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Carb Manipulation: Your Simple Guide to Looking Good Naked
Lookin' Good Naked
We're all looking for the magic bullet of weight loss. Well, as you've probably heard and read a million times before, "There ain't none".
That being said, there are many things you can do to change the way you look. I'm going to serve up one of the most powerful ways for you here. It has to do with the way you eat. More specifically, it has to do with manipulation of carbs in your diet to create a fat-burning environment in your body.
I've been working with clients for over 15 years and I've always gotten great results. Part of my strategy for results is simple: I research the exercise and nutrition literature, simplify it to where it can be used in the real world, and then put it into action with myself and my clients.
What I'm going to lay out for you here is twofold. I'm going to give you a little background on the difference between the two main types of carbs - fibrous and starchy - so that you know how they affect the way you look, and you know what to look out for when you're making your food purchases.
Then, I’ll detail which carbs you should be eating and when you should be eating them.
Chances are you're at least familiar with the macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat. You may have heard you need to eliminate one of them and that'll be your ticket to immediate and long lasting weight loss.
Forget what you've read before and learn the truth here.
Now, I'm the last person to tell you to totally cut this stuff out, if you don't need to
We all have our favorite high-carb foods, right? I personally enjoy pizza and ice cream (When you sin, sin boldly!). And I don't deprive myself of them, and I'm still in great shape. How? Because I know how to eat them and when to eat them. Soon you will too.
Here's the rundown on fibrous and starchy carbs
Starchy Carbs: Pancakes, AKA "The Fattening Stuff"
Starchy carbs create surges of insulin, the storage hormone. Insulin shuttles nutrients into muscle and fat stores. When starchy carbs are eaten in excess, insulin floods your bloodstream, shutting off the body's ability to use body fat as fuel.
These starchy carbs are often called the "fattening carbs". While this isn't exactly true in all cases, frequent meals of starchy carbs will not only shut off fat-burning, but once the body has filled its stores of glycogen in the muscles and liver (your body's gas tank), the remaining calories get stored as body fat! Obviously we'd like to curtail any fat storage.
Another reason you want to keep an eye on your starchy carbs intake is the vicious binging cycle it sets off if eaten at the wrong time in the wrong combination with other foods.
Have you ever had a big bowl or two of pasta or rice? (This could add up to about 600 or more calories.) What happened? You set up the binging cycle.
You probably felt good for a little bit, relaxed and happy from the serotonin rush. Then you soon got tired and lethargic. Then soon after, you're hungry again and you're headed back for more food.
Fibrous Carbs: Broccoli, AKA "The Good Stuff"
(Notice the structure of the stalks. Strong cell structure = tough to break down)
Fibrous carbs stabilize insulin levels, which allows body fat to be easily released into the blood stream to be used as fuel. I like to call fibrous carbs the "fat loss carbs". Fibrous carbs are strongly connected to fat loss for several reasons:
Some fibrous carbs - such as broccoli, spinach, lettuce, and celery - are actually negative calorie foods. Negative calorie foods contain very few calories per serving, but have a physical structure that is very tough for the body to break down. Most fibrous vegetables, with their robust cell walls, generally fall into this category.
The act of digesting and absorbing the nutrients from fibrous vegetables actually burns more calories than is actually contained in the vegetable itself.
For instance, an 8 inch stalk of celery has 6 calories - 6 food units of energy. When you eat the stalk, you're taking in those 6 calories. But the cellulose structure of the celery is difficult for your body to fully break down, and the act of moving the celery through the body could take 12 calories of energy. As a result, your body spent more energy digesting the celery than it received.
Fibrous carbs, due to their bulk, give the feeling of satiety, or fullness. When you feel full, you're unlikely to eat more
There's a feedback loop from the brain to the stomach where once the stomach fills to a certain extent, a signal that says "stop eating" is sent to the brain.
Two additional points I want to make: Everyone has a different amount of food they need to take in that will trigger the "stop eating" signal to be sent. Some people will need to eat more vegetables, some will need less.
The second point is to slow down your eating. Spend some time chewing. Don't eat mindlessly in front of the TV or computer, where your mind will be so wrapped up in other stuff that it misses the signal. Another reason to slow down your eating speed is because it takes approximately 20 minutes for the "fullness" signal to fully register.
Part 1 Recap
In part one of Carb Manipulation: Your Simple Guide to Looking Good Naked, I wrote about how the biggest factor in how you look is your carb intake. Protein, carbs and fat all contain calories, but carbs have the biggest direct effect on your waistline (and how you feel).
From there, we explained how carbs can generally be divided into two categories: Starchy and Fibrous.
Starchy carbs being the "tasty, fattening" carbs. Bread, pasta, rice, etc. Starchy carbs generally taste good, and are extremely easy to overeat.
Fibrous carbs are the "not-so-tasty, great for fat loss" carbs. Broccoli, spinach, lettuce, asparagus, etc. Fibrous carbs have more subtle flavors, and are fantastic for filling you up without stimulating your appetite.
Our goal here is to "look good naked". This entails losing fat and sculpting your shape by building muscle that helps burn fat off (and gives you that "in-shape" look when the fat does come off).
If you're serious about losing fat, either you're currently on a workout program, or will start one now.
With your workouts in place, the other half of the equation is your eating program.
During a fat loss phase, our goal is to keep starchy carbs low and fibrous carb intake high.
This will serve 3 main fat burning purposes:
1) Keep fat-burning hormones surging in the body.
2) Raise and keep insulin sensitivity high.
3) Avoid the hunger and mood swings that accompany starchy carb intake.
Before we dive into the eating program, let's set the groundwork for success:
The post workout meal
So now that we have 5 solid Protein + Fat + Fibrous Carb meals, we are going to tackle the 1 meal that should be radically different, the post workout meal. You ARE working out, right!?
The post workout meal is different than any other meal because this is the time when your body is primed for nutrient uptake. At this time, it is actually beneficial to have some starchy carbs.
It also serves as a treat for pushing yourself through a tough workout, and keeps you sane.
The post-workout meal is also the wildcard. This meal can only be eaten after a workout. If you're not working out on a specific day, you're not going to eat a meal containing starchy carbs. The post-workout meal can also be the 5th meal, or an additional meal - a 6th meal. You can decide this based on your schedule and what you can handle.
Let’s say you work out at 3 pm and the workout lasts until 4 pm. (The time of the workout is not important, you can shift the times of the meals to fit in your post-workout meal.) Immediately following the workout, you're going to eat your starchy carb, whichever your favorite: rice, bread, pasta, or other?
Your total carb intake at this time should be roughly 40 grams. No more! You want to treat yourself, no ruin your fat loss progress. As a matter of fact, you should measure out 40 grams of carbs in the form of whatever food you want BEFORE the workout, so you don't overdo it.
Another key here is protein. The best protein to have at this time is a simple whey protein shake. Its liquid form is easily digested and gets to your muscles immediately. If you don't have access to whey protein, you could go with another lean protein source, like low-fat cottage cheese or chicken breast.
Protein is the building block of muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn every day. Burning more calories each day = less body fat.
During a post-workout meal, you want to keep fat minimal; preferentially, none at all. Fat slows down digestion and absorption, which is the opposite of what we want in a post-workout meal.
The reason we can have starchy carbs in the post-workout meal is that this is the time when your muscles are broken down. Your muscles are like a sponge at this time and want to soak up nutrients to start the repair process.
Starchy carbs are digested easily in the body and can also get to the muscles rapidly. The insulin release in response to carb intake at this time is beneficial because it helps shuttle the amino acids from protein into the muscles. This faster uptake results in faster rebuilding of your muscles, and consequently, faster results.
Carb manipulation is a very simple but essential tool to use for fast fat loss. If you start to use the strategy you've learned in this 2 part article, you'll notice results within a week.
Wrapping up the key points of carb manipulation
1) Our main goal is to keep starchy carb intake low and fibrous carb intake high, maximizing fat-burning enzymes and limiting fat storage.
2) Do the Carb Manipulation Process: Write down your everyday diet, circle the starchy carbs and exchange them for the fibrous carbs from the fat-burning foods list.
3) Follow the Protein + Fat + Fibrous Carb eating plan throughout the day, except for the post-workout meal, where you will eat Protein + 40 grams of Starchy Carbs.
Now that you're on a roll, let's amplify your momentum.