Find the right balance
Low-carb, high-fat diets aren’t for everyone. In fact, there is still uncertainty about these diets’ long-term effects and the potential impact that constantly training at high intensities in a glycogen-depleted state can have on the body.
But more people are realising that insulin is a major cause of many health problems experienced today and that overconsumption of all the processed carbohydrates and sugar that characterises the modern westernised diet has led to our current health predicament.
Accordingly, many people are looking for the middle ground; a dietary compromise that offers the right balance of carbs, fats and protein to fuel their active lifestyles, improve their health and help them lose weight and body fat.
For many, the answer is some form of carbohydrate manipulation technique. These approaches can help to improve your insulin response and sensitivity, without the extreme restriction associated with low-carb eating.
It comes down to carb quality
Whatever approach you adopt, it is vital to stick with natural, whole-food carbohydrates sources, whether you’re a physique competitor, an endurance athlete or just someone looking to transform your body.
The closer your carbs are to their natural state the better they are for you. Most of these foods will consist of complex carbohydrates, a form which our bodies have been designed to digest and absorb efficiently to deliver a sustained energy release.
Timing your carb intake
The next important element is nutrient timing. Where many people go wrong is thinking that a balanced diet means dishing up a portion of carbs, protein and healthy fats at every meal.
The issue with this approach is that it continually spikes insulin, which may reduce insulin sensitivity over time and promote fat storage instead of fat loss. That’s why we need a more strategic approach to our carb consumption.
Stated another way, if your daily carb requirement is 200g, there is no reason why you need to divide that up equally across your three or four daily meals.
As carbs provide our most readily available source of energy – glucose – it makes sense to eat most, if not all of the daily recommended intake before, during and/or directly after intense activity.
Following this approach ensures a beneficial supply of circulating glucose in the bloodstream, which can be absorbed and used almost immediately by muscles for fuel, leaving little to be stored as fat.