T Nation

Let's Talk Carbs


#1

It seems like everyone has an opinion about what low carb means. When I think low-carb I think 20% or less of daily calories, does that seem right?

I know there are a couple of thresholds associated with carbs:

There's ketosis. As I understand you basically have to cut out 100% of all carbohydrates to hit this, or be burning them like a mother in a long-all-day-event type thing. Is this correct? Against my advice (although I'm not sure if I'm totally justified), when my GF really wants to loose weight quick, she cuts down to like 5g or fewer a day... I don't think it's particularly effective though, as the results don't seem to last... is there a good way to ease out of ketosis? Do we think it can ever be effectively used as part of weight loss?

Next: Carbohydrates allow the body to more effectively process protein. How much carb do you need to get this effect? Can you still be on a low carb, but not no carb diet and just eat your carbs with your protein?

Last: Carbohydrates also change the way your body processes fat, helping the body more readily store it as fat. Can anyone go into how this works? And again, at what level of intake this happens?

I definitively do better on a low-carb, high-protein/fat diet, but I would enjoy more carbohydrates in it. Right now I basically avoid them, only eating them indecently (like I'm out to lunch on business and get something with a little potato or tortilla), and through vegetables, and a little fruit.

I'm trying to bulk, but would like to do it as cleanly as possible @ around 3,500-4000kcal a day.

My GF, after being sedate (car accident) for almost six months, is also trying to drop about 15% off the bodyfat, and since she still can't train intensely, all she has to work with is diet.

I'm really trying to figure out approximately at what carb intake these "events" occur.

Thanks


#2

how do you know you do better on carbs? I used to think I did "better" on low carb diets until I realized that it's all a matter of calories and picking what days to consume larger portions of carbs. I've found out that I could eat 2,200 calories for 3 weeks with no carbs, and get shredded. Or I could eat 2,200 calories with 250 carbs a day, and get shredded.

Even if the majority of those carbs came from white rice, ice cream, milk, etc. Figure out how many calories you need to consume, if it's 3,500 for example, than pick some days where the majority of your cals come from carbs, and pick some days that it comes from protein and fat. It is just incorrect to think JUST because you're on a low carb diet, you'll lose tons of fat. Don't be silly and deny yourself a vast majority of foods that offer tons and tons of nutrients, convenience and taste.


#3

Truth.

Carbs matter when they are ingested and what kinds of carbs are ingested. Low-carb diets are just slowing entire process of getting huge down.


#4

what kind don't even matter that much....yes, obviously you want to go for the most nutrient dense source, but did you see my post? Once you get past Chris Shugart screaming at you to not eat carbs before bed, you realize something, "if I eat 2,200 calories everyday for 2 weeks, I will roughly lose 1-2 lbs a week."

Hmmm, okay, and if by 10 p.m. I've consumed 1800 calories, and I need one last meal, and there's some ice cream staring at me in the fridge. So I measure out one serving, cook up some oatmeal, mix some protein powder in there, and I have a delicious, high carb/high protein meal before bed, 400 calories. I wake up, looking good, if not great. Looking JUST as good if instead I had some peanut butter and protein. If the calories are where they should be, you're fine.


#5

Interesting.

What I do know is that at 5'11" I've been up to 240 pounds (not a good 240), and down to 155 pounds, and while there was some overall calorie count change, mostly it was carb manipulation. I sat at around 175 for years more or less "in shape" (athletic, not aesthetic). Now I'm trying to get big(ger), I'm at 190, and trying to continue to grow without putting on too much of a carb gut, which my body is all too happy to do.


#6

Glycogen holds a ton of water. If you go into ketosis, you'll piss out a ton of weight and you'll look leaner, but as soon as you re-up on carbs you'll soak back up the water. It was never fat loss to begin with.

Honestly, classic ketosis diets have limited use in dieting for the normal person. If you're going to be extremely dedicated with your diet, you might as well carb cycle. It'll be way more effective and your workouts won't suffer.

Sure, there may be an anomaly or 2 out there that can get by on low carbs all the time and manage to add size and strength, but this is not even close to most people. Also, there are plenty of modified ketogenic diets out there that include carb reloads, but at that point you aren't in ketosis very long anyway and it's hardly a ketogenic diet from a semantic standpoint.

In short, if you're really fat, fine, cut the carbs for awhile. If you're going to the beach for the weekend and want to lean out, okay, cut the carbs completely a few days before you leave. For most people when dieting, I'd advise staying away from long term ketosis.

Edit:

Oh, and at 5'11" 190 pounds, you can afford some definitely afford some carbs. Just get in the gym and lift hard.. getting too fat should be the least of your concerns.


#7

I hear you on that. I've been amazed at how fast I've bulked up (although most of it has been lower body) just by eating more.


#8

well don't be amazed...if you take in more than you burn, you'll put on. and there's no such thing as a carb gut. You could just as easily eat too many eggs, peanut butter, and red meat, and get a gut, as you could eating too many sweet potatoes. I advise reading Justin Harris and Shelby Starnes articles on T-Nation.