All Carbs Aren’t So Bad!
Over the past few months you may have noticed a slight change in some of my meals on social media…. here is why!
As always, I can only tell you my story and how I feel with the foods I eat. I should also point out that everyone is different! This is what is working for me, and it may very well work for you.
Okay, yes I know, fats are the new cool word and everyone is jumping on the gravy train – some for health reasons, some for aesthetic reasons, and unfortunately some purely for the money.
As most would know I started with fats specific to the keto diet many moons ago; when fats were demonized and looked upon as a swear word.
What most fat lovers have done is create fear – and as anyone who has ever been in marketing or politics know, fear sells!
But is that the answer?
Scare everyone onto a diet?
Well I think there is a better, more logical, and compliant way to get people to understand carbs and fats, and how they can be used as a fuel and to gain real results.
Now there are many leaders in the keto community pushing the fear card who will convince you that if you were ever to eat a carb again you would be heading to doomsday.
The real problem I see here has to do with compliance. Most people I have trained cannot stay on a keto diet. The feedback I get is that it is it too rigid.
And I agree. It can be hard for most people.
In my opinion to get more people to the party we need to make it easier; and if that means low carb high fat (LCHF) with the keto diet only used from time to time, or even using LCHF as a gateway into the keto diet, well why not?
And let’s please throw some water on the fire of the phrase, “Oh, but that will kick you out of ketosis.”
It won’t kill you to come out of ketosis from time to time – I promise!
So my question is: How do we help the masses to stop eating the typical western diet on a large scale?
I think the first step is to stop the scare mongering and silly phrases linked to the keto diet.
Okay, there are exceptions to the rule. I am aware some people need to stay on a keto diet for medical reasons. That is fine, and so they should. However, if you are like me and are doing it for a better life, and don’t have any real trouble sneaking a few carbs in here and there, or if you have stalled in your results, the next part of this article may just be for you.
There are many different ways to do a low carb diet, and I think if some of you are finding the (skd) version of the keto diet a bit hard, you should investigate these guys: Abel James’s The Wild Diet, and Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint are a great starting point.
Also, I have an older article you may find helpful on this blog – SKD, CKD, and TKD: How to Choose the Right Keto Diet for You.
Meeting the X-Man: Toney Freeman
I remember the first time I met Pro Bodybuilder, Toney Freemen. It was in Dallas, Texas, at an event for the brand Pruvit.
We were sitting in the back where all the event speakers were congregating. I remember him asking me almost right away, “How long have you done Keto for?”
My reply was, “On and off for at least 5 years, however not like these guys do it.”
He looked at me and said, “How so?”
And I explained that I achieve better results when I eat clean protein and add my fats with nuts and oils; that I kind of lay of the bacon and creams, and so on.
Toney’s eyes told the story. They were wide open, and he said, “Wow! Finally! Me too!”
We immediately went off on a tangent: Why do people do it like this and why do people do it like that?
We ended up spending the best part of the week together, training, eating and talking about the problems we are seeing.
Since then we have been in regular phone contact and I have actually asked Toney to interview him, and ask what he feels are the main problems with the way some people are doing the keto diet.
I have been implementing a few other changes in my diet over the past few months: I have been introducing (macro-timing) a few extra carbs, mostly around weight training time. I feel it has definitely been helping me not only aesthetically, but I have also been experiencing a lot more strength and lean muscle growth.
I will touch on the term macro-timing shortly.
It is important to note that this process will not favour any type of endurance athletes. Sports such as Marathons, Triathlons etc. should remain on a full keto diet and pull their energy from ketones.
So, just like a car, we need to adjust the fuel for the right application. I think this where the carb confusion is. We need to accept that good carbs have their place in bodybuilding and having a great aesthetic physic. So, if I were to build a long distance car, I would have it use diesel or even a hybrid fuel source; but if I were to build a ¼ mile drag car, it would use a high explosive fast burning fuel such as methanol.
As most bodybuilders and sports researchers know, we have a window of time following exercise (especially bodybuilding and strength-training) during which the body can switch from a catabolic state to an anabolic state. The length of this window varies per individual, however up to one hour is what research suggest. This is commonly known by bodybuilders as the metabolic window or opportunity window. This is the time when carbs can be very effective.
Insulin and macro-timing
Insulin is known as one of the most powerful hormones in the human body. With correctly timed carbs, great things can happen with the carbohydrate insulin relationship.
It is important to point out that the macro-timing is everything when speaking of insulin. If you allow your pancreas to secrete insulin at a time of insulin insensitivity you are setting up an internal environment, resulting in disaster.
Insulin insensitivity can be described as a time when muscles are not primed for glucose uptake and storage. This is the typical every day scenario for sedentary individuals who consume too many carbohydrates. If this practice occurs over a prolonged period of time, individual can become insulin resistant. When this happens, the target cells along the muscles and other tissues fail to respond to the presence of blood insulin.
This condition is related to the pathology of obesity and diabetes1. And this is what we are seeing in Western diets today. Carbs are being misused and misunderstood, consumed at any part of the day alongside fats.
Mixing fats and carbs is the real no-no, and should never be done.
I should also mention that the wrong carbs are also being consumed, and that is the real problem we are having here.
Example of how I time my foods.
- Full keto high fat meal
- Lots of long black coffee Americanos
- A small keto high fat meal
- Higher carb meal; no fat, mild protein: 40g of white long grain rice (carb value not weight), and tuna. This meal must be low fat as it has carbs in it.
- 1pm weight training, intra training BCAA
- Post training same as 12:30pm meal. I tried using dextrose as its super-fast acting however I found it held a bit of water, I felt a little bloated this has not been the case with the rice.
4:30pm Late Afternoon
I eat a hand full of nuts any type.
Dinner,back to a full keto meal
I am full and satisfied and don’t need to eat anymore after this time; if anything I may snack on a few nuts or real peanut butter.
Water! I drink loads, per day.
- Carbs are only ingested around training
- Not many carbs are used. This is still considered to be a low carb diet
- Fats and carbs are always timed at least 2 hours apart
As you can see this is effective for what I am doing, and I am certainly not suggesting a high carb diet. The point is that we don’t need to totally close the door on all carbs as they may be effective for different purposes – especially sweet potato and a little rice.
Please don’t go downing pizzas and doughnuts daily – these types of carbs would be counterproductive from a health stand point. I consider them treats and am lucky enough to get away with having one junk meal a week without feeling or seeing any damage.
Take me as an example – maintaining the same size and low body fat as I have for the past 15 year has not easy. Holding lean body mass should come with its own PhD! This is why I suggest you keep trying new things.
Over the past 15 years my hormones have changed, and what worked for me last year won’t necessarily work for me next year. So I think keeping an open mind and constantly playing with foods is always very important. Just ask any bodybuilder.
If you feel you may be plateauing, or keto may be stalling for you, and you feel that you have repaired a lot of the metabolic damage a high carb diet has caused over the years, you may find that just slightly re-introducing some carbs into your diet may kick start your progress again.
I also suggest you try this if you are trying to put on some good lean body mass.
Listening to your own body is more important then what people tell you.