Carbohydrates are not evil. There’s just a time, type and place for them….
If you have fat to lose, then carbohydrates should only be consumed when “deserved” to be consumed, such as after a good workout or if you have a super active job or lifestyle. Some have referred to this as a cyclic ketogenic diet, although whether some people actually get in to true ketosis over this sometimes fairly short period is another topic. Regardless of this, cycling carbohydrates is a great way to ensure you’re in fat burning mode when you need to be, and still get some of the benefits of good quality carbohydrates when these benefits can be maximised. This is not to say it’s the only thing that works when it comes to fat loss, but it’s a proven approach to be extremely effective, and one of the principles of the 90 Day Body Upgrade Program when fat loss is your primary goal.
The best time to consume your carbohydrates are AFTER workouts, and in that important period of time where your muscles become almost sponge like, and can put a short-term spike in blood glucose to good use. After a training session a spike in both insulin and elevated levels of amino acids in the blood can be a VERY good thing, particularly for recovery and building a lean defined body.
You may however be wondering about before workouts. And you might be saying to yourself that you’ll be using up the energy anyway, and the energy will be put to good use.
Now if your goal is based around performance (sports, competition), strength (let’s say you want to get better at pull-ups) and building lean mass then yes you could be right, but please opt for something better than chugging down a load of high sugar energy drinks or a sugary cereal bar. Think sweet potato, quinoa, rice, beans or oatmeal instead.
But if fat loss is your priority, while improving overall body composition, then you should avoid those pre-workout carbs, and instead save them for afterwards.Here’s a brief scientific explanation why:
When carbohydrate burning goes up, fat burning goes down and vice versa. Shortly after consuming a high-glycaemic carbohydrate, carbohydrate oxidation goes through the roof, and fat oxidation (a.k.a. fat burning) becomes almost non-existent. In essence your body feels the need to use carbohydrate as a fuel source, rather than that unwanted fat that’s causing you so much grief. This all happens because the glucose, and the insulin that comes along with it, increases the formation of a molecule called malonyl CoA in your cells. Malonyl CoA is actually the first building block in the formation of a new fat molecule. It’s formed when carbon dioxide is irreversibly added to a cellular molecule called acetyl CoA. An enzyme called acetyl-CoA carboxylase catalyzes this reaction.
It’s all pretty complex stuff, and probably useless information to you in day to day life. Could you imagine how the conversation would look down your local gym!? It would be met with eyes glazed over. But it’s nice to know there’s actual science-fact behind it, rather than just some random science-fiction you’ve heard elsewhere!
Malonyl CoA efficiently halts fat oxidation (remember, just a posh name for fat burning) by inhibiting carnitine acyltransferase I (CAT I), which is the rate limiting enzyme in fat oxidation. Therefore, since CAT I dictates how much fat you’ll burn and malonyl CoA shuts it down, having lots of malonyl A (due to high glucose and insulin levels) hanging around the cell means you don’t burn fat. In addition, the build-up of malonyl CoA leads to more fat synthesis (posh name for making fat), and the formation of new fat cells that will cause you to have to buy bigger jeans!
So, after all that we can sum things up in one simple sentence.
“Carbohydrates before training can massively impact your ability to burn off any unwanted body fat”
If your fitness and nutrition routine is in need of an Upgrade, be sure to check out the 90 Day Body Upgrade Program.