Carbohydrates And Fat Loss - AnabolicMinds.com
    • Carbohydrates And Fat Loss



      by Mike Roussell, PhD T-Nation

      Here's what you need to know...

        The amount of carbs you can eat while still losing fat is directly related to your insulin sensitivity. As a lifter or athlete, yours should be good.

        For many fit people, cutting carbs from 40% down to 20% of calories won't give them any additional fat loss benefit. So why do it?

        Start your fat loss diet at 50% carbohydrate intake, then adjust down from there only if and when it's needed to keep the fat loss going.

        Do not go by how you think you "feel." Go by the results you're actually getting.

      Two people come to me for diet help. They both need to drop fat and improve their body composition. One is an out of shape 40-something stockbroker and the other is a fit movie star getting ready for an action movie. What should I do? Cut carbs right? For the longest time, fat loss diet advice has essentially been "eat less carbs." But it would seem ridiculous to give these two individuals the same diet advice, wouldn't it? Well, it is ridiculous, but that's what we've essentially been doing with the "eliminate carbs to lose fat" mantra.

      At its most basic level, eating less carbs is good advice. Most people would benefit from eating fewer carbohydrates. But what we're discovering is that the level of carbohydrates that you can consume while still losing weight is directly related to your insulin sensitivity. More to this point, certain levels of carbohydrate restriction are unnecessary for individuals with good insulin sensitivity as it doesn't further enhance fat loss. So giving our stockbroker and movie star similar diets wouldn't make sense. Besides, everyone I know would like to eat as many carbs as possible and still reach their body comp goals. Wouldn't you?


      The Impact of Insulin Sensitivity
      Let's look at two different studies that have begun to explore carbohydrate cut points for eliciting maximum fat loss with respects to individual insulin sensitivity. In the first study, researchers wanted to look at the long term differences between a low fat diet (a "traditional" weight loss plan) and a low glycemic load diet with respects to changes in body composition. They found that after 18 months, regardless of the diet the participants were put on, they all experienced similar changes in body composition. Chalk that up as a win for the "a calorie is a calorie" crowd, right? Well, not so fast. In a secondary analysis of the data, the researchers separated study participants by insulin sensitivity. They found that the people with the worst insulin sensitivity had the best body composition changes on the low glycemic diet, and it didn't matter what diet the people with the best insulin sensitivity were put on they got just as lean either way.

      In another study, the A to Z Study, researchers put people on one of four diets: Atkins, Zone, Ornish, or a control diet (the LEARN diet traditional low fat stuff). At the end of 12 months the people on the Atkins diet lost the most weight. Low carb rules! Again, not so fast. In a secondary analysis of this data, the researchers pitted the high (Ornish) and lowest (Atkins) carb diets against each other with respects to weight loss and study participants' insulin sensitivity. Just as in the previous study, people with the poorest insulin sensitivity lost more weight on the lower carb approach. People with the best insulin sensitivity lost the same amount of weight regardless of diet.

      I'm a believer in the benefits of carbohydrate restriction, but I'm also a big believer in the fact that carbs are delicious. If cutting your carbs from 40% down to 20% of calories won't give you any additional fat loss benefit then why do it? Why not lose as much fat as you can with your carbs at 40% of calories and then reduce it after your fat loss begins to slow?


      Exercise: The Missing Link from the Research
      These two studies show that an individual's insulin sensitivity impacts the level of carbohydrates necessary to maximize fat loss. But in all these studies, exercise wasn't part of the fat loss strategy. Exercise itself increases muscular insulin sensitivity. This increases the amount of carbohydrates you can consume and shunt towards your muscles automatically. It's also important to note that the carbs that you cram into your muscles post-training stay there as your muscles don't have the enzymatic machinery necessary to release sugar from glycogen to the rest of your body.

      As a T Nation reader your insulin sensitivity should be better than most, so you'll find yourself in a place where you can lose just as much fat with a higher carbohydrate intake. Starting your body composition training with a higher overall carb count will give you greater flexibility later in your diet to reduce carbs when calories are at a premium.


      What To Do
      Don't start any body comp diet phase with your carbohydrates any lower than 40% of your total calories, then adjust from there. You may be wondering how much higher you can start since the A to Z study used the Ornish diet, which is upwards of 65% calories from carbohydrates. You can go higher, but 50% of calories from carbs is probably the max you'll want to go as it's important to remember that everything in your diet is connected.

      As you eat more carbohydrates you'll need to eat less of something else (assuming that total calories is capped at a specific level since you're in a fat loss phase). You'll want to keep your protein intake at 30% of your calories and never lower than 1.6g/kg body weight. The rest of your calories will come from fat, which in this case is the remaining 20% of calories. So at the high end of your carb intake, your diet will look like this:

      50% carbohydrates
      30% protein
      20% fat

      Let's put some more numbers to that:

      2500 calories
      312g carbohydrate
      187g protein
      55g fat

      Wait, that's a low-fat diet! What? Let's pause here. I'm not some crazy PhD keyboard jockey recommending a low-fat diet. This won't work for everyone. But if you're looking to lose as much fat as possible while eating as many carbohydrates as possible and you have good insulin sensitivity, this is how you should start.

      The one thing you might be concerned about with this higher carbohydrate/lower fat approach is satiety or feeling full. With only 20% of your calories from fat, will you be satiated enough? No one likes to feel like they're starving just after they finish a meal. But satiety shouldn't be a problem as long as you're eating ample vegetables as part of your 50% carbohydrate intake. Here's how:

      Vegetables Eat them, especially high-fiber green ones and high volume veggies that weigh a lot but don't contain a lot of calories. You body senses how much a food weighs more than it does the calorie content of the food. Eating more vegetables is always linked to eating less calories and greater feelings of fullness.

      Insulin While it's often talked about as the devil when it comes to fat loss, most people don't realize that insulin is a satiety hormone. So the increase in carbohydrates will lead to a hormonal cascade that leads to increase satiety.

      Protein Protein is linked to increased fullness via multiple mechanisms in your body, from signals in your digestive tract to modifications in your brain. 30% of calories from protein will give you the lean body mass protection that you need as well as the fat loss/satiety benefits.

      So satiety shouldn't be an issue. But if you find that it is, no problem, just drop your carbohydrate intake by 5-10% and adjust your fat intake according. Your new starting point would be:

      40% carbohydrates
      30% protein
      30% fat

      Forget How You Feel!
      Don't just eat carbohydrates recklessly and then get upset when your body composition isn't improving. Don't blow this idea off because it doesn't "feel" right and carbs make you "feel" fat. Optimizing body composition is less about how you feel and more about how your body changes.

      It drives me crazy when people say they "feel leaner." You either are leaner or you aren't leaner; it doesn't matter how you feel about it. Treat your body like a science experiment. Put the plan into action and measure how your body responds. Make adjustments to your diet based on how your body has responded, not how you feel about your body's response. Your newly visible abs will thank you.

      Source: http://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-los...ustomized-diet
      Comments 29 Comments
      1. snagencyV2.0's Avatar
        snagencyV2.0 -
        certainly no need for carbs to be that low...cals seem a little low as well

        nice results can be produced with a simple carb rotation schedule
        ie day 1, 150 carbs..
        day 2, 200 carbs
        day 3, 250 carbs
        day 4, back to 150 carbs
        etc etc


        there are a lot of ways to skin a cat, but this one is very easy and not that restrictive either..

        the key, however, in addition to making sure your fats & proteins are properly in line, is making sure the quality of the macros (ie, the micros) are clean, in order to shape the body composition (ie no fat, lean muscle), and #2 - sufficient enough to be able to cause & sustain growth (ie, your current cals look to be too low)

        there are some rough guidelines
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        Good post Snag.

        My experience has been that I can have far more flexibility with carbs if my fats are low.

        I dont usually recommend this approach to anyone that isnt:

        1) performing intermittent fasting OR
        2) already in a fairly lean state (12% or less)

        When I say low fat, I mean 10% or less. Only take in EFA's, no saturated fats if possible.

        I supplement with MCT and eat a 1:1 ratio of complex carbs vs. protein. This has been an excellent way for me to recomp or to have a slow bulk. Complex carbs is key...

        Outright cutting may require a more balanced approach, more HIIT and perhaps less carbs to get sub 10% BF.
      1. dieseljay74's Avatar
        dieseljay74 -
        Originally Posted by snagencyV2.0 View Post
        certainly no need for carbs to be that low...cals seem a little low as well

        nice results can be produced with a simple carb rotation schedule
        ie day 1, 150 carbs..
        day 2, 200 carbs
        day 3, 250 carbs
        day 4, back to 150 carbs
        etc etc

        there are a lot of ways to skin a cat, but this one is very easy and not that restrictive either..

        the key, however, in addition to making sure your fats & proteins are properly in line, is making sure the quality of the macros (ie, the micros) are clean, in order to shape the body composition (ie no fat, lean muscle), and #2 - sufficient enough to be able to cause & sustain growth (ie, your current cals look to be too low)

        there are some rough guidelines
        I agree with Fueled on the great post.

        Not sure if it matters that I'm natty at all? I know it's little different when geared or so I've read here.

        I was thinking I may be a little low on calories so I will bump to 3000 on w/o days and 2700 on non w\o days and see how I fair.

        Are your above recommendations applicable to IF or just standard eating throughout the day?

        Just looking for a solid starting point really. I'm starting to get the paralysis by analysis bug after reading so many completely conflicting and might I add " research based and cited " protocols.

        You'd think science would be more cut and dry in regards to this. I mean we can diagnose, treat and cure thousands of ailments but can't get a solid damn answer on this.

        I know we are all different but really, we're all the same physiologically?


        My brain hurts
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        Just try something based off past experiences and adjust.

        PDCA - Plan Do Check Adjust

        Get a tape measure and a scale for daily use. Try it. Record measurements. Adjust diet/training until desired results are apparent.
      1. dieseljay74's Avatar
        dieseljay74 -
        Originally Posted by fueledpassion View Post
        Just try something based off past experiences and adjust.

        PDCA - Plan Do Check Adjust

        Get a tape measure and a scale for daily use. Try it. Record measurements. Adjust diet/training until desired results are apparent.
        Gonna have to apparently.

        Just frustrating when there are so many conflicting beliefs.

        I read 5 articles today and they were all drastically contradictory.

        You'd think this process would be far less vague
      1. snagencyV2.0's Avatar
        snagencyV2.0 -
        Originally Posted by dieseljay74 View Post
        I agree with Fueled on the great post.
        thank you

        Not sure if it matters that I'm natty at all? I know it's little different when geared or so I've read here.
        to an extent yes, but nothing different about nutritional approach for you - if anything, it will just make it more important for you to eat even cleaner to make growth/no fat gain work

        I was thinking I may be a little low on calories so I will bump to 3000 on w/o days and 2700 on non w\o days and see how I fair.
        okay, but I think 3250/2750 sounds more in line...then, you can make adjustments from there
        but start wherever you feel comfortable

        Are your above recommendations applicable to IF or just standard eating throughout the day?
        I have absolutely no recommendation for IF anything :D
        but you certainly could still apply all the principles, regardless of how you time your eating

        Just looking for a solid starting point really. I'm starting to get the paralysis by analysis bug after reading so many completely conflicting and might I add " research based and cited " protocols.
        there is a lot of info out there, obviously..some of it good some of it worthless and wrong
        i advise you take in what you see, apply it personally, and make your own decisions on how worthwhile something is...then, you will eventually no longer search for these unreachable exact macros/cal totals blueprint you seem to think exist :D, and know yourself how to construct your own diet
        trial and error my man, and error and trial

        You'd think science would be more cut and dry in regards to this. I mean we can diagnose, treat and cure thousands of ailments but can't get a solid damn answer on this.

        I know we are all different but really, we're all the same physiologically?
        physiological similarity has absolutely nothing to do with metabolic and habit differentiation between ppl, and how their body responds because of these life shaping adaptations, let alone genetic differences, etc etc

        humans are not machines that can be studied in a cookie-cutter fashion, with respect to this stuff ... the body is not a textbook
      1. dieseljay74's Avatar
        dieseljay74 -
        Originally Posted by snagencyV2.0 View Post
        thank you

        to an extent yes, but nothing different about nutritional approach for you - if anything, it will just make it more important for you to eat even cleaner to make growth/no fat gain work

        okay, but I think 3250/2750 sounds more in line...then, you can make adjustments from there
        but start wherever you feel comfortable

        I have absolutely no recommendation for IF anything :D
        but you certainly could still apply all the principles, regardless of how you time your eating

        there is a lot of info out there, obviously..some of it good some of it worthless and wrong
        i advise you take in what you see, apply it personally, and make your own decisions on how worthwhile something is...then, you will eventually no longer search for these unreachable exact macros/cal totals blueprint you seem to think exist :D, and know yourself how to construct your own diet
        trial and error my man, and error and trial

        physiological similarity has absolutely nothing to do with metabolic and habit differentiation between ppl, and how their body responds because of these life shaping adaptations, let alone genetic differences, etc etc

        humans are not machines that can be studied in a cookie-cutter fashion, with respect to this stuff ... the body is not a textbook
        Well said man. I think you hit the nail on the head.

        I am to get around those calories in each day and adjust as necessary based on goals by manipulating fats and carbs around as needed.

        Thanks for all the help and insights. Definitely helped alot
      1. MEGATRONIC's Avatar
        MEGATRONIC -
        Gotta get ur macros on point so u can Mack hoes!
      1. IRONPOPE's Avatar
        IRONPOPE -
        i only shred on low carbs. i do carb up once a week ... but the other 6 days i stay under 50 grams or so.... Then again i dont burn muscle up like alot of guys do... i have no problems keeping size and strength while cutting.... we all have different systems

        Log in

        Log in

        Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.