Many people may think I have put out a lot of Carb-PRO posts of late. But these aren’t really Carb-PRO pieces, they are just not ANTI-Carb. I despise the demonification and fear mongering of macronutrients or foods. It’s just not helpful. We must seek first to understand….everything and everyone.
That said, compared to mainstream dietary advice, I personally eat a fairly low carbohydrate diet, especially on non-training days. And the nutritional programs I create for people are on the lower end of the spectrum and I am in no way against the ketogenic diet.
We just cannot live and die by a one size fits all mentality.
Why “lower carb paleo” works is not some evolutionary magic. If we use solid nutritional and evidence based practices we get close to there for most humans, especially if they are not exercising to an excessive degree.
Rather than continue to chatter on about hypotheticals, let’s just roll out a real world example.
Gertrude is 5’ 6”, 29 years old, 155 lbs, 28% body fat, trains hard 3 times per week, and is fairly active throughout the day. Gertrude wants to lose 10 pounds of fat in the next three months or about 3-4% body fat. Totally doable.
In order to reach her goal she is probably in the window of 1,900 to 2,000 kcals a day, maybe a bit lower. I will err on the low side because this tends to be safer as people nibble and pick and tend to underestimate their intake.
SOOOO…if we have 1,900 kcals to work with and we want dear Gertrude to minimize any muscle mass loss, we will put her at 150ish grams of protein.
There goes 600 kcals or 31.6% percent of her intake.
Next, fat. It is fairly clear that humans need at least 30% of their diet (or about .3-.4 g/kg) to come from fat to maintain hormonal health. There is also a real world feasibility issue with fat intake. For Gertrude the bottom line is about 65 grams, which I have found is a little too low if one wants to eat things like avocadoes or use oils to cook with, so we will bump that to 80 grams or 720 kcals or around 38% of her intake.
So far that is 15 ounces of leaner cuts of meat, a tablespoon of oil with every meal, and an avocado to complete the party (if you went with fattier cuts of meat the oil would go bye bye).
Lastly, by process of elimination, we come to carbohydrates as it is the only non-essential macronutrient. We have about 600kcals left or about 150 grams. Not very low carb, but lower carb by default.
With only 150 grams of carbohydrate in play we now have to optimize food volume, otherwise she is not likely to be successful long-term. Cough aka the long term unsuccessful nature of nutrient deficient calorie counting schemes like Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig. That means that the majority of her carbohydrates will be from vegetables and maybe 1 or 2 servings of fruit with a meal.
And now we have a starting point…
Total food for the day
15 ounces of meat
3 TBS of Oil
Two – 6 ounce sweet potatoes (or two servings of 4-5 ounces of brown rice/quinoa)
1 cup berries
10 cups of vegetables
That’s A LOT of food!
This truly is the beginning. We have a plan and now we have to assess if this continuous caloric restriction works for her. It might not. She will likely not be hungry on this diet and on paper it’s stellar and has a lot of flexibility, but she could easily blow the week on a Friday night out. So we track, assess, and individualize over time.
Finally, if Gertrude doesn’t train hard three times a week her entire nutrition plan becomes utterly unfeasible as her carb count would go down to 38 grams. Womp womp.
So ultimately, if you don’t train and you want to lose weight and stay inside the lanes of where you should be in terms of protein and fat consumption, you would be close to a ketogenic diet anyways and probably rightfully so as your body wouldn’t require any kind of carbohydrate to get the job done. Because there isn’t any job to do!