Carb Intake for Fat Loss

I’ve been cutting for a while and I’m at a point where I’m neither fat nor ripped. My waist is 33.5 inches and this is where I’m fattest (arms, delts and upper back are much leaner).
With the myriad of information out there I’m a bit confused about how to get ripped (say 10% bodyfat) without losing muscle.
Is it as simple as staying on a 500cal deficit and eating lots of protein or do I need more advanced techniques like carb and calorie cycling.
Also, are there any benefits to a low carb diet (except around workouts) compared to a more moderate diet with regards to fat loss ?

Your question can actually open up a big can of worm. Especially the part about benefits of lower carbs for fat loss.

That’s because the popular ideology among fit pros nowadays is that the only thing that matters for fat loss is being in a caloric deficit.

While it’s true that you need to be in an energy deficit to lose body fat, other factors can impact fat loss.

Take insulin for example. It is now popular among the fitpros who have very little or only superficial physiological knowledge to claim high and loud that insulin doesn’t make you fat, only a caloric surplus does.

But the fact is that when insulin is elevated above baseline, fat mobilization is decreased. It’s not stopped, but it’s decreased.

One of the benefits of a low carbs diet, is the chronically low insulin levels. Dr. Ben Bikman who is an actual metabolic researcher with his own college research lab specialized on insulin found that low insulin (especially if ketones are present) can upregulate the brown adipose tissue and even make the white adipose tissue behave like brown adipose tissue. If you want to learn why that is important or fat loss, go read this recent article on Cyanidine-3-glucoside: Take This to Change White Fat to Brown Fat

The take home message is that the more brown fat activity you have, the more energy (calories) you waste producing eat. This increases daily expenditure/metabolic rate. Dr. Bikman has found as much as a 200-300 calories impact per day!

So yes, strictly for fat loss, a low-carbs diet has benefits. It is likely not optimal for maximizing growth (that’s why keeping carbs around the workout is a good idea) but strictly for fat loss, yeah, it helps.


Well, I’m not a huge fan of carbs cycling anymore. I do think that it is unnecessarily complicated for most. But I do believe that a lower carbs diet (moderate fats, moderate/high protein) with carbs focused around the workout is a better option to get lean, for most.

But there will always need to make adjustment in overall caloric intake and expenditure as the body adapts (metabolic adaptations) to your food intake. Meaning that the caloric intake/activity level that got you from 20 to 15% is likely not going to be adequate to bring you from 15 to 10%.

First thing, you also need to understand that unless you get your body fat evaluation via DEXA you will likely grossly underestimate how much fat you carry and how much you need to lose to be “ripped”.

Even calipers underestimate fat level by a good 5%.

I’ll use myself as an example: when I start to see my 6 pack (not just see faint likes under proper lighting) I have 20lbs to lose to be truly ripped.

And even if you have your body fat measured by DEXA, it’s not as simple as calculating how much fat you need to lose to get to a ripped state. That’s because when you diet down, you don’t just loe fat. You lose water, glycogen, intramuscular triglycerides, etc. For every pound of fat you need to lose you normally also lose 0.5lb of “something else”.

So if you calculate that you truly have 20lbs of fat to lose to be ripped, in reality you will have to lose 30lbs to reach the level of leanness that you want.

That’s why a lot of people think that they are losing muscle. They calculate (or worse, think) that they have 15lbs to lose to get ripped. They lose 15lbs and don’t look anywhere near ripped. So they reason that its because they lost muscle along with the fat.

In reality it’s more likely that:

  1. They had more fat to lose than they thought (and also less muscle than they thought)
  2. They didn’t factor in the “other stuff” that they lose which is nor far nor muscle.

Thank you so much, deep and thorough as per usual.
Indeed, the more I cut the more I realize that I was underestimating how much I need to lose.
It’s very hard mentally to feel flat all the time, plus photos have soo much variability (depending on angle and lighting) that I don’t have any clear idea of how much I still need to lose.

For the flatness, it is more often an issue of insufficient electrolytes (mostly sodium and potassium but also can be magnesium). Especially in a lower carbs diet as low insulin leads to more fluid/electrolytes excretion.


Would it then be a good idea to drink lots of mineral water ?

It’s better to take in an electrolyte formula. Surge Workout Fuel also has a lot of electrolytes.

Mineral water normally doesn’t have enough sodium and potasium.


Milles merci Christian. Your help is truly appreciated.

Great shout out coach. I think folks should listen to a few of his lectures to get a better understanding of the real impact of insulin on adipose tissue.

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He opened my eyes on many things for sure. Him and Dr. Paul Masson. Professor Bart Kay also has great info (especially on the Randle cycle, which I now believe is super important) although his presentation style might not appeal to every one.

Oh yes, Paul Mason has put out some excellent content. His critique of the literature around saturated fat, statins and dementia is very impressive.

You think he and Layne Norton should hug it out?

I would actually enjoy a real debate between them rather than just videos critiquing each other

Dr. Gary Fettke - ‘Nutrition and Inflammation’

Good shout. Also check out his lecture titled ‘Carbohydrate - the poison is in the dose’.

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