T Nation

Effects of Fat/Carb Meals?


Has anyone got any evidence indicating whether you get more fat gain and/or muscle growth from carb/fat meals (Say 60g carbs, 30g fats, 60g protein) or higher carb meals, (100g carbs, 60g protein, <5g fats). I've run high carbs and held a lot of water even with low Gi carbs and was wondering if lower carbs and addition fats may be a solution. Definitely for water retention, and if they're low GI there shouldn't be much of an insulin spike to shuttle fats into the body.

Anyone gots ideas or thoughts on this?


First of all, a disclaimer. I'm not a chemist or even a dietitian so I have no idea what chemical processes the body goes through in order to turn food fat into body fat. However, my guess is that it's a fairly simple one in terms of energy required (fat has a very low thermic effect).

The macro split you describe above (protein/fat meals vs protein/carb meals) is basically the approach (once) advocated by John Bernardi, a popular contributor here at T-Nations. High insulin levels will delay the metabolism of fat, which is his main reason for the dividing meals this way. Furthermore, when carbs and fats are eaten together, fundamental energy requirements are met by the carbs while the energy provided by fats are likely to be stored instead of metabolized.

Could you reach your goals by combining all three macros in the same meal? Probably. Moderation is key. On the flip side to Bernardi's approach (which, by the way, is aimed largely at bodybuilders and other physique athletes), one could argue that food combining has been largely dismissed. Traditional diets on which civilizations have thrived for thousands of years usually contain proteins, carbs and fats within the same meal. You will only store fat if you take in more energy than you expend.

The combination of fibrous vegetables, whole-grain carbs, and fats such as nuts and olive oils will act to slow the release of insulin because fiber, protein, and fat all slow down carbohydrate digestion.

Beware of 'nutritionism' and people who would convince you that you need an expert to tell you how to eat. You absolutely don't.


Excellent full post.

And hats off to this line right here.



If you what you've done (high carb, low fat) didn't give you the desired result, try something else (high fat, low carb).


I don't disagree with that line at all.

Last week I had a licenced, registered dietician literally preaching the ills of eggs in the diet and me 'irreversibly' ruining my health by consuming them (and steak/red-meat) daily.


My thought is that by keeping carbs lower throughout the day you can increase their effectiveness when you introduce them around your workout. Since I stated doing this I have a stronger sex drive and have made slight gains. I thought about the post contest growth everybody talks about and thought why not try to do that all the time. Does it work maybe.


I'm an RD and unfortunately am aware that many RDs still believe that liberal consumption of red meat and eggs is bad.


it's not just some rd's it's basically EVERYONE. honestly, 90% of people in the US think this.


There's a bit of food for thought there, although nothing that is news to be. Obviously in any mass gaining phase there are surplus calories and yes carb timing is an essential part of this. I know insulin and fats are a bad idea but wonder if by combining fats and low GI foods you can add mass with less fat storage than on low GI high carb alone.


Berardi's original point was that, when overeating to gain muscle, limit fat gain by avoiding meals HIGH in both carbs and fat at the same time.

People took this concept way overboard, obsessing about every gram of fat in a P+C meal or every gram of carb in a P+F meal.

I have done a lot of self-experimentation (monitoring BF with calipers, diet with Fitday, and tracking it all in Excel). I think Berardi was right about this concept. Also looking at other bodybuilders on this site and elsewhere, separating fats and carbs is a common theme.

The concept makes a lot of sense. Glucose is the preferred fuel. If it's available, it will be used, and fats are more likely to be stored. Fats are stored as body fat much more easily than carbs. So you don't want to give your body a huge load of carbs/glucose, at the same time as a big load of fat, especially when you are overeating to gain muscle.

For dieting for fat loss, I don't think separating carbs and fats is that important, because you're NEVER eating meals HIGH in both. By definition when dieting, your meals are small. Insulin is very sensitive to portion size, so insulin will be lower even if the carb ratio of a small diet meal is high. But in any case, calorie deficit trumps everything else. I've done low-fat, low-carb, Zone-ish, carb cycling...they all work.

OP, I think you have some incorrect ideas...carbs are carbs. If you eat 100 g of a low-GI carb, it will still get broken down to glucose (and maybe some indigestible fiber). A large load of low-GI carbs can raise insulin for hours. An example of this would be oatmeal. Diabetics using exogenous insulin complain that though oatmeal is recommended to them as a healthy, whole-grain, complex carb, it still requires a lot of insulin.

Second, I don't know why you are concerned about water retention. Carbs do retain water, lots of it, low-GI or not. However, why is this a problem? You can experiment and see if different carb sources affect water retention differently. I have never noticed a difference except with Biotest's magic carbs that pull water into muscle.


i think this is definatley the case . after my last gaining phase this is what i started to do .
when on a fatloss phase i always IF ( 16/8)but this time i only have carbs directly pwo (where as before i would have about 50g carbs + 10g BCAA pre w/o then again pwo )and the rest of the day only veg's .
whats strange is that 2 weeks into this fatloss phase my lifts are still increasing but my body weight and BF is still going down .
i can only assume this is down to increased nutrient partitioning.