High carb? Low Carb? No Carb? With so many different options and experts touting either the huge benefits or detriments to eating some or no carbs, it is very hard 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 less carbs you should eat.
The more fat you are carrying around, the harder it is for your body to efficiently use the carbohydrates that you feed it. 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 blood stream. When you have a lot of fat cells stuffed full of fat, insulin cannot do its job properly. In fact, newer research suggests that fat cells are the major 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, not loss.
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.
- 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 at anytime) - apples, berries, oranges, grapes, bananas, etc.
- Vegetables (Eat at any meal) - tomatoes, carrots, onions, colored peppers, squash, pumpkin, etc.
- Green Vegetables (Eat at any meal) - 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 foods at the bottom of the list. You want to eat the most of the foods at the bottom of the list, and then less of the foods as you move up the list. As you get leaner and need to cut out more calories/carbohydrates from your diet, start removing carbohydrates from the top of the list moving down.
The Truth About Eating Carbs
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.