13. CARBS While DIETING
There seems to be a unwarranted fear of carbohydrates consumption not only with gym folk but with the public in general. This is even more apparent when it comes to dieting which is unfortunate as Carbohydrates should be a part of most healthy nutrition plans. Let’s sort through the urban myths and see how carbohydrates fit into a healthy nutrition plan even when the primary goal on fat loss.
First a quick refresher on the positive benefits of carbohydrates and why we should be making them part of our eating plans. Carbohydrates are a clean burning fuel that comes in simple or varying degrees of complex (slow release). This is great as the different choices give us the option of some fast release simple carbs around weight training while using complex carbs to provide slow release energy and satiety for the rest of the day. Carbs are not the problem, too many carbs/fats/proteins equal too many calories and that is the problem. Quantity and Timing are the 2 key things we need to examine.
- Quantity of Carbohydrates: Not enough carbohydrates are going to be an issue as well due to low energy, loss of strength, loss of muscle and an inability to get a decent pump while training. Like most things in life we are looking for that goldilocks zone with carbohydrates. Slightly less carbs than normal to create a calorie deficit but still enough to maintain strength and muscle mass. Food diarys are a great way to get an idea of exactly how many carbohydrates you are currently eating.
- Timing of Carbohydrates: This one is pretty simple, carbs around weight training to help with strength and recovery and then reduced carbs for the rest of the day. For the meals with reduced or no carbs you can pad them out with extra green vegetables. Whether you train morning, noon or evening the carbohydrates around weight training produces good results.
As far as carbohydrates around cardio I would suggest none if your goal is fat loss. There are still going to be glucose swimming around in your blood, liver and working muscles even if you haven’t consumed carbohydrate recently. Your body is going to use a mixture of glucose, fat and amino acids to fuel your cardio session, we are just trying to shift that ratio in favour of more stored fat being used as energy by limiting carbohydrate consumption close to cardio.
Bottom line is that cutting too many or all of your carbohydrates out to lose fat will most likely not produce the results you want. Carbs have a role to play during a fat loss phase, use them wisely to shape your physique.