We'll tackle morning starches first. Since you have been asleep, and sugars have been depleted early in the sleep cycle, you can safely ingest some starchy carbs without much fear that any will be stored as bodyfat. Morning carbs are more likely to be shuttled by insulin into the muscle cells of the body, and/or the liver. For maximum fat loss during the course of the day, I suggest minimizing morning starches, and obtaining your sugar sources from non-gluten sources that are rich in fiber and will disperse more slowly into your blood stream. I really like beans as a morning carbohydrate source, as beans typically have around 15 g of fiber in a serving, some additional proteins, and break down more slowly in the stomach and facilitate slower absorption. Fruit is another great fibrous carb source for breakfast, and contains more good stuff than, say, some wheat toast or other gluten containing breakfast fare that will just leave you hungry again in a few hours. I will go further to say that even on my very active days, I rarely consume any starches in the morning; I opt for some healthy fat choices to beef up my caloric intake, as this is a much better way to keep blood sugar stable and under control, which is listed in more detail under Habit 2.
That improved insulin sensitivity upon waking is like a window of opportunity to ingest carbohydrates, and once that window closes, it should be protein, fibrous veggies, and healthy fat sources primarily throughout the remainder of the day, unless some bout of intense energy expenditure is commenced. Which brings us to, hopefully, our workout on the way home from work. If you are trying to lose bodyfat, I recommend some protein before workouts, but really no carbs to speak of; any carbs that are ingested immediately prior to the workout will simply be utilized as fuel for the workout, and it will increases the time before your body starts breaking down it's own fat stores for energy. I mean, why go through the trouble of oxidizing fat for energy when there's plenty of sugars floating around in the bloodstream? Your body is always trying to do things along the path of least resistance. So, ingesting some protein will boost your blood amino acid levels and can deter the body from breaking down muscle tissue for energy. If you are an athlete trying to maximize performance, then starches would be great prior to training, but if you are trying to shed fat and maximum performance is not your primary goal, ditch the preworkout carbs.
So, this brings us to the other time when carbs are indicated: post workout, or after any other bout of moderate to high-intensity exercise lasting more than 30 minutes in duration. After periods of activity, the glycogen or sugars that are stored in muscle tissue will become depleted, and you will have another window of opportunity to ingest starchy carbs. Since you have depleted the muscle tissue of energy, that same insulin response that stores bodyfat most of the other times in the day will be more likely to actually drive the sugar molecules into the muscle cells instead of the existing fat cells. This is going to be true any time of the day that there has been a significant energy expenditure. When society was farming, walking everywhere, building their own homes, taking care of livestock, etc., that would facilitate a great caloric expenditure, necessitating more foods like potatoes, Rices, Breads; since the most work we do is walking from our car to our office, we simply don't need all of that instant fuel source, and that is why it all just gets stored away as bodyfat for later use. And this is why nutrient timing, especially with carbohydrates, is imperative to lean body composition. With most clients, limiting the starches to these two times of day produces rapid and consistent bodyfat loss, since we are eating the carbs when needed and only when needed, thereby stoking the metabolic furnace, managing blood sugar, and creating an environment that is still conducive to gaining lean body mass, if that is your goal (should be everyone's!)...
As far as carbs, I have my weight-loss clients count the starchy ones, and try to keep the number under 100 grams on workout days, and under 50 grams on non-workout days. The extra 50 grams on workout days should all come immediately post workout. If you are trying to pack on some lean muscle too much additional bodyfat gain, you can employ these strategies with a little tweak: Drink a sugar-containing supplement drink during your bout of exercise, and then follow that up with post workout carbs in the 50-100 gram range. This strategy helps me achieve maximum performance during the workout, and achieve muscle gain with minimal fat gain.
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