Hello and welcome back Fat Loss Facts fans! Get ready for another great installment of the series that has become a favorite of many. I hope that many of you are following along and using the guidelines that I have recommended, as they are what I would use if I were designing this for you in person. If anyone has anything to share with regards to your progress, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. I’m trying to get the word out that the sign in function has been disabled (just ignore it), so commenting is hassle free. It would be great to hear how some of you are doing.
To summarize our progress up to this point; Part 1 was focused on creating a caloric deficit, and the methods to use in order to accomplish that. Part 2 explained how to estimate the starting point of the diet regarding calories, in order to create a deficit. Part 3 was about the value of protein, and the method of calculating how much to include in the diet under the established caloric parameters, so that fat loss can begin. Part 4 dealt with essential fatty acids and other dietary fats, and how much we need to include in our diet plan. If you missed any of the articles please start the series at the beginning, because starting part way through defeats the purpose of this process. The point of this series is so that you know what to do, and why. Short-cutting the learning process is not the way to be successful at anything, and fat loss is no exception.
When I last wrote about our diet plan in part 4, we were at the point where we had figured out that our average person weighing 150 pounds needed 225 grams of protein, and 50 grams of fats, per day in accordance with the guidelines of this diet. That totaled 1346 calories, leaving 304 – 604 that as of yet hasn’t been spoken for. The assumption being that they will be for carbohydrate is partially correct, but not entirely. Before we can say that, we need to look at how many carbohydrates we need in our diet so that we can determine the number necessary to ensure we have our energy needs covered.
So how many carbohydrates are necessary for us to survive? What are the physiological requirements of carbohydrate that the human body requires in order to function? Once we know that number we can begin figuring out how many we need to make this diet work. To answer the above to questions regarding how many we need in order to survive – the answer is zero.
Carbohydrates are a non-essential nutrient. They are not needed in order for us to survive, and any amount that is deemed necessary by our body can be manufactured internally using a few different methods (we aren’t discussing this today, but I’ll get into it later). So we don’t need any, but they do have a use for us in this diet, so let’s look at those uses to determine how many we will include.
Carbohydrates are protein sparing, so for the purposes of maintaining our muscle, it’s a good idea to include some. By allowing some carbohydrate in our diet our insulin levels stay somewhat elevated, thereby keeping the release of cortisol at bay. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that will break down muscle tissue, amongst other things. Also, our brain needs some carbohydrate to function, so instead of breaking down muscle to produce glucose it’s a better idea to just give it some.
Those are two good reasons to give ourselves some carbs. Research seems to agree that as little as 50 grams per day is more than enough to limit our body’s need to create glucose from our own protein stores (muscles). That’s a good starting point, but then there is the issue of exercise which may increase our need for glucose. Low impact exercise like walking uses very little in the way of glucose, but weight training uses some, and intense cardiovascular exercise uses quite a lot.
A typical weight training workout uses somewhere between 40 – 60 grams of carbohydrate, depending on the number of work sets, and their duration. That’s an average. If you do a lot of sets, or very few, then obviously the needs will be either higher or lower. So every day that we weight train could arguably require an additional 50 grams (using a round number) of carbohydrate, added to our 50 gram carbohydrate base, we are now at 100 grams of carbohydrate (on training days).
If you are someone who runs somewhat excessively, then there will likely be a need for even more carbohydrates. By excessively, I mean more than an hour a day – and I mean running, not the moderately paced jogging like most of us do. Not that I think that’s an excessive amount of running necessarily, but if you are lifting for an hour, as well as running for an hour, then there will likely be the need for further carbohydrate consumption in order to fuel performance.
The goal of this diet is fat loss however, not optimizing distance running performance, so I’m going to set the number of necessary carbs on days that weight training is involved at 100 grams maximum. If your cardio is done at a high intensity, and you feel constantly exhausted, then possibly adding a few more in is necessary, but that is unlikely. Ideally as the goal is fat loss, we don’t really want there to be a lot of extra carbs around, we just want there to be enough to prevent muscle break down, fuel our weight training, and give our brain what it needs to function.
Now we can plug this new number into the equation. Our average person weighing 150 pounds needs 225 grams of protein, and 50 grams of fats, totaling 1346 calories, leaving 304 – 604 calories. 100 grams of carbs is 400 calories, so that means that if you are on the extreme low-end of this equation, then you are slightly over our caloric total by 96 calories. I don’t feel however, that starting at the low-end of this diet is wise if you are doing any form of exercise – unless you enjoy feeling permanently exhausted and hungry.
That low caloric total of 1650 calories for a 150 pound person is an extremely low number for anyone that is doing any kind of weight training, or even some moderate cardio, to be using. In reality if you are using that low number, then you likely are doing little exercise except maybe walking. The number I would start anyone at that weight trains, or does moderate cardio like jogging, or a combination of the two, would be the higher number (13 calories x body weight in pounds – see Fat Loss Facts 2), which is 1950 calories for our average 150 pound person. Which means that we instead have 196 calories that are still unspoken for.
I don’t need a whole other post to say that you probably will be consuming that extra 200 calories as carbohydrates – that’s what most people do. It would be a very reasonable diet to have 225 grams of protein, 50 grams of fat, and 150 grams of carbohydrate, which adds up to perfectly to our 1950 calorie total. If you train hard, and do some cardio, chances are you’ll be using those carbohydrates , and not storing them.
I did, however say that the 100 grams of carbs is a guideline – and a maximum, not necessarily a need. This is also a fat loss diet, not a diet designed to eliminate fat storage – there is a big difference. While carbohydrate does have value because it elevates insulin in order to prevent muscle break down, insulin has a very undesirable side effect – it inhibits fat burning. That particular issue has yet addressed, but don’t worry, that’s exactly where we are heading next.
So far I have been dealing with averages, like our average 150 pound person we have been using in our example for the purposes of performing calculations. Next time I’d like to begin dealing with specifics, and the specific thing in particular that we will be looking at is insulin sensitivity, and it’s relation to fat loss. That will be the subject of the next Fat Loss Facts episode.
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