Drop the whey shakes and lis­ten up. If you’re ready to get se­ri­ous about your fit­ness and fat loss, it’s time to start us­ing your loaf THE DEVIL’S AD­VO­CATE

Men's Health (UK) - - In This Issue -

Turn weight­loss wis­dom on its head and start us­ing your loaf to burn away ex­cess blub­ber

Back in the ’90s it was Dr Atkins. In more re­cent years, French fat-loss guru Pierre Dukan. Th­ese days it’s devo­tees of the ke­to­genic diet im­plor­ing you to make the cut. The fact is, there has al­ways been some killjoy try­ing to steal away the de­li­cious com­fort of carbs.

We get it. This slan­der­ing of all things starchy is easy to swal­low when you’ve seen every­one from Mailon­line side­bar non- en­ti­ties to your fad-fol­low­ing friends los­ing pounds on a car­bo­hy­drate-free plan. But to make sim­ple ‘weight­loss’ your goal is my­opic. Your early suc­cesses are, dis­heart­en­ingly, likely to come from the loss of wa­ter weight alone – not fat. Carb mol­e­cules en­cour­age your body to store H2O, so by elim­i­nat­ing them, you’re essen­tially wring­ing your­self out like a sponge. But, of course, “2kg less hy­drated in just 5 days!” doesn’t fea­ture as high on the best­sellers lists.

Low carb means less mus­cle mass, too. With­out glu­cose to burn, your fam­ished body turns to pre­cious amino acids – the ones you’re so keen to cram into your meal plan – caus­ing your mus­cles to catabolise. And with this quick re­duc­tion in lean mass, your me­tab­o­lism be­gins to stall, burn­ing fewer calo­ries. You need carbs for fat loss 1 .

Glu­cose is your body’s most ef­fi­cient fuel source. And yet, the mo­ment we fin­ish a work­out, it’s pro­tein we wearily rush to re­plen­ish. This habit needs re­train­ing. Sure, your whey shake will fa­cil­i­tate re­cov­ery, but reload­ing your hun­gry mus­cles with glyco­gen from carbs is of equal or greater im­por­tance. Not only will this pre­vent your newly earned mass from be­ing bro­ken down for en­ergy, it also speeds the rate at which amino acids reach your mus­cles 2 . Ideally, you want to tar­get a 2:1 carb-topro­tein ra­tio with your post-gym nu­tri­tion. Cheese on toast, any­one?

This ad­vice doesn’t just ap­ply to wiry en­durance ath­letes, ei­ther; the kind who can main­line Mars bars but re­main sus­cep­ti­ble to a strong wind. As a guide, men of all sizes should aim to ob­tain 45-65% of their calo­ries from car­bo­hy­drates at ev­ery meal, with the rest split be­tween pro­teins and fats.

With this in­take, you get a slow rise of in­sulin, steady en­ergy lev­els and bal­anced sero­tonin, the brain chem­i­cal linked to mood. In­ci­den­tally, your greedy brain uses up over half of the body’s glu­cose stores 3 . Which, if you’ve ever strug­gled to make sense of a spread­sheet af­ter a few days of low- carb lu­nacy, won’t come as a com­plete sur­prise.

Now to an­swer the big ques­tion. What kind of carbs should you be eat­ing? Well, hap­pily we’re not ad­vo­cat­ing a te­dious reg­i­men of chia crack­ers and sprouted mil­let. There’s noth­ing wrong with pasta, pota­toes or even bread – yes, we said it – so long as that’s not all you’re eat­ing. By tem­per­ing that glu­cose hit with pro­teins, fats and fi­bres, you’ll pre­vent the in­sulin spikes that lead to weight gain.

Foods don’t ex­ist in a vac­uum. You have to look at those carbs in the con­text of what’s on the rest of your plate. Then look at that plate in con­text with the rest of your diet. It’s trite but true that health is about bal­ance. And some days that just means a but­tery bread roll in each hand.

“With­out carbs, your fam­ished body will burn pro­tein, caus­ing a loss in mus­cle mass”


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