: how I love thee. Sweet and white potatoes, brown rice, wheat pasta, rice cakes, fruit, quinoa, cous cous, oats, fruit, cream of wheat, grits, and did I mention fruit? Yes, I love them ALL, both during contest prep and during my off season. I feel badly for my good friend the carbohydrate, as he often gets labeled as “forbidden” in many health circles. People think that an excess of carbs will make you fat. Yes, of COURSE it’s the fruit that’s making you fat, and not the pizza you’re eating every night.
First, let me say this: I am not, nor will I ever be, a fan of ANY diet that eliminates 1 entire food group, whether that is carbs, fats, or proteins. Diets that are uber-restrictive are not sustainable and will ultimately result in a rebound. Sure, Atkins may get you looking lean, but the results will be temporary. As SOON as you re-introduce carbs, weight will rebound back to the set point (weight at which your body feels it needs to stay in order to sustain your life) and you’ll be right back where you started. The simple truth is this (and will always be this, despite what any “guru” tells you): weight and fat loss are caused by a caloric deficit, NOT a carb deficit. Want to drop a quick 10? Drop your net calories every day and/or pick up the intensity of your workouts in the weight room in order to create a greater caloric loss.
Carbs are an essential nutrient in anyone’s diet. Carbs are used by the body for energy; you need energy to get through your workouts (especially if your workouts are intense). And let’s talk about workouts for a minute. If you want to lose fat, you need to kick it up a notch in the gym. This means sprinting instead of jogging (and please, PLEASE don’t let me see you talking on your cell phone while you’re on the elliptical!), and this means moving weights around quickly as opposed to resting in between sets. Trust me when I tell you that you will need carbs/energy for this: this is how I prep for figure competitions, and it WORKS. I spend an hour in the gym 4-5 days a week, TOPS, during contest prep, and I eat carbs at every meal. Why? Because I can. Low carb or no carb diets deny the body what it needs for strenuous workouts. If you exercise on low carbs, you’ll never burn as many calories as easily as when you take in higher levels of carbs, and you’ll feel like poo during your workout. Glycogen (stored carbohydrates) always comprises the greatest amount of fuel burned during exercise, with fats also being a significant component. Proteins don’t really contribute as an energy source, unless you’re doing sustained endurance cardio, which is why I’m not a big fan of the long duration stuff. Muscle-wasting!
Back to math class: calories in < calories out = fat loss. Every excess calorie you consume, REGARDLESS of the source, will be stored as either glycogen or fat. Only carbs have a chance at being converted to glycogen, so if you sub a fat or protein for a carb, that just means a different type of calorie will end up where you don’t want it: on your butt.
Don’t fear the carb, my friends! He will help you with your fat loss endeavors, he will make your taste buds squeal with delight, and he will give you the energy you need to be a pimp in the weight room. Eat and enjoy without the guilt!
Beth is an NPC
figure competitor and has been competing for 3 years. When she’s not rocking the stage in her stiletto heels, she’s either at work as Project Manager at a Pharmaceutical company in Durham, NC
or she’s in the gym training clients or teaching spin classes. In her very minimal free time, Beth likes to sleep, eat, play with her dog, and spend time with her boyfriend and friends (who also like to sleep and eat).