[dropcap]A[/dropcap] very popular topic that I feel should be addressed, FAR too many people stress out about how many carbs they should be having and what carbs they should be using.
So I thought I would shed some light on this for you 🙂
First, lets discuss whether or not you should be including carbohydrates within your nutrition plan. A hot topic at the moment is insulin resistance (your body not being able to process carbohydrates efficiently) and insulin sensitivity (your body processing carbohydrates efficiently). How efficiently your body handles carbs should dictate whether or not you should be including them from the start. A quick test for you, if you can literally pinch and inch of fat at your hip and on your subscapular (shoulder blade), chances are, that you would benefit from a period of removing starchy carbohydrates as they both have direct correlation to insulin sensitivity and fat storage.
Please play close attention to the next paragraph!
Going low or zero carb doesn’t mean going low calorie. If you are removing carbohydrates from your nutrition, you MUST replace some of the lost calories with protein and good fats. Removing all carbs and not replacing with protein or fats is literally a recipe for DISASTER! You’re adherence will be low, you will be hungry and your calories will be far too low for too long which will cause havoc with your body, especially for women.
When going low carb, you must be having plenty of protein from lean meats, fish, poultry and eggs. As well as getting your good fats from avocado, lean meats, oily fish, nuts, seeds etc. and lets not forget the all important cruciforous vegetables; broccoli, kale, spinach, green beans. I can’t stress how important it is to get these vegetables in when removing starchy carbohydrate’s (breads, pastas, white rice, white potatoes), they will be the main provider of your dietary fiber – an essential ingredient for your fat loss!
Doing this alone should see your ‘inch pinches’ coming down in no time. But how long should you go low/no carb for? Honestly there isn’t a right answer to this, many factors can dictate this and is very different from person to person but a good rule of thumb would be 3-4 weeks of zero carb.
At this point, the carbs you should introduce should be added in around your workouts. After a period of no carb, your insulin sensitivity will be increased, so your body’s ability to use your added carbs will be far greater than it ever has been. Start by adding carbs into your post workout shake or into the meal that directly follows your workout. Opt for brown rice, jasmine rice or sweet potatoes, you could also have a bowl of porridge oats.
Now that you have introduced carbs back in, be sure to track your body composition to make sure that you are having the right amount, if your inch pinch increases, reduce the amount of carbs, if you are still seeing good results, you could increase them or add them into you intra workout drink. I’m a huge believer that carbs need to be earned, so make sure you are working your arse off during your time at the gym, just turning up and wondering around doesn’t quite cut it!!
Remember, carbs are NOT to be feared, they are a fantastic fat loss tool when used correctly, the problem lies when people abuse them. Learn to control your timings, portions and carb selection and you will see and feel the benefits for yourself.
Take home notes
- Not everyone has to drop carbs out completely
- If you do drop starchy carbs, you MUST replace some of the lost calories with lean proteins and good fats
- When introducing carbs back in, add them in and around your workout to begin with so that you use them efficiently
- Carbs must be earned
- Carbs should not be feared or abused