How Many Carbs Per Day to Lose Body Fat? It Depends…

February 12, 2013

If I was to hire someone to create a diet plan customized for my goals and activity levels, Nate Miyaki would be that person. Nate spends his days teaching advanced nutrition mastery workshops in the Silicone Valley area.

He has recently decided to branch out to the Internet to teach people all over the globe. Bottom line…he is a full-fledged expert when it comes to diet and body composition. He just created a video and guest post for Fitness Black Book.

My guess is that you will learn more in this 10 minute video about carbs and fat loss, than scouring the internet for 3+ hours.

[He’s a laid back surfer type, but get him in front of a white board and prepare for a serious knowledge drop.]

CLEARING UP CARB CONFUSION…FOREVER
-by Nate Miyaki


If you’ve been involved in fitness for any length of time — as a coach, athlete, or general enthusiast — you’ve probably noticed two themes:

1. The relatively high percentage of d*cks within our industry that bash any approach that is not their own. 

I don’t know what it is man — lack of confidence or maybe lack of a life outside the gym?

2. The seemingly never-ending debate about low-carb, higher fat vs. high carb, lower fat diets.

First off, I’m a laid-back dude like Rusty.  Maybe that’s why he invited me here to hang out with you?

I really just want to help you sift through the bullsh*t that’s out there, get you on an efficient path towards achieving your goals, and then go hang out at da beach surrounded by beautiful bikini babes, not in the forums with angry bro-scientists.

And about that Ol’ Carb Debate — it’s a real doozy huh?  There’s religious-like passion and cult-like followings on both sides of the fence. The pendulum of popularity seems to swing back and forth between the two.

steakandpotatoes

The worst part is that you — the person that just wants a simple plan to improve your physique, not getting caught up in debates between a bunch of science geeks or meatheads — end up confused as all hell and getting nowhere.

You want the unbiased truth my friends?

Both sides can be right.  Both approaches can work.  Research and anecdotal evidence can support both.  Unnecessary confusion stems from coaches trying to slot everyone into one Universal system and proclaiming it the best for everyone, everywhere.

It doesn’t work that way.  That’s like saying there is only one way you should train despite your performance or physique goals, or only one sexual position you can use despite your flexibility or mood or number of partners or blood alcohol content.

The diet industry has lost the principle of Specificity.  There is no “Perfect Diet” that can claim a throne.  There are multiple effective diets based on different situations and goals.

fork in the road

THE CALORIE EQUALIZER

We need to take a step back before we move forward, kind of like a good Salsa Dance.

Attaining a negative energy balance is the most important, but often most overlooked, fat loss step.  If you are in a calorie deficit, a variety of macronutrient percentages and distribution of energy nutrients can be used to get the job done.

I do believe that different breakdowns are more efficient, and more enjoyable and sustainable, for different demographics.

But that doesn’t change the fact that calories are the most important “number” to get right in the 6-pack game.  The only way to force your body to burn off stored fat is to take in fewer calories then you expend, on average, over some time frame.

Once you account for calories, you set optimum protein levels for the growth or maintenance of lean muscle mass, and essential fatty acids for normal functioning.  Anything beyond that is just an energy nutrient.

left hook

THE LOW-CARB LEFT HOOK

In determining energy nutrient intake, you should first assess how many carbohydrates you need, and for what reasons.  A sedentary person is not exercising and burning through MUSCLE glycogen stores (300-600g depending on body size), so they do not need to worry about replenishing them on a daily basis.

High carbohydrate diets (300g or more) are more appropriate for athletes and regular exercisers that undergo the cyclical depletion and repletion of muscle glycogen stores.

Sedentary populations really only need to worry about providing adequate carbohydrates to support LIVER glycogen stores, which regulate normal blood sugar levels and fuel the brain and central nervous system at rest.

This assumes a non-ketogenic diet.  Although ketosis may be beneficial for certain disease states, it is NOT necessary for an optimal fat loss plan.

Research shows that ketogenic diets are no more effective than non-ketogenic, low carbohydrate diets for fat loss.  Yet, they have a ton of metabolic and hormonal drawbacks.

Thus in most cases, I advocate a low-carbohydrate BUT non-ketogenic diet for sedentary populations.

This can be accomplished with roughly 100g of carbs a day (this does not vary much with weight and gender, as the liver is roughly the same size regardless of those two variables), unless perhaps you’re hanging with Frank the Tank.

The chronic bombarding of a sedentary body with highly processed carbs can indeed lead to full glycogen stores, sugar backing up into the bloodstream, and a host of negative health conditions, the most serious of course being MBMT — Man Boob & Muffin Top Syndrome.

That’s why research shows that lower carb, Caveman-style diets may be the best approach for improving body composition and biomarkers of health for obese, insulin resistant, and sedentary populations.

Get in a calorie deficit, eat adequate protein, get roughly 100g of carbs from unlimited vegetables and a few pieces of fruit, make up the rest of your calories from healthy fats, and walk daily.  You’ll have yourself one hell of a plan.

If you are a low-carb guru and want to snuggle with me now, I accept.  But be forewarned, I’m about to piss you off.

ll

DON’T CALL IT A CARBOHYDRATE COMEBACK

ANAEROBIC exercise completely changes the name of the game.  It creates a unique metabolic environment, an altered physiological state, and changes the way your body processes nutrients for up to 48 hours after completion of a training session.

If you exercise intensely 3 or more days a week, than your body is virtually in a recovery mode 100% of the time, thus its nutritional needs are completely different than sedentary populations.

If the training program is different, the diet should be different.  Beyond dietary dogmatic creeds, that’s just common sense. I think high and mighty, low carb cult leaders, whose only form of exercise is jogging, should take a class in exercise physiology before making Universal proclamations, and dismissing thoroughly researched Sports Nutrition principles.

While those diet plans work great for certain demographics, they are a complete mismatch for others.

I don’t want to bore the sh*t out of you with too much technical stuff, so lets narrow this down to some bigger picture bullets.

PHYSIOLOGY BULLETS

  • The anaerobic energy production pathway (what we use while strength training, sprinting, cross training, competing in intermittent team sports, or basically performing any high-intensity activity) runs on glucose/carbs.  It can’t use lipids or ketones.  While the body can use fatty acids as fuel at rest, and even those who train only in the aerobic zone can become “fat adapted”, high intensity muscular contractions require glucose.
  • Therefore, chronic carb depletion combined with anaerobic training can eventually lead to muscle loss.  The body will break down amino acids as a reserve fuel to provide the necessary glucose to fuel high intensity activity.  You know how they say fats are more “muscle sparing” than carbs?  Not when you factor in anaerobic training baby.
  • Intense anaerobic training is actually a highly catabolic activity.  You need to offset that with an anabolic recovery period, including carbs and insulin, to restore balance and ensure that training stimulus triggers muscle growth.  No hormone your body naturally makes is inherently good or bad.  Insulin can be very beneficial at times for physique enhancement.
  • Hard training can cause a temporary impairment of the immune system and increase susceptibility to illness. With consistent high-intensity exercise, adequate carb intake lessens the potentially negative changes in immunity brought about by training.
  • In other words, are you training all of the time like a madman, yet are still flabby or Skinny-Fat, with no shape?  Are you getting sick all of the time, or seem to catch every cold or flu going around?

METABOLIC & HORMONAL BULLETS

  • Sufficient carbohydrate intake supports an optimum free testosterone:cortisol ratio IN RESPONSE to high intensity activity.  Our industry focuses on how important dietary fat is for supporting natural testosterone levels in all populations, which it is, but carbohydrates also play a role specifically for athletes.
  • If you’re hitting the juice or TRT to compensate, it doesn’t matter so much. But if you’re doing it naturally, you need a more informed approach.  What good is a 6-pack if you have a lifeless noodle hanging between your legs (or whatever the female equivalent would be), and would rather play video games than hang out with bikini babes.
  • Low carb diets coupled with intense training protocols can impair thyroid production and sabotage normal metabolic rate.  More specifically, it can impair the conversion of t4 thyroid hormone to its more active T3 form. Feel like your metabolism is shot, still flabby despite high amounts of training and ultra-low calorie levels?
  • A carb-depleted state can effect natural production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which affect mood states and the ability to induce sleep. Suffering from insomnia?  Are you grumpy, depressed, and just generally a d*ck to everyone around you?

Just frickin’ trust me man, there is no one Universal diet that works for everyone.  While a sedentary person overdosing on carbs can have drastic negative health and body composition effects, chronic carb depletion combined with consistent anaerobic training can be just as disastrous.

I know athletes can suffer through miserable diet plans to look great for the stage or photo shoots, but that’s not a sustainable lifestyle plan for most of us. What are you going to do after 8 weeks of hell and 1 day of glory?  Just get fat again? Who wants to live like that?

I’d rather find a plan that I can integrate into a functional lifestyle, and allows me to look good at da beach year round.

dazed-and-confused

STILL DAZED, LOW-CARB, & CONFUSED

Sorry about the above rant.  Sometimes you have to get more technical in order to simplify. Let me see if I can give you an analogy for clarification.

It’s like gas in your car.  If your Shagging Station Wagon just sits in the garage collecting dust, it doesn’t need gas.  Loading up on starchy carbs is like trying to fill up a full tank.  It just spills over the side.  In the human body, overspill equates to body fat storage, and a host of other negative effects — like elevated triglycerides, cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

However, if you drive a Bad A$$ Ferrari around town every day, sometimes for long mileage, you have to fill up the tank often.  If you don’t, you will run out of gas.  An empty tank in the human body equates with becoming depressed, lethargic, irritable, impairs performance; leads to muscle loss, stubborn fat, non-functioning wieners, frustrated that despite dieting your body is not changing, etc.

Make sense?

For those who fear the carb during fat slashing phases, just remember that total calories are still the most important step.

If you strength train while maintaining a relative calorie deficit, you can still include some starchy carbs in the diet while losing significant amounts of body fat.  The best part is you get better support of that anaerobic training, better energy, better muscle retention, don’t screw up your metabolism, don’t set yourself up for huge post-dieting rebounds, and maintain natural hormone production.

Why am I so passionate about this fight?  I suffered a lot of the drawbacks of combining low-carb diets with high intensity training myself.  I hope to help people avoid the same mistakes and struggles I went through.

CARBONOMICS

“Carbs” tend to get a bad name because of the ones most people emphasize in the typical Y2K American Diet.

Concentrated sources of fructose (sugar, high fructose corn syrup) are metabolically disastrous in the body and can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, and rapid fat accumulation.

Many are allergic or sensitive to gluten (wheat, rye, barley).  This can lead to gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, body fat, bloating, and water retention.

Paleo nutritionists refer to a group of compounds collectively as “anti-nutrients” (lectins and phytates found in most grains, cereals, legumes).  These can lead to gastrointestinal distress, and impair protein and mineral absorption.

The key is adding back in the right “types” of carbs to an anaerobic athlete’s diet.

japanese diet

That’s why I use what I call the Traditional Japanese Village Diet Template.  It is just as cheesy as the Caveman theme, but also just as easy to remember, thus making it a great educational tool.  It is really just a Paleo Diet with the addition of rice and root vegetables as your primary starchy carb sources to support anaerobic training.

TAPPING OUT

By now, you’ve either learned something useful or are sick of me rambling. Either way, I got to take a piss.  So lets say Aloha, and call it a day

Keep in mind, most of the above is “da why”.  The “what to do” is simple.

If your goal is fat loss, get in a calorie deficit and eat adequate protein to support your lean muscle mass.

If you’re sedentary or only perform low-intensity/aerobic exercise, lean more towards the lower-carb, Paleo Diet template.

If you perform high-intensity anaerobic activity on a consistent basis, lean more towards The Japanese Village template.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –  End of Article – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Nate-Miyaki I highly recommend you check out Nate’s full blown diet plan, called Half Day Diet.

He takes all the guesswork out of macronutrient ratios and gives a phenomenal approach to staying lean year-round.

 

Thanks for the article Nate!

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

Chica February 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Great article. I guess this is also the reason leangains recommends high carbs on workout days and high fat on non-workout days

GK February 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I don’t consider myself sedentary but I also don’t fall into the second category… I workout 4x week. Basically following your women’s program for weights and then doing 15 minutes of interval training followed by 15 of LISS.
Thoughts?

chris angell February 12, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Hilarious and intelligent article. Great approach Nate (and thanks Rusty for posting it).

Greg - Kinobody Fitness February 12, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Nate Miyaki is one of my favourite nutrition experts! I have learned lots from paying close attention to him. In the past I would get and stay lean with a low carb diet. Now I make sure to make carbs the dominant nutrient. Feel way better with a higher intake of carbs. I just make sure to keep fat intake around 25% and protein close to 1g per pound.

Greg.

Evan February 12, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Great article. My question is, if I’m drastically overweight (40 lbs) and I’m on the beginners cycle of Visual Impact Cardio, how should I be eating? Mainly paleo i.e. high protein/no or low carb?

chris February 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm

is the diet similar to a intermittent FASTING??

Derek Doepker February 12, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Love this Nate! Ever since I first read your articles on t-nation your approach has made a lot of sense to me by breaking down the diet to tailor to an individual’s body and goals.

I’ve been bumping my carbs way up to support my strength training without any negative effects physique wise. In fact, despite gorging on carbs, I’m seeming to have trouble gaining weight. Not sure if you have any insights on that.

Thanks for the great info!

Sumer February 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm

See the following scenario and see if I got it it right for a sedentary person:
2000 calories to sustain body weight
100 grams of carbs
100 grams of proteins
That leaves 1200 calories still to be eaten. Does that all come out of fat?
Thanks
Sumer

Sam-Look Like An Athlete February 12, 2013 at 9:49 pm

There were a couple of “a-ha” moments in Nate’s article.
It makes sense that someone would feel cranky, depressed after a carb depleted state. I’ve definitely noticed it and more so if I am training hard and keeping the carbs low. Nate really lays these things out in easy to understand concepts.

-Sam

Aaron V February 12, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Awesome article, and again the beauty is in the simplicity. If you work out a lot, more carbs. If you don’t work out a lot, less carbs. That’s something that has always impressed me about this site is the simplicity and effectiveness. Things like this article and Eat Stop Eat really simplifies it all. Very refreshing.

John February 13, 2013 at 12:13 am

I normally yawn and tune out when the topic of macro nutrient ‘master planning’ comes up since I’m kind of an everything in moderation type of eater. But that was well thought out. Tho sedentary people would still seem to me to be at risk of fat gain from *any* kind of surplus calories, whatever their macro provenance was.

Jordan February 13, 2013 at 1:31 am

I remember when I did a punishing month of crossfit combined with following the Paleo Diet strictly…never again! I’ve learnt a lot from the principles of Paleo but I would never go that low-carb ever again when doing intense anaerobic training that often. Yes, I lost weight, but much of that was lean mass unfortunately.

If i’m trying to lose fat whilst weight training, I do still drop the carbs (or at least all the processed junk) and have weekend refeeds of things like potatoes, oats, bananas, rice.

Scott - Muscle Wanted February 13, 2013 at 2:12 am

I’ve seen diet plans from some of the brightest sports nutritionist (Nate, John Berardi, Shelby Starnes, etc.) and there isn’t a magical diet plan. It comes down to earning your carbs.

Alykhan - Fitness Breakout February 13, 2013 at 3:39 am

Nate,

Awesome post man! Personally, I love carbs and I train quite a bit. I also went through a phase where I was doing a lot of high-intensity anaerobic activity and restricting carbs too much. Now, I eat more rice and potatoes and I feel much better. My energy levels are higher and my sleep has improved. You’re right that there is no such thing as a universal fix.

Alykhan

Dave February 13, 2013 at 6:15 am

Great article Nate, and although I am not allowed to hang out with “bikini babes” I at least aapreciate the great read <)

Eric February 13, 2013 at 7:26 am

Rusty…this seems to go against advice you’ve given about being glycogen depleted to accelerate fat loss in VI Cardio. And also seems to go against training fasted since you don’t want your muscle glycogen depleted when doing intense strength training. ???

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Thanks a ton for checking out da post. I have a crazy few days, but I promise to answer questions, hate mail, and date mail at some point. I tend to drink a little whiskey on the weekend too, so who knows, you may get some really unfiltered answers. Aloha

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 12:57 pm

@Chica yep, Martin certainly understands the unique demands of strength training/anaerobic activity and integrates that into his plans. Me personally, simply for ease of plan, I’m more of a fan of CALORIE cycling with moderate shifts in carb intake. I think going from extreme carb loading on some days to depletion on other days is too much of a swing for some. But make no mistake, both approaches work.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm

@GK yeah, I still think that’s a pretty decent amount of anaerobic training, and you should include a moderate amount of carbs in your diet to support it. Remember, if you’re in a calorie deficit, which you should be if da goal is fat loss/bikini bod, a variety of carb/fat distributions can work. If you fear da carb, you can do something more moderate to start, so something like 1g pro/lb lean body mass, the same amount of carbs 1g cho/lb lean body mass, remaining calories from fat.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm

@Chris Angell is this the Mindfreak? hahaha, just kidding. Yeah thanks for da support, and thanks a ton Rusty for having me on as a guest. Fun stuff.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm

@Greg – Kinobody Systems yeah man, Greg is the epitome of this plan in action. The dude is in phenomenal shape. Thanks for being such a prime example buddy that I can brag about to all of my friends and clients!

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm

@Evan Forgive me brother, but we’ll have to get Rusty to chime in on this one. Not too sure what intensity levels he has you at for this protocol. But if moderate, I would probably lean towards the lower carb/Paleo template until you reduce some body fat, then think of reintegrating both some strength training and starchy carbs to shape and define.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm

@Chris yeah, man Intermittent FEAST is similar to intermittent fasting, although I focus on the much funner part, DA FEAST. To be honest it is a hybrid of a bunch of philosophies: Paleo Nutrition and Cultural Diets like the Traditional Japanese Diet for food choices, Bodybuilding and Sports Nutrition for targeted numbers, Intermittent Fasting for sustainable diet structure, and my immaturity and stupid jokes so people don’t get bored as sh*t reading it.

Greg white February 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Great article. I’m pretty much very low carb paleo as I’m a type 1 diabetic but I’ve been thinking on reintroducing post work out carbs. Means having to time insulin correctly which I’d difficult due to the not always predictable actions of your liver pumping out glucose after a good workout.
There’s a few comments on here that suggest people think paleo is by definition low carb. It’s not low carb, that’s a misconception, it’s what ever carbs you need. If your a paleo power lifter you wouldn’t go low carb, that would be insane, you’d just get your carbs from paleo/primal foods.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:26 pm

@Derek Doepker Holy sh*t dude. You look jacked in your avatar. I guess I’ll have to retire and go into banking or something.

yeah dude, you’ve seen firsthand that in the appropriate environment, carbs aren’t the devil, they can actually be your friend. Supporting that anaerobic training your doing.

But the first key will always be calories. So my suggestion is to your question is to look at them. You still need to be in a surplus to gain mass. Maybe bump them up a little, and you should be on your way.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:32 pm

@Sumer that depends on the person’s bodyweight? Is this assuming a 200lb person? With sedentary I start to the lower end of the spectrum, so 10cals/lb. I like 1g pro/lb even for sedentary population, not necessarily for physiological reasons, but for satiety reasons and ability to stay in a calorie deficit yet still feeling satisfied. So if 200lbs, it might be something more like 200g pro, 100g carbs, 85-90g of HEALTHY fat, and trying to get that person to walk daily. Then we refine based on progress.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:34 pm

@Sam – Look Like an Athlete Cool brother. yeah, to look like an athlete, train like an athlete, and EAT like an athlete, NOT sedentary person or someone in a disease state like diabetes.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm

@Aaron V Glad you dug (the past tense of dig, digged) it man. Yeah, the science can get complex, but the beauty of the practical application strategy and real world plan is IT IS SIMPLE. The majority of this industry frickin’ purposely overcomplicates everything and circle jerks around minutia in order to sell you a bunch of bullsh*t you don’t really need. Or something like that. Don’t get caught up in it. Simple (not easy, simple) training plans from Rusty, a diet that matches it, and boom, you’ll be hanging at da beach in no time.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm

@John I agree 100% man. That’s why I always say calories are the first step. The problem in this low carb era is that people think as long as they banish carbs to the Underworld, they can eat unlimited amounts of fat. So they pour oil on everything and then wonder why they ain’t losing weight. Its because they are still in a calorie surplus. Get in a deficit first, then distribute macros according do the exercise plan.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm

@Jordan yeah, you’ve experienced what a lot of us have learned da hard way, combining low carbs with high-intensity, anaerobic training. Sucks, mismatch, etc.

Paleo is great as a base, because it is a simple template that helps us cut out a lot of the processed crap in the Y2K American Diet that can be so problematic for health. but it needs to be modified to support the demands of strength training.

I think the key is this: get in a calorie deficit for 5-6 days a week since your goal is fat loss, even on those deficit days eat moderate carbs to support your training, then load up on the weekend for (1) sanity, and (2) do things like boost leptin levels, offset metabolic slowdown that can happen with prolonged, linear deficits, etc.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm

@Scott – Muscle Wanted Wow dude, thanks for including me in that class of coaches. Appreciate it.

You’re right, there is no “magical plan”. But there are plenty of d*cks willing to sell you that there is one, and plenty of people who don’t want to put some effort into the basics, thus continually search for a miracle cure to compensate.

Train hard, earn your carbs, and there you have it.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm

@Alykhan – Fitness Breakout Thanks man, appreciate da support. Yeah, and thanks for sharing your experience. I think a lot of us have been through it. Hopefully, it will help a few people avoid the same mistakes.

Take care

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm

@Dave I have a question for you good sir — why are you not allowed to hang out with bikini babes?

Anyhow, thanks for the kind words regardless. I appreciate it.

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm

@Eric I don’t think it necessarily goes against either pieces of advice if you account for the timing. For example, you can fast in the morning and then do some low intensity walking or something like that during that window. Body is burning predominantly fatty acids here, so no real danger of catabolic activity.

High intensity training in a glycogen depleted state can indeed lead to muscle loss and performance drop-offs, so I do make some modifications here. With a big starch loaded meal at night, you’ll have plenty of muscle glycogen stores. But liver glycogen can become low/depleted after a 16 hour fast or something like that, especially considering the rate at which the body burns liver glycogen during training increases 8-10x.

So with some that train in the afternoon after a fast, for example, I may add in some whole fruit pre-workout to give just enough glucose to get through the training session. It works well.

What fruit people always ask? Whatever you like. I’m a juicy melons guy. Some may prefer a long banana. No judgements on my end man. I’m too happy to have any prejudices

Nate Miyaki February 13, 2013 at 4:46 pm

@Gregg white yeah man, you are absolutely right, and maybe I’m adding to that misconception. With “Paleo” or “Caveman” or “Primal” or “Evolution Nutrition”, there were a variety of macronutrient distributions based on the region. People cite the Inuits (very low carb and high fat) as well as the Kitavans (high carbs from sweet potatoes and whole fruits).

Courtnay February 14, 2013 at 7:34 am

I just loved the fact you worked in LL Cool J on a post about carbs.
Masterful.

Allan February 14, 2013 at 8:10 am

I recently switched up my diet to a 4 rest days low-moderate deficit, 3 work out days maintainance-surplus since I was feeling and looking horrible on leangains methods. While keeping protein and fat constant, I noticed the only variable I have to change is my carb intake. I haven’t felt better and more lean in my life. Keep informing the masses brotha

Nate Miyaki February 15, 2013 at 5:11 am

@Allan Yeah dude, the more extreme carb cycling plans can work. I get the science and I include it as an option in my book. Some do well on it. But its not my preferred method. I think a moderate deficit that includes some carbs even on off days and then a few higher or re-feed days where carbs go up just provides more even energy.

Nate Miyaki February 15, 2013 at 5:12 am

@Courtnay I agree with that! I need L-O-V-E. Masterful work Rusty!!

zaher Iyaso February 16, 2013 at 1:17 am

Thank you for the very informative article. My workout 6 times a week is a combination of resistance (Rusty Program for 45 min a day) and cardio (another 45 min). The cardio is 3 times swimming (1.9KM) and 3 times elliptical (550 cal, 8 KM), (one day each). In elliptical workout, I am keeping my eye on the fat burn zone and I am not passing it too much.

My Protein intake is 100 g a day and my diet is around 1800 cal.

I have started feeling tired and depressed recently, and my mood became not good for no reason. Please advise what would be the problem.

Thanks once again for the great post!

melissa February 17, 2013 at 8:50 am

Hey guys! I am just a little confused what about for fat loss? I usually like to an tae kwondo classes in the evenings twice a week.
I have fat predominantly around my abs. If i want to build just lean muscle all around should i still have a carb like a fruit after my workout? Or have it earlier in the day? I rea. lly want to lose fat from my waist line. I have 8 weeks until a function. thank you for any help

Austin February 17, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Does this mean that the best thing to do to build muscle ad avoid body fat is to eat a very high carb diet on lifting days and a low carb diet on rest days?

Sereyvorn - Build The Body February 18, 2013 at 3:39 am

Hey Nate,

Excellent post!

I like how you explained the whole strength training aspect of carb consumption. It’s really solid advice.

Some people are just terrified of carbs, even people are extremely active!

Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work!

Eric King February 19, 2013 at 7:19 am

@Nate, Awesome lecture. I had heard about the approx. 100gms carb but without the explanation you’ve given. I’m currently working towards a leaner body (currently around 163lbs and aiming for 158lbs around April time). Now that you’ve nailed the carbs issue what happens to excess protein? I’m currently aiming for around 110 to 120gms of protein a idea. Sometimes I don’t manage that many. I do a bit of resistance training (circuit or dumbbell complex type) 2 or 3 times a week followed by low intensity carbs (thanks Rusty). Is that protein intake excessive?

Thanks

Koi Carp February 19, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I have recently lossed over three stone. I didn’t cut carbs, protein or fat, just ate sensibly and worked out. The rest is just for the fitness world to make money. The old mantra of work out more and eat less works time and again! It’s a lifestyle choice. No quick fix here. Interesting post though, and I like this blog alot. Especially the HIIT article, it’s spot on!

Eric King February 21, 2013 at 3:28 pm

@Koi Carp, x marks the spot. You can’t go against that principle. Having said that I’ve found the kind of tips here and a few other places have made me more effective. Most the weight I’m losing is fat and it’s made me more conscious of the balance of nutrients I take in. I also have a limited amount of time to work out so i was keen on finding out how much i should be eating to maintain a certain level of fitness with minimal workouts. But I’ll say it again you’re spot on. I’ve just listened to a lovely lady doing a good job of selling her fatloss program 🙂

Rolando Manso February 22, 2013 at 1:42 am

This was an easy going approach to a hot topic. I really like the relaxed and casual style. I found myself thinking about trying the Japanese village approach 🙂

Grant Dumas February 22, 2013 at 5:46 pm

So to be clear, I can train in a fasted without negative effects provided I had moderate amount of carbs the day before?

Elias February 25, 2013 at 11:35 am

Hey Rusty and Nate,

Firstly, I must say that this is very informative no BS blog post, besides this is the greatest fitness blog that I know.

I have a strenght question for you, and I hope you have some kind of answer. (This one should go to Elliott Hulse but … : D)

Question: I’m 18-years-old, currently 130lbs guy, 177cm tall with visible abs and two years backround of training in the gym and 1 year backround following HCLF paleo-diet. However, I’m looking forward to gain a little’ bit muscle, without pounds of fat.

Do you think that weight training* thrice a week combined with twice a week HIIT (sprints, drills, plyos) and daily walking is the way to go with following diet:
0,45-0,6 g of fat per pound of bodyweight
1-1,2 g of protein per pound of bodyweight
1.75-2,2 g of carbs per pound of bodyweight

Food sources:

Fats: whole eggs, organic meat, fatty fish and minimal olive oil, coconut oil, or organic butter when cooking… (healthy fats)

Protein: meat, fish, chicken, tuna, eggs, beans …

Carbs: Brown rice, white rice, potatoes (sweet, white, red), black beans, berries, fruits, and vegetables like broccoli, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, aspargus – wide variety of the green and yellow veggies in general.

And speaking of meal frequency, I’m not going to eat typical six meals a day fitness bullshit because I find three or four meals a day more flexible and satisfying. And I think that you’ll agree this one. I’m also interested in intermittent fasting, makeing shure that I’ll get my daily calories in.

I verily hope that you have something to say!

Yours sincerely,

Elias

*Weight training routine below:
Mon-Wed-Fri (ABA – BAB)

A-1: OH-Press 2×6-8, Pull ups 2×6-8, DB Bench 2x 6-8, Bent-over row 2 x 6-8, Barbell Curls 2 x 6-8, Weighted Dips 2 x 6-8

B-1: Squat 3 x 4-6, Leg curl 3 x 12, Calf raise 2 x 15, Wrist curls 2 x 15, Cable crunches 2 x 8, Planks, Abdominal Vacuum 1 x 10

A-2: Incline Bench Press 2 x 6-8, Bent-over row 2 x 6-8, DB OHP 2 x 6-8, Chin ups 2 x 6-8, DB curls 2 x 6-8, Diamond pushups 2 x failure

B-2: Deadlift 3 x 4-6, Bulgarian squat 3 x 12, Calf raise 2 x 15, Wrist curls 2 x 15, Cable crunches 2 x 8, Planks, Abdominal Vacuum 1 x 10

-5 min warm up
-90 seconds to three minutes of rest between sets (E.g. with deadlifts 3 mins and with curls 90 seconds)

Wei @ Workouts For Men February 26, 2013 at 1:03 am

Spot on. Carbs get a lot of negative rep these days but there are better alternatives to the ‘y2k’ American diet carbs. I eat a lot of asian foods that are by no means low carb but don’t contain all the high fructose corn syrup etc. I guess it still all comes down to counting calories

Jon March 8, 2013 at 9:49 am

Excellent and sensible advice. This post reminds me of the book “The Yoga of Eating” which offers a really interesting theory that if you’re in tune with your body that your body will tell you what it needs and you’ll eat accordingly. I largely follow this approach. This doesn’t mean you get a free pass to consume whatever you want because your body craves something. Instead, the theory is to get in tune with your body and eat according to its needs … which will vary according to training, activity level, etc.

Dominik Szweda March 9, 2013 at 8:30 am

Hey Nate cheers buddy – nice and simple explanation. Testosterone drop is scientifically proven and very common in people in their cutting phase before figure/BB comps. In a few words, what is physiological reason for this? Thanks. Dom

Marty @ Old School New Body Blog March 11, 2013 at 6:59 am

Dude, I love some carbs. This post helps clear up some misconceptions. I’m still looking for the Krispy Kreme only plan. KIDDING!

Sheldon March 17, 2013 at 6:44 am

I couldn’t agree more about how carbs can carry a neg vibe. Great article, thanks for posting.

Ella March 20, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Wow that’s a lot of no nonsense information there..thanks! I totalyy agree there is no “one size fits all”. It’s all about your lifestyle, activities etc and I think you’ve nailed it in your analysis!

Nick March 21, 2013 at 3:53 am

The most down to earth, relaxed and informative article on carbs I’ve read in a long time. Especially with all the fear surrounding carbs these days, maybe this will ease some minds.

Zimba March 21, 2013 at 8:57 pm

If carbs make you fat, how do you explain all of those skinny Vegans/Fruitarians on YouTube?

Personally, my body reacts very badly to animal flesh (constipation, lethargy, brain fog, etc) and it doesn’t matter how many greens I eat with the animal flesh, I STILL get constipated. In fact, that makes me even more bloated & gassy. I’m sedentary and a high carb diet works best for me. This sounds like bad science. I’d rather take advice from somebody like Dr. McDougall.

Just my $0.02

Suzzi March 23, 2013 at 3:05 am

Hi, can you expand on what you call “non-ketogenic diet for sedentary populations”, sorry I don’t understand what this means?

Luke Sullivan March 25, 2013 at 11:32 am

Hi rusty! Love the site!

Just a quick question about your view on workout splits:

Would performing Cross fit, Calisthenics type stuff Monday Wednesday and Friday, combined with Hiit Tuesday Friday, and Sunday be optimal?

Thank so much!

Luke

Steven March 26, 2013 at 6:29 am

Everything you said is completely truth, but the thing is that each one of us react differently, so I don’t think this would be going good with me. Anyhow, the great article and powerful information. Thanks Nate!

Bob March 26, 2013 at 8:15 am

@Nate, awesome breakdown. I’m currently doing Rusty’s Visual Impact and trying to determine the right diet approach. However, what IS the appropriate % or carb per lb ratio?

You note that carb intake of 300g+ is high and needed for muscle glycogen storage for non-sedentary folks, but how much should you take as an athlete or someone doing anaerobic exercise (HIIT, strength-training) 5-6 days a week (weight, height, gender variables)?

Is there an equation?

Thanks a ton!

Greg March 28, 2013 at 5:27 am

Hi Nate, thanks for the great information and as you put it cutting through all of the BS from people pushing their poop.

One of the diet industry mantras that I hate is “eat less move more” which of course is a recipe for starvation in far too many people. Rather as you suggest we should focus on “eat better move more” and do it in a way that is personalized to our lifestyles.

Luke Soloway March 28, 2013 at 7:52 am

Hey rusty, in addition to the dieting suggestions, would doing HIIT three times a week, body weight circuits three times a week, and lifting weights once a week be a decent “weekly program”?

Monday: Body weight circuit and hiit
Tuesday Lifting
Wednesday: Body weight circuit and hiit
Thursday: Day off
Friday: Body weight circuit and hiit
Sautrday: Day off
Sunday: Abs and long distance run

Thanks for the advice!

Shen March 29, 2013 at 1:29 am

For me, a balanced workout and a healthy lifestyle will make you achieve your goal which is to lose weight. I am not necessarily a vegetarian, but I prefer eating organic foods cause I find it healthier than those commercially prepared. But, I also have a “Cheat Day” Ha Ha. Of course, I can’t avoid carbs at all times, I just need to be disciplined for me to avoid such temptations. Ha Ha, anyway, cheat day isn’t every day. Just once a week. Ha Ha

Patrick Cobb March 29, 2013 at 4:50 am

For people who are working out, your food intake must be planned according to your daily fitness program. You need to make sure that your food intake is balanced with what you lose daily. You cannot possibly lose any weight if you are eating more than what you lose from your exercise.

Geo Carman March 30, 2013 at 8:11 am

I’ts nice to see a blog that isn’t extreme in it’s views. Looks to me to be a fitness blog for real people. Well done, lets have more! I’ve got my own blog just started but I’ve a lot of catching up to do.

Dana April 4, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Great article. Thanks for going into why the amount of carbs needed depends on your activity level. It explains why my dw thinks I am being a @$$ when I lift hard and cut out carbs. Definitely an article to refer back to.

Andy Green April 6, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Nate,
I came to your article here as I am researching diet and HIIT. At the moment I exercise regularly – mostly by playing squash. As I get older my performance is dropping but with little time for exercising the allure of HIIT is strong. What I am not clear on is whether I need to change my diet to get the most from HIIT. Your article touches on this but I am still unclear on the conclusion.
There are many flavours of HIIT but in general the maximum suggested effort is for up to 3 x 30 minute sessions per week. With warm up and low intensity recovery periods the time spend doing HII is probably only 30-45 minutes total each week. Proponents suggest that this is enough to achieve significant fitness, muscle tone and conditioning improvements.
What dietary changes would you recommend for anyone wanting to maximise the benefits of HIIT?

Swati April 7, 2013 at 8:26 am

Great article. The information on carbohydrates is priceless. It’s rare to come across such an informative article.

Matt April 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Agree with Andy Above about HIIT Training. I feel it’s the most effective method of cardio training. Would you have to change your diet to increase the benefits of such a training style?

benjamin April 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Great article Nate!! Very useful and informative, I especially enjoyed the Ferrari metaphor and the potential “non-functioning wieners” god knows nobody wants one of those.

Source April 18, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Nate, excellent article. As a high level athlete, I’ve experienced the effects of a low carb diet myself and I can honestly say that it isn’t pleasant. I perform HIIT about 3 times a week in addition to intensive martial arts and resistance training in between, so being in a glycogen-depleted state is the worst factor for my performance. Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

Christiane April 20, 2013 at 12:52 am

Excellent article. I have found that porridge suits me very well. I am a cyclist and a good plateful before a hard run works very well. Porridge is a complex carbohydrate with many other health benefits. We are all individual and I have found its essential to find out what balance of protein and carbohydrate works best for yourself and your sport.

Fred April 21, 2013 at 4:43 am

Well that clears up a lot of the mystery about carbs and all the hype flying around regarding them. I’m currently having a lot of success following a Paleo eating style, which pretty much reflects the 100g a day carb intake you talked about. I’ve quit weighing myself more than about once a month and just concentrate on creating great nutritional meals rather than worrying weight loss. I don’t exercise a lot, just walk about 45 minutes a day, but I’m down a couple of pant sizes in 3 months and am happy with my progress.

Abby April 21, 2013 at 6:54 am

This is very valuable information. There seem to be so many conflicting reports about carbs and their effect on fat loss that it drives me crazy. Thanks for this post.

Sarah April 21, 2013 at 10:48 am

Wow – so powerful. So much info in such a small space of time. Talks so much sense and cuts through all the crap…..fantastic!

Josh April 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Great article. I like the Dazed and Confused reference and how you summed it all up by comparing it to fueling up your car. I think this is a great analogy. Keep up the good work!

Valerie April 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I like the way he explains how the liver only stores about 80 – 110g of carbs, and the muscles’ glycogen stores are about 300g; and the difference between someone who lives a more sedentary lifestyle vs. an athlete. That gives the “why” behind what your carb intake should be on a daily basis.

David April 24, 2013 at 7:53 am

“The anaerobic energy production pathway (what we use while strength training, sprinting, cross training, competing in intermittent team sports, or basically performing any high-intensity activity) runs on glucose/carbs. It can’t use lipids or ketones. While the body can use fatty acids as fuel at rest, and even those who train only in the aerobic zone can become “fat adapted”, high intensity muscular contractions require glucose.” That says it all. As a former runner AND strength trainer from a long time ago (with a lot fewer injuries than I have now). That is definitely true. What I am trying to do now that I have a less varied regimen (though no less intense for the most part). I have to work on my balance of carbs and proteins, but either way, I do not go to complete extremes. Finding a balance has been the best way for me. Great post!

Sam April 24, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Thanks for the video on clearing up the confusion around carbs Nate. It is a very confusing area with so many different spins on what is the right way to do it.

Timothy April 25, 2013 at 11:46 am

Good information in the article. It’s important to understand that all carbs aren’t bad, and the body needs them to function, especially for those of us that are lifting weights, running on the treadmill, or just trying to be more active.

Charlie April 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I think it comes down to a balance. You need to plan your carb intake according to the intensity of your workout. BTW “non functioning Weiner” LOL

sabrina j April 29, 2013 at 8:44 am

Help me!!!

Although this information was beyond helpful. I’m still not really sure what is right for me. I’m a professional dancer, but im currently returning from several injuries all connecting to bad posture, hypermobile joints, a tight si joint, and poor upperbody strength. I’ve dealt with a weight issue my entire life and I still can’t seem to shake the weight. (skinnyfat isn’t even enough to describe what im goin through lol)

I’m 23, afro American, 5’9′, 191 lbs (although I don’t look it)

With age I gained a serious lactose intolerance. So anything that has to do with a cow… (meat, cheese, milk) no can do.

since my injury ive put on even more weight when I was already aiming to lose.

since march I started limited cross training including; yoga, spinclass,swimming and pilates.

but, I don’t know what diet lifestyle is good for me. when I go low-carb I feel more awake but I cant even make it through the most simple work out. when I increase carbs I feel sluggish, sleepy and I cant make it through workouts that way either. Could i be having a gluten intolerance as well?!?! My energy levels are totally unpredictable even though I follow a more “Japanese village template”. (sidenote: I love juicing veggies)

I had a thyroid sonogram. (normal)

and I went in for blood work as well. (normal, except low vitamin D)

Please anyone. some suggestion are much needed.

– Sabrina J

Jennifer May 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm

This is a great explanation of where carbs go and how they end up being stored as fat. So glad I found this. Now the recommended carb intake makes more sense to me.

Kevin James May 3, 2013 at 12:11 am

I love how you’re bringing carbs back, they’ve taken a thrashing recently and it’s awesome to see a fresh perspective on the issue!

Shelly May 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Great post Nate! You have given me great information on Carbohydrates. I Thank you for sharing this post with others and keep up the good work.

Dimitris May 6, 2013 at 2:12 am

At last somebody who knows what he is talking about ! Of course all carbs are not bad ! Just control them ! Great article ! Thanks

Jenny Gregory May 7, 2013 at 8:22 am

Thanks for an interesting article. I weight train and have been feeling increasingly tired recently (and yes I do want to lose weight), I now think my diet may be at fault even though it was specified by my gym instructor. It is such a confusing area, so many different opinions and conflicting advice.

Richard Bamber May 10, 2013 at 6:40 am

Thanks for the article, lots of good tips there. I liked the video, carbs is a confusing subject and that’s cleared up a few things for me.

Aqua May 11, 2013 at 3:45 am

Wow – what an eye opening article. It is great to read that there is NOT one diet to fix all problems. Lately I was following the Paleo Lifestyle, but had some rice from time to time. Thanks to you I know now that this is called Japanese Village Diet 🙂

CL May 16, 2013 at 4:27 am

Great info on Carbs. Really useful!

jennie May 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Great article, I Have been trying to watch the carbs that I eat now that I am getting older. The information on this post is super.thanks for sharing with others.

Terry Powers May 19, 2013 at 3:48 am

Useful info – thanks.
Carbs, like anything need to be controlled and are needed when you have endurance sports like running.

Terry

Karen May 20, 2013 at 2:35 am

Sabrina, maybe you need to be very careful of what carbs you have – avoiding gluten completely – and just have the carbs right before or after your workout? Like a banana an hour before and then some rice after, but none the rest of the day? And did you read the earlier posts on resetting your metabolism to avoid lectin resistance? It sounds to me like you might find that plan very helpful.

Fran May 21, 2013 at 7:12 am

A negative energy balance is only possible when you know calories in and out, to a certain extent. It seems everyone can use the same yardstick: what really works when looking in a mirror and the verdict of an accurate scale.

Julianne May 23, 2013 at 8:57 am

Hey Nate, I’m glad you laid it all out. This sets a lot of crooked thinking straight (I hope so). We are flooded with conflicting opinions from all directions, we are dazed and confused.

Sallie May 24, 2013 at 4:52 am

Carbs are an important part of our diet. Thanks for this post, it is very educational.

Lonnie Thaler May 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm

This is a very informative article. I agree with Nate. There is no perfect diet program that can truly claim that it is the most effective diet strategy. It depends on the person who undergoes diet program. I am an athlete and it is really necessary for me to have a high carb diet especially one month before my race.

jeff carpenter May 31, 2013 at 5:54 pm

I’ve followed Rusty for a while and have also done his Visual Impact course which as really good for me by the way.

But i needed to stop by to thank you for such an awesome article – full of useful information! This was an excellent read.

Thank you!

Jeff

Dianna July 18, 2013 at 11:35 pm

I feel that the problem is that people are looking to find the ‘one right answer’ and as you mentioned the ‘Perfect Diet’. It simply does not exist and our bodies react differently to each other.
Thanks for clearing up a few things as there is so much info out there about carb diets that it can get rather confusing.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: