A common nutrition plan my clients use involves rotating low carb days with higher carb days. Low carb days revolve around meat and veggies with plenty of healthy fats. The low carb day is very easy to follow, especially for those who have already been eating paleo style. The high carb day can be more complicating because a cheat day is often mis interpreted. A cheat day is often thought of as a day where you can eat all those bad foods cheating on your nutrition plan. I prefer to use the term carb meal or carb day. Carbs are a macronutrient just like protein and fat, and serve an important role in your diet. By incorporating them properly they can actually help increase fat loss, muscle gain and boost your metabolism.
Rule number 1 A carb meal is a carb meal, not a carb and fat meal. The goal of a carb meal is to increase insulin and glucose uptake. Glucose can be stored as lean tissue in the muscles and the liver, while fat will be stored as fat alone when combined with insulin. If you have restricted your carbs properly before hand and strength trained, this surge of glucose will largely go to replenishing your bodies store of glycogen by up-taking glucose in the lean tissues rather than fat. One of my favorite meals is some gluten free pancakes made with egg white powder and fruit. I don’t use the yolk, oil, or add butter so I can keep the cakes low fat.
Rule 2 Eat enough for a insulin response. Eating a food that is a carb, does not make a carb meal complete. There should be a goal amount of carbs eaten to make sure you are getting the metabolic response you want. Tracking your carb meal stats is important so that you can adjust the type and amount of carbs you are eating from meal to meal to find the right amount for your body to get the boost it needs without storing any extra fat. This brief surge of insulin helps release free testosterone, protein synthesis, and increase metabolic activity.
Rule 3 Use glucose polymers and avoid too much fructose. Glucose polymers are most abundant in starchy foods like rice, quinoa, yucca, potato. These chains of glucose are great for restoring glycogen stores and have the greatest impact on insulin. Fruits do have some fructose but they also contain glucose and glucose polymers. The fiber and antioxidants in fruit also help buffer the fructose load. Fructose in the form of sugar, cane juice, corn syrup, or worst of all agave syrup is the worst to use. Fructose does not effect insulin and works mostly in the liver. This can lead increased triglycerides and fat storage. So maybe I should change it to a high glucose day with added fruit to be precise.
Bonus Rule: Use a nutrient dense shake. I prefer to use a smoothie type shake either 30 minutes before or with the carb meal. This is a great place to add some fruit to super veggies and some powdered super foods. Adding a nutrient dense shake like this thats packed with antioxidants and phyto nutrients can amplify the positive effects of the carb meal and decrease the negative impact of the carbs. Fruits like berries have actually be shown to have a blood sugar stabilizing effect that mimics insulin action, but it promotes carbohydrate storage in the lean muscle tissue rather than fat. A sample smoothie I make is 1 cup of berries, 1-2 cups of baby kale or spinach, and 1-2 scoops of a super food powder like phyto px. This allows your shake to have a high amount of plant nutrients, and a wide variety at the same time.
To Recap: Carb up meals should be low fat, high glucose, and low fructose. Added benefits can be seen from adding plant nutrients to optimize insulin activity. Follow these rules to replenish your lean tissues and kick up the fat burning!