Understanding the relationship between fat and carbs, and when to eat each of these macro-nutrients will help you transform your body for the better.
Most people attempting to lose body fat and get lean should set their protein intake at 1g-1.5g per pound of body weight. Your protein intake remains constantly every day, regardless of whether you worked out or didn’t.
Your fat and carb intake, however, should be manipulated every meal, depending on the type of exercise you have done, and how long it was since you completed that exercise.
Protein intake is training INDEPENDENT.
Fat and carb intake are training DEPENDENT.
Now that you understand that, let’s look at the rule itself.
The Fat-Carb Seesaw Rule: When your fat is high keep your carbs low and when your carbs are high keep your fat low.
Why does this rule work for fat loss, I hear you ask…
The Physiological Response To Exercise
A number of physiological changes occur after a session of intense exercise, such as high intensity interval training (HIIT) or good old-fashioned weight lifting.
These workouts depleted your muscle cells of their limited carbohydrate stores (glucose is stored in the form of glycogen). Glycogen is stored on-site so that it can be a quick source of fuel when performing anaerobic exercise, rather than having to spend time releasing fatty acids from your fat cells, transporting them around the bloodstream to your muscles, getting them into the muscle cells, and then burning them for fuel. The glycogen/glucose metabolic pathway is far more efficient in an emergency than the fatty acid one.
Now that you’ve depleted those stores, the body goes to work replenishing them. It does this in several ways.
First, it makes your muscle cells more sensitive to insulin. This is to ensure that any glucose in your bloodstream can be easily transported through the muscle cell membranes and put to use.
Second, when blood glucose levels are low (which they will be after exercise), the pancreas releases the hormone glucagen which signals the liver to release some of it’s stored glucose (10% of the liver’s volume is glycogen stores). This glucose is transported through the bloodstream to the awaiting muscle cells, which are primed for uptake due to the increase in insulin sensitivity.
Both of these conditions lead to a replenishment of the glycogen stores, and the start of the process by which the muscles repair and rebuild themselves.
The moral of the story is that post intense exercise your body is primed and ready to put any carbohydrates you eat to good use. It needs them to help you recover. At these times you should include a moderate amount (0.5 – 1 cup) of fruit, starchy carbs and grains (rice, pasta, bread, oats, quinoa, etc.) to meals for optimum fat loss and muscle gain results. There is no need to fear those extra carbs will be converted to fat and stored – as long as you don’t go overboard.
You should also include a serving of protein along with the carbs to help repair your muscles. Try a ratio of 1c:1p for endomorphs and 2c:1p for ectomorphs to begin with, then assess your results every 2 weeks.
If you have NOT completed any intense exercise in the past few hours then your body is not primed for the carbs because your muscle cells are full of glycogen and their insulin sensitivty is low. Eating a large amount of carbs at this time will send them straight to your fat cells.
You should now understand why carb intake is exercise dependent. If you’ve just exercised hard, eat some starchy carbs. If you haven’t then stick to vegetables only.
Mixing In The Fat
So where does fat fit into all this?
Let’s return to the Fat-Carb Seesaw Rule which states that when your fat is high keep your carbs low and when your carbs are high keep your fat low.
Post exercise, you will be taking in an increase in carbs (you learned why in the previous section), so the rule tells you that fat should be kept low.
The reason is two-fold.
Firstly, a high fat, high carb (HFHC) meal is obviously higher in calories that a low fat, high carb (LFHC) meal. By reducing the fat you save yourself some calories, which keeps your daily calorie deficit required for fat loss in check. And if you are on a calorie surplus diet in an attempt to gain muscle, the fat reduction will ensure your gains are lean by keeping your surplus low.
Secondly, a high fat intake when your body’s insulin sensitivity is increased due to exercise, mixed with the extra insulin in your blood to combat the high carb intake, is a recipe for disaster. That fat will be shuttled into your fat cells FAST.
If you haven’t done any intense exercise and your carbs are low, then you CAN increase your fat intake because your insulin sensitivity is low and your body needs the fats for fuel. There is little danger of you getting fatter.
The Fat-Carb Seesaw Rule states that when your carbs are high, your fats should be kept low. Post-exercise you should be eating high protein, high carbs, and therefore your fats should be kept low. If you haven’t recently exercised then eat high protein, high fat and stick to vegetables only as your carb source.
This macro-nutrient timing strategy is effectively carb timing but on an hourly basis, rather than weekly and daily. It is the best way to build muscle and drop fat that I know of, and ideal for anyone looking to build a killer beach ready body.