|Are Low Carb Diets The Best Way To Lose Body Fat?
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days, the carbohydrate issue seems to be the burning question on
the minds of nearly everyone who is interested in getting leaner.
Not a single week goes by that I don’t receive an e-mail with
a question about the low carb/high protein diet. Last week I got
you a proponent of the low-carb diet for bodybuilders? Although
this is hotly debated, I don't know many "ripped" bodybuilders that
have not tried such a diet. Thanks.
It’s no wonder why there's such a buzz about these diets:
everywhere you look lately there are low carb bars, low carb
drinks, low carb meal replacements, low carb frozen dinners and so
on. In the bookstores, The Atkins diet, Protein Power and
Sugar-Busters have all been best sellers.
though there has been a huge resurgence in the interest in low
carb/high protein diets, the low carb vs. high carb issue is still
the subject of much controversy. For every "low carb guru" who says
that low carbs are the ultimate diet, there is a "high carb guru"
with the opposite opinion. This has caused a lot of people a lot of
what’s the deal? Is the low carb/high protein diet the best
way for bodybuilders to get ripped or just another fad? From a
bodybuilding standpoint, the answer is an unequivocal yes; reducing
carbohydrates really works! Most bodybuilders can't get that
"ripped" look without some degree of carb restriction. Almost every
bodybuilder or fitness competitor I’ve ever met uses some
version of the low carb diet when getting ready for competition.
The problem is, most people fail to take into account their goals
and their unique body type, so they follow the advice of the latest
"low-carb guru" and take the carb restriction too far. Zero carb or
close to zero carb diets are in my opinion, TOTAL
extreme; the high carb, very low fat diet, isn’t the best
approach for bodybuilders either. These diets (60-70% carb, 20-30%
protein and 10% or less fat) were trendy with bodybuilders for a
while, especially back in the 80’s and early 90’s
(Remember Nathan Pritkin, Dean Ornish and Robert Haas?), but their
popularity quickly faded. Those who tried it discovered that it
wasn’t nearly as effective as the low to moderate carb, high
dropping your carbs help you lose more fat? There are several
reasons, but to avoid getting into a complicated discussion of
nutritional biochemistry, let’s just say that eating less
carbs forces your body to burn fat for fuel instead of sugar.
Reducing carbs and increasing protein accelerates fat loss by
controlling your insulin and blood sugar more effectively. The high
protein in these diets also speeds up your metabolism because of
the "thermic effect" of protein food. It also helps eliminate water
retention, giving you the "hard" and "dry" look you need onstage to
opinion, a moderate carb diet, with slight carb restriction
(especially at night) is the most effective (and most "sane") way
for bodybuilders to get ripped. For example, my contest diet is
about 175 -200 grams of carbs with most of the carbs eaten early in
the day. Every 4th day, I have a high carb day (350
grams) to replenish my depleted glycogen stores. By contrast, my
off-season diet is 350 - 450 grams of carbs. With 175 - 200 grams
of carbs, that is just enough fuel to provide the energy I needed
to train hard and to prevent me from losing muscle.
dropping carbs even further to 30 or 50 grams a day (like many fad
diets recommend) get you more ripped or get you ripped faster?
Maybe. But the problem is, without carbs, you’ll have no
energy to train hard. Sure, tuna fish and water will get you ripped
alright, but if your workouts suffer because your diet is "killing
you," you aren’t going to look or feel your best.
big problem caused by very low carb diets is loss of lean body
mass. The lower you drop your carbs, the more likely you are to
lose muscle along with the fat.
problem with very low carb diets is the rebound effect. The lower
you drop your carbs, the faster you will rebound and gain the fat
back when you add the carbs back in. I swear I’ve seen guys
blow up 30-40 lbs in a matter of DAYS after their contest because
they went on a carbohydrate and fat binge after a four-month zero
carb diet. It wasn’t a pretty sight!
experimented with a very low carb diet, (about 40-70 grams a day),
I lost huge amounts of lean body mass and looked very "flat" and
"stringy." I was also one irritable, grouchy SOB. My friends
nicknamed me "fog boy" because (sez them) I stumbled around in a
fog-like daze. One friend who hadn't seen me since the previous
year when I was a "bulked up" and carbed up 208 lbs, saw me 48 lbs
lighter after the low carb diet (yes, 160 scrawny pounds) and he
said, "holy sh** Tom, what happened to you? You're HALF the man you
were last year!" That was the last time I ever tried an extremely
low carb diet.
is a highly individual issue. Some people can’t seem to lose
weight unless they reduce their carbohydrate intake. Other people
can eat bagels and pasta all day long and they have six pack abs.
How many carbs you eat therefore, depends on your body type. Are
you an endormorph or an ectomorph? Do you have a fast metabolism or
a slow metabolism? Are you naturally lean or naturally heavy?
Depending on your genetics, you might thrive on high carbs or you
might need a high protein, low carb diet to get results. But
beware: even if you think you are the carb sensitive,
slow-metabolism type, the middle path (moderate carb restiction) is
the most sensible way to go.
way to determine how many grams of carbs is right for YOU is to
experiment until you find your "critical level." If you start
dropping body fat rapidly at 200 grams a day, then why on earth
would you subject yourself to the torture of going even lower and
doing one of those 30-40 grams a day "ketogenic" diets? Why kill
there is no single diet that works for everyone. There are
certain universal nutritional laws that apply to everyone, but be
very careful of "gurus" who use the words "always" and "never" or
who make sweeping statements like "carbohydrates make you fat."
want to get ripped, you should also pick the type of carbs
you eat carefully - it’s not just the quantity, it’s
the quality. In addition to moderating total daily carb intake, I
also recommend getting off ALL processed carbs including bread,
crackers, pretzels, pasta, bagels and switching only to natural,
unprocessed carbs like vegetables, oatmeal, yams, rice, potatoes,
etc. That single change will go a long way in helping you get
leaner (and healthier too!)
bottom line is that it’s not correct to say, "carbs are
fattening," but there IS some truth to the assertion that a low
carb diet will get you leaner compared to a high carb diet –
you just have to approach it in a sensible and individualized way.
As in most areas of your life, going to the extreme with your diet
will usually do you more harm than good.
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About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder,
personal trainer, gym owner, freelance writer and author of "Burn
the Fat, Feed The Muscle" (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the
World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over
140 articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural
Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men
and Men’s Exercise. Tom is the Fat Loss Expert for
Global-Fitness.com and the nutrition editor for Femalemuscle.com
and his articles are regularly featured worldwide on literally
dozens of other websites.
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