I hereby exhort:
BE NOT AFRAID of the NEFARIOUS CARB MONSTER!
By the time we get through this session we will have debunked the many myths shrouding this enigmatic Macronutrient and we will have the ability to confidently implement them into our winning nutrition strategy. Sound good!?
MYTH # 1—ZERO CARB DIETS ARE THE ANSWER TO ALL OF MY PROBLEMS
Admittedly, I once adhered to this detrimental philosophy and the end result was a significant loss of muscle. If you have been reading my previous posts, then you understand that MUSCLE IS KING, and is literally the common denominator to a sexier body, regardless of age or gender. As an extremely “hungry” tissue, muscle is the primary contributor to your RESTING METABOLIC RATE (RMR), and possesses the power to turn your body into a veritable calorie-burning machine. Therefore, if we limit carbs too drastically we will inhibit muscle growth and, perhaps worse, we will cannibalize the valuable muscle we already have.
LOW CARB = NO CARB
According to the most recent research, we don’t necessarily have to go zero carb to reap the benefits of fat burning. In fact, for active, healthy folks who exercise regularly ( 1 hour, 3 x week ), a total of 100 carbs daily is still considered low enough to tap into those stubborn fat stores. The body and brain, through their natural processes, actually use considerable amounts of glucose simply through their everyday processes….breathing, blinking, the growing of hair, skin, nails, etc. Therefore, in order to have a happy, healthy body it is important to keep at least a moderate dose of carbs. Personally, for those trying to reduce bodyfat I recommend somewhere between 80 and 140 grams of carbs every day. One tip for maximizing the utilization of carbs while minimizing the propensity to store them as fat, I would try and keep my carbs closer to 80 grams on non-workout days and then load them to between 120 and 140 grams on days that you exercise. This mini carb-cycling scenario is a simple, effective way to gauge your intake and is a perfect example of EATING WITH A PURPOSE.
MYTH # 3—LOW-CARB DIETS WILL DAMAGE YOUR KIDNEYS
The false reasoning typically used here is based on the assumption that a diet fewer in carbs will necessarily mandate a diet that is overloaded with proteins. The truth is that most low-carb diets are not higher in proteins than the latest recommended levels. As our understanding of nutrition science has evolved, we know that active people whom engage in regular resistance training actually need higher levels of proteins than was once thought. Furthermore, the liver is a very dynamic organ and constantly adjusts to one’s eating habits, therefore when we consume more protein (if we are healthy and active) the liver will produce more protease enzymes to facilitate digestion. For this myth we can thank the Atkins craze of the 90’s, wherein the general public had little to no understanding of nutrition whatsoever. At this dismal point in American History, if you can recall, we were actually provided with the now-laughable “Food Pyramid” that was proudly championed by our very own, omniscient FDA. This governmental blunder suggested that the bulk of our daily intake should come from “6 to 11 servings of “Breads, Rice, Pasta and Cereal !” Holy smokes, no wonder we were so out of shape!
MYTH # 4—LOW CARB DIETS WILL MAKE ME TIRED AND GRUMPY
Again, the key with diet, and with everything for that matter, is to moderate. As I mentioned in the previous post, any diet that is too extreme in one direction or the other is simply not sustainable and will invariably create backlash. I think we all have personally experienced, at one point or another, the so-called hangry attack…I know I certainly have! If you go about it wrong, implementing a low-carb diet can make you very susceptible to this nasty scenario. If you are one of us that has indeed turned into the HANGRY JACK then you know exactly what I’m talking about….the Jekyll and Hyde phenomenon when you suddenly get hit with an unquenchable hunger pang and impulsively give that slow driver in front of you the good ol’ middle finger….or perhaps you yell at the coupon-lady in front of you at the grocery store as your mouth is watering, eyes dilated and fixed on that Snickers bar within your reach. Without a doubt, these sudden fits of rage are the result of fast-crashed blood sugar. Hell, that’s why you see me travelling at all times with a gym bag full of snacks!!. To avoid this undesired onset of plummeting blood sugar,
THE EMPHASIS OF CARB INTAKE SHOULD BE PLACED ON WHEN YOU HAVE CARBS, NOT IF YOU HAVE THEM.
To give you a real-life example, I will walk you through a day when I am trying to reduce my bodyfat. Typically I start my day with a small dose of carbs–maybe 20 to 30 grams–so I can have the energy I need to think and function and to be totally awesome. After that initial dose of carbs, I then typically refrain from any more carbs until about 90 minutes before I exercise, which will ensure I have a solid workout. Following my exercise session, wheteher it be cardio or weight training, I diligently intake another 20 to 30 grams of fruit or other quickly digested carbs, which serve the purpose of restoring my depleted glycogen levels. Again, folks, the idea here is EATING WITH A PURPOSE! Finally, for dinner I usually have plenty of lean protein and I limit my carbs to plenty of vegetables. My personal favorite is mixing a chili pot with diced tomatoes, French style green beans, and mushrooms, which I top with a sprinkle of low fat grated parmesan cheese. YUMMMM! I literally never get tired of this and it does a great job of keeping me nice and full for the rest of the night.
Well, LIFT family, there ya’ have it: a simple, step by step guide to understanding carbs and how to realistically use them to your advantage. Remember, the first step in having a sustainable weight-loss plan is to have a strong understanding of nutrition, so I encourage you all to read and study on your own time to empower yourselves fully. For any additional questions please feel free to contact me, as we can always chat via email or even set up some one-on-one personal training.
Yours in Wellness,