I’m sure more than just a handful of you have heard the phrase, “in order to lose weight, you have to stop eating carbs,” and the reason for that is in fact accurate. For extremely fast weight loss, cutting carbs is going to work for anyone, however that process does not include the loss of fat and could be potentially dangerous to your overall health, cause extreme mood swings, lower energy levels and actually cause you to gain fat. Of course there are situations where lowering your carb intake is beneficial but completely cutting out carbs is actually a really bad idea.
What is a Carb?
Everyone knows what food contains carbs, pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, even fruits and vegetables can be fairly high on the carb scale but do you know what a carb actually is? A carb falls under one of the three macronutrients that fuel the human body, the other two being fat and protein. The proper combination of the three macros are a body’s dream. Carbs are used as a main source of available energy which uses protein and fat to create fuel for the body so when you consume carbohydrates, they are actually used in immediate circumstances for energy or are stored in your muscle cells and liver.
Why Are Low Carb Diets So Popular?
It’s safe to say the majority of the population has attempted some sort of low or no carb diet at one time or another and hey, that’s fair, they seem to work really well with sufficient weight loss in the first few days but where the problem seems to be getting fixed, we are actually causing our body to store and even gain more fat then we had before. Cutting carbs from your diet causes your body to store the left over carbohydrates as glycogen. The human body can hold nearly 500 grams of glycogen at any time and with each gram of glycogen comes three grams of water. Essentially, this means that that if your body uses up all its stores glycogen from the lack of carbs, you can easily lose up to 5 pounds with almost three quarters of that being from water and not of fat.
Why Are Carbs Important?
Surviving without carbs isn’t impossible, surviving without carbs and expecting life altering results in weight loss or fitness, is. If your goal is to lose fat, maintain energy and strength, lose weight AND keep it off, then carbs are your best friend. However, that doesn’t mean downing a breadbasket at dinner either. Your body needs the right number of carbs at the right times.
How Many Carbs Should I Be Eating?
The best way to answer this question is to base your carb intake off of your own personal activity level. The more active you are as a person, the higher amount of carbs you can intake daily. For example, if a woman works out 5 hours a week, her intake would be roughly 130-160 grams daily where as someone who is less active at 2 hours a week in the gym would intake between 95-115 grams a day. Keeping in mind choosing more nutrient and fibre based carbs is also an important factor and will help with weight loss. Think about it this way, if you eat 80% of your daily intake in ‘healthier’ carbs like sweet potatoes, fruits or vegetables then you have at least a 20% leeway to indulge in ‘bad’ carbs like pasta or potato chips.
Is There a Proper Time to Eat Carbs?
Not necessarily. Carbs can be eaten at any time, none of this “I can’t eat carbs after 8pm” nonsense. Of course there are times where in taking carbs will be more beneficial though. So, if you eat most of your carbs around your workouts, they will be used right away as energy which will allow you to train better and result in a quicker less painful post workout recovery.
Eat Your Damn Carbs
Rather than looking at carbs as the bad guy, as our minds have been trained to do for so long, see them as a necessity to fuel your body with its fellow macronutrients. If you’re goal is to train constantly, then you need carbs. If you’re always on the go, then you need carbs. If you want to lose fat, then you need carbs. Remember that the extreme approach isn’t always beneficial in the long run and it’s important to find a method that is based on your goals, body type and preferences.