How many carbs should I eat to lose weight?
There’s so much confusion over carbs when it comes to losing weight.
On the one hand you have experts telling you that carbs are needed for energy and on the other hand you’re being told it’s very difficult to lose weight if you’re eating them.
So, which is it? How many carbs should you eat to lose weight?
Well the answer is it depends on a few important factors BUT there’s no need to overcomplicate this process.
Firstly, carbohydrates are needed for not only energy, but testosterone production and as a man over 40, cutting them out isn’t a good move!
You’ll feel tired, have awful workouts and get very irritable. Carbohydrates make us feel good and keep us feeling full, cut them out and life starts to get miserable very quickly indeed.
How many carbohydrates you need is unique to you, your current body weight, body fat percentage and activity level.
And as you lose weight that figure will alter, because your energy requirements will alter in line with your new body weight.
Get your daily calories
Firstly, you need to know how many calories your body burns at rest, because the mistake that a lot of men over 40 makes is thinking there’s a special number of carbs that helps to lose weight when in fact it’s TOTAL calories that’s important.
That means if you had 200 carbs on day one, but then had 400 grams of carbs for the rest of the week, you could still lose weight providing you don’t exceed your daily calorie allowance.
But, if you just consumed nothing but carbs, your nutrition wouldn’t be optimised for the leanest body composition.
So, to get your daily calories, you’ll need to know how many calories your body is burning per day and then eat not more than 20% less than your BMR to lose weight at a sustainable rate.
Get your daily carb intake
You can only get YOUR daily carb intake once you know how many calories it’s going to take to lose fat in the first place.
Between 35-40% of total calories works well for carbohydrates, this provides adequate energy requirements, keeps you feeling full and keeps you losing fat.
And if you’d like to take it a stage further have slightly less carbohydrates on non-training days and slightly more carbohydrates on training days.
Then you’ll need to translate calories from carbohydrates into the daily grams you need to eat each day to lose weight.
Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram meaning if you’re getting 800 calories from carbs, you’d need approximately 200 grams of carbs per day.
Eat the right sources of carbohydrates
Carbohydrates can come from a lot of sources, but it’s always best to stick to the most healthy and natural sources for the best benefits and weight loss.
For example, oven cooked chips are a carbohydrate, but they’re heavily processed and won’t contain added vitamins and minerals that other healthy carbs provide.
They’re also very high glycaemic, causing an insulin surge and crash. Much better to choose carbohydrates that are less insulin spiking.
If in doubt, simply choose carbs that are in their natural state, some great examples are oats, whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, whole grain rice, potatoes, fruits and vegetables.
Lose the right kind of weight
As a man over 40 your goal should be to lose primarily FAT. When you lose “weight” that means you can lose it from fat, muscle and water.
That’s why when you focus on just losing “weight” with diet alone or diet and cardio you’ll drop muscle AND fat giving a soft appearance.
But those who lose “weight” correctly, i.e. incorporate a strength training routine into the equation will lose the right kind of weight, primarily fat – they’ve given their bodies a reason to hold onto lean muscle, giving a vastly different appearance.
When you lose fat from diet and incorporate strength training as well you’ll look vastly different than someone who loses weight by using diet alone.
You’ll look much leaner, harder and healthier.
Keep a food log
The best way to consistently get the right amount of carbohydrates to lose fat is to monitor everything you eat for a period of three months and make fat loss a reality.
If you just “eat less” you’ll never know whether you’re eating too few calories or at what point you went overboard and need to trim back total calories and carbohydrates.
But when you keep a food log, you can see first hand if you’re on the right track or whether something needs to be adjusted.
This doesn’t mean you need to keep a food log forever though, but it gets you used to knowing how many calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat your body needs without any guesswork.
Avoid fads and fallacies
There’s no shortage of diet programs that promise rapid fat loss in x amount of days but almost all of them encourage cutting out one of the important macros or using expensive supplements in place of natural food.
One important question to ask yourself is “will this be sustainable over the long term?” If it’s not, then it’s not worth starting in the first place.
For example, low carb diets seemingly work because if you go from eating lots of carbs to eating practically zero overnight your body will drop “weight” as you become depleted of glycogen in the muscles and liver.
This gives the illusion your losing fat as your body drops glycogen from the muscles and liver.
Your body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen in the muscles and liver and therefore a lot of weight can be lost quickly, but almost all this weight won’t come from FAT.
Lose fat gradually
This is the number one reason why men over 40 fails to lose fat because they keep looking for a diet or training plan that’s going to get them lean practically overnight.
Beware of diets and programs that promise a lean you in a few weeks from now, it’s not going to happen. BUT adherence to losing fat gradually over the long term i.e. no more than 1-1½lbs per week is the fastest road to permanent fat loss.
This is exactly what I talk about in my course, Ripped Abs Over 40.
Being consistent over the next 6 months will work far better than any “quick fix” program that will waste your time and make sure you’re back to square one again.
Remember fat loss is a relatively slow process, but all those little bits soon add up to HUGE improvements.