The Carb Crisis

 

 

We know that in order to lose weight and shed fat we must cut out all carbs right?.......WRONG, well kind of. The thing about nutrition that makes it so ambiguous is it’s not black and white, but more grey. I hope to bring to light in this article that there isn’t just one way to do things when it comes to nutrition and exercise. What works for one may not work for another and we must tinker with our own bodies to see what ultimately works best. Not to worry though, as there are still helpful guidelines to help maneuver your way through “The Grey.”

 

We’re taught carbs are the enemy. We hear it all the time, they say if you want to slim down you must cut out carbs. Then you see your friend go to town a big basket of cheese fries and wonder how they don’t gain an ounce when all you have to do is smell carbs and put on weight. Let me come out and say a statement that will get our heads in the right mindset. You want a well rounded diet to fit your activity level. There it is, very simple. I know that’s the most profound nutrition statement you have ever heard, so I’ll let that sink in for a minute. A well rounded diet will consist of all 3 macronutrients together: protein, carbs, and fats. Now here’s the interesting part; to match your activity level. This is where we begin to falter. If we’re eating the same way that we do on workout days and rest days, we know we’re already in trouble.

 

We’ve got to match calories with activity level. A good starting point is multiplying your bodyweight by 10. That’s how many calories your body needs a day to survive at the sedentary level(doing nothing all day). Then we would multiply that result by our activity level, 1.1-1.3 for low energy office work, 1.4-1.6 for the day that requires a little more hustle, and 1.7-1.9 for the heavy manual labor type jobs. Then we would add any additional exercise calories being burned that day. So let's provide a real life example: If a 150 pound individual wants to lose weight, let’s look at the breakdown. We would begin by multiplying 150 x 10 to get 1,500 baseline calories. If they worked in an office at a desk for most of the day we could then multiply our activity level of 1.2 by our 1,500 baseline and come out with 1,800 calories for the day. Ok great, so that’s a rough estimate of what a 150 pound individual would need to maintain body weight. To lose weight and shed fat we need to be in a caloric deficit. In order to do that we would simply subtract 300-500 calories from our maintenence calories which we just figured out in our above scenario. We also can’t forget about any additional calories being burned through planned exercise. Let’s say a typical workout can burn anywhere from 300-500 calories. We’ll add that to our 1,800 calories and get 2,100-2,300 calories needed for the day to maintain. Since we’re looking to be in a caloric deficit though, we go back to subtracting 300-500 calories and it turns out that we’re back to that 1,800 calorie range.

Now that we have our range of calories for the day to lose weight at 150 pounds, how do we need to split that up between protein, carbs, and fat? Should we follow the advice of cutting out all carbs so we get there as quickly as possible. NO.

 

Remember we want a well rounded diet consisting of all 3 macronutrients. This will help provide our bodies with the nutrients we need, fuel us for our workouts, supply our brains with the energy it needs, help promote healthy hormone levels, and help keep the appearance of a hard body and not a flat, deflated one.

 

 A good way to divvy it up is 1 gram per pound of bodyweight for protein, 20% allocated to healthy fats, and the rest fill in with carbohydrates. That would break down into 150 grams of protein, 210 grams of carbohydrates, and 40 grams of fat per day, using the 1,800 calorie example. The best way to go from here is to split it all up between how many meals you plan on having a day. Four meals a day is pretty easy to get in, so we’ll use 4 meals a day for example. That would come out to 35-40 grams of protein, 50 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of fat per meal. It’s a lot easier to break it down when we look at it this way. Also remember that example was for the 150 pound individual that included exercise that day.

 

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