As the saying goes there are several ways to skin a cat and this certainly applies to fat loss! There are countless ways to stimulate fat loss via food, yet I do always find myself coming back to diets which do contain some form of complex carbohydrates. This isn’t to say I believe it is the only way to get lean nor the best, but from my experience I do certainly think that complex carbohydrates can stimulate fat loss especially when you know how to manipulate them correctly! Today I wanted to talk about the benefits of carbohydrate cycling and why I do advocate having reloading days!
Typical Eating for Fat Loss
Like many people when I follow a fat loss diet myself or write somebody else a plan I tend to restrict complex carbohydrate intake to certain times of the day, and there can be days where there are very few carbs eaten at all! The rest of the diet is then made up of lean protein sources and healthy fats. Personally, I tend to keep complex carbohydrates in for breakfast nearly all of the time, post-workout and during the earlier part of the day. The restriction tends to kick in later afternoon for me. Sometimes as mentioned above I can have several very low carb days on the run where I only have carbs for breakfast. This is probably a relatively common approach to fat loss, but before I sound as though I am advocating ultra-low carb dieting here is why I think high carb days are also great for fat loss!
Why Complex Carbs?
With a very low carb diet (to clarify I would qualify a very low carb diet as sub 50g of complex carbs a day!) your body is going to go through several changes over time. For a while fat metabolisation will be optimised, maybe for up to 6-7 weeks. However after that your metabolism can come crashing down as your leptin levels fall through the floor! Leptin is a hormone in the body which helps gauge hunger, telling your body whether it is starving or not and how to act accordingly. The lower your leptin levels fall the harder it is to burn body fat because your body believes it is starving when your leptin levels drop off. In this instance it is right as well, you probably are! So by now you are probably wondering how to keep your leptin levels high, having seen the benefits of doing just this! Complex carbohydrates are the answer; it is this very macronutrient which helps elevate leptin levels. Other carbohydrate sources such as fructose (mainly from fruit) don’t have a great effect on leptin levels, so you want to stick to oats, rice, pasta, potato and sweet potato.
Applying the Reload
So for all you hyper depleted zombies reading this thinking ‘’GREAT I can throw the entire contents of the bread and pastry section of my local supermarket into my mouth’’ hold your horses just one moment. Reloading the body with carbohydrates is not a ‘free for all’ feeding frenzy, it requires intelligence and obedience. On a reloading day it is advisable to use a diverse range of GI carbohydrates. For example, oats with some berries and banana would be an ideal reload meal. It has a cross-section complex carbs which can really help replenish your leptin levels. Depending in the person and how long they have been dieting, anywhere between 3-5 carb meals is advisable. If you have been carb depleted for say 7-8 weeks having 2-3 carb meals such as pizza, burgers, and Chinese can actually benefit you. These foods are obviously loaded with high glycemic carbs which can rapidly elevate leptin levels. The only downside is can you go ‘cold turkey’ again the next day having smeared your taste buds in heavenly food for 8-10 hours? If you can, then there is no harm in reloading with this kind of food but if you cannot then stick to clean meals. Plain baked potato, plain oats or even plain rice all sound like a kilo of chocolate to me when I have been on low carbs for weeks!
From this article I hope that you are able to see the potential benefits to utilising complex carbs as part of your fat loss plan!