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Losing weight does not have to be a miserable experience where you cut out carbs completely in order to achieve ketosis – a state in which the body burns fats instead of carbohydrates as its main fuel source. Personal trainer and fitness expert Matt Hodges spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about why carbs are not the enemy.
Many of us will be trying to slim down this month in order to look and feel fantastic in our favourite Christmas dresses.
And there is a world of information online about how to do this, such as the ultra-popular keto diet, which involves eating less than 50g of carbohydrates per day.
But according to expert Matt, “no carbs before Marbs” is a limited idea in the weight loss school of thought.
He told Express.co.uk: “I think it’s quite widely known now that demonising carbs is old news.
“Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient and fall in line with a healthy balanced diet alongside protein and fat.”
Indeed, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that carbohydrates make up 45 percent to 65 percent of total daily calories.
If you’re a woman consuming around 2,000 calories (the NHS’ recommendation) per day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should be from carbohydrates – between 225 and 325 grams of carbs a day.
Matt continued: “Reducing the amount of carbs in your meals is just another way of reducing overall calories which equates to losing weight/fat.
“Now, carbs are more readily available, and more delicious than protein and fats which is why most people over-consume them.
“So logically, by reducing your carbs, you are going to lose weight. But to reduce them to zero like ketogenic dieting does, in my view, is unnecessary, and for some, unhealthy.”
Because the body is supposed to eat carbs, a no or low-carb diet might actually not be a good fit long-term.
The expert said: “More to the point, it is also quite unsustainable and will lead to further issues later down the line. The phrase might be catchy, but the philosophy has its flaws.”
Of course, there are some carbohydrates that are healthier than others. Wholegrain varieties such as wholemeal bread have more health benefits than refined ones, such as white bread.
Harvard published a guide for getting enough healthy carbs, recommending wholemeal bread, brown rice, quinoa, whole fruits and beans.
Matt’s next tip was to be mindful of not just what you’re eating but when you’re eating it. He stated: “The regularity of meals is essential for muscle gain and fat loss.
Again, this is another myth that was purported in the 80s and 90s by pro bodybuilders who tend to eat every two to three hours.
“This idea that eating in these intervals would help you build more muscle and burn more fat because you’re ‘keeping the engine running’ is a misconception.
“It is one of these myths that is born out of context. Pro bodybuilders eat, sleep, train, repeat. Kevin in accounting sleeps, eats, works, works, works, eats, sleeps.”
According to Matt, eating at your standard breakfast, lunch and dinner times will help you keep the weight off more easily than if you eat little and often throughout the day.
“Eating at these sort of intervals will probably only lead to a much higher calorie consumption (aka grazing) in the day and also, more importantly, give way to disordered eating.
“Imagine not being able to go into a meeting, or go and pick your kids up from school because you have to chow down half a turkey and a bit of rice? No thanks. Understanding and knowing how many calories you need per day is the only thing that regular Joes like us need to think about.”
Fitness expert Matt Hodges is the author of Behind Gym Doors, a deep-dive into the world of personal training, complete with weird and wonderful anecdotes about the industry and the people in it.
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