Losing a third of me: When to carb or not to carb

Recent studies have begun pointing an evil finger at the carbohydrates in our lives. And I’d certainly¬†be hard-pressed to argue that processed food is not an epidemic in our modern culture. However, one of the most important points that my trainer made was that carbs as a whole are not the problem, it’s when we eat them that’s bad.

When we pile on the carbs for dinner and after-dinner snacks, we switch our body metabolism from energy burning (weight loss) mode to¬†energy storing (weight gain) mode. To avoid this, he advocated front-loading my carb consumption so that my morning meal was more carb-heavy, then decreasing my carb intake throughout the day so that I would end up having a light carb dinner and none after that. I can’t say that I followed the plan perfectly, but I really tried hard to eliminate the post-dinner snacking and that has probably helped the most.

In conjunction with this front-loaded approach to carbs, I also had to consciously elevate my protein consumption throughout the day. Most health sites recommend that we take in about a gram of protein for every pound of weight (more if you’re into muscle building) every day. That meant that when I started out on this weight-loss program, I needed to be consuming 300g of protein throughout the day in order to keep my fat-burning metabolism going. Kind of like stoking a campfire to keep the coals hot and burning.

Since eating steaks 5-6x a day wasn’t realistic, I ended up using whey protein powder supplements to fill the gaps between breakfast/lunch, lunch/dinner and dinner/bed. A 50g protein mix three times a day is pretty doable and there are lots of flavors to choose from. My trainer preferred Isopure because it had no carbs and I certainly had a lot of success with it, though Optimum Nutrition is a cheaper alternative (with 3-4g of carbs per serving).

Finally, my trainer had a general rule of thumb to follow:

Eat for what you’re going to do, not for what you did.

It doesn’t take a lot of calories to sit at a desk and work on the computer. Following this guideline eliminates reward eating, e.g. stopping by a drive-through for a greasy fast food breakfast after working out, and helps keep you thinking forward.

 

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