I have something embarrassing to admit: I am a recovering “Carb-o-phobe”
Ever since I can remember I’ve had a love/hate relationship with carbs and I’ve come to realize that they are not as bad (or as good) as people make them out to be.
The trick to “having your carbs and eating it too” is to be strategic in your approach.
My buddy Nate Miyaki, otherwise known as “The Fat Loss Samurai” is one of the main guys I get my information from when it comes to all things nutrition and today we want to reveal to you 3 Ninja Carb Tricks to Getting a Lean Body.
Take it away Nate!
3 Ninja Carb Tricks to Getting a Lean Body
By Nate Miyaki, ACE, ISSA
Contributing Writer — Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Men’s Health, T-Nation, Bodybuilding.com, LIVESTRONG
There are only 3 things that scare me in this life – snakes, port-o-potties, and belly fat. I hope to rid the world of one of them.
Yet, the most formidable foe on this planet is not those slithering creatures or blue boxes of death, or even zombies. It is body fat.
That stuff is everywhere. It can sneak up on you when you least expect it. It attacks from all angles. It is definitely contagious. I’ve heard it’s even gone airborne.
The Fat Loss Ninja has been fighting the good fight against this enemy for years. Across distant lands, The Last Fat Loss Samurai has been slashing fat with a vengeance as well. With the body fat apocalypse taking over the world, and few survivors left, it was only a matter of time before our paths crossed.
The Ninja and the Samurai are joining forces and riding together on this one. And it is our duty to provide YOU with the best weapons in your own war against this unrelenting enemy.
Here are three of the most lethal weapons I suggest you use when these body fat bastards seem to be breaking down the gates.
Oh, on a side note, don’t forget to also bring a few of those paper ass gasket things for protection in battle, just in case we run into any portable outhouses on our journey. Those things are like a helmet. It is heavy, and may seem like a burden in times of peace. But when war hits, you’ll be glad you carried them along.
TRICK #1 – DON’T GO TOO LOW IN CARBS
You read that right. DON’T go too low in carbohydrates, especially if you are strength training a few days a week (which you should be).
I know this sounds counterintuitive in this Low Carb Era.
But trust me, this is one of my most trusted tricks for sustainable rippedness. I’ve personally made the mistake of going too low in carbs in the past, and have seen the disappointment and disaster it can cause, as well as the rebounding and yo-yo’ing that follows.
Here’s the thing. We know that the overconsumption of highly processed carbohydrates has led to the rapid rise of man boobs, mufn tops, and obesity across the globe.
We also know that properly managing your carb intake is important for controlling your blood sugar and insulin levels, which in turn allows the body to maximally burn fat.
So chances are you are going to have to reduce your carbohydrate intake somewhat during a max fat loss phase.
But, and I mean a big ol’ beautiful twerking butt…there comes a point of diminishing returns.
Going too low in carbs, especially when combining that with intense strength training, can lead to a ton of physiological, metabolic, and hormonal drawbacks.
The biggest one for physique enthusiasts is muscle loss.
Getting ripped is not about just slashing fat. It’s also about building, or at least preserving lean muscle mass, along the way.
Yes, you too ladies. For muscle is what provides your body with its shape, tone, definition, and tightness. If you lose muscle, you’ll still appear soft and flabby no matter how much weight you lose.
Not to get too geeky, but while your body can become “fat adapted” at rest and with low intensity activity, anaerobic metabolism (what we use while strength training) runs only on glucose. It can’t use fatty acids or ketones.
The body will find a way to get glucose somehow. One of the back up mechanisms is to convert amino acids into glucose.
And sure enough, protein use for energy is at its all-time highest when performing strength training in a glycogen depleted state.
Keeping some carbs in your fat loss diet will prevent this. That’s why carbs are considered “anti-catabolic”.
A mismatched diet and training program are why there are many Paleo dieters, cross-fitters, and strength trainers who haven’t touched a carb since 1999, yet are frustrated with their lack of results. They still are soft and flabby despite consistent, high intensity training.
Muscle loss is not the only reason. There is more to this horror story. Low carb diets combined with anaerobic training can lead to low testosterone, impaired thyroid production, and shattered metabolic rates.
Ladies, if your thyroid and metabolic rate have slowed to a snail’s pace, you won’t get ripped no matter how many calories and carbs you cut from your diet.
Gentlemen, if your testosterone is shot, and you have to live with a non-functioning wiener to see your 6-pack, well, that just ain’t worth it baby.
TRICK #2 – TIME YOUR CARBS RIGHT – FEAST AT NIGHT
What’s lost in the Carb Debate is total calories, the most bullied, yet still the most important, fat loss step.
If you are in the calorie deficit necessary for fat loss, you can STILL include some carbs in your diet and maximally slash fat.
I’ve worked with many athletes to overcome their Carbophobia, add some carbs back in their diet to better support their training, and reach all-time record lows in body fat percentage.
But how do you get the maximum fat burning effects of low carbohydrate diets with the muscle building effects of carb-based diets?
You follow both plans, just at different times of the day.
Human beings evolved on a fasting and feeding cycle.
We spent the majority of our existence fasting or eating lighter during the day while actively tracking, hunting, and gathering our food. We spent the evening relaxing and feasting on the majority, if not all, of our daily food intake.
I suggest you do the exact same thing if you want to make slashing fat and looking awesome as automatic as possible.
During the day, you keep carbs low to control insulin levels and ensure your body is maximally burning fat.
Eating concentrated carbohydrates during the day can spike blood sugar and insulin levels and blunt fatty acid mobilization for hours. In non-“coach trying to sound smart speak”, essentially you shut down the body’s ability to burn fat with frequent carb-based meals and snack packs during the day.
By saving the majority of your carbs for dinner and eating lighter, lower carb foods during the day, you control insulin and blood sugar levels, maximize fat burning hormones and cellular factors (cAMP), and give yourself a decent stretch of time where you are optimally burning fat.
Then you feast on carbs at night to induce a hyper-anabolic environment.
Think of it as two distinct nutritional periods:
During the day hours you eat lighter so you remain in a fat burning, energy production mode (hunt mode) and during the evening hours you provide your body with the raw ingredients it needs to build muscle, store energy reserves, recover from the demands of the current day, and prepare for the tasks of the next day (feast mode).
The plan is flexible, and there are a variety of ways you can go about doing this. You can graze on low-carb, Paleo style foods during the day. Or you can use a weapon the Samurai and the Ninja share in this fat loss battle — intermittent fasting.
In other words, you can low-carb graze and feast OR fast and feast. I don’t really give a shit. The key is The Feast.
TRICK #3 – DITCH THE MYTHS
I know you want to try it.
It sounds awesome, and like a sustainable lifestyle plan to you, rather than a miserable fitness diet you suffer through to get a new Facebook photo. And trust me, the clients I’ve worked with who switch to this style never go back to any other way of eating again.
But alas, you have a few burning questions due to lingering fitness myth BS.
Won’t eating a big meal with carbs at night cause me to store fat? I thought we are supposed to cut calories and carbs, starve at night, and have to go to bed wanting to gnaw of our significant other’s arm to get lean?
I have to be honest. For that burning sensation, you are probably going to have to turn to Penicillin.
As for the questions, you can turn to both common sense and science.
Eating at night doesn’t make you fat. Eating too many calories for the entire day makes you fat. If you’ve eaten large and/or frequent meals throughout the day, and then eat another large dinner on top of that, chances are you will overshoot your daily calorie needs and gain fat.
It’s the total food intake not the distribution that is the problem.
If you eat lighter during the day and are active, chances are you enter dinner in a relatively large calorie deficit with depleted energy reserves, and even a large meal with a significant amount of carbohydrates will be used to restore energy reserves first, before spilling over into fat stores.
What sounds better – going to bed satiated or going to bed starving?
In addition, insulin sensitivity and nutrient partitioning to muscle cells improve: (1) After a strength training session and (2) After a period of fasting and/or lower carbohydrate intake. If you combine these two, the effects can be synergistic.
Basically, this just means when glycogen stores are relatively depleted (after training and/or at the end of a day of lower-carb eating), carbohydrates will be used to restock these energy reserves first, before spilling over into fat stores.
Even simpler, if you drive your car around all day and the gas tank is empty, you can and should fill up for the next day.
As for the science? Well, Nate’s a freak baby, and that’s a known fact. I’ll let da geeks handle the rest:
1. Sofer et al. 2011. Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner. Obesity (Silver Spring) Oct;19(10):2006-14.
This study was designed to investigate the effect of a low-calorie diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner on anthropometric, hunger/ satiety, biochemical, and inflammatory parameters… Greater weight loss, abdominal circumference, and body fat mass reductions were observed in the experimental diet in comparison to controls.
2. Halberg et al. 2005. Effect of intermittent fasting and refeeding on insulin action in healthy men. Journal of Applied Physiology December 2005 vol. 99 no. 6 2128-2136.
By subjecting healthy men to cycles of feast and famine we did change the metabolic status to the better, implying that the mismatch between our ancient genotype and the lifestyle of the westernized individual of today became smaller.
To our knowledge this is the first study in humans in which an increased insulin action on whole body glucose uptake and adipose tissue lipolysis has been obtained by means of intermittent fasting.
While indeed it is true that to get results on a fat loss program you need to limit your carbohydrate intake, doing so too the extremes can lead to muscle loss, a significant plateau in results and overall frustration.
Ditch the myths and use these 3 Carb Tricks to get into your leanest body without all of the diet frustration.
Doing so will provide you with the freedom to eat carbs, live a normal life and still get into your LEANEST shape.
Hey it’s Dan here.
Just gotta say again that Nate is one of the most knowledgable guys I know when it comes to nutrition, fat loss and FEASTING 😉
If you’re ready to get into your best body eating carbs and avoiding all of the frustrations of dieting, check out his system he’s developed based The NEW rules for fast and permanent fat loss called Feast Your Fat Away™