How Do Carbohydrates & Diet Mix?
“If I’m on a ketogenic diet and eating virtually no carbs, how do I get energy for my body to keep functioning? …Don’t we need carbohydrates?!”
…This is one of the most common questions heard from people who are just beginning to learn about the ketogenic diet. The fact that our bodies can operate in a fat-burning mode, without the need for carbohydrates, is a mind-bending thought that goes against the grain of all we’ve ever been taught by society.
On A Ketogenic Diet, How Do We Get Carbohydrates Into Our Bodies?
…If you’ve been asking yourself this question as you’re trying to figure out this “ketosis thing”, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s a very common among those looking into ketogenic diets for the first time. After all, we’ve always been taught by society, food companies, and the government that we need a high daily intake of “wholesome, heart healthy, whole grains.”
So it is totally understandable that many people, perhaps yourself, have a difficult time getting past that first point: that our bodies are designed to operate best by primarily burning fats, not carbohydrates.
In short, you don’t have to intake very many carbohydrates for your body to function properly. On a ketogenic diet, you want to keep your carbohydrates under 50 grams per day in weight maintenance mode, and more like less than 30 grams per day in weight loss mode (these numbers vary from person to person, you’ll find out your threshold through testing and tracking what you eat).
Carbohydrates are like the bully that cuts in line ahead of fat. If you consume more than the amount of your personal carb threshold for staying in ketosis, your body will take the path of least resistance and burn the carbohydrates for energy instead of fat.
Note: On the ketogenic diet, you’ll actually have to work pretty diligently to keep your carb intake down, with “hidden carbs” being in so many foods, even the foods that are good for us, like bell peppers for instance (about 9 grams of carbs in one green pepper).
The Truth Is, You Don’t Need Carbohydrates:
So, the truth is that you don’t actually need very many carbohydrates for optimum function and performance – if you’re consuming health fats – despite what you may have been told all these years. Our brains actually perform better, and we have clearer thoughts when being fueled by ketones (instead of glucose).
Check out this video from TED-Ed, where he explains how carbohydrates are managed by your body, how they effect your health, and how over-consumption of carbohydrates leads to health issues like insulin resistance, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome:
Re-Thinking Carbohydrates & Diet
Health & nutrition experts have been mislead in their education for years, of what a healthy diet consists of, and that has led to our society’s current struggles with massively growing rates of obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. But many are beginning to realize something is off with the traditional nutritional advice, and they’re seeing the light (as you are now!) being shone on what’s truly healthy. Increasingly more studies are proving that a ultra-low-carb, moderate-protein, high-healthy-fat diet is best not only for weight loss, but also for overall health and wellness.
There is an exception to the “you don’t need carbs” statement. After combing through an extensive amount of research and studies, nutrition aficionado John Keifer, discovered that the longer one remains on an ultra-low-carb diet (aka Ketogenic diet), their body begins producing less key fat-burning hormones. This process actually makes it harder for you to maintain or lose weight, as you’re fighting against your own body, which is wanting to burn less and less energy/fat.
Keifer’s solution to this problem is a once-per-week (or every other week for those who take longer to get back into ketosis) “Carb Nite“, where one consumes a high amount of carbs for a 6 to 8 hour period. Doing so spikes blood sugar levels only temporarily, so the carbs consumed won’t immediately be stored as fat, since the body was just in ketosis (fat burning mode). But after the blood sugar levels recede, the residual effect is that for the next 3 to 4 days the body increases production of those fat burning hormones.
It’s a fascinating concept, backed up with research, that I’ve only touched the surface of here. To learn more about Keifer’s Carb Nite, check out his site here.
Is A Ketogenic Diet The Best Way To Lose Fat In Your Body?
If you’re like anyone who has tried to lose that stubborn body fat, you’ve likely tried multiple diets, and attempted a variety of exercise programs, all in hopes of finding a miracle solution to just melt away those extra pounds…but always being disappointed in less-than-promised results (even if you did stick with what they told you to do).
If that’s you, don’t beat yourself up. It’s all because the creators of most diets & exercise programs are misinformed about how the human physiology really works and under what conditions the body burns fat the best. And for many, it’s no fault of their own, but simply a result of them being taught incorrect information about diet & nutrition in their formative years.
We’ve been told for decades how to eat in ways that are supposed to make us healthy, but instead as a society those ways of eating have made us sick.
On a ketogenic diet, you cut carbohydrates from your diet (there are still some even in many foods that are good for us, so you’ll still have some carbs), and increase your consumption of high-quality healthy fats, switching your body from being a “sugar-burner” to being a “fat-burner”.
Some Tips On Losing Body Fat
- Cut the Carbohydrates – If you’re consuming carbohydrates (more than your personal carb threshold to stay in ketosis, which is typically 30-50 grams of carbs per day), your body will ALWAYS burn them first for energy. And as long as it’s doing that, it will not be burning the fat you want to lose. Once you’ve cut the carbs from your diet, giving your body healthy fats as its energy source instead, then your body will start melting away fat as it burns it for energy.
- Use High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Routines – the typical go-to exercise for fat-burning is some kind of long-duration, medium-intensity exercise: like running long distances, or spending long amounts of time doing “cardio”. But these forms of exercise can be very detrimental not only to your weight loss but your health as well. The best way to kick the body into fat loss mode with your exercise is by doing things that are very high intensity, but last for only short bursts of time. The perfect example would be sprints or burpees. Go for less, but higher-intensity, exercises!
- Forget The Calories-In-Calories-Out Mantra – Most nutrition experts no longer believe this old mantra that was taught in so many fad diets. They used to say, “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie,” meaning they’re all the same. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your body reacts completely differently to a calorie of fat than it does to a calorie of carbohydrates. When you’re on a ketogenic diet of ultra-low-carbs, moderate-protein, & high-healthy-fats, and doing HIIT exercise routines, you’ll be able to eat more food and continue losing body fat, because you’re eating the right foods that fuel your body.
The Physiology Of How The Body Burns Fat:
The video below gives some insight on how the process of fat loss actually works in your body: