19 Jun When Is The Right Time To Increase Your Carbs?
Carbohydrates are one of the most misunderstood aspects of nutrition today. Are they good? Are they bad? What are good carbs versus unhealthy ones? When is the right time to increase your carbs?
Today we’ll tell you the story of a client named Sam that will help you understand when it’s the right time to lower, maintain or increase your carbs to hit your goals.
Let’s get to know our (fictional) friend Sam. She’s a 30 year old nurse who’s been active her whole life. Sam was in the routine of running and doing cardio classes 4 times a week, but saw her love handles going in…the wrong direction.
She came to Faster Fitness and did our 6 Week Transformation Challenge and lost over 3% body fat in just 6 weeks (like over 50% of the people who complete it 😉
Those love handles are gone and she’s feeling more confident than she has in years.
While she’s done different types of cardio before, weight training was new for her, and she really likes it!
She’s now been a client for 3 months and is starting to wonder when will be the right time to increase her carbs (carbohydrates) and calories.
The answer will depend on her goals and habits.
Let’s say she wanted to continue losing body fat while training 4 days a week and didn’t eat many splurgy meals. She could likely increase her calories from 1200 to 1400-1600 and continue to lose body fat at a moderate pace.
Now, if she only worked out twice a week, ate out a lot, and likes to get a little boozy on the weekends (like most people), then sticking with the 1200 calorie, lower carb plan would be a better option.
Do you see the difference?
Keeping your baseline calories lower buys you buffer on the weekends, but it’s not black or white. Your habits dictate which shade of gray you should be at. Plus, the different between a 1200 calorie and 1600 calorie meal plan is like adding a cup of oatmeal, a banana and a handful of nuts everyday. Not a substantial difference.
Let’s say she wanted to train to improve her performance in the gym and at the next Spartan Race.
She’s already in the groove of doing strength training and metabolic conditioning 4 days a week at Faster Fitness. Whenever you want to maximize performance, you want to increase your carbs and calories to fuel your efforts. For this example, jumping to 1600-1800 calories first, and then potentially increasing in time, would be the ideal solution.
As you can see there are many variables that can effect your carbohydrate intake.
Here’s some golden principles of when to increase your carbs:
- If your new goal is to maintain your body fat and improve strength, muscle or performance
- You’ve been on a low calorie plan, hit your body fat goal, and just want to maintain your body fat
- If you’ve committed to improving limiting factors that have forced you to keep your calories low such as: minimizing alcohol, sleeping more, stressing less, working out a MAX of 5 times week, taking multi-vitamins/supplements, eating out more infrequently, etc.
What’s the common trends?
It has to start with your goal, because that dictates your ideal calorie and carb intake.
Because carbs are neither good or bad.
Know this: any long term diet that suggests eliminating carbs (or protein, or fat) completely is idiotic. It’s also likely setting your hormones up for long term failure. Ex: Keto, Atkins, Low Fat Bodybuilder Programs, 80/10/10. (Hmm…That might be a good topic for a future blog…)
For short term fat loss, you MUST be in a calorie deficit, from carbs and fat. Naturally, there are a lot of similarities between fat loss plans, but confusion comes in when you shift into a body fat maintenance or performance program.
Our body needs carbohydrates, protein and fat, just like it needs sleeps and water.
Finding the ideal amount for you depends on your habits, your goals and how serious you are about achieving them. We suggest experimenting with increase your carbs 50 grams a day (About 2 servings of healthy carbs such as oatmeal, fruit, rice, bread, etc) and see how your body responds.
You can keep bumping them up if you feel it would be beneficial (Men can often be more zealous). If you start to add body fat after a week or two then you know you were taking in more calories than you were burning. In this case, simply drop your carbs and calories and search for your sweet spot. Consider focusing on some of the lifestyle factors mentioned above that may be effecting your carb tolerance.
How much sugar should I eat? Ideally, about 30% of your calories should come from sugar, ideally mostly from fruit. So a majority of your carbs should come from complex carbs like oats, rice, potatoes, breads, etc.
What are good carbs versus bad carbs? Typically speaking, the faster a carb is digested, the higher probability it will be stored as fat. For example, if you drank an equal amount of sugar from mountain dew as a banana, it’s more likely to be stored as fat. The opposite is true of the carbs mentioned in the previous FAQ. For the record, there are no good or bad carbs. Typically, “good carbs” are complex carbs that keep you full for longer and are less calorie dense than the “bad carbs”, which contain higher sugar content. Favoring “good carbs” is always a good choice but don’t be blinded by the oversimplification.
How much fiber should I eat a day? At least 20-30 grams a day, but more will help prevent cravings, promote fat loss and improved heart health.
This bar only shows 3 “net carbs”, what does that mean? Net carbs is total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols. Yes, fiber and sugar alcohols are not typical carbs, but there’s still calories in them. Just be aware and don’t eat unlimited amounts. At FF, we count total carbs not net.
To summarize, think about your goal for the next month, what your nutrition habits have been like, and determine if you need to experiment with increasing your carbs.
Understanding healthy nutrition can be quite simple if you have the proper information source. So unless you’re 100% sure what you should be doing, I’d suggest reading our blog: The Last Diet You’ll Ever Need To Be On.
If you’d like to learn how Faster Fitness can help you overcome struggles and achieve your goals, check out our 21 Day Metabolic Fast Track by clicking below!