When my buddy Tyler sent me an email explaining how adding a few carbs back into his diet got him more ripped than ever, I asked him to share his story on Da Blog for you. He graciously accepted. Thanks brother.
After all, you gotta be sick of me saying the same shit all of the time — there is no one Universal diet or macronutrient distribution that works for everyone, everywhere; you simply have to match the diet to the metabolic condition, training program, and physique goals; low-carb diets can be good or bad depending on the person/situation, etc.
I thought maybe you would take another ripped dude’s word for it. We’re about getting shit done on this site. Take it from my buddy Tyler who is doing just that.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
When I first began my experience regarding diet and weight training my approach was probably very similar to a lot of yours. Two goals in mind: build muscle and stay ripped. With all the controversy amongst macronutrients flying around you couldn’t help but get caught up in the mass confusion going back and forth. That wasn’t until I discovered Nate Miyaki that it finally cleared the air once and for all, and it was his teachings on carbohydrate metabolism, and the physiological use of glucose during exercise that truly changed the game.
You see I was training 5-6 days a week consuming no more then 25-50 grams of carbohydrates with the typical full blown paleo approach not realizing just how bad I needed the glycogen to fuel my workouts. I felt like I was spinning my wheels in an endless rut, my lifts were suffering, I was making no progress, my insomnia was increasing, and my libido was down the drain. That sh*t sucked.
It wasn’t until I reintroduced carbohydrates back into my diet that I gained my muscle mass back, and even new lean mass, and even lost more body fat then I had previously tried to with a carb restricted diet! My lifts immediately rose back up, I no longer sat in a constant brain fog, and my sleep was better then it had ever been in a long time. The lesson at hand is to truly understand and value the basic physiological responses of exercise and how sports nutrition is vastly different then that of a sedentary person. Understanding fuel sources is a basic principle that can allow you greater clarity amongst the body’s use of macronutrients entirely.
Do yourself a favor, leave the full blown paleo diet to the guy getting his exercise at the flick of the channel changer, keep the carbs for yourself — Tyler Holmes
First off, thanks for sharing Tyler. I think the best way to help people is just by being an open book. Thanks for letting us get a glimpse of your journey. And keep up the great work man. You’re looking frickin’ shredded.
Second, lets try to help everyone else reading this get some practical strategies from the post. Tyler added: “You seriously got me out of the most depressing rut iv ever been in regarding diet, and a pure paleo diet at that. You have completely changed my outlook on carbohydrate metabolism and the impact it’s made on my training, sex life, sleep, and mood is literally outstanding. I maintain this level of leanness eating 180+carbs a day, if not higher on training days.”
Here’s a few more carb bullets that might help clear up some carb confusion and get the rest of you on a more targeted plan:
1. Ketogenic diets (0-50g) certainly have their place. They may be the best approach for those suffering from certain diseases — cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc. For some, saving your life is more important than how you look, kicking ass in the gym, whether your wiener can stand at attention, or even how you feel. I tried to get my dad to follow a keto-style diet while he was battling cancer. So you see, I’m not completely biased — right diet for the right person is the right Way, not trying to slot everyone into one system.
2. But what’s good for someone suffering from a disease is not always good for a healthy athlete trying to attain high-level physique goals. I think ketogenic diets suck for hard training physique enthusiasts, unless maybe you are using steroids to compensate for the muscle loss and drops in testosterone. That’s not my style man.
3. There seems to be more and more people — even very highly intelligent people — trapped in no carb dogma. There’s intellectuals and biohackers eating <50g of carbs a day, and wondering why they are still soft/flabby, along with being anxious, depressed, stressed, in a foul mood all the time, and with the testosterone levels of Dora the Explorer. Too much literature and trying to sound smart at the water cooler, and not enough real life experience. That may come off as asshole-ish, but its really from a sincere place of wanting to help you. Why? I once thought I was smarter than physiology and it took years of struggling and getting nowhere (even regressing) to bitch slap me out of it.
4. A ripped physique is not just about losing weight. Its about losing fat while maintaining lean muscle mass, along with optimal NATURAL hormone production and metabolic functioning. Its about a balance of catabolic and anabolic activity, not just focusing on one or the other. The middle ground includes moderate carbs at the right times.
5. For a large percentage of the population that is sedentary, overweight, and pre-diabetic; I believe a lower-carb/carb-controlled (~100g) but NON-ketogenic diet is the best approach. The best understood version of Paleo (animal protein, healthy fats, and a relatively low carb diet coming primarily from whole fruit and non-starchy vegetables) is a great template to follow to lose weight and improve biomarkers of health, without the drawbacks of full-blown Keto Diets. Geeks can look into this study: Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets
6. But like I’ve said multiple times, high intensity, high volume, anaerobic exercise — the type that is necessary to build an impressive bikini or board short-ready body – completely changes the name of the nutrition game. Your body is in a completely different physiological, metabolic, and hormonal state than a sedentary person for 48 hours after an intense training session.
7. And no, you don’t want to be a “fat burner” or “burning fat” during your strength training, cross-training, or high intensity interval sessions. So get that fucking mentality out of your head. You want to be burning carbs/glucose. Actually, that’s all you can burn. The anaerobic energy production runs on glucose. It can’t use fatty acids or ketones. If all you want to do is jog, well, that’s a different story.
8. What you want to be doing is burning glucose/glycogen so you can kick ass in the gym. This sends a signal to your body to build lean muscle mass. Then, you want to be a “fat burner” the other 23 hours of the day during the recovery process.
9. So to properly fuel and recover from your high-intensity strength training sessions multiple times a week, I recommend somewhere in the ballpark of 1-2g carbs/lbs of bodyweight (or lean body mass), depending on the training phase and physique goal.
10. What’s lost in the great carb debate is total calories. If you strength train while maintaining a relative calorie deficit, you can still include some starchy carbs in the diet while losing significant amounts of body fat. The best part is you get better support of that anaerobic training, better energy, better muscle retention, don’t screw up your metabolism, don’t set yourself up for huge post-dieting rebounds, and maintain natural hormone production.
11. If you want to eat an unlimited fat diet and pour cream and vegetable oil over everything, you’re probably going to have to keep the carbs lower to stay within an optimal calorie range. But I still believe that is a mismatched diet and training protocol given anaerobic training.
12. The key is adding back in the right “types” of carbs to an anaerobic athlete’s diet. That’s why I use what I call the Traditional Japanese Village Diet Template. It is just as cheesy as the Caveman theme, but also just as easy to remember, thus making it a great educational tool. It is really just a Paleo Diet with the addition of rice and root vegetables as your primary starchy carb sources to support anaerobic training. If you add back a ton of sugar and health bars and workout drinks and gluten, yeah, you’re probably going to put on some fat. Blame the shitty food choices, not da carbs.
Damn, that got out of hand. Lets try a better, more concise summary:
1. <50g of carbs a day if you have cancer or Alzheimer’s (note, I’m not a doctor and neither is my area of expertise. Consult with a physician or medical nutrition therapist to discuss that option).
2. ~100g of carbs a day from mostly whole fruit and non-starchy vegetables (a Paleo-style diet) if you are sedentary and overweight, but otherwise healthy.
3. 1-2g of carbs/lb of bodyweight if you are strength training 3 or more days a week. If you’re not, you’re probably not going to get that beach body you want. If you are trying to shed fat, make sure that falls within the confines of an overall calorie deficit.
THE WRAP UP’S WRAP UP
And on a final side note, Tyler was kind enough to mention my work as an influence. This is where I could drop some bullshit about how his results were all because of me and I have the magic coaching secrets. But it wouldn’t be the truth.
I didn’t “coach Tyler”. Tyler coached himself. His results were all his own doing. All I did was provide a little information. He took the content from my articles, posts, and books, trusted it, and simply applied it. He took personal accountability, and was co-dependent on no one. The results speak for themselves. I believe you can do the same.
That’s why I truly believe that in order to get you to where you want to go, I have to focus on educating and empowering you through awesome content. Not coach you. Hopefully, this post is a step in that direction. And please thank Tyler for his contribution to it.