Live and let diet

USE ANY OF THESE “FAD” CARB-CUTTING NUTRITION PHILOSOPHIES TO SLIM DOWN IN TIME FOR BEACH WEATHER.

EVERY SERIOUS LIFTER KNOWS that one of the best ways to shed body fat is to cut carbs while consuming foods high in protein and essential fats. What you may not know is that there are many different low carb programs, and although they all work a little differently, they share one common trait: the ability to help you reduce body fat quickly while sparing muscle mass. Cutting carbs helps prevent insulin from spiking and encourages your body to release stored fat that can then be burned as fuel.

Initially, however, it takes body fat much longer to be converted into usable fuel than the carbs you consume. That’s why many people initially feel like their energy levels nose-dive when training on a low-carb diet. Science continues to show that low-carb diets are beneficial for burning body fat compared with diets equal in calories but much higher in carbs. Part of the reason for this is that taking in sufficient fats and plenty of protein helps stoke your internal furnace—your metabolic rate, the amount of calories you naturally burn at rest—which encourages additional release of body fat to be used as fuel. We’ve highlighted three different low-carb diets—a Paleolithic diet, a ketogenic strategy, and a carb-rotating plan—that can help you lean out fast. Some of the diets are somewhat controversial, and there are experts who take issue with these claims, but what’s important is that any of these programs will help you shed body fat.

1. THE PALEOLITHIC DIET

Philosophy

You’ll be shocked to find out that our ancient ancestors didn’t have access to farmers’ markets, convenience stores, or fast-food joints. They were limited to consuming the plants  and animals they could hunt or gather.

This meant that the bulk of their diet consisted of large amounts of meat, but only when it was available, plants—wild berries and certain greens—and often bugs (although bugs aren’t an emphasised part of the contemporary Paleo diet). What was absent from our ancestors’ diets were grains and large amounts of sugar and processed starches. Based on this, proponents of the Paleo diet argue that our bodies are genetically adapted to process the foods we’ve been eating for millions of years rather than those that have been added since the advent of agriculture and modern food processing. So consuming these ancient foods should lead to better health, muscle growth, and reduced body fat.

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THE PALEOLITHIC DIET

HOW TO FOLLOW THE PALEO DIET

Many people also include milk-derived protein shakes and insulin-spiking sugars around workouts to boost muscle gains while decreasing body fat.

BREAKFAST

Eggs, salmon, fruit

MIDMORNING SNACK

Chicken breast, spinach salad with olive oil

LUNCH

Lamb shank, sweet potato, asparagus

PRE-WORKOUT

Turkey breast, fruit breast

POST-WORKOUT

Egg whites, fruit

DINNER

Steak, baked potato, vegetables

BEDTIME SNACK

Boiled eggs

What you should eat

Meat, meat, and more meat, plus vegetables, fruit, tubers (yams and potatoes), seafood, nuts and seeds, and oils such as coconut and olive. Did we forget to mention meat?

What you shouldn’t eat

Grains, legumes, dairy (especially low-fat milk because of the lactose), and processed foods, particularly sugar and salt (other than sea), artificial sweeteners, and vegetable oils.

Pros

Paleo diets have gotten increasingly easier to adopt since they’ve become trendy, and they’re highly beneficial for people who aim to stay lean year-round while slowly increasing muscle mass.

There’s no need to cap your caloric intake, since you’ll get most of your calories through foods high in protein and dietary fats.

Cons

A Paleo diet is neither cutting nor a mass-building plan. It fits in the middle, which is not the best option for those who are trying to maximise muscle mass or fat reduction.

Why you should follow it

Consider the Paleo diet if you’re trying to decrease body fat while adding muscle mass, but you don’t aspire to compete on a physique or bodybuilding stage.

During the initial stages, it’s best to cut even fruits and vegetables to minimise carb intake so you can reach ketosis as quickly as possible.

2. THE KETOGENIC DIET

Philosophy

When you cut carbs out of your diet, your body requires an alternative source of energy to fuel activity. The body turns first to muscle tissue; however, taking in an adequate amount of protein encourages your body to use stored body fat.

HOW TO FOLLOW THE KETOGENIC DIET

You can include plenty of non carb dairy, but you need to cut out milk for its lactose. Also, take in low-carb protein shakes throughout the day.

BREAKFAST

Bacon, eggs

MIDMORNING SNACK

Cheddar cheese, no-carb deli meat

LUNCH

Salmon, avocado (or chicken and mayo)

PRE-WORKOUT 

Whey protein, creatine, BCAAs, glutamine

POST-WORKOUT 

Whey protein, creatine, BCAAs, glutamine

DINNER

Flank steak, spinach with olive oil

BEDTIME SNACK

Boiled eggs, turkey (or casein powder)

The ketogenic diet is a way to trick your body into thinking it’s in starvation mode while you’re still consuming enough calories from protein and fat to provide satiety and protect your muscle mass from being used as fuel. The ketogenic diet is very similar to the Atkins diet, with perhaps the biggest difference being that on Atkins you don’t pee on ketone strips to determine whether you’re in ketosis. This is the condition in which your body is releasing stored fat to fuel activity, and ketone bodies are present in your urine, providing a measurable indication that you are in this state.

What you should eat

Meat, cheese, oils, fish, eggs, very low-carb protein products.

What you shouldn’t eat

Processed foods, sugars, grains, and even vegetables and fruits when you start the diet.

Pros

You can consume your regular amount of calories, so you’re not likely to suffer from hunger. Add fibrous vegetables (broccoli, spinach, other greens) once you reach ketosis. Some endurance athletes have started following a ketogenic diet program, allows them to perform at extreme levels without “breaking,” because they have a ready supply of body fat and their bodies are no longer dependent on carbs to fuel activity.

Cons

You can’t eat carbs and stay in ketosis, making this a fairly restrictive diet. During the initial stages, it’s best to cut even fruits and veggies to keep your carb intake minimal so you can reach ketosis as quickly as possible. Also, you have to pee on ketone strips to check your urine for ketones, which isn’t as fun as you might think. Finally, it’s not uncommon for people to develop funky breath when they enter ketosis.

Why you should follow it

The ketogenic diet is among the fastest fat-loss diets available because you can eat just about as much as you want throughout the day so long as you stick to the foods in the program.

3. THE CARB-ROTATING DIET

HOW TO FOLLOW THE CARBROTATING DIET

Instead of having a daily plan, you need to understand how many carbs you should consume each day of the week because your diet varies significantly from day to day. Good sources of slowburning carbs are sweet potatoes (or yams), brown rice, oatmeal, and whole-grain breads. Fastburning carbs come from sugar, honey, and low-fat processed breads. You can even consume desserts such as angel food cake on some days so long as the fat content remains low. The following plan is based on a lifter who typically eats about 300 grams of carbs per day. You may need to adjust these numbers up or down depending on your body weight, metabolic rate, and typical carbs/calorie intake.

MONDAY 150g from slow-burning carbs in the morning and fast-burning carbohydrates around your workouts. Divide these into nearly equal servings. Other than vegetables, avoid carbs with your dinner and late night snack.

TUESDAY Same as Monday.

WEDNESDAY Same as Monday.

THURSDAY 400–500g of carbs, getting in plenty of carbs throughout the day. Cut dietary fats significantly on high-carb days.

FRIDAY Same as Monday.

SATURDAY Same as Monday.

SUNDAY 300g of carbs. Emphasise one large cheat meal rather than consuming carbs throughout the day. A low-fat pasta meal is a good example of a cheat meal for this day.

Philosophy

When you consume very few carbohydrates you begin to burn body fat. But your metabolic rate—the number of calories your body burns every day—also begins to decrease. However, drastically changing up the amount of carbs you take in on a daily basis helps rev up your metabolic rate. Rotating the amount of carbs you consume from day to day will help you feel better over the long haul, and it will allow you to burn more body fat than consuming a low-carb diet in which you don’t include high-carb days.

What you should eat

High-protein foods: meat, eggs, protein shakes, cheese, vegetables, and fruit. And even high-carb foods, such as low-fat sugary treats on specific days.

What you shouldn’t eat

Foods high in both fats and carbs; you’re permitted to consume them separately, just not at the same time.

Pros

The high-carb days help your muscles get full while you’re also reducing body fat.

Cons

Many people follow a routine meal plan. Carb rotating forces you to change up your plan based on the day of the week.

Why you should follow it

It’s one of the best plans for maintaining muscle mass while torching body fat.

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