You Don't Need Carbs
Please note: This article relates to sustainable fat loss and not athletic performance.
Before discounting the sound reasoning behind applying a low-carbohydrate diet, I want you to press PAUSE and think:
# How do I burn fuel as energy and from where?
# How did I end up with my present carbohydrate intake strategy? Have I applied any logic to its inception or merely been brainwashed and accepted what I have been told by the mass media?
It is accepted that the human body implements an adaptive protocol to change. We adapt or fail. This is our most primitive instinct; it ensures our survival.
Although our body can adapt to the most severe of pressures or challenges, at the same time the body does not like sudden trauma placed upon it. Many believe that cancer and other diseases are born out of sudden high stress and shock trauma levels placed upon it. In the body’s confused state hormones and sensory levels are displaced and send compounded warning and stress signals throughout which are then misread by the brain and we are left without core balance. The truth is at this point we have lost control within, and no one can give a definitive answer as to what is happening. I do believe the moment we regain full brain capacity, then we can create order within our body.
Most of you will incorrectly play around with your carbohydrate intake leading to two immediate problems:
a) Carbohydrate cycling. This protocol short-circuits the body’s ability to be able to adapt. More often than not when following the low-carbohydrate part of this cycle, I find that at the very moment the body starts to adapt, definable by a shift in the *RQ ratio, a switch occurs and a high level of carbohydrates are reintroduced, hence the body never gets the opportunity to adapt to low-carbohydrate intake and can never become fat adapted. The body will remain in a confused state of trauma as carbohydrate levels are continually altered.
*The respiratory quotient, or RQ, is simply the ratio of carbon dioxide you produce to oxygen you consume. This ratio typically varies from about 0.70 to just over 1.00 and indicates what energy source the body is electing as fuel (i.e., how much fat versus glycogen). When RQ is 0.70 (i.e., when you are breathing out 70% as much carbon dioxide as you are consuming oxygen), you are effectively getting all of your energy from fat. When RQ is 1.00 (i.e., when you are breathing out an equal amount of carbon dioxide to the amount of oxygen you consume), you are effectively getting all of your energy from glycogen.
b) If you suddenly cut your carbohydrates then you will place the body under trauma. I see many people who elect to try and lower carbohydrate intake go from say 300g daily carbohydrates to cutting carbohydrate intake drastically to 30g the very next day. The body will panic and rush out a surge of hormones and warnings that will cause distress and confusion. Balance within will have been lost.
Therefore bear in mind that when I talk about the low-carbohydrate benefits I receive, I have gradually lowered my carbohydrate intake and then kept it low for some 15 years. My body is at one within, for it has adapted.
With my clients I implement a minimum three-month fat adaptation protocol, hence reducing carbohydrates to a lower ratio percentage of my clients’ total macro balance. This helps avoid trauma.
The goal of sustainability itself reveals the biggest clue as to why we should elect to follow a low-carbohydrate dietary intake.
Crucially I would advise that when you reach your fitness target, it is essential to keep carbohydrate intake lower than 10% of your overall total macro ratio. *Exceptions below.
When this is neglected and carbohydrate ingestion remains high, then I find for many of you this is the very reason why you get into shape and then almost immediately get out of shape. Ask yourself, what did you do to get lean? Nine out of ten of you will have lowered your calories, creating a calorie deficit. So when you achieve the desired condition with the six-pack popping, then what? ….errrhmmmmm ???????@@@!!! Yes, that’s exactly what happens!
In theory you should HOLD your calorie intake to BMR + AEE = maintain. However you need to consider metabolic adaptation and how realistic it is to consume the exact calories your body requires to break even? Don’t forget your mental vision lock will break off – once you are in the shape you wanted, it’s human nature to start to relax …
LOWER THE CARBOHYDRATES: The first law of thermodynamics
Now as mentioned above, I contend that the most natural way to sustain lean even when at peak condition i.e. <8%BF is to lower carbohydrate intake to <10%.
We know that when at <8%BF% we get to a kcal deficit level where we can’t go any lower or we would just vanish! We need to stabilize so that body mass remains constant when calorie intake equals calorie expenditure.
A calorie at this point, however, is not just a calorie, for facultative thermogenesis and obligatory thermogenesis join the party. The body will always try and direct you back to its preferred energy source, fat, when you strip away modern elements like sugar. Note that a high-protein intake increases dietary thermogenesis. Protein expends more energy in digestion and absorption than any other macro (obligatory thermogenesis) and due to its increased thermic effect (facultative thermogenesis ) less available net calories actually present themselves as energy, for you ‘lose’ kcals along the way from the facultative thermogenesis effect!
On an adapted low-carbohydrate intake the body dramatically increases gluconeogenesis, another of its ‘survival’ protocols. Here the body will produce its own glucose (carbohydrates) from non-carbohydrate molecules such as amino acids and fats. Gluconeogenesis places a high demand upon the body’s metabolism, thus increasing RMR to ‘fund’ gluconeogenesis. In life there is always a cost!
The entire low-carbohydrate intake dramatically fires up homeostasis. You are able to consume more and therefore adjust the ‘First law of thermodynamics’. This is why I pay so much attention to the type of macro and the timing of macro consumption. I eat to fuel my day, but fund it with a high-protein intake knowing I will metabolize the kcals. If I have high demands placed upon my energy levels I will consume fats 2–3 hours before key time slots so that they digest and present themselves as fuel. This stops sugar cravings.
I have been on a low-carbohydrate diet for nearly 15 years now, and have moved to the 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol to limit my ‘feed time’ to 8 hours each day. I have also found that on the whole, my clients respond very favorably to this approach, and are able to sustain their results whilst keeping energy levels high and never feeling like they are sacrificing food for body image. This also sets the scene for the intense training I put my clients through. Low or depleted insulin levels from homeostasis ensure fat oxidation during aerobic training, and high protein levels assist with muscle repair and recovery.
To summarize, my advice is never be brainwashed or made to think there is only one way to a result. Empower yourself with knowledge and apply logic to reason. We are all here today due to our perfect DNA code. The human body is engineered quite brilliantly to run off fat, why would you seek to alter that brilliance?
*Exceptions apply to low carbohydrates: athletes need extra fuel to support the fierce demands they place upon their body, and they train with such intensity that they obtain and maintain lean from the consequential force they place upon their body in order to master their discipline They simply force the body to adapt in order to improve, or they fail. Some individuals just need more carbohydrates to function. This could be down to social and/or environmental influences, mental perception, or the genetic makeup of that individual. That’s why you should always listen to your body.