When you are following a diet plan, it is often accompanied by high carb days and low carb days. Especially during a fat loss phase. The low carb days are pretty simple and straightforward; meat, veggies, healthy fats, and a few carbohydrates around the workout.
A high carb day however, is a little bit more complicated. Some people go straight to McDonald’s and binge out, others increase their carb intake by a certain percentage.
It is important to differentiate between a “carb day” and a “cheat day” as they are two very different things.
Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients, and can be very beneficial to your diet just like proteins and fats. However, by binging out with a cheat day, you can ruin weeks of progress. On the contrary, by incorporating carbohydrates correctly, they can boost your metabolism and help both your fat loss and muscle gain goals.
What Is the Goal With a High Carb Meal?
Our goal with a high carb meal is to increase insulin response and glucose uptake. The great thing about glucose, is that it has the ability to be stored in the body as a lean soft tissue. This can happen in both our muscles and the liver. Fat on the other hand, will always be stored as fat unless it is used for energy.
If we properly restrict our body from eating too many carbs combined with our training and nutrition plan, a high intake of carbohydrates will be stored as lean soft tissue.
If you have not done this correctly, it has a high chance of being stored as fat, depending on the individual.
It is very important to understand that a high carb meal should mostly contain only carbs and protein, with very little fat. Because the fat will most likely be stored as fat if we combine it with carbohydrates.
There are plenty of carb options such as white potatoes, pancakes, white rice, maple syrup, strawberries, and blueberries.
You Need to Eat Enough Carbs
Simply eating a meal with a large amount of carbohydrates will not do it. We have to eat enough to get an insulin response from the body. Therefore, it is important that you track your macronutrients in one way or another.
The reason being, so that you can know how many grams of carbs you need to eat for your carb meal or day. A proper amount of carbohydrates will give us an insulin response, without adding any extra fat.
Being aware of your diet is important, so that you can eat the correct amount and choose the right types of carbs for your body.
An increase in insulin will increase testosterone, help with start protein synthesis, and even boost our metabolism.
What Kind of Carbs Should You Eat?
When we want to eat a high carb meal for an insulin response, it is important to not only choose the right amount of carbs, but the correct types as well. Preferably, we want to choose carbohydrates that are high in glucose.
To be more specific, we want to consume glucose polymers. This is glucose with extended chains. We preferably want glucose polymers, because they have been proven to have the highest impact on insulin, and are great to restore our glycogen stores.
But by any means, avoid sugars, juices and most forms of syrup. Maple syrup is fine. This is because most of these contain fructose, and fructose by itself does not affect insulin, and is taken up in the liver instead. Furthermore, it can lead to added fat storage, which we do not want.
Add a Fruits and Greens Shake
Lastly, to increase the effectiveness of your high carb meals, you can consume a greens and fruit shake. You can drink this smoothie with the meal or about 20-30 min before. Add in some fruits and greens like bananas, berries, kale and spinach.
If you have powdered greens and fruit powder, it would be great to add in that as well. Because the powder allows us to get nutrients from many types of fruits and greens.
A shake like this can be helpful, because certain fruits such as berries have proven to stabilize blood sugar. Moreover, they are more likely to be stored as energy in our tissue instead of as fat.
Should I Eat Carbs After Workout When Cutting?
Very often, people get scared of carbohydrates when they are on a fat loss diet. But they are nothing to be scared of, as they can actually be a great tool in our fat loss journey. Although it is important that we time them correctly, and of course do not overeat.
Moreover, we want to make clear that carbohydrates should not only be eaten before training when cutting, but during and after as well. By consuming carbohydrates for energy, we can actually take some stress off the liver.
In addition, assure we are burning carbs for energy during our workout. Thus, burn fat for fuel the rest of the day.
Increase Performance with Carbs
When we are dieting and calories are low and limited, we need extra focus on performance. Timing our food intake is one of the most important steps we can take. As calories are limited in a caloric deficit, we want to make sure we are as energized as possible for our workout.
Glycogen is the most efficient energy source we have, especially for high intensity workouts. And in a fat loss program, we are usually performing pretty intense workouts.
Therefore, we want to do everything we can for our body to use carbohydrates as fuel during our workouts.
By eating carbs before and during workouts, the body is likely to use glycogen for fuel. During your workouts, you can use carb powders which will go through the stomach quickly, and absorb in the intestines.
Additionally, when we use carbs for fuel during our workouts, we can ensure that the body runs off of fat for fuel the rest of the day. In other words, burn body fat for fuel as much as possible when you are not training.
Another reason we want carbs before and during our workouts during a fat loss program, is to take some stress off the liver. When we are in a caloric deficit, the liver is already working hard by turning glycogen into glucose. In more scientific terms, this is known as glycogenolysis.
The liver performs glycogenolysis so we are getting the right types of fuel to our cells, as fats simply are not efficient enough.
Of course, the need for fast energy increases tremendously when we perform high intensity workouts. Which makes it important to think about our liver health.
The liver is important not only for our overall health, but for growth hormone response and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) response as well. Therefore, it is vital that we take care of our liver health to ensure good general health, minimal muscle loss and optimal physique changes.
We often tend to only focus on what we see in the mirror, and not what actually takes place in our bodies. This can become a big problem, because the whole machinery needs to work in unity.
Do Not Forget Your Body’s General Health
The organs and other systems in our bodies play a big part in recovery and performance.
When people forget to take care of general health and ensure well-functioning bodily systems, we see many things go wrong. Among them are a lack of energy or performance, sluggishness, bad quality of sleep, bloating and digestive issues.
Especially when we diet hard will the gallbladder and stomach acid work at a high capacity.
Thus, a healthy liver is crucial to ensure these systems are working properly, and can assist when it is necessary.
Finally, we want to have most of our carbs after working out. This is the window where your body will prefer to take up glucose over fat. More specifically, when we workout our bodies produce insulin-independent glucose. Meaning, your body can take up a lot more carbohydrates at this time without having to increase insulin.
During the post-workout period, our muscle cells are strongly craving glucose, and therefore there is a low chance that you will store this glucose as fat in this period.
So definitely place most of your carbohydrates for the day after your workout. Preferably pick some carbs that digest quickly such as white rice and potatoes, instead of slower digesting ones like oats. The reason being, we rapidly want to take full advantage of our body to suck up glucose at this time.
Having high carb days can definitely be a great tool to increase fat burning and replenish lean tissue. If we correctly restrict our body from eating too many carbohydrates in combination with our workout and nutrition plan, a high surge of carbs will be stored as lean soft tissue. Make sure these meals have carbs with high glucose and very low fat content in general. Carbohydrates can also be a great source of energy to take some stress off our liver during a caloric deficit.
Thank you for reading our article!
– Terry Asher