If it seems as though everyone and their brother gives nutrition advice, it’s because they do. But in my opinion, they should stop. Unless, they have used their methods on thousands of people and have the results to prove it.
Just because a particular method has worked for someone, it doesn’t mean it’s going to work for the masses, especially beginners.
Although nutrition can be a science, it doesn’t have to be an encrypted algorithm unlocked only by gurus and wizards. In fact, since every human being has a responsibility to sustain their lives through food consumption, EVERYONE should have a general understanding of nutrition.
When it comes to nutrition for fat loss, there are more strategies than cells in the human body! I’m here to tell you…It’s more simple than you think. A lot more.
Let’s start by answering the question:
“What is fat loss and how does it occur?”
When we refer to fat loss, we are talking about the utilization of fat already stored on the body in the form of adipose tissue. Most people think of it as mainly belly fat, but adipose tissue is found everywhere on the body including in and around organs. Your BODY determines WHERE you lose fat. You can’t spot reduce. Where you lose fat is determined genetically. Try to think of fat loss in terms of a whole-body process.
Fat is primarily burned during rest and just above resting levels. That means that as you read this article, you are currently burning fat.
As your heart rate increases, the amount of oxygen your body requires increases. Oxygen is used in a number of chemical reactions to help turn fat into energy. As your heart rate continues to increase towards maximum, your body starts to utilize stored carbohydrates, also known as glycogen, but without the help of oxygen.
In other words, your body uses fat for low-intensity activities and uses carbohydrates for higher intensity activities.
“If we are always burning fat at rest, why aren’t we all lean?”
Carbohydrates get broken down into glucose (sugar molecules). Glucose is the preferred energy source by the body. Although not completely understood, it is hypothesized that it is to conserve cellular resources. For this reason, glucose is stored as fat in adipose tissue when the demand (intense exercise) for it is not present. In simple terms, that means that if your consumption of carbohydrate exceeds the demand, you will store it as fat.
When your carbohydrate consumption decreases, your body turns to fat cells for energy. Your thyroid becomes stimulated and helps to increase fat utilization as a source of energy production.
Lastly, irresponsible consumption of refined sugar and starchy carbohydrates can lead to insulin signaling issues. When you eat sugar or starch, your body responds instantly by releasing insulin. This hormone promotes cellular uptake of the broken down sugar. However, the more sugar taken in, the more the insulin required. After some time, more and more glucose is needed to enter the bloodstream to signal the release of insulin. This is called insulin resistance. When this happens, your ability to utilize nutrients becomes impaired.
With all of that being said, it’s logical to limit the amount of starchy carbohydrates and refined sugar in your diet if your goal is fat loss.
However, you should not eliminate them altogether because carbohydrates are used by the body to help make hormones and boost the immune system, especially after intense exercise. Starchy carbohydrates are especially useful to help replenish reserves because they are digested quickly.
When should you take them in?
We recommend taking them in when you need them, i.e. on training days, especially weight training and high-intensity training days. This method of taking in carbohydrates at certain times only is called “carb cycling.” On days you are not exercising intensely or weight training, we recommend eliminating all starch and increasing your fat intake.
How much should you take in?
We usually recommend 1 serving of starchy foods for women and 2 for men on training days. Keep in mind, we also recommend servings of other carbohydrates from other vegetables and fruit everyday. This way, you will not be completely carb-free. However, these recommendations are just a general starting point. We will adjust as needed based on energy level, strength gains, and weight loss progress.
How long should you perform Carb-Cycling?
We recommend carb-cycling until you reach your fat loss goals or you can do this indefinitely. You can add servings of starch as your activity level increases or take them in intuitively to increase your energy levels.
Why increase fat intake when not consuming carbs?
While it is important to reduce overall caloric intake to lose weight, we have found that changing the food choices (to more whole foods and less refined sugar) allows our clients to train hard, lose body fat, and lose weight at a healthy pace. Once our clients fall into their unique eating pattern, it is important to keep their caloric consumption at a steady sustainable rate to prevent compensation eating or eating extra to make up for eating too few calories during the day or several days.
If it seems as though these recommendations are very general, it’s because they are. They are by design. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the details and forget about the bigger picture. If you are overweight, it’s not because you ate at the wrong time or you ate an extra serving of brown rice. It’s because you are choosing the wrong foods, eating too many of them and you don’t move your body on a daily basis. These are fixes than can result in dramatic swings in your metabolism and effect dramatic weight loss. The finer details may be needed when trying to lose the last 5 or 10 pounds, but not the first 30 or even 50 pounds.
Critical MASS C0-Founder
732.889.3319 ext. 2