Hopefully you've been working on your happiness since last week. Maybe you've even noticed a difference in your day. Maybe, juuuust maybe, you've even considered this whole "healthy eating" thing everybody keeps going on about. And being the go-getter that you are (or are not, hey, who am I to judge) you even looked on the internet for some answers to your dietary dilemmas.
After running a brief Google search about what to do and what not to do to lose weight, the overwhelming amount of websites, posts, comments, forums, newsfeeds, recent research, tweets, videos and Facebook pokes (remember those?) made you quickly shut down your computer, run to the nearest corner, assume the fetal position and begin to rock uncontrollably due to information overload. It's OK. Get out of the corner, dry your eyes, wipe your nose and let's cut through some of the confusion about carbohydrates.
One of the ways I recommend dealing with carbs is thinking that you have to earn them. Let me explain. Someone trying to lose large amounts of weight does not, unfortunately, have the wiggle room as that of somebody at a lower body fat percentage. One should look at that stored body fat as stored fuel. If you have a lot of it, the fat should be your fuel, if you have a little and are trying to lose those last 5-15 pounds, food should be your fuel.
Now, common sense would dictate that your body would want to use that stored body fat as fuel first, right? Yeah... except this is the human body we're talking about, anybody that remembers high school health class or the awkwardness of puberty can recall that common sense doesn't reside in this realm. Your body wants to preserve that fuel for emergency situations, like when you have depleted the sugars in your blood stream, liver and muscles (a la during exercise).
Which brings me full circle. If you are trying to lose large amounts of weight, you do not want to be overdoing it on the carbs, outside of vegetables, overdo those all day long. (I know, I know, you've just been waiting for somebody to give you the green light on veggies, you're welcome.)
However, just because I'm saying don't overdo them, doesn't mean I'm saying avoid them completely. It will be best for you to focus on getting them in earlier in the day and around exercise times, or whenever you are most active. Carbs can help fuel your workouts, or various activities, and can help replenish what we desperately need, but an overabundance can hamper any fat loss.
It's a fine line, one that easily frustrates many people. I know first hand, and I see it in my clients face before we get them a solid number and game plan.
I wish there was a magic number I could give here that would settle it once and for all, but the fact of the matter is that there are way too many variables to take into account, which is why it's best to sit down with a professional and get your answers.
I will offer one free tidbit. When you eat carbs, they pull water into your tissue as well. To the tune of 3-4 grams of water for every 1 gram of carbs ingested. So, if you have a high carb day, expect 3-4 times that amount of water to hang around and show an increase in weight gain. BUT IT'S WATER, REEEELAX. This is also why people going on a low carb diet see a dramatic weight drop right off the bat. Carbs drop down, your body depletes itself of water, and your weight drops. #Science!
As always, I hope that helps at least a little, check out the accompanying video online for more and until next week, eat healthy, live healthy, live happy and live fresh!
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and frequently posts videos on his YouTube channel. He may be contacted at email@example.com.