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How to Lose Weight by Eating Carbs

How to Lose Weight by Eating Carbs

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a fat-free and low-fat diet trend. Bodybuilders avoided fat when dieting down. Snack foods started carrying the low or no fat label to improve sales. The worst part was the increase in refined sugar use.

Americans heard “fats are bad,” so they assumed carbs were good. There are two problems with this: fat is not bad. It’s necessary to balance your hormones and keep your heart in good health via omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The other problem: the nation took the carbs are good statement way over the top and starting eating loads of sugar.

We rode the crest of the wave with carbs back then; now we’re in the trough. Everything is about low-carb today. The ketogenic diet has exploded. Even fruit has been demonized.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Nope, apples are bad because carbs” -Ketogenic Dieters

I don’t know about you, but statements like that are an obvious red flag to me.

The Problem

My issue with low-carb dieting stems from two main things.

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1. Low carb diets typically promote increased fat intake

This is detrimental to big eaters who are trying to lose weight — 1g of carbs is 4 calories and 1g of fat is 9 calories. What’s even worse? Fat elicits the smallest metabolic response by far. Only about 5% of the calories consumed from fat are burned via the thermogenic effect of digestion.

Carbs though? Carbs can burn up to 25% of the calories they contain simply through digestion. It’s the fibrous and complex carbs that accomplish this. Do the math. That means smart carb choices will only net 3 calories at the end of the day, while the same amount of fat nets 8.55 calories. That’s almost 3 times as many calories you get from fat! So, by the gram, carbs have fewer than half the calories fat has AND, when chosen smartly, can burn more than twice the amount of calories by simply digesting them. So why does everyone go low-carb to lose weight? I don’t know man. Carbs are good.

Well, that’s only half true. I do know why people go low carb: because it produces fast “results.” Cut out carbs, and you WILL lose weight fast. I can’t lie.

The problem: that weight is not fat and will immediately return as soon as you eat a sodium-filled, high-carb cheat meal. So, unless you never want to eat carbs again, that weight is going to come back (just as fast as it came off) and it’s going to be disappointing since you will have thought you lost weight.

The explanation: that weight you lost was simply your body depleting itself of glycogen (your body’s means of storing carbohydrate in the muscle). Stop eating carbs and these stores deflate. In other words, you have just as much fat on you whether you are glycogen-depleted or not; I don’t care how much the number on the scale goes down.

It’s also worth noting that you’ll be mentally cloudy and grumpy since your brain functions almost entirely on carbohydrates. Not to mention you will feel physically weak and sluggish since your muscles will be running on fumes.

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The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. Keep reading for the explanation.

2. People like and crave carbs

How do you expect to stick to your diet for any decent length of time if you cut out all of your favorite foods?

If you’re losing weight, your body is going to crave foods. The best approach, in my opinion, is to incorporate those foods you crave just a little bit every day. Yes, that means eating a cookie if you’re dying for a cookie. Otherwise, cheat day is going to hit and you’re going to down two and a half boxes of Oreos because “it doesn’t count.”

Ever hear that your body can’t process all the calories you consume on cheat day? Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. The human body is incredibly efficient in fact. Believe me, I’ve eaten 10,000+ calories on multiple occasions (the silly things I do to get views on Youtube…) and you bet I gained 2-3 pounds each time after the initial bloating went away.

Fortunately, I know how weight loss works so losing that weight is easy. How does it work? Well, I already said: by burning more calories than you consume. Forget the whole cutting carbs thing. Think about it like this. Calories are energy. The first law of thermodynamics states energy cannot be created or destroyed. If you eat X calories, you either burn them via physical activity or store them via fat storage.

If you are engaging in physical activity and the number of calories you consumed was insufficient to supply the energy you needed to perform that activity, guess where your body gets the extra energy it needs? The energy stored on itself, AKA your fat stores.

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I’ll say it one more time to drill it into your head: you have to be eating in a calorie deficit to lose weight.

In fact, you can lose weight eating Twinkies and Doritos. Don’t believe me? Look up the Twinkie diet. A nutrition professor at Kansas State University, Mark Haub, ran an experiment on himself to prove the point that calories determine weight loss. He restricted himself to 1800 calories daily for 10 weeks eating only Twinkies and Doritos. The result? He lost 27 lbs, decreased his LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) by 20%, and increased his HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) by 20%. Guess what Twinkies and Doritos are primarily composed of? Carbs. If someone told you that carbs are the key to weight loss, they lied.

I’m not saying to eat like he did – at least not for every meal. Despite improvements in his LDL and HDL cholesterol, Twinkies and Doritos are obviously not healthy foods. He went to an extreme to prove the commonly overlooked law of weight loss: you must be burning more energy than you are consuming in order to lose weight that stays off.

I suggest increasing your healthy carb intake: fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, whole grain breads and pastas. Not only will this kill your cravings, promoting diet longevity and consistency. It will allow you to eat more at the end of the day.

The Solution

Why do we take diet to extremes?

Avoid carbs. Avoid fats. What ever happened to eating a balanced diet?

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It’s all because people want results fast. Nobody wants to exercise. Nobody wants to diet. Nobody wants to work to lose weight. They overlook the fact that it took them years to pack on the extra 10, 20, 30, 40 pounds and think they’re going to lose it in a couple weeks. While it won’t take years to lose that weight (if done right), it’s going to take months.

I know this article will get a bad rap from some low-carb dieters out there because people simply cannot accept that their way isn’t the best way. I never said low-carb doesn’t work. My issue is that low-carb dieters will tell me it’s the only thing that works.

The one and only requirement you need to lose weight is this: eat fewer calories than you burn.

Science doesn’t lie. I promise it works.

Featured photo credit: flyingbanzini.com via flyingbanzini.com

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Drew Kocak

Online Personal Trainer / Fitness Blogger

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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