The nutrition world, like the fitness world, runs on a pendulum swing.
Carbs are bad
Now carbs aren’t bad
Low fat is better
Low fat is bad
Eat more protein
Don’t eat too much protein
What is a person to do? Which is the best route for success? It all comes back to ” everything in moderation.” Completely eliminating carbs might work for awhile but not forever. The human body needs (good) carbohydrates to function. Not doughnuts and pop tarts. Red blood cells are made from healthy carbohydrates like green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes and fresh, raw fruits. Glucose, which is carbohydrate that has been broken down to enter a human’s bloodstream for utilization, is the main fuel source for the brain. Take away carbohydrates from one’s diet and, you’ve heard of the term “brain fog” right??
Healthy carbohydrates are essential for rebuilding broken down muscle tissue and replenishing energy systems through a process called glycogen re-synthesis. So, if the body is deprived of them for an extended period of time while on an exercise program then muscles won’t rebuild, metabolism won’t increase and body fat will be gained instead of lost. Carbohydrates aid in the transport of protein to the broken down muscle cell sites. Without carbohydrates, less of the protein that is consumed will get utilized for muscle repair.
The best and simplest way to implement carb cycling for losing body fat is to break down your days down into two categories:
1. Training days: big and small.
2. Non training days.
A higher carbohydrate intake is required on training days. The bigger muscles in the body are the legs and upper back. Exercises such as squats, row variations, pull ups, dead lifts are all exercises that create a large metabolic demand. Dragging heavy sleds, heavy dumb bell or kettlebell carries are also examples of exercises that create a very large metabolic demand. So on days that these exercises are utilized the carbohydrate intake can be higher.
BIG TRAINING DAYS
A good guideline for carb intake for fat loss on a big training day would be to consume .25 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. So, someone who weighs 200 lbs should consume 50 grams on a big training day. Use high glycemic carbohydrate for the first post workout meal like bananas, mangoes and rice. For the second post workout meal use low glycemic carbohydrates like green leafy vegetables, blueberries, sweet potatoes.
For the third meal post workout if there is one ( depends on what time exercise is completed) stick to just protein with a healthy fat source.
SMALL TRAINING DAYS
Same exact rules apply as above with big training days EXCEPT for cutting the carbohydrate consumption in half. Using the above example of the 200 lb person would mean 25 grams post workout in the first two meals. Small training days are days where smaller muscle groups are trained. For example some do a body part split routine where one day is dedicated to just biceps and triceps. This type or workout won’t demand as much as training heavy with legs, upper back or chest. A shorter workout will also require a lower carbohydrate intake.
NON TRAINING DAYS
On non training days stick to protein and fats with only trace carbohydrates from green leafy vegetables. Good fat sources are almonds, almond butter, macadamia nuts, coconut and olive oils. Proteins are proteins.
A sample day meal plan can look like the following. This is based on early morning exercisers, as that is what we all are.
5:45 am Workout
First meal: 7:00 am (roughly) Post workout meal – protein smoothie with berries, protein powder and any liquid you desire. This is the best time to drink or consume something ” high glycemic.” So, your smoothie liquid could be orange or apple juice or any of the milks. Bananas, cherries and other high glycemic fruits would be best consumed post workout if you at all.
Example 1: 3/4 – 1 cup frozen bananas, chocolate protein, , almond or coconut milk. Preferably almond milk due to a lower fat content, fat slows down absorption and ideally you want quick delivery of nutrients post workout. Any other time of day it is a great source of nutrition though.
Example 2: 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup frozen mango or banana, almond milk as a liquid or juice. (Don’t go crazy with juice)
Second meal: Lean protein source with sweet potatoes or brown rice.
Remaining meals: As previously stated fats and proteins with vegetables being the main carbohydrate source.
Example 1: grilled hamburger with 1/2 avocado, edamame beans, handful of salad greens. With olive oil and a dash of sea or pink Himalayan salt
Example 2: chicken, beef or seafood stir fry. No rice or noodles of any kind.
Consuming the right kind of carbohydrates in the right amounts at the right times are the 3 keys to weight loss success. However this will only work if a regular strength training program, high intensity interval training program or a combination of the two (what we do) is being followed consistently. Swimsuit body here we come!