Eating fewer carbs is a useful trick for losing body fat. But low-carb eating done wrong causes more trouble than it’s worth. The sad fact is that with the rise of fad low-carb diets, optimal carb intake has been forgotten.
This article will give you five tips for eating carbs when trying to lose body fat.
#1: Do not eat refined grains.
We’re talking about all bread, cookies, crackers, and the majority of processed foods since almost all of these foods contain at least a little bit of wheat, corn, soy, or rice as filler.
Why are refined grains bad? Let us count the ways:
- They’re packed with calories.
- They’re nutritionally empty.
- They contain no useful fiber.
- They spike blood sugar in the same way as regular sugar.
- They trigger food intake, making you eat more calories than you would if you ate the same grains in unrefined form.
- They change the architecture of your brain over time because they alter neurotransmitter levels.
- Many people are intolerant of certain grains, which means that if they eat them, they get an immune response, causing inflammation in the body.
- They increase diabetes risk if eaten frequently.
What to eat instead
Fibrous carbs, especially green vegetables and dark-colored fruits are nutrient-rich, low in calories, and very filling. They’re also fairly easy to digest and don’t cause the same array of immune problems as grains.
A simple trick is to replace refined grains with fibrous carbs in meals. Use leafy greens instead of bread. Try making “pasta” noodles out of winter squash or the inside of spaghetti squash. Substitute cauliflower for rice. Turn to blueberries and strawberries instead of cookies.
#2: Avoid whole wheat and corn. Consider removing other grains.
Grains are calorie-rich and many cause a very large insulin response. Further, modern-day whole grains that have been bred to produce high yields are not that healthy.
Though they contain slightly more nutrients than refined grains, whole grains have nothing on the majority of veggies, fruit, and protein when it comes to nutrient density.
In addition, modern wheat contains strains of gluten that have different properties than heirloom grains. This modern gluten is much more harmful for people who have celiac disease.
Now, consider that the average Westerner gets 50 percent of their calories from rice, corn, wheat, and potatoes, and you can see one reason that diabetes and obesity are skyrocketing. Our digestive systems are simply not able to cope effectively with so much sugar so fast.
How to do it
Do you have to eliminate all whole grains? Not necessarily, but if you’re trying to lose body fat, you should think long and hard about which grains you want to eat and when.
For example, you might eliminate wheat and corn, radically cut back on rice, but eat whole heirloom grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat, or oats on hard workout days.
If you do go this route, watch out for anything that has been “made from whole grains” because this is a ludicrous marketing scam. Whole grains are grains containing the hull that are eaten after being cooked, such as boiled rice or cooked whole oats, not foods made from flour that was once a whole grain.
#3: Eat foods that improve insulin sensitivity with higher carb foods.
Certain foods increase insulin sensitivity and improve the body’s ability to store the carbs you eat as muscle glycogen, which is a fuel source for the muscle, instead of as fat.
Vinegar, green tea, nuts, and berries are among the foods that are beneficial for insulin sensitivity. For example, vinegar improves something called “nutrient partitioning” that makes muscle cells more sensitive to insulin so that carbs get stored as glycogen.
Vinegar also improves pancreatic function so that your body releases less insulin in response to the carbs you eat. This is useful because when you eat high-glycemic carbs, the pancreas tends to overestimate the amount of insulin needed and releases too much.
How to do it
Cook carbohydrates with any of the following:
- Healthy fats such as butter, olive oil, or coconut oil
- Flavor food with acids such as vinegars, lemon, or lime
- Eat pickled foods such as kim chi, sauerkraut, or pickled ginger as condiments
- Use cinnamon, fenugreek, and turmeric to spice foods
- Pair high-carb and antioxidant-rich foods like oatmeal and blueberries or rice and kale
#4: Eliminate all liquid carbs—especially “recovery” drinks.
This means sports drinks, soda, all fruit juice, and anything with added sugar such as coffee or tea. Liquid carbs have zero fiber and they spike insulin.
But, the worst thing is that the brain doesn’t “register” liquid sugar calories in the same way as it does calories from food. This means that drinking your carbs won’t reduce hunger, so you’ll eat more calories overall.
The other huge problem with liquid carbs is that they tend to contain a large amount of fructose, which is a very sweet form of sugar metabolized by the liver.
The liver does a fine job of storing fructose as glycogen when you get it from a whole piece of fruit. When it comes in liquid form, it’s digested rapidly, and the liver has trouble keeping up, leading to greater fat storage and other metabolic problems.
Do this instead
Don’t waste your opportunity to eat carbs by drinking them! Get your liquids from unsweetened coffee, tea, and water.
#5: Eat the right carbs at the right times.
The best time to eat carbs is after working out. Here’s why:
- Your metabolism is elevated and you’ll be burning calories at a faster rate.
- The body will use carbs to replenish muscle glycogen instead of storing them as fat.
- The increase in insulin caused by carbs has a protective antioxidant effect on muscle because insulin helps suppress inflammatory products that you produce during training.
- Eating carbs after training can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can improve body composition over time.
The worst time to eat refined and high-glycemic carbs is pre-workout because the increase in insulin will shift the body away from burning fat. It also reduces energy levels and motivation. The second worst time is to eat high-carb foods for breakfast, such as cereal, OJ, or bread.
How to do it
Eat any “cheat” meals or high-glycemic carbs after training. Do this after intense workouts that deplete glycogen (for example, 1-hour of trainingmulti-joint lifts with moderately heavy loads and short rest periods).
Recommended carbs are starchy vegetables, fruit, or if you are eating them, whole grains. Eat them with protein to slow digestion.