You Don’t Have to Give up Carbs to Lose Weight

October 24, 2017 4:24 pm
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Carbs…

Doughy, sugary, starchy carbs.

They’re everywhere – pastries at the coffee shop, pasta dinners, bread on your sandwich, french fries, cookies, cakes, and sweets…

They’re everywhere because they’re cheap, tasty, and easy to prepare.

Carbs. They’re everywhere!

But the overabundance of carbohydrates in our society can cause some trouble for your waistline. Let me explain.

Carbs Gone Wild

Before I begin, I’m not a “carbophobe.” Carbohydrates aren’t “bad” for you.

In fact you need them (some of them) for healthy bodily function.

“Carbohydrates” are simple molecular compounds constructed by carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. They come from sugars, vegetables, and starchy plant-based foods like grains, and tubers.  And carbohydrates, in and of themselves, are pretty great. They are:

  • Cheap to produce and easy to prepare millions of different ways
  • The fastest burning source of energy we can consume
  • Necessary for brain function and muscular contractions
  • Important for mood and hormone regulation
  • Damn delicious!

Wheat strains are now hardier than ever which means we can have more yield year round. It’s a good thing but it doesn’t come without its issues for some of us…

But all these great attributes of carbohydrates are a bit of a double edged sword. Since they’re so easy to produce and so tasty and so quick-burning, and since we crave them, and since they’re pretty  much everywhere… We end up eating them all the time and eating a LOT more than most of us need to.

Over the past hundred years, we’ve made carbohydrate-rich foods more abundantly available than they’ve ever been in the course of human evolution. Our bodies take time to adapt to that.

We’re also spending 80-90% of our days sitting down, not moving around at all. Our bodies take time to adapt to that too.

And in the mean-time we’re paying with our waistlines.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to curb your carbohydrate over-consumption, encourage yourself to be more active, and still get to enjoy those carb-rich foods while putting them to good use for your body.

Let me explain.

The Best Possible Time to Eat Carbs

All carbohydrates are sugar (glucose).

Yup.

Whether it’s from a potato, a piece of whole grain bread, or a slice of cake, those carbohydrates are all broken down to sugar (specifically called glucose). And our bodies have to do something with that sugar.

Fortunately we’re prepared. When you eat sugar, that sugar is digested and goes into your bloodstream, making your blood sugar levels go up.

Your pancreas then sends a substance called insulin into your blood stream to gather up the excess sugar and shuttle it away to your muscles and liver where it’s stored as energy (glycogen) for later. You can use this energy for useful things like moving your limbs and thinking. You know, the bare necessities of life. 😉

If you’re gonna run or do move your body at all, you’ll need fuel for that. Carbs are super helpful for that.

But if we keep pumping our bodies full of sugar and not using our muscles to burn it off, eventually our muscles and liver get totally full!

When they’re full, they stop accepting more sugar and become resistant to insulin. This condition is called being “insulin resistant” and is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

What happens to all that sugar then?

It stays in your bloodstream and gets stored in your fat cells. If the condition goes on for too long, you can become permanently insulin resistant. This is how many people become diabetic.

That’s not a good thing.

Fortunately you can get a handle on this stuff before it goes too far by improving your insulin sensitivity.

Being “insulin sensitive” means that your pancreas, your liver, and your muscles put sugar to good use when you eat it so you don’t have high blood-sugar levels or excess fat.

How do you do that? A few ways:

  1. Exercise – The extra activity will push sugar out of your bloodstream and into muscles where it’s needed.
  2. Fasting – When you don’t eat for a period of time, your body can regulate its blood sugar levels
  3. Eating less sugar – Plain and simple. If you’re taking in less sugar, there will be less of it in your body!

So what are you to do with that information?

Combine these strategies into one simple, effective, and easy-to-follow plan to help you with fat loss.

Wait For Your Carbs

The strategy is simple:

Only consume carbohydrate-dense foods in a 2-3 hour window after your workouts.

That’s right. You’ll forgo the breads, pasta, and desserts unless you’ve worked out.

This works for a few reasons:

  1. You eat less: It naturally decreases the overall amount of food you eat
  2. You put carbs to good use: It gets you eating carb-dense foods at a time when your body is primed to store that sugar in your muscles rather than your fat cells
  3. You’re more active: It encourages you to be active. Know you’re going to eat cake at the birthday party that night? Great! Just get a workout in before-hand

By limiting the time window you can eat carb-dense foods in, you’re limiting the total amount of food you’ll most likely eat in a day. You’ll also be more likely to try to squeeze in a workout, or at least a long walk, when you might not have otherwise.

That’s a huge help for fat loss.

(Note: Have we all been going about nutrition all wrong? Finally… take all the guesswork out of measuring food… in less than 1 minutes! Blow Away the Biggest Fallacy in Fitness)

Calorie Counting Debunked

Now, before we go on, there is one caveat:

This strategy works for most of us who aren’t very active. If, however, you’re an athlete or someone who’s extremely active, you will need plenty of carbohydrates to fuel your performance. Waiting till after a workout may not be enough for you.

But for most of us who go from bed to car to office, back to car and home to the couch, you can bet this will be a good way to break the cycle and get you moving in the right direction!

Now… What exactly is a “carb?” Let’s chat about that.

What’s a Carb?

Carbohydrates are found in vegetables, fruits, grains, tubers, and plain sugar.

They’re also found in all manner of highly processed foods like cookies, breakfast cereals, juice, soda, cakes, granola bars, etc…

But… not all carbs are created equal.

Whole, unprocessed carbohydrates like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and tubers have a few awesome things going for them.

1. They have lots of fibre which keeps you feeling full and satisfied, keeps your blood sugar and blood pressure low, and keeps you regular

2. They have plenty of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that keep you healthy, wealthy, and wise (well I can’t promise the second two second two but they definitely keep you healthy)

These guys are some of the better carbs, healthwise.

Highly processed carbohydrates like cookies, cakes, and sodas (even “healthy foods” like juices, muffins, and granola bars) just give you blood sugar spikes and crashes, making it very hard to feel satisfied and leaving you feeling like a bag a of poop by the end of the day.

Not ideal.

So try to keep your carbs more on the side of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and tubers. But hey, there’s always room for a dessert or savoury snack from time-to-time as well.

How to Get Started!

To follow this strategy, you’ll want to limit all carbohydrates to a post-workout window EXCEPT for vegetables such as the following:

1. Leafy greens like:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Swiss Chard

2. Cruciferous vegetables like:

  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprout
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower

3. Other vegetables like:

  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Tomato
  • Bell peppers

Those veggies are fair game any time of day. The rest of the carbs go after a workout.

 

Wanna have a tasty snack of roasted broccoli? Have it any time of day!

What’s a Workout?

Here we’ll define a workout as 30-60 minutes of vigorous activity. It could be a strength training session or maybe just a brisk hour-long walk – Whatever you can manage at the time. Don’t get too caught up in the details, just try to get more activity.

Try to get as much activity as you possibly can! The more activity you get, the more leeway you have planning your meals.

And that’s all there is to it. No calorie counting, no stressing over “perfect” meal plans or anything like that. Just a simple way to eat a bit less, move a bit more, and enjoy carbohydrate-rich foods at a time when they’ll be most beneficial for you.

One More Thing

Just one more thing before we wrap this up. I want to be very clear about what this strategy is and what it is not.

This strategy is:

  • A simple way to limit the amount food you eat, encourage more activity, and keep you healthy

This strategy is not:

  • A reward system where you only “deserve” carbs if you exercise, and you use exercise as punishment if you were “bad.”
  • A system that allows you to binge on carbohydrates because you “earned them” with your workout. Still eat slowly and stop at 80% full. Just do it after your workout. 🙂

For most people this strategy will work just fine.

For some, though, and especially for those who have a history of disordered eating, this strategy might not be the right fit.

If doing this puts you into a “binge/purge” cycle, get some help from a qualified coach who can help you find balance.

What’s the Next Step?

Here’s my challenge to you:

For the next two weeks, try to make this your nutritional priority. See if you can make it into a habit.

You might not notice drastic changes in just two weeks but you’ll be building one of the foundational habits of a healthy diet and, probably start to feel a bit better as well.

Need help figuring out if this is the right strategy for you? Get in touch! We’re always happy to chat. 🙂

(Note: Have we all been going about nutrition all wrong? Finally… take all the guesswork out of measuring food… in less than 1 minutes! Blow Away the Biggest Fallacy in Fitness)

Calorie Counting Debunked

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