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Don't we need carbs..?


LadyNinja

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Hey there,

 

So i've tried the whole low-carb thing. And for me it doesn't work. The nutritionist I am seeing is recommending that I try to have a healthy carb with every meal (previously, I wouldn't eat carbs with my last meal that were grains or starches in any way).

 

So I have a couple of questions:

1) IS it possible to drop body fat percentage without crazy carb-cutting/having a balanced food pyramid-like meal structure?

2) Is not eating carbs at night really affecting anything?

 

 

Thanks!

 LN

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1) Absolutely. Dropping body fat is achieved by creating a caloric deficit and thus forcing your body to pull the missing energy from its reserves (which preferably would be fat). How you create this deficit is up to you, whether it's through general restriction, overhauling your diet or even keeping everything the same but upping your exercise.

 

2) Depends on how you look at it, but basically: no. The reason why it anecdotally has a positive effect is because people often don't change anything else, but replace a carb source with a vegetable, which has a much lower calorie density, so they've eaten less calories in total for that day. Also, carbs can - depending on your genetics, activity level, bodyfat level and insulin sensitivity/lack thereof, make you hungry again shortly after. In this scenario that might lead to the dreaded midnight snack attack. ;) But realisitcally, you could eat a ton of carbs every evening and it wouldn't impact long term fat loss, so long that your caloric balance for the day (or the week) is negative. Another thing is that eating carbs that late probably will show up the next morning on the scale in the form of stored water and people will (mistakingly) believe they gained weight from that bowl of pasta the evening before.

 

 

Some of the reasons why many people (including myself) choose/have success with low-carb to eliminate bodyfat are these:

 

- You tend to be less hungry, because without many carbs, your insulin won't ride a rollercoaster throughout the day and won't be making for phases of strong satiation and strong hunger, a lot of energy and then energy dumps. Instead of hills and valleys, you rather have a baseline that doesn't move much. For example, when dieting, I eat 1500cal of low carb food and barely feel hungry. When building muscle, I eat close to 3000cal and am hungry a lot throughout the day, especially a few hours after carb-heavy meals or after eating sweets. Another reason for less hunger is that you typically eat a ton of veggies and protein, both of which fill you up more than rice or bread or the likes.

 

- You don't actually _need_ that many carbs to function and our bodies have some nice tricks to help out when we eat very little (ketosis is one), but that's too in-depth here. Just know that yes, carbs are important, but their importance is also vastly exaggerated in western culture. Food pyramids prescribing 50-70% carbs for our daily intake are just insane in my opinion. A low-carb diet also is not a no-carb diet. You can still have say 100g of carbs per day, most of that as fruit, and you get most of the advantages I mention. Going crazy with like only 10-30g of carbs per day puts you in ketosis and is more Atkins diet than just low-carb and takes a special kind of determination to go through with.

 

- Going low carb is simple and effective. What I mean is that people don't necessarily need to track, but they automatically eliminate so much garbage from their previous diets by leaving out carbs that they're bound to have success with it.

 

- Going low carb frontloads motivation by giving you a quick, large weight loss upfront, because you lose a lot of water weight during the first week or two. You immediately feel leaner without actually having done much fat losing at that point.

 

 

The thing is, people are different. You found out that you don't function well on low carb, so hey, don't do it. Others found out they don't function well on the traditional high carb/low fat diet and for them, low carb is a blessing.

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How about a glass of purgatory with a splash of heaven?

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I guess it is possible to drop body fat without going totally low carb. Just that it never ever worked for me.

Some friends of mine managed with Weight Watchers - no chance for me.  Some eat according to the food pyramid with loads of carbs in it, and are thin - no chance for me. 

 

In the end, you wll have to try different ways in order to find out what works for you and even more: what is liveable for you.

 

I dropped weight as soon as I went for low carb. Since energy is still needed, and carbs weren't the source, I added fat, as in low carb, high fat. The pounds just melted off and I lost within barely a year a considerable amount of weight (size 16 to size 10, and this is now getting a bit loose too). Since I follow this lifestyle, I am perfectly happy with two meals a day, haven't had a single moment of "fridge raid urge", I sleep better and I am way more focused than before.

Okay, adpatation time to low carb took me two weeks of carb withdrawal hangover (like tapering off a drug, in this case: sugars), but once that was over, my energy was as good as 25 years ago.

 

There are essential proteins (amino acids), essential fats (fatty acids) … but I don't know of any essential carb. Brain runs quite well on ketones. And don't forget: I am not living "no carb" … the few carbs from vegetables are all the body needs. Of course, I am no body builder who wants to bulk up - for those the requirements might be different, I don't know.

 

People think it is a lot of self-torture to not have sweet stuff, but that is only in the eyes of the others hard. For me it has become second nature. I am not dogmatic about it, I do this because it works for me. But I do not think that this is the way that everyone has to go. Of yourse, occasionally I enjoy red wine or even a piece of cheese cake. But the emphasis is on "occasionally" as in "definitely not daily." And yes, red wine throws me out of ketosis, but my body got very adaptive: latest two days after the wine I am back into ketosis.

 

Another thing: craving sweet stuff goes away, once one made it through the hangover phase. Even if I am hungry. 

For perimenopausal me, who was fat and basically living from one meal to the next, seeing food as comfort, reward and whatnot, this is really big. 

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FLUCTUAT  NEC  MERGITUR

 

 

FUELED BY PALEO

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Low carb doesn't work for me. It's mainly a performance thing now, but I lost all the weight I lost eating around 30-40% of my calories from carbs (150-200g per day).

My numbers won't work for someone who isn't me, but I now aim to eat about 45-50% carbs (c.300-400g per day) to support 6-7 days a week of training, yoga and being generally very active.

I still eat more protein than is necessary (average 150-160g per day without supplementation when I weigh around 63kg/140lb) and a decent amount of fat (about 30% of my daily intake).

The important thing I'd add is to not neglect your fibre intake, but I'm sure you won't given you're eating lots of vegetables. Vegetables are awesome.

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It does vary a lot from person to person. My own experience is spookily like Silverwitch's - are we twins??? But I have many friends who swear low carb does not work for them.

 Dunno, whether we are twins … but I like the thought. I always wanted to have a sister!

I have one brother, and he ran a marathon today. We had marathon Sunday in my hometown today, and I … well, my part was to cheer him on. :D

 

One of my coworkers asked me once how I shed all that weight. She knows how I was before, and is herself struggling with weight. I told her, and she was immediately like "ugh, not for me." 

Being low carb has actually improved my performance, not impaired it. But I admit that I try not to build up a lot of muscle or so.

My days mainly consist of "brain work" (nice way to describe a job between laboratory and desk :D), and I can stay focused from breakfast (6am) until dinner (6pm) without snacking. Okay, I might have a black coffee in between, but that's about it. My coworkers raid the sweets bowl whenever they walk by it...

 

I also know people who lost and maintained weight with way more carbs per day than I have total in three days - but hey, people are definitely different! 

FLUCTUAT  NEC  MERGITUR

 

 

FUELED BY PALEO

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A typical week for me (before the past few weeks' injuries) includes 2-3 hours total strength training and 2-3 hours total HIIT, plus walking several miles a day in triple-digit heat. If I don't get my carbs in (along with my other macros), I can bonk pretty hard. Carbs are fuel for my activities and recovery. YMMV, but I have maintained my healthy weight for well over two years with bread, pasta, potatoes, cookies, cheesecake, and gelato as fairly regular entries in my food log on MFP. Fruits, veggies, and legumes too, of course, but the "processed rubbish" is definitely part of my diet.

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Well, what is rubbish or not, depends probably - with few exceptions - totally on the viewpoint. :)

And the viewpoint depends like many things on personal experience.

 

White bread (toast) would fall for me in that category, mars bars, snickers and the like as well, or "strawberry" yoghurt that does not even contain strawberries but "fruit-like" stuff and artificial flavors. But a homemade sourdough bread does not, even though it does contain loads of carbs. I rarely eat it, but if bread, than rather a nice homemade sourdough bread.

 

Lots of people consider my way of eating (and the saturated fat I eat) total rubbish or extreme, but so be it. 

 

I cannot say too much about carbs and the energy they provide (eating high carb, I always felt rather sluggish), since I get most of my energy from ketones and whatever in me might want some carbs has to deal with what comes from vegetables, the occasional berry or starchy food such as sweet potato or pumpkin. The energy from carbs seems to go straight to my hips as body fat, and I don't like that. I have friends, though, who live well and healthy AND slim with a diet like bim describes. To each their own.

 

As I said before: yay to difference!

FLUCTUAT  NEC  MERGITUR

 

 

FUELED BY PALEO

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Calling food "good" and "bad" or "rubbish" and "clean" all boils down to a demonization of certain items.

Would I eat sliced white bread? No. (I've always hated it and it is one of the worst things for messing with my stomach.)

Do I label it as bad because it doesn't fit my tastes and goals? No.

What sends extra pounds to your hips is calories, not carbs. One way of eating rather than another may help you stick to the required caloric intake, but you don't gain weight (other than water or GI weight) unless you consume more calories than you expend.

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I'm sorry - of course people can eat what they find works for them - and "processed rubbish" - well, I have sat in a canteen with someone who eats a piece of white baguette, and a chocolate bar, with their lunch, but otoh is desperately sad and upset that since stopping something like the Exante diet, they have piled back on all the weight that they lost.

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I don't think that anyone here is demonizing certain foods.

 

If calories would be the ones sending the excess weight to my hips, I would have to be bigger than before, because in terms of calories I do eat more than before. Therefore, the one thing I happily threw out of my life is calorie counting. :)

Which - just being careful - does not necessarily work for everyone. 

 

Food seems to be always some sort of controversial topic, and people get quite emotional about it. It has improved my mood a lot to simply not get aggravated anymore by others calling my saturated fat intake "insane", "unhealthy" and the likes, at the same time telling me straight to the face that I "do obviously something different in secret, like medication or so, because with my fat intake losing this much weight cannot work and am just not telling." :rolleyes:

 Maybe that has made me overlook that not everyone can look at these matters with same detachement. I apologize. :)

FLUCTUAT  NEC  MERGITUR

 

 

FUELED BY PALEO

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I don't think that anyone here is demonizing certain foods.

 

If calories would be the ones sending the excess weight to my hips, I would have to be bigger than before, because in terms of calories I do eat more than before. Therefore, the one thing I happily threw out of my life is calorie counting. :)

Which - just being careful - does not necessarily work for everyone.

No one is saying that you have to count calories, but regardless of how you get there a calorie deficit is what causes weight loss and a calorie surplus causes weight gain.

Yes, it's entirely possible to eat more either in terms of volume or calories and still lose weight if you are eating less calorically dense foods (more volume, fewer calories consumed) or you increase your activity levels (more calories consumed, more calories burned).

 

Food seems to be always some sort of controversial topic, and people get quite emotional about it. It has improved my mood a lot to simply not get aggravated anymore by others calling my saturated fat intake "insane", "unhealthy" and the likes, at the same time telling me straight to the face that I "do obviously something different in secret, like medication or so, because with my fat intake losing this much weight cannot work and am just not telling." :rolleyes:

 Maybe that has made me overlook that not everyone can look at these matters with same detachement. I apologize. :)

I eat what I like within my macronutritional targets. I maintain a well-balanced diet. I generally don't let other people's idiotic rules on "clean" foods affect my eating.

However, I wasn't always able to barge on ahead without that sort of labelling leaving me standing in the supermarket for half an hour desperately trying to find something "clean" to eat for lunch (on the rare occasions I didn't have it with me). I see people on here and elsewhere all too often struggling to eat enough to meet their goals because they've become too obsessed with "eating clean" without there being any real definition of what clean is.

If you want to eat low carb, go ahead.

If you want to eat paleo, do it.

Just please remember that not everyone wants to (or should) eat the same as you do and their food isn't automatically "rubbish" because it doesn't fit your goals.

 

I totally apologise for my careless pejorative labelling of certain foods - I hadn't appreciated that it was a rule of NF to use neutral terms only.

 

It might be a "me" thing to take issue with it, but I find that terming foods good/bad/clean/rubbish is so subjective that it can be deeply confusing (and sometimes even upsetting), particularly when it's being used in such a blanket way.

 

I think most people would agree that a deep fried Mars bar is junk food... but if it fits in your calorie and macro goals, then it won't do you any harm to have one once in a blue moon.

 

Fwiw I totally "get" that calories are calories. My youngest son is severely autistic and eats a severely limited (in terms of variety) diet. He gets most of his calories from Pringles - a tube a day. He is not overweight or underweight, has plenty of energy etc.

 

My brother was like that. He lived on cereal and sugar until he was about 21 before slowly starting to eat a bit more widely. He was always fairly healthy and a healthier weight than I was.

 

(For the record, he's now 27 and a sailor on a tall ship and he eats whatever cook puts in front of him.)

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