• Joshua Li

Carbs are NOT the devil!


A common phrase when people look to lose weight is ‘I need to cut carbs’. To most this will mean:

1) restricting carbohydrates to smaller portions each meal

2) limiting to only one meal in the day

3) cutting carbs out completely

4) no carbs after 6pm (This is a complete myth dating back many years. Times have changed, people are in better shape than ever and no one uses or should use this option)

They all will work yes! To a degree….. for the general population, carbohydrates account for majority of their total calorie intake, so doing a low or no carb you have eliminated a large quantity of calories. Calories have simply been lowered (being in a deficit) to promote fat loss, not because of carbohydrates have a ‘negative’ impact on the body.

In other scenarios it’s the low protein that is an issue alongside a heavy carb diet. People may think ‘o it’s the carbs that made be lose more fat’ but in reality, they have lowered majority of their calories and replaced some of those calories with protein which is vital for muscle preserving when losing weight.

A common breakfast we all have had in our lifetime, Toast + Butter or Cereal + Milk so when you decide to start a diet and become a carb killer to lose weight, you are:

1) taking away your usual breakfast calories and 2) improved your protein intake as you probably replace those breakfasts with say Salmon and Eggs, Ham Omelette or a protein shake. Hey? So wait was it the carbs? Or are you now simply having a better-balanced macronutrient diet in reducing than before and also having higher protein in your day!

The reality is, you can work towards fat loss with carbohydrates in your diet if macronutrients are balanced. If that is in place, then carbohydrate intake can be between 30-60% depending on the person and their body fat. For competitors it will depend on those factors as well as ‘stage’ they in in prior before the show. Hence carb front/back loading or depletion phase and this are things you guys do not have to consider or go into.

Maybe this gives a better understanding of how carbs can be misleading in that carbs are the devil for losing weight and we better re look as to carbs being calories just like protein and fats are. Now let’s talk carbohydrates role…..

Carbohydrates has its effect on the metabolic rate where nearly every single one of you will point to AGE as the only inhibitor to the metabolic rate. Wrong! As we reduce calories, we restrict our energy intake, the body will compensate and lower its energy output……..your metabolic rate slows. This is your body’s basic survival mechanism when depriving of energy, for longevity and health, it becomes extremely tough of the body to keep expending a lot of energy without replenishing with proper nourishment.

The physiological mechanisms that cause metabolic rate to drop when on a low calorie diet for prolonged periods of time is lowering of hormones, thyroid and leptin. Thyroid hormones act to help cells in the body to increase metabolic rate, so a decrease in thyroid hormone levels will indicate a slower metabolic rate. Leptin helps regulate metabolic expenditure and signals to brain on our hunger/appetite, so lower levels of leptin also indicate a slower metabolic rate.

This is why carbohydrates plays its part. It has significant effect on thyroid function, leptin production and the overall metabolic rate which keeps the body expending energy at a solid rate for better fat loss.

So how does an example look for you? The general rule to start fat loss is roughly a 500 calorie deficit each day. This will vary based on the individual and other factors such as activity and previous diet history.

We will show an example for an 80kg person at 16% above body fat on a 2000 calorie cutting diet:

  • - Set the protein at 1-1.2g/lb of lean body mass: 150g Protein

  • - At 16% BF above we will set the carbs at 40%: 200g Carbs

  • - Since Protein and Carbs are 4kcal per 1g, we have (150+200) x 4: 1400kcal

  • - We now need to only figure out the Fats which is the left over calories: 2000 – 1400 = 600kcal. 600 / 9 (fat is 9kcal per 1g) = 67g of Fat per day

This is a brief example of setting up carbohydrates into a cutting diet. Only sticking to the macronutrients for 1-2 weeks and judging changes on your body will you then be able to make smart adjustments to keep your body changing. If restricting carbohydrates becomes super unpracticable in your life, it will only set you up to fail………eventually.

At ONE PT we have seen clients make great results on low, moderate and high carb diets. The task we have is to devise a plan you can stick to. If you have made great changes and prefer a high protein, high fat diet with minimal carbohydrates, then we won’t opt for carbs unless progress grinds to a halt. If you are suffering from eliminating carbohydrates based on ‘carbs are bad’ mindset, then there is a middle ground!

Want to find that middle ground in reality of achieving results and real life? Book a free consultation HERE


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