Carbohydrates

What

Using carbohydrate timing and carbohydrate type to optimize carbohydrate usage for performance whilst still being able to lose fat. Ideally, we want to put the position where it’s able to burn fats at rest and carbohydrates for performance. We call this constant flux of substrate utilization metabolic flexibility. Nailing this concept will greatly improve your ability to lose fat as well as your ability to keep the weight off.

How

The below action items are ranked from 1 easiest to implement, to 4 slightly harder to implement but a higher net positive effect on stress reduction. Pick at least one but preferable multiple action items that fit your current lifestyle and implement them every day for the next four weeks. Note: you can also combine the action items.

Action item #1: Eat more veggies

This is probably the same advice your mother gave you, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. Veggies are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. The aim is to eat more veggies then you’re currently consuming, most optimal is 3-5 servings a day.

  • Try to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Green tea also counts as 1 portion
  • Smoothies are a great way to increase your vegetable intake

Action item #2: Starchy carbs pre/post-workout

Starchy carbs are an excellent source of energy to fuel your workouts, keep the following guidelines at hand.

  • Use whole grain bread, pasta, noodles, rice
  • Potatoes
  • Fruits
  • Timing: Pre 30-120min before, post within 2 hours

Action item #3: Carb cycling

Generally, we increase carbohydrate intake on training days and lower it on non-training days. Your trainer will calculate this based on your body type, current weight, goals, etc.. Goal again here is to increase carb intake around training.

Action item #4: Low insulin Breakfast

Dr. Mike T Nelson calls insulin the metabolic switch of your body. Turning carbohydrate use on, and fat usage off. For optimal body composition, we want this switch turned off as long as possible so our body burns more fat.  

When we know that carb intake triggers insulin secretion, you might understand that eating carbs in the morning isn’t the best idea. So on days, you’re NOT training it’s better to go for a low carb, high fat, high protein breakfast and safe your carbs for later in the day.

Why

Going low or no carb for a long period of time is not ideal as your body will downregulate the production of enzymes that are needed for carbohydrate burning. Meaning that once you start eating carbs again after a 12-week body transformation, your body won’t be able to tolerate this very well. Only increasing your chances of regaining your love handles.

Going low carb in combination with high intensity and weight training, especially highly lactic work is probably not the best idea especially when your body is already stressed. Since your body is depleted of it muscle glycogen it will have to upregulate other pathways to make up for this lack of fuel.

Talking about stress, carbohydrates (used well) have a positive effect on your body’s ability to handle stress. Having some carbs in the evening for example, can be particularly beneficial to help you wind down for bed. 

Note: Under stress your body might make you more susceptible to high sugary, comforting food. This is one contributing factor to increasing numbers of abdominal obesity, and is NOT a healthy strategy for long term health and stress management. Calling a friend, love, doing something fun are in this cas, more valid coping strategies.