The cliché that you are what you eat is absolutely true. Unfortunately the world we live in is littered with poor quality manufactured foods that aren’t conducive to the attainment of a desirable physique.
If your aim is to create and maintaining a lean, muscular body, processed carbohydrates and sugar are the most disastrous of food choices.
Due to the influence these substances have on our hormonal systems, an overconsumption of carbs and sugar will leave you with a soft and rounded midsection and an inability to efficiently metabolise body fat.
This is primarily due to a faltering insulin response. To sharpen your insulin sensitivity, you first need to cut our all forms of sugar and then implement some form of carbohydrate manipulation. When this is done in conjunction with a high-intensity weight training programme, body transformation magic usually ensues.
We’re not suggesting you go full-tilt Banting. The degree to which you should manipulate your carb intake will depend on many factors, such as your prevailing level of insulin sensitivity, your genetics, your daily activity levels, and your meal timing.
Before you go fiddling around with your carb intake, it’s first important to get the basics right. There are a few fundamentals that are universally relevant to anyone looking to improve their body composition. These include:
- Eating as close to nature as possible. This requires adhering to a diet that predominantly consists of organic meat and dairy, fish, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. As far as possible, stay away from processed and packaged man-made foods.
- Never exclude an entire food group, be it fat or carbs. Any diet that severely restricts or eliminates an entire macronutrient group can reduce your metabolism and stunt gains.
- Portion control and a controlled calorie intake are vital to keep weight gain in check. A slight calorie deficit of no more than 500 calories a day may be required to stimulate weight loss.
Timing is everything
Having established a solid nutritional foundation to create a platform for efficient fat loss, your final consideration should be macronutrient timing.
A balanced diet does not always mean that each plate of food must a portion of each macronutrient group. Consuming most, if not all of your starchy carbs during your post-workout meal – a dietary strategy commonly referred to as carb backloading – offers the ideal balance between limiting carbs to boost insulin sensitivity and reduce fat storage, while still fuelling your body with it needs to grow and perform.
Avoiding starchy carbs (like potatoes,, rice, cereals and pasta) at night also has its place in a dietary approach aimed at creating a lean body.
Eating fibrous veg at night with a source of protein is your best option. This meal may increase insulin levels slightly, but won’t negatively influence fat storage. The remainder of your daily meals can predominantly be composed of proteins and healthy fats to meet your daily macronutrient ratio requirements and your required daily calorie intake.