Before we get to, how you can consume carbohydrates in a way that is not going to contribute to weight gain, I want to address that fact that the strategy for carbohydrate consumption is going to be vastly different depending on your goals. So, a lot of people will look to very lean people who eat a lot of carbohydrate and get confused. And I say, there is a difference between maintaining your weight or when you are building muscle, compared to when you are trying to lose fat.
One of the big mistakes that I see people making all the time is they see a very lean, fit person and think “well if I eat when they eat, ill get what they get”
No. Not true for a number of reasons, one of them being; what is required for fat loss and what is required for maintaining are two very different things. The health of your metabolism and your body composition have a huge impact on how your body handles fuel/food.
So, the body composition of somebody you see on Instagram or even your personal trainer, might be very different from yours. And if it is, then you are not going to have the same metabolic efficiency as that person. So, what you need to do to reach your goals, is going to be different to what they need to do to reach theirs.
Now with the base line understanding that my body is different to your body, and different to that person on Instagram that you want to look just like, or your sister, your mum/dad or even you 5 years ago. When you are paying attention to you, your body, what works for your body and what doesn’t, what actions drive results for your body and what doesn’t, then you are going to know what really works for you and what doesn’t.
So, we are going to start at the basic level.
We are talking about the macro-nutrients Carbohydrates, Fat and Protein. Most of us know that when we consume food we are consuming carbohydrate, fat and protein or a combination of those three. But if you don’t understand how and where those are stored in the body, then you can’t understand how to prevent weight gain and how to optimise for weight loss/fat loss.
When we consume any of these macro-nutrients, in order for our bodies to use the fuel that we have consumed, these macro-nutrients need to be broken down to their simplest parts. When we consume carbohydrate, whether we are talking about a bowl of potato, oats, banana, broccoli or a brownie, the building block is the same. The simplest part that it gets broken down to so that it can be consumed, is glucose, sugar.
Carbohydrates are simply chains of glucose linked together, they differ in their length and sizes, so they break down to different amounts of sugar. A longer more branched chain of carbohydrates is going to have more of those base elements of glucose than a shorter smaller, less branched chain. And what is immediately needed from those chains of carbohydrate is used for fuel. Then what is left over is stored in some short term storage areas and not only are they short term, they are limited in their size.
Then what can’t fit there, because that is a limited storage space, it gets converted to and stored as fat.
Now the key there is – if there is room in those storage spaces, it gets stored in the form of glycogen, but often what is the case and why so many people feel like eating carbohydrate makes them fat is because, for a lot of people there is no more storage space, you have filled it up already and you are not requiring your body to use it.
Again, once these storage areas are full, they’re full. We do not get a zero reset at the start of each day just because we woke up. A lot of people have this accumulation of carbohydrate needing short term storage, but there isn’t any short-term storage available, so people are in a position of when they do consume carbohydrate, even if it isn’t much, it is being converted to and stored as fat.
So what practical strategies can we employ to make sure there IS storage space for the times where we do eat carbohydrate?
Obviously, exercise. Not over consuming carbohydrates. Doing some intermittent fasting. Not consuming high carbohydrate everyday.
I will say again because this is really important…once that storage space is full, that’s it, and it is cumulative.
Everyday, it is full until you turn to it and require your body to burn it. Remember, energy stored in the muscle has to be used in the muscle, that’s why physical activity is such a huge component here.
Most people are not ever putting themselves in a situation where our body needs to fuel itself. Snacking is a time where we can encourage our body to fuel itself. Understand that the sensation of hunger is an opportunity for you to allow your body to meet its fuel needs with your fuel reserves, especially if your goal is fat loss.
- Don’t over eat. Don’t turn to food when you are not hungry – sounds simple but when was the last time you ACTUALLY let yourself get hungry before you ate???
- Dial back on the processed foods
- Don’t drink your calories
- Intermittent fasting
- Fasted exercise
I hope this article has helped you get an insight into how eating carbohydrates are a key factor in your ability to burn fat. Feel free to ask any questions, i would love to hear from you.