Serving the Sacramento Area

Carb Flex Diet, try it to lose that fat!

Is food an enemy?  Not at all!  But people tend to make it one and it doesn’t have to be.   One topic that is always up for debate with food is our love for carbohydrates.  Personally, I am guilty of eating carbohydrates, but why do so many people feel guilty when eating carbohydrates?  My clients, friends, and family, always bring up fitness and health topics to me and every single one of them has not pinpointed what they should do when it comes to consuming carbohydrates.  Some want to cut them completely, some eat carbohydrates during anytime of the day, and some only eat carbohydrates in the morning and they are completely done with carbohydrates for the rest of the day.  Here it is; the carbohydrate debate.  It seems this debate is a frequent occurance throughout the nutrition and fitness world too.  Everyone has different questions when it pertains to carbohydrates.  Here are some of the questions I hear and read daily.  How many carbohydrates you should eat per day?  Should you eat gluten free carbohydrates?   Should you only eat Paleo based carbohydrates?   One thing all these questions have in common is they reference the importance of incorporating some type of carbohydrate into your daily diet.  Side note,  let me clear on one thing, the word “diet” is one of the most misconstrued words in the weight loss, fitness, and health world.  The definition of the word “diet” means your daily intake of food.  It doesn’t mean to restrict your body of nutrients and food, but more or less to provide your body with the best food throughout the day.   Throughout the years of studying the effects of carbohydrates on the body and personally trying different ways of using carbohydrates in my diet and training, I have concluded what I believe to be the best option for consuming carbohydrates for anyone who eats food throughout the day.

Why do carbohydrates matter so much on the human body?  Without carbohydrates, you would not be able to function at a high level physically and mentally.  First of all, when eating carbohydrates you should make sure they are healthy carbohydrates.   These will be the carbohydrates found on the low to medium scale on the glycemic index.  These are the best suited for the human body.  What is the glycemic index?  It’s a food index that shows which foods contain the most sugar carbohydrates.   Furthermore, it takes into account the amount of sugar which effects the blood glucose levels in the human body.  The higher it is on the glycemic index, the more it will effect your blood glucose levels in your body.   Sugar in carbohydrates varies food item to food item, and it’s important not to drastically spike your insulin levels throughout the day without a game plan on how to use that sugar in carbohydrates.   If the body doesn’t spike it’s insulin quickly, the fuller you will feel during the day and less chance of  fat storage after consuming carbs.  Try working out off of a maple bar and try the same workout using a bowl of oatmeal, and let me know how your body feels during the workout?  Log your strength and endurance throughout the entire workout so you can see the difference.  Believe me, I have tried this many times on various exercise programs which includes cardio and weight training.  You will be strong with endurance and strength in the beginning of both, but after that initial sugar wears off from the maple bar, you will fatigue and want to head home for the day.  Maple bars are high on the G.I. and oatmeal rates much lower on the G.I.  Just food for thought when you want to eat before you train.   Rule of thumb: stay away from high sugar items like maple bars, candy, white breads, high sugar juices, etc.

Two things I know about carbohydrates: they are great for you, and the amount you eat per day based on what activity you are doing makes a complete difference on your body.  Timing is everything!  Let me explain more, eating based on activity is very important for anyone who is training or dieting because your activity level will dictate what food you should eat and when.  Once again, let me reiterate that timing is everything for your body so if you neglect your body of the right nutrients when it needs it, your body will fail to improve.  Carbohydrate cycling also known as carb cycling is the best way to eat carbohydrates during the day, week, and month.  Why is that?  It will help you lose more body fat while gaining more lean muscle mass.  It really doesn’t matter if you are trying to build muscle or lose fat, the process of eating carbohydrates is the same for getting the right nutrients into the body at the right time.

Here are a few steps that should help you get going on a carb cycling diet.  First step, map out your workout program so you know what your specific/target muscle groups are on what days.  Major muscle groups deserve more calories than smaller muscle groups; in fact, leg day will burn more calories and need more carbohydrates than doing arms …So I would eat more carbohydrates on leg day than on arm day.   Giving the right amount of carbohydrates to the right muscle groups will be the second step in this process.  For example, on a leg day, I will consume 400 grams of carbohydrates on a 3,000 calorie per day diet program, which breaks down to roughly 53 % of my calories consumed in one day will be via carbohydrates.   The rest of my calories will be balanced between healthy fats and proteins.  Secondly, on shoulder day I will consume 100 grams of carbohydrates.  Third example, on your off day, you should do low carb day which is about 50-100 grams per day (based on a 2,000 calorie diet program).  Why so low on your day off?  You aren’t utilizing carbohydrates the same way on your day off because your intensity level and calorie need diminishes when you are not working out.  Here is how your week should look in relation to carbohydrates per day: 2 high carbohydrate days, 3 medium, and 2 low carb days.  Map that out for the entire month.  Please note, if you feel like you aren’t getting enough carbohydrates during the day add a re-feed day in the middle of the week, which means 50% of your calories per day should be carbohydrate based.  To summarize, when breaking down what days should have how many carbohydrates, think about how hard it is for your muscles to lift.   The harder it is for those muscles, the more carbohydrates you should consume that day.

Breakdown for a week of workouts : All in carbohydrates

  • Sunday, day off: 150 
  • Monday, Arm day: 250
  • Tuesday, Leg day:400
  • Wednesday, Chest day: 250
  • Thursday, Back day: 400
  • Friday, Shoulder day: 150
  • Saturday, Cardio and Ab day: 250

Next step, after labeling how many carbohydrates you are intaking per day, you should break it down into what time of the day you will have those carbohydrates.   Eat all your carbohydrate calories in the morning, afternoon, or for pre-training.  Honestly, for best results break down the amount of carbohydrates you will consume meal by meal and snack by snack.   Most people like to consume carbohydrates late at night, yet it isn’t necessary for the human body that late in the day; therefore, when using a carb flex diet do not eat carbohydrates late at night, which is about 3-4 hours before bed.  Secondly,  try not to do a low carb day too many days in a row because your brain functions off of carbohydrates, and you will start to notice your attention span slowly going bye, bye and you will not remember things as often or as quickly, etc.

Finally, focus on eating the right types of carbohydrates all day long and at the right time.  If you do this for 30 days or longer, you will see your fat shrink and your lean muscle mass go up.  Eating right is challenging and time consuming, but it is well worth the results.


Here is the breakdown of calories per gram:

Carbohydrates=4 calories per gram

Proteins=4 calories per gram

Healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) = 9 calories per gram.