Carbohydrates - are they really affecting my fat loss?

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

There are 4 macronutrients that our body burns to give us energy:

1. Alcohol

4. Carbohydrates

3. Fats

2. Proteins

(Side note: our body will choose to burn those energy sources in that order. So if you have alcohol in your system, you won't be burning any fat or carbs until that alcohol is gone! More on this in a later blog.)

Back to carbs though:

When we are consuming carbs, protein and fat in a day (as most normal eating plans give us), our body will always prefer to burn the carbs first, fat second and protein last. As our muscles are made of protein, our body will preserve and protect it. Hence the reason it burns protein last of all.

If we are eating a lot of carbohydrate (more than what we are burning off with our daily exercise and incidental activity) then we never have a chance to get down to burning off our existing fat stores.

Therefore, to accelerate fat burning it can help to plan one day a week where we are eating low carbohydrate (ie: no starchy carbs and only incidental carbs from fibrous, water-based veg) so that our body has a better chance at burning existing fat stores throughout that day.

Please be careful here: Unless you have been following a low carbohydrate eating plan for some time we don't recommend starting with more than 1-2 low carb days each week.

Start slow. Maybe include 1 low carb day in the first 1 -2 weeks of the challenge and if you feel comfortable and you responded well, you might add in 1 - 2 more each week. Start slow.

Plan your low carb days on your rest days and higher carb days for your 2 heaviest weights days and on these days, as always: avoid refined carbs and go for unrefined carb sources like brown rice, sweet potato or quinoa.

There is a temporary down side to eating low carb: because many of us are so accustomed to eating a lot of carbohydrate on a daily basis (a common day of eating we see is: toast or cereal for brekky, sambo or wrap for lunch and pasta or rice with dinner plus any other little snacks in between), when we take that carb away our body takes a little time to figure out how to shift from primarily using carbs for energy, to using fat for energy.

So, during your first few weeks, on your low-carb day, you may feel dehydrated, lethargic, depleted, even moody. That’s why we don't recommend doing a more than 1-2 a week, initially.

To combat this; drink more water on these days and listen to your body! If at any stage you feel that you are unable to function through your day, please add some carbs back in until you feel better.

Also, know that your body WILL get used to these low carb days if you make them regular. You will likely only notice these unpleasant feelings for the first 2-3 weeks then generally your body will become more efficient at running primarily on fat instead of carbs, and those feelings normally disappear.

*If you have any medical conditions or are pregnant or breastfeeding please consult a qualified nutritionist before reducing your carb intake.

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