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Low Carb Facts

We get a large number of inquiries about carbohydrates. Apparently, the Internet is full of self-appointed experts either spewing unfounded nonsense or trying to hawk useless potions or diets.

Here are the facts you need to know, so you don't waste your time sorting through all the blogs and other sources of disinformation.

The basic energy equation applies:

[energy in] - [energy out] = [energy left for weight gain].

This is why planning your meals and eating nothing other than what you planned works so very well. And it's why every bodybuilder uses this method.

If you are paying attention to how MUCH you eat or simply reducing total quantity by cutting carb sources, then yes--you will reduce body size this way. At least for a while. But it's not sustainable. For most folks, it doesn't work at all because they substitute more calorie-dense foods in place of good foods that are "carbs" and they just end up frustrated.

If you are seeking to reduce size, a diet high in foods classified as carbohydrate sources is the way to go. We aren't talking about processed grain products, such as breads and pastries. Nor are we talking about juices, candies, or other calorie-dense foods. We are talking about your basic fruits and vegetables. Fresh, not processed.

The vegetables that should be the cornerstone of your diet are, in fact, classified as carbs. Cut these out in favor of protein sources, and you reduce your ability to burn fat. You also reduce your nutrient density and raise your calorie density.

The key is not to reduce consumption of any one macronutrient but to reduce overall consumption. Reducing any one macronutrient is not sustainable, and it actually leads to cravings and binges. Thus, low-carb, low-fat, or low-protein diets invariably lead to an increase in body fat.

If you want to be leaner, eat less. Period.

The "secret" to having a lean body does not lie in any of the commonly-pushed schemes for "weight loss" or in some pill. It lies in the very simple formula: calories in minus calories out.

Let's put three facts together:

  • Fact: Nobody at Auschwitz was obese. *
  • Fact: People at Auschwitz did not eat much.
  • Fact: Their meals were nearly 100% carbs.

Hmm. There's a major clue. Can you guess what it is?

Now, let's put three other facts together.

  • Fact: Americans, who are more obese than Europeans, eat significantly more than Europeans (in general).
  • Fact: There are people who live on soda and chips but are not fat (they aren't healthy, but at least they aren't fat).
  • They don't eat many chips or drink much soda.

Hmm. They are on a very high carb diet. Is the answer high carb instead of low carb? No, the answer has NOTHING to do with carbs. It has to do with meal size.

Hmm. Could it be that simply eating less actually works?

  • The short answer: Yes.
  • The long answer: Yes.

Of course, it's important to eat the right foods. The less processed, the better. Eat mostly produce. This gives you a strong body. But for a lean body, you must eat less. Combine the two (better + less)with a decent exercise program, and you succeed. It really is that simple.

"But eating less makes me so hungry I could faint." If this is your excuse for binging, you probably eat "three squares" a day. Bad mistake. This stretches your stomach and causes hunger-inducing blood sugar swings.

Some things are worth a little work and sacrifice. Your lean, healthy body is one of those things. Discipline is important, and it will get results. Making excuses will not.

Start eating smaller portions, and you'll see that body fat percentage drop. It's not about fewer carbs--it's about fewer calories. That means eat less overall, while also eating fewer high-calorie foods.

Instead of snacking on some junk that comes in a cellophane bag in a box, cook some snapped green beans. A tad of olive oil and some diced onion, and you have one delicious, nutritious, low-calorie, satisfying, nutrient-dense treat. Go for it!



A note on whey shakes. You do not "lose weight" by adding whey shakes to your present diet. Many people think if they visit the gym and do a low-intensity workout, they need a 1.200 calorie whey shake. They then take diet pills in an effort to fight off the fat they subsequently pile on.

Whey is a short chain protein molecule, which means it is absorbed very quickly. After an intense workout (very rare among gym rats), your muscles are depleted enough for you to use whey. But for most people, what happens is their bodies can use maybe 10% of that shake and their livers convert the rest to fat.

There is nothing wrong with whey protein supplements. The problem is most people misapply them and thus get the opposite results of what they intended. Use a protein blend, and use small servings of it (aim for 20g of protein per 150lb of lean body weight--that weight is your body weight minus your body fat) to prevent this problem.


Footnote to Auschwitz comment:

I'm not making light of Auschwitz. People there were starved to death, and worse. I'm a big fan of Wiesel; I think any time we can mention Auschwitz in conjunction with the idea of starvation, we should do it. It wasn't just a "prison camp" or "relocation center." It was a place of immense suffering and horror. Too many people are too willing to forget. When I was in middle school, we saw film clips of those camps many times. I won't forget.



Article Authorship

The articles on this site are authoritative, because:

  • Every contributor is an expert in his or her field.
  • The articles comply with the accepted principles of the bodybuilder literature.
  • The articles comply with the teachings of such luminaries as 8-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney.

 Where an article is not bylined with a specific author's name, it was written by Mark Lamendola (see photos on home page and elsewhere on this site). Mark is a 4th degree blackbelt, has not been sick since 1971, and has not missed a workout since 1977. Just an example of how Mark knows what he's talking about: In his early 50s, Mark demonstrated a biceps curl using half his body weight. That's a Jack LaLanne level stunt. Few people can even come close. If you want to know how to build a strong, beautiful body, read the articles here.

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