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Carbs or no carbs…that is the question!

Let me start with an old saying that really sums up the whole debate in a nutshell, or should I say cat shell….”There is more than one way to skin a cat”. Now as much as this saying is true, surely there is one or even perhaps two ways that are more efficient and effective than the rest? Now skinning cats is not my thing, so ill leave that to the professionals. However fat loss is something Definitive Physique specialises in and as testament to our Results page our approach works. In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of two of the most effective methods for shedding those unwanted pounds of fat. And then out line how we at definitive physique incorporate the two for optimal fat loss results.

 

 


Zero/Low Carb Approach

 

This is a dietary approach that takes advantage of the bodies ability to utilize fat and protein for energy. With the absence of carbohydrates in the diet, the liver will break down fat to produce both fatty acids and ketone bodies for use in energy production. The premise of this dietary approach is to make a metabolic shift from a preferred source of energy in carbs to a mix of dietary and body fat. This will allow the breakdown and mobilization of fat stores for use in energy across the body.

PROS

  • Immediate weight loss due to the reduction in glycogen stores and thus water retention within the body.
  • Stabilization of blood glucose levels and a resulting reduction in insulin surges, the storage hormone.
  • Increase in insulin sensitivity, causing more efficient utilization of carbohydrates in general.
  • Uncomplicated diet plan, often very easy to follow
  • Calorie counting can often be ignored during early phases.

CONS

  • From both a physical and mental perspective can be very hard to maintain for some individuals
  • Lacks variety and can be very unbalanced in terms of differing food groups and thus limit options of obtaining certain nutrients.
  • Energy levels are restricted, and one can suffer crashes, in particular if exposed to high volumes of exercise…. not suitable for the majority of athletic sports.
  • Relapse in diet can cause rebound in weight often greater than initial weight loss.
  • When used for muscle gain purposes can cause gastronomical discomfort due to extreme carb loading phases
  • Most low carb diets rely on a large amount of supplementation

 

Cyclical Carbohydrate Approach

 

When carbohydrates are present within a diet the main focal points become Calorie total and macro nutrient ratio. Carbohydrates are the body’s preffered source of energy due to their efficiency in metabolism. They play a key role in sustained high-energy expenditure and benefit the active individual greatly. When present in a weight loss environment they along with fat will be the determining factors. And as a result differing ratios will need to be applied in order to take advantage of the bodies reactions to them. Generally fat will be limited to a low % which will include only efa’s such as fish oil and various MCTs, and of course certain fatty meats and possibly nuts. However these calories all must be accounted for so as to ensure the dieter is still within a calorie deficit. Carbohydrates will also have a specific %, which will often be cycled to differing ratios throughout the dieting period.

 

 

PROS

  • Gives the individual a broad spectrum of foods to eat and allows for variety in meals
  • Energy levels are normally never an issue as carbohydrates are a very efficient energy source
  • From a muscle building perspective glycogen levels always remain somewhat high allowing for a well fuelled muscle and thus potential for muscle loss is greatly reduced

CONS

  • Lot more complicated in terms of meal plans due to specific totals and ratios
  • Calorie counting is essential for an effective diet plan, and can be a stress factor and thus fat loss issue within itself
  • If individual does have form of insulin resistance can be very hard to achieve immediate/dramatic weight loss and thus can be disheartening.

 

What both diets have in common is that neither comes without drawbacks, and that the common theme between the two is that the individual will need discipline. Ultimately the question is flawed as there is a need for both and their relevance is directly related to an individuals past and current dietary choices.  There should never be a one-fix anecdote for all populations due to the variety and complexity of every individual.  The approach one will take will be determined by a number of factors, the primary being their current body composition. Low Crab diets work very well for the sedentary over weight individuals or people with a very short time frame for fat/weight loss.  Therefore a safe bet in terms of the initial phase of a fat loss program would be to use a low carb approach. The very nature of such a basic raw essentials diet will help to establish regular frequency of meals and an overall lower daily calorie total. More often than not, people are totally unaware of the number of calories in certain food choices they make. And as a result will often be eating a completely UN balanced diet in terms of protein/carbs/fats. Zero/Low carb dieting forces the dieter to eat good quality proteins and a wide variety of vegetables. Once the individual has shed that initial weight one should then work towards reintroduction of carbohydrates and a more specific diet plan. Calories will always be key regardless of the approach, however the main advantage of having carbs present is the ability to take out calories stage by stage.  With carbs present the dieter can continually create a calorie deficit whilst still maintaining a relatively balanced range of foods and supply of efficient energy. Definitive Physiques dietary system incorporates an approach that will utilize the benefits of both diets in a stage-by-stage process. Like training the diet must be periodised and will need to go through certain phases before each method can be applied.  This tactic should create contined progress and allow for the maximum amount of fat loss.

This article was written by Mike Porter, Director, Definitive Physique
6184466805 93accb6e2c m1 150x150 Carbs or no carbs…that is the question!

Michael Porter Co-founder of Definitive Physique

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