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Fat or Carbs – What is the superior food source?

We have come more and more to believe that we need to cut out a certain food from our diet in order to improve our performance. Some ultra-marathoners go so far to have a ketogenic diet (30-50gs of carb/day).

We face a couple of problems here. I think and Mike T. Nelson PhD made a good argument for it as well that both carbohydrates as well as fats play an important role in our life depending on our activity level.

There is no research that is able to tell you that a ketogenic diet is better able to produce power & strength. I think along the line of Nelson who says that the emphasis should be the ability to switch from one metabolism to another based on the energetic needs at the moment. So let’s look at what that means for most of us:

How to approach carbs and fats in daily life:

If you are a typical woman or man who works out a couple of times a week but is primarily sedentary (anyone with an office job for example) then you should consider this approach:

Have some complex carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoto, sweet potatoes) or some fruit (banana, apples, etc.) before and/or after the workout with some protein (greek yogurt, meat, poultry, fish, whey protein) in order to speed up recovery.

Once you go back to your usual daily activity it is time to switch back over to the fat burning mode. Reduce the carbohydrate intake and focus on protein and fats. Most like you will end up with a diet that consists of 30-40% carbs, 20-35% protein and 30-50% fat intake.

If you want to gain some serious muscle mass

If you are looking to gain some serious muscle mass then you won’t be able to stick with an hypo-caloric diet unless you are a total beginner. You would start to compromise muscle synthesis. In order to build something you will have to have the nutrients to put it together, and the energy to work hard to have the stimulus. Cutting your carbohydrate intake at that point too low will be detrimental to your workout performance, since carbohydrates are major players in anaerobic, alactic and lactic metabolic processes necessary for power & strength.

06Your nutrient intake will have to be about 18-20 kcal/current lbs body weight. What does that mean in a practical sense:

A woman weighing 120 lbs looking to gain lean muscle mass, working out 3-4 times a week will have to take in between 2160-2400 kcal/day. Going by the lower number with the above mentioned percentages this means:

  • 162g of carbohydrates (30%)
  • 135g of protein (25%)
  • 108g of fats (45%)

A man weighing in at 170 lbs with the same workout frequency will have to take in about 3060-3400 kcal/day. So what does that mean for this man in regards to macro nutrients? Again we use the lower number for calculation

  • 230g of carbohydrates (30%)
  • 191g of protein (25%)
  • 153g of fat (45%)

You can clearly see that this is not a diet that is low on fat or on carbohydrates. This diet is designed to optimize the performance. This is not optimal for everyone but just an example. Nutrition like that should be modified for each individual depending on goals and body types.

Nutrient timing can be an important game changer in your pursuit for excellence.

Have an awesome day,



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