By Dr Joe
Carbs are usually regarded as the enemy when it comes to fat burning.
That is not necessarily true, at least not all of the time anyway. The point is that you can actually use carbs to burn fat…
…but to do so, you have to use carbs strategically.
If you want to recruit carbs as your fat burning friend, you need to understand the pros and cons of carb intake first. This will give you a fundamental knowledge and you can use this knowledge to manipulate carbs to your advantage.
Most people have a love-hate relatiosnship with carbs. How about making the love part of the equation to dominate, huh?
Here are the Pros and Cons of Carbs
Pros of Carbs
- Carbs preserve muscle. Eating carbs means you provide immediate energy available for use. This action in itself prevents the breakdown of muscle ensuring the preservation of lean muscle mass. A high percentage of lean muscle mass is good for weight loss. Muscles burn lots of calories.
- Your body prefers to use carbs as energy source. That’s the way the human body has evolved. The brain in particular, prefers carbs as energy source.
- Carbs light the fuse of metabolism and it keeps the “fire” burning.
- Carbs play a role in our hormonal balance
- Talking about hormones, carbs have a stimulatory effect on insulin. Insulin promotes anabolism and you can exploit this anabolic property to your advantage to build muscle. But this is also a catch 22 situation as explained below.
The Cons of Carbs
- Carbs stimulate insulin secretion and depending on your metabolic competence, insulin levels may be very high. High insulin levels make the task of fat burning and weight loss extremely difficult. This is the catch 22 situation I’m talking about.
- Eating lots of carbs over a long time can lead to the phenomenon of fat spill over as depicted in the figure below. Consumption of carbs in an uncontrolled manner can result in obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome etc.
- The widespread availability of carbs in particular, the processed variety makes carbs open to abuse. No other nutrient is abused quite the same way as carbs. The abuse of processed carbs is worse in the Western hemisphere of the globe.
- Processed carbs have obesity additives. These are fillers and chemicals that provide a platform for development of future health problems.
- Processed carbs may also contain glutens and “anti-nutrients” like phytic acid which can lead to poor absorption of certain minerals like Iron, Zinc and Calcium. Needless to say, gluten has been implicated in the causation of certain auto-immune diseases.
Going through that list, it is therefore not surprising to see why people are given the advice to cut carbs loose from their diet if they want to lose weight.
But as you know, it is not quite as straightforward as that.
We need carbs to survive too. Carbs have been an essential part of human existence for millions and millions of years. Carbs can promote a happy metabolism and can be used to burn fat.
Besides, low carb diets have limitations in that they trigger thyroid and leptin hormone into action to slow down metabolism and sabotage fat burning.
You can see that carb consumption is a double-edge sword – a catch 22 situation.
How can you override this carb conundrum?
You have to “get sneaky” and cycle your carbs both to promote your health and to promote long-term fat loss.
There are one or two tricks you can play such that you can eat carbs and still shed fat.
In fact, here is one. In the next page, my buddy Shaun Hadsall shows exactly how to eat LOTS of carbs and NEVER store them as fat with a method he’s coined as food macro-patterning. It’s a fascinating technique.