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ModernSCOOPS: The Truth About Eating Carbs

High carb? Low carb? No carb? With so many different options and experts touting either the significant benefits or detriments to eating some or no carbs, it is difficult to determine what the truth is about carbohydrates and fat loss.

Despite all of the confusion, there are only two rules that you need to follow in order to optimize your carbohydrate consumption for fat loss and hypertrophy. I am going to share with you these two rules and then a roadmap for choosing the right carbs, in the right amounts, for your diet.






Modern Carb Rule #1: The more fat you have to lose, the fewer carbs you should eat.


The more fat you are carrying around, the harder it is for your body to use the carbohydrates that you feed it efficiently.  Extra body fat creates a metabolic and hormonal environment where your body has reduced sensitivity to the hormone insulin. Insulin is a hormone whose #1 job is to get sugar/carbohydrates out of the bloodstream. When you have a lot of fat cells stuffed full of fat, insulin cannot do its job correctly. In fact, newer research suggests that fat cells are the primary regulator of your blood sugar levels and can directly interfere with insulin’s ability to get the carbs you eat into your muscles. This leads to higher insulin levels, a biochemical state that promotes fat gain.


Modern Carb Rule #2: You should eat the majority of your carbs following exercise.

Exercise is the most powerful fat loss helper that you have access to (legally or illegally). Right after you exercise is one of the only times that you have the ability to shuttle nutrients directly to your muscles and not your fat cells. This is why you want to eat the majority of the carbohydrates in your diet in the several hours following exercise.


Putting the Modern Carb Rules into Play - The Hierarchy of Carbohydrates


All foods containing carbohydrates are not created equal. Certain types of foods have a higher density of carbohydrates while others have lower amounts of carbohydrates and are digested more slowly. The "Hierarchy of Carbohydrates" is your simple roadmap to carb consumption success.


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The Hierarchy


  • - Foods containing added sugars (reserved for very limited occasions, splurge meals) - candy, desserts, etc.


  • - Refined grains (reserved for limited occasions, only following exercise) - white rice, rice cakes, foods made with refined flour, etc.


  • - Whole grains/starches (eaten first thing in the morning or following exercise) - potatoes, yams, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, flaxseed pasta, quinoa, oats, whole grain breads, etc.


  • - Fruits (eat anytime) - apples, berries, oranges, grapes, bananas, etc.


  • - Vegetables (eat anytime) - tomatoes, carrots, onions, colored peppers, squash, pumpkin, etc.


  • - Green vegetables (eat anytime) - broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, cucumbers, green beans, etc.


Putting the hierarchy into play in your diet is very simple. Foods at the top of the list will have more carbohydrates per serving than ones at the bottom of the list. Keep the majority of your choices towards the bottom of the list, and less near the top. As you get leaner, you'll need to start removing carbohydrate sources from the top of the list to continue to see results.




About Dr. Mike Roussell


Dr. Mike is known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical nutritional habits that his clients can use to ensure permanent weight loss and long lasting health. Dr. Mike holds a degree in biochemistry from Hobart College and a doctorate in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Mike’s academic background coupled with his broad range of experience from consulting with pharmaceutical and food companies, medical schools, top rated fitness facilities, professional athletes, and individual clients, gives him the unique ability to translate scientific findings into relevant, understandable, and actionable strategies that get results.  As a scientist, his research has been published in the premiere clinical nutrition journal in the world, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Dr. Mike is a sought after continuing educator, speaking across the country to physicians, dietitians, nurses, and other health professionals on the most recent advances in the nutritional treatments for cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Mike’s unique approach to scientifically derived yet practical nutrition has made him a well-known expert contributor to both national print publications and leading online fitness outlets. In addition to being an adjunct assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Mike serves on the Advisory Board for both Men’s Health magazine and He also writes the monthly “Ask The Nutrition Know-It-All” column for Men’s Health Magazine.  In addition to authoring three books, Your Naked Nutrition Guide (2007), The 6 Pillars of Nutrition (2011), and Dr. Mike’s Ultimate Book of Smoothies (2015) he has served as the nutritionist for Men’s Health Book of Power Training (Rodale, 2007), Strength Training Cardio (Rodale, 2010), the Women’s Health Big Book of Abs (Rodale, 2012), the Men’s Health Big Book of Abs (Rodale, 2012), and Your Body Is Your Barbell (Rodale, 2014).

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USPlabs or any employee thereof. Examples used within this article are only examples. USPlabs is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the authors of this article.  Authors may have been remunerated by USPlabs.

The information provided in this article, as well as this web-site blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice for any condition. Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. By reading this disclaimer, you hereby agree and understand that the information provided in this column is not medical advice and relying upon it shall be done at your sole risk.