Category Archives: Fat Loss

How to Use Carbs to Burn Fat

Get lean with carbs? Don’t believe everything you hear.

Carbohydrates are your primary fuel source. However, carbohydrates have received such a bad rap because of distorted second-hand information from your buddies and, let’s not forget, the often misleading media (like infomercials). Reps! is here to right the wrongs and shed some truth on two of the most common carb myths.

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Myth 1: You Should Eat a Big Pasta Dinner the Night Before a Race

If your event is less than two hours long, carb loading will actually work against you. Carb loading, which involves storing glycogen for easy access, only helps toward the end of a long event, like a marathon. But it takes 2.7 grams of water to store each gram of glycogen. “When someone is carb loading, he actually puts on four or five pounds,” says Sam Rose, a certified nutritionist and owner of the Rose Nutrition Center in Los Angeles. During a short event, it’s not worth the trade-off of carrying around all that extra weight. Also, most people don’t know how to carb load properly. Eating a plate of spaghetti the night before a race will just increase your fat stores, not the glycogen stores you need to enhance performance.

To carb load effectively, start four to six days before an event by lowering your carbohydrate intake to 40 to 60 percent (down from the 75 percent recommended for endurance athletes). Taper your normal training by 80 percent, then 60 percent, then 40 percent. Three days prior to the race, increase your carb intake to 70 to 80 percent of your diet. On the last day, avoid training. “You have to get your muscles a little hungry for glycogen before you boost your carbs,” says Rose.

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Myth 2: A Low-carb Diet is a Great Way to Lose Weight

There are different types of carbs. Fruits and vegetables are extremely healthy, as are whole grains. Man-made refined sugar is the problem when it comes to weight loss and overall health. “White sugar and white flour are very bad for weight loss,” says Rose. They are concentrated in calories—especially calories from carbs. Naturally occurring carbohydrates also contain protein and fats, but refined carbs are very high in carb calories, which are easily absorbed by the body—they deliver the message that energy is readily available and make the body lazy about burning its own reserves. Refined carbs encourage fat storage and discourage the body to burn its fat reserves. “When we eat too many processed carbs, we short-circuit the body’s instinctive desire to be a fat-burning machine,” says Rose. But that doesn’t mean that you should eat low-carb. A healthy diet should be 60 percent carbs, he says, but you should be picky about the carbs you eat and make sure to include starchy carbs like squash and whole grains.

Easy fixes for losing fat with fiber

 

So, why should every man care about fiber—not the kind you wear but the kind you eat? One very important reason—particularly as you get older—is regularity. Another reason, and likely more important irrespective of age, is that fiber speeds the food through the digestive tract, allowing less fat to be absorbed by your body. Before going any further, it should be first pointed that there are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble.

Insoluble

Sometimes referred to as “nature’s broom,” insoluble fiber helps move food through the digestive tract more rapidly. Because your body doesn’t have the enzymes to digest the insoluble stuff that used to be called “roughage,” the indigestible fiber provides bulk and pushes undigested food through the gut to the end.

Found in wheat bran and the peels, skins, seeds and strings of fruits and vegetables, insoluble fiber is also believed to reduce your risk of colon cancer and diverticulosis (another serious colon condition).

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Soluble

On the flip side, soluble fiber boosts your health by combining with water in the gut to form a gel-like substance that delays the absorption of sugars and attaches to some of the fat and cholesterol in the small intestine to prevent their absorption. If you’re trying to maintain your weight or even lose some of that fat, this sticky business is a good thing, as you’ll see.

Oatmeal (not the instant kind), oat bran, flaxseed, psyllium, nuts, beans, carrots, apples, oranges, pears and berries are good sources that help reduce total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar and help with weight management. A study conducted at Saint Joan University Hospital and reported in the British Journal of Nutrition found that participants who consumed soluble fiber two or three times a day lost 10 more pounds and felt fuller after meals than those who ate little soluble fiber.

How Much?

While the typical North American only eats about 15 grams of fiber a day, active guys like you need to eat 25 to 35 grams a day. While this may seem like a lot, it’s not particularly difficult to do if you include the recommended minimum of two fruit servings, three vegetable servings and six grain servings a day, with at least three of them coming from whole grains, such as whole wheat pasta and brown rice.

Supplements?

While it’s easy to get all of the fiber you need by eating a balanced diet, fiber supplements may be considered an alternative in a pinch. “Look for a fiber supplement that provides three to five grams of fiber, and take two a day to boost your fiber intake by six to 10 grams,” suggests Robin Plotkin, a culinary and nutrition consultant and registered dietitian. Plotkin recommends taking one that contains psyllium fiber, which helps lower cholesterol when it’s part of a diet that’s low in saturated fat. “And be sure to drink plenty of fluid when you increase your fiber intake—at least eight glasses a day,” she adds.

Your Fiber All-Stars

It should be easy to hit your daily quota of fiber—25-35 grams—by mixing and and matching from this list.

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Note: All portions, unless noted otherwise, are for one cup.
Pass On Gas: As you add fiber to your diet, it’s best to do it gradually to avoid the formation of excess gas. By increasing your fiber intake by about five grams a day, your body adapts gradually and gas becomes less of a problem.