Since the late 1990’s Dr. John Berardi has published 8 scientific abstracts; 15 scientific papers and textbook chapters; presented at nearly 50 scientific, exercise, and nutrition-related conferences; and published countless articles online. Berardi’s articles at Testosterone Magazine so many years ago provided me with the foundation of my fitness and nutrition knowledge today. If you want to know more about the Carb to Protein Ratio Diet, this is the man to ask.
Today’s Topic – The Carb to Protein Ratio Diet
I have written, on numerous occasions, about reducing your carbohydrate intake and increasing your protein intake to lose fat and maintain muscle mass when dieting. Then I went ahead and suggested how many carbs to eat in a day, how much protein to eat in a day, and how much fat to eat in a day. And then I even provided 10 tips for getting shredded. Plenty of resources to help you learn more about organizing your macronutrient intake if this piece doesn’t answer your questions.
Despite these suggestions, time and again I am still asked how much protein, carbs, and fat people should be eating each day. Then when I give my answers, people still question me:
“Shouldn’t I be eating more carbs?” “Isn’t that too much protein?” “How many calories should I aim for?”
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Now I have a specific macronutrient layout for you to follow based on your bodyweight. The protein distribution is a little lower than I usually recommend and the carbs are definitely higher than I recommend for most fat loss diets.
One of the hottest topics in the nutrition world in the last 3-5 years has been gluten-free diet. As usual, the media and a general population acting like sheeple have once again blown something out of proportion.
People are needlessly following a gluten free diet just because they heard about it in the media or read about it on the Internet. Some of these people have even lost weight. But why? Most likely because they cut down on carbs altogether, or at least started eating healthier carbs.
But the question is, do YOU need to be a on gluten free diet? And the answer is, probably not. Here’s why
What are the best carbs to help you build muscle or lose fat? More than often, you’ll get this response: “Stay away from simple carbs and focus on complex carbohydrates, since they digest slowly and provide your body with a constant stream of energy”.
I can’t tell you how many “fitness-experts” give this response to their clients on a regular basis. Of course it seems to make sense, but there is actually some science suggesting otherwise.
Many people believe that as long as a carbohydrate digests slowly, it should keep your blood sugar stable and make it less likely for you to gain fat.
But the truth of the matter is that structuring your nutrition program around “slow-digesting carbohydrates” is actually not an effective way to get the nutrition you need.
There are actually 4 primary reasons why this is the case. Let’s go ahead and take a closer look…
Gaining weight and gaining lean muscle are two entirely different things. While increasing the amount you eat will almost certainly lead to you putting on weight, it will not automatically ensure that you gain lean, aesthetically pleasing muscle mass.
In order to effectively build muscle, you need to combine the right physical exercise with the right fuel for that physical exercise. It is, therefore, vitally important to pay attention to the nutrients you put into your body and to understand the role that carbohydrates play in the muscle building process.
Physical Activity and the Role of Carbohydrates
In order to build the lean muscle you desire, you need to engage in resistance training which specifically targets the major muscle groups in the body. Examples of these types of exercises include barbell curls, bench presses and squats. It is best to avoid working the same muscle groups in consecutive days and working out three to four times a week is ideal.
In order to perform efficiently, you also need to provide your body with the right kind of energy. Although proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals all combine to provide different things, carbohydrates in particular play a large role in muscle building.
All carbohydrates are not created equal. A food’s glycemic index, or GI, describes this difference in the way carbs act in your body, by ranking them according to their immediate effect on blood glucose (blood sugar) levels.
Carbohydrates that breakdown quickly during digestion, causing a rapid blood sugar response, have the highest GI.
Carbohydrates that breakdown slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have a lower GI.
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The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as stated by the Department of Health and Human Services, suggest that roughly 50% of your daily calories come from carbs. Thus, a person who eats approximately 2,500 calories per day should take in about about 300 grams of carbs. This number is not altogether bad for the average American, but we have to take into consideration the sources of those carbs.
These are the kinds of carbs to avoid at all costs:
sugary snacks and pastries
sugar-sweetened soft drinks or fruit juice
regular fried greasy chips
processed, packaged snack foods
high sugar kids cereals
processed white flour products such as white bread and pasta
These foods offer virtually no nutritional value, and they contain far too many calories. Some of these foods also contain saturated and trans-fats that are bad for your heart, and sugary foods can lead to such maladies as type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Specifically if you are already insulin resistant, you should avoid these bad carbs as they will just ruin your day by making you tired, slow, dumb, and hungry.
Instead choose these kinds of carbs:
whole wheat and whole grain products
beans, nuts, and other legumes
When Do I Need More Carbs?
People that exercise with high intensity or with prolonged endurance, can benefit from a high carbohydrate intake before exercise. It is feasible to consume a high carbohydrate meal before a marathon, or a moderately high carbohydrate meal before lifting weights or martial arts training. It is not a good idea to consume too many carbs in one sitting, but 50 grams is not out of the question if you are preparing for a physically draining event.
During and after exercise is also a key time to consume carbs. In fact this is the only time it is recommended to consume sugary carbs. I tend to sip on Gatorade during a workout and my post-workout drink contains about 40 grams of carbs in the form of dextrose. If allowed to choose, I would choose Biotest Surge as my post-workout drink of choice. This is a product that is specially formulated to replenish lost glycogen stores and restart protein synthesis after a demanding workout.
When Do I Need Fewer Carbs?
There is no need to eat carbohydrates at night. Ever. Some folks believe in consuming a high-carb meal the night before an event like a marathon, but I just don’t see it. I would say eat that meal in the morning if the event is in the late morning or early afternoon. The best time for a high carbohydrate meal is in the morning, when your body is prepared to uptake glycogen for energy for the day. Lunch should be a moderate carb meal as you don’t want to get that ‘bonk’ feeling in the middle of the afternoon. Also consider that if you don’t plan to exercise during the day then there’s really no need to gulp down many carbs at any point in the day.
Carbs and Fat Loss
If you are on a fat loss diet, then there’s definitely no need to eat more than 100 grams of carbs in any one day. I don’t necessarily support Atkins, but there are valid points to that diet. When I am in the middle of a hardcore cutting phase, trying to get as lean as possible in a given time frame, I will only consume 20-30 grams of low glycemic index carbs for breakfast.
For lunch I will try to avoid most carbs, opting for whole grain bread or a salad if necessary. My pre-workout drink is typically 1/2 a serving of Biotest Surge, I sip on Gatorade during the workout, then finish off with 1 serving of Biotest Surge after the workout. On non-workout days, I skip all of that and choose a protein bar, cheese, or a meat snack instead.
Dinner is always low carb during a diet. Soup, meat and vegetables, and salad are all great choices for low carb dinners. Appropriate snacks are meats, cheeses, protein bars or shakes, veggies, and other super-low carb foods. Typically in the midst of a diet phase, I eat around 75 grams of carbs on a non-workout day, and maybe 120-140 grams of carbs on a workout day.
In conclusion, I recommend that if you are moderately active, you should derive maybe 30% of your daily calories from carbs. Sure, my opinion differs from specialist government agencies, but that’s only because I have seen low carb diets work. I have also seen Americans grow obese and suffer from a long list of carbohydrate induced diseases.
A 200 lb man on a 2500 calorie diet would probably eat maybe 180 grams of carbs in a day, all from unprocessed whole food sources. A 140 lb woman on a 1500 calorie diet might only eat 100 grams of carbs in a day.
Someone on a strict diet might limit themselves to 50 grams of carbohydrates a day regardless of sex or weight. Just remember to avoid those nasty sugary processed carbs so that you can stay healthy, avoiding energy crashes and adult-onset type II diabetes.