Happy summer solstice! The official start to summer and it’s raining. Way to go Scotland 🙂
Do you need to cut carbs out to lose weight?
I often get asked about the need to cut carbs out in order to lose weight, and the answer usually surprises the questioner. Since they are asking the question, it’s likely they have seen something that has lead them to believe that it’s essential to cut out carbs in order to lose weight, but the truth is that you don’t have to. And truth be told, you probably shouldn’t…
Let me explain.
A calorie deficit is required for fat loss, we know this to be 100%, unequivocally true. And in order to achieve a calorie deficit you probably have to cut your carbs a little to ensure you are eating a little less than your body requires to initiate the fat loss process. But success in your fat loss journey is more about consistently following your plan than the plan itself. In numerous studies, the most adherent groups were those likely to see the best long term results, and in those groups where very low carb (VLC where carbs were below 50g/ day aka keto diets) and low carb (LC where carbs were below 130g/ day) were compared the adherence in the LC groups was massively higher than in the VLC groups.
The takeaway here? Cutting down on carbs is probably necessary for fat loss, cutting them out almost completely isn’t.
Find a way to make your carb choices work within your diet and you’ll be golden.
Speaking of carbs…
7 reasons to eat carbs
Carbs often get a bad rap on social media, diet books, etc but there are plenty of reasons to eat them, not least of all being the point above.
- They help maximise muscle protein synthesis and minimise muscle protein breakdown due to a spike in insulin. This is a good thing since, when paired with adequate protein across the day, it allows you to hold on to as much of your hard earned lean mass as you can. And if your goal is adding more muscle mass then, while its technically possible to do it on a low carb approach, it’s a whole lot easier with carbs pushing the process along.
- The replenish glycogen stores, refuelling your muscles post exercise and giving you the fuel to go again when needed.
- The thermic effect of food is higher for carbs compared to fats. This means that, at least for whole food sources, it requires more energy to digest and process carbs than fats. (Fats might take longer to breakdown but they are easier).
- Improves high intensity performance. You’ll never meet a low carb, explosive athlete. At least, not a successful one. Carbs are essential for explosive, powerful performance since this type of performance is largely anaerobic and that uses carbs for quicker energy production. Going low carb for extended periods down regulates the mechanism that governs anaerobic metabolism and slows you down.
- They blunt the post exercise cortisol response from exercise. Some cortisol post workout is good, it limits inflammation without stopping it, because some inflammation is good as part of the recovery process. Cortisol also mobilises fuel stores to aid recovery which means mobilising nutrients and this is good. Recovery and adaptation are a key part of the training process, and cortisol is an important part of the process, but carbs help speed up the process by not allowing cortisol get too high.
- Carbs provide most of your micronutrients and fibre intakes. Again, assuming the majority of your carbs are from whole food sources and are not highly processed, you’ll get the vast majority of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients) from carbs.
- They’re freaking delicious! Which, admittedly, could be a bit of an issue. But the key point here is the deliciousness.
Now, let’s put those delicious, useful carbs to good use.
The weekend workout
I posted this yesterday on my social media places, and it seemed pretty popular. This week the session is KB or DB only.
Goblet squat – sit down into the squat, not back. If you need to raise your heels a little then go for it. As many good reps as you can in 30s, rest 30s, then
1 arm KB press – Legs out straight or 1 or 2 knees up, whatever your preference. Keep your elbows at 45-60degs from your torso. As many good reps as you can in 30s per side, rest 30s, then
KB swings – remember it’s a hinge, not a squat. Make em snappy. As many good reps as you can in 30s, rest 30s, then
Plank – keep it tight, remember to breathe and keep the floor pushed away, 30s on, 30s rest, then,
KB squeeze row – try to crush the KB as you pull it towards you. As many good reps as you can in 30s, rest 30s, then
Loaded crunch – keep the load above your head/ upper chest throughout, don’t let it get pulled forwards and try to push it higher as you reach the top. You don’t need a massive range of movement if you’re doing this right. As many good reps as you can in 30s, rest 2-3 minutes and repeat.