The secret to a long-lasting body transformations is a sustainable diet change. The rise of the low carb diet was made popular by Atkins and promised fast fat loss and muscle retention. However what was missing was how sustainable that sort of diet could be for the average person, both nutritionally and financially. With that said, what do results matter if they're either incredibly difficult or impossible to sustain. By attempting a low carb diet you may be setting yourself up for a series of yo-yo dieting, and energy struggles.
The Purpose of Carbs
Carbs are not your enemy. Carbs are your body's primary source for energy. They are what your body needs to help you breathe, sleep, think, and overall function. Specifically the body metabolizes carbs into sugar with the help of insulin.
Why a Low Carb Diet Works for Fat Loss
The food you consume is broken down into macronutrients called protein, carbohydrates, and fat that provide your body with energy to function. When you provide your body with more food, or energy than it needs. It stores the excess on your body as body fat. When you need energy, your body does not immediately go to your energy storage of body fat. Instead, it looks for and metabolizes carbs first. Carbs are your body's first choice for energy because they oxidize more quickly and provide energy more rapidly. Also, the body cannot store large quantities or carbs, therefore the body naturally burns them first for energy. Once it metabolizes your available carbs, it will target your body fat to metabolize for energy. A low carb diet simply seeks to force your body to access your fat storage more quickly by insuring it doesn't have enough carbs to metabolize for energy.
3 Reasons Why Carbs Are Not Your Enemy
1. Carbs provide your body with energy
2. Your brain cells prefer to run on glucose, which come from carbs
3. Dietary fiber, which is a carbohydrate is essential to weight management and efficient digestion
4. Dietary fiber prevents cholesterol from building in your arteries and creating blockages that can cause heart attacks and strokes
How to Strategically Eat Carbs to Lose Body Fat
Rather than attempting to cut out carbs, make sure you're remembering their purpose and leveraging their assistance. Eat the bulk of your carbs at times when you naturally need more energy like breakfast, pre workout, and post workout. If your goal is to lose body fat you need to figure out how much protein, carbs, and fat you should be consuming to meet your goal. In the fitness industry it's common for women to diet over the course of several weeks, then ween themselves off and back to a maintenance level of calories and carbs. For fat loss, a reduction in carbs does not need to be indefinite, and can actually work against furthering your progress over time.
My free macronutrient calculator was created specifically to help you figure out how many calories to eat and what your macronutrients should be, regardless of if you're losing fat, maintaining or wanting to gain weight. It is free and available for your use at any time. Please do bookmark it. If you're interested in seeing how to manually calculate macronutrient goals, that is outlined in my How to Track Macros to Lose Weight post. Make sure you're eating complex carbs like peas, greens, whole grains, and veggies as they contain the fiber and nutrients your body needs. Yes, you can and should eat true whole grain breads. You can even strategically eat pasta and lose body fat if you want to. Also check out my post on flexible dieting to explore how to meet your body goals in a more sustainable way.