I still have to write Part 3 of the P90X critique series (see Part 1 and Part 2), but I stumbled across something today that I had to write about immediately. It is the 100 gram carb cure (click here for the original article), and it might just be one of the best and simplest rules there is to follow that I've ever read about when it comes to losing fat.
If you don't want to click that link to read the entire article, here is my take on it.
If you want to strip off fat, make this one change to your diet, and you should be golden.
Eat 100g of carbs a day.
Why is this a good idea? Well, it's not too low and it's not too high. Let's examine this in greater detail.
A lot of people attempt very low carbohydrate diets because they heard that carbs are the devil. One potential problem with very low carbohydrate diets is ketosis, but more importantly, very low carbohydrate diets tend to mess up recovery from workouts. You see, it is very important to have carbohydrates immediately following a workout (see post-workout nutrition). Without doing this, you aren't going to make much gym progress, your muscles will degrade, etc. Since the purpose of this blog is fat loss and not weight loss, it is good to make that distinction. I am not in the business of making people small and weak (lean and strong is more like it).
100 grams of carbs is also not too high. It is true that high carb diets aren't very good for fat loss. In fact, they are terrible for fat loss and great for storing more fat, which very few people actually want. Now the question becomes... why 100? Well, 100 is a good number because it isn't too low (like I said, it allows for adequate post-workout nutrition), and it is high enough to allow for eating extremely healthy fruits and vegetables at every meal (one of the 6 nutrition fundamentals I outlined in The Theory of Fat Loss, which you can still get for a discounted price).
The questions that always comes up from people who aren't well versed in nutrition is, "Why can't I just count calories? Isn't it just about calories in and calories out?" Of course it isn't. If it were that easy, everybody would be lean and every diet would work.
1. Your body isn't 100% efficient at utilizing calories. In fact, many calories you consume end up in the toilet. The efficiency at which you use calories depends on your own physiology AND the foods you eat. So, it is impossible to know day to day how many calories you actually need to consume to meet your requirements. This can be estimated if you eat the same foods day in and day out, but why bother when there are much easier rules to follow?
2. Calories in versus calories out does not account for what type of body tissue you lose. If you have a 1000 Calorie deficit every, you aren't going to be selectively burning off fat. You'll lose a great deal of muscle. Do you want to lose muscle? Wouldn't you rather maintain muscle and burn fat? There is no way that calories in vs calories out is useful in helping you figure this out. Not only that, but do you know how many calories your body uses every day? More importantly, will you know a month from now when you are 10 pounds heavier or 10 pounds lighter. Your resting metabolism changes depending on your level of activity, the intensity of the activity, how much time and energy it takes to recover from activity, and your body weight. So, calories in versus calories out isn't even practical.
3. Hormones. You'll screw them up big time following that rule. Then there's the poor gym performance and crappy diet choices. Another one of my nutrition fundamentals is simply to choose the healthier food. Quality matters. Calorie counting and in vs. out is not very useful or healthy.
Anyway, I'd recommend reading the original article for full details on the 100g carb rule because they go into a lot greater detail than I could have in this brief summary. You can learn all about auto-regulation, get exact meal plans, and many other nutrition tidbits. Here is the link again.