Carbs you SHOULD eat!

  • What carbs are good for fat loss?
  • What time of day should you eat carbs to burn fat?
  • Should you even eat carbs at all?

I get these questions everyday of the week. And with all the hype about carbs these days, it’s nearly impossible not to be confused! The wild popularity of the Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet and other low-carb diets has a lot of people believing that carbohydrates are the cause of belly flab. That's a DANGEROUS oversimplification. Easily digested carbohydrates such as white bread, pastries, sodas and other highly processed foods can definitely contribute to weight gain. However, “good” carbs such as lentils, vegetables, and beans can have the opposite effect. In fact, good carbohydrates provide a variety of essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. They promote good health by:

  • binding to fatty substances in the intestines and carrying them out as waste, thus lowering your bad LDL cholesterol and removing toxins from the body
  • they also help regulate the use of sugar, reduce hunger, maintain healthy blood glucose levels, and promote intestinal regularity

The right carbs play a fundamental role in our bodies and support increased energy, fat loss, and overall health.   It just comes down to knowing WHAT to eat and WHEN for maximum results. When in doubt, remember this general rule of thumb: if it grew in the ground or on a tree, it’s good for you. And if it was man-made or processed, then it’s probably not. Here's a short list of carbs you SHOULD eat for fat loss and health:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squashes
  • Lentils/beans
  • Quinoa
  • Fruits and leafy green vegetables

Here's a short list of carbs you should AVOID if you want a flat belly:

  • Simple sugars such as sodas, candy, fruit juices, pastries, etc.
  • Whole wheat breads and pastas
  • White rice, rice cakes, etc.

The timing of when you eat carbs throughout the day is also critical to your fat loss.

Carb timing works in conjunction with your body’s natural hormones. At certain times during the day your muscles are more receptive to absorbing carbohydrates. During these time periods, your insulin sensitivity is at its highest. This means that it will take LESS insulin to store the glucose that is produced from carbohydrates.

So how does this help you lose fat?

When your insulin levels are elevated, your body is unable to mobilize fatty acids. Insulin is a very powerful storage hormone. It takes the glucose in your bloodstream and shuttles it to the cells that need it. If your muscles and liver are full of glycogen, they will not be able to store any additional glucose. In this scenario, insulin takes this glucose, converts it to FAT, and stores it in various places in your body so that it can be used later. If your goal is to eliminate body fat, you want to keep insulin levels LOW throughout the day, which means you want to be very mindful of WHEN you eat carbohydrates. Carbohydrates have the BIGGEST influence on your insulin levels, followed by protein, and then by fats – which have very little effect on insulin levels. If you can limit your carbohydrates to the time periods when your insulin sensitivity is at its highest, you will make your goal of losing FAT a whole lot easier.

So when are these time periods?

1. Mornings After a night of not eating, your insulin sensitivity is higher than normal. This is because your body has been using the glucose in your blood and the glycogen stored in your liver to maintain body functions throughout the night. Upon waking, your body’s stores of glycogen are lower – resulting in a lower amount of insulin needed to store the carbohydrates you’re about to eat.

2. Post-workout The time immediately after you workout is when your insulin sensitivity is at its highest, and it’s a perfect time to ingest good carbs. While you workout, your muscles use glycogen to fuel your exercise. So much so, that after your workout your muscles just soak up the glucose in your blood. Your muscles are so starved for glucose that they are able to take the carbohydrates you eat and convert it into glycogen without any real need for insulin.

3. Pre-workout Most people don’t think of insulin sensitivity being high just before your workout. And really, it isn’t. However, during exercise, your insulin response is muted. Your pre-workout meal is a great time to eat carbohydrates and some much needed energy for your workout.

Here are some sample “carb-friendly” schedules for both exercise and non-exercise days.

Exercise Day:

  • Breakfast: protein/carbs/fruits/veggies
  • Mid-morning: protein/fat/veggies
  • Lunch: protein/veggies
  • Mid-afternoon (after exercise) protein/fat/fruit/carb
  • Evening: protein/veggies/fruit
  • Pre-bed: protein/fat

Non-Exercise Day:

  • Breakfast: protein/carbs/fruits/veggies
  • Mid-morning: protein/carbs/veggies
  • Lunch: protein/fat/veggies
  • Mid-afternoon: protein/fruit
  • Evening: protein/fat/veggies/fruit
  • Pre-bed: protein/fat

In fact, I removed all the guesswork for you in my book Bikini Body Recipes. You’ll discover over 150 of my favorite fat-burning breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes you can whip up in no time on the next page…

next page

Yours in health,

Danette May