I’ve got a lot of information I want to share to go along with this habit, so I will be breaking it down into two parts. This first post will go over what the habit is, as well as how you can apply it into your life. My second post will talk more details about the “why” and the science behind the habit. I hope you will take the time to read both!
What is it?
Habit #4 is to eat a majority of other carbohydrates (meaning carbohydrates other than vegetables) after exercise. This habit is specifically for those who have the goal of fat loss. If your goal is to bulk up or gain weight, this habit changes slightly. We will be discussing things today as if your goal is to lose fat.
I love this habit because it’s all about timing. If you want to eat bread, pasta, rice, desserts, or other sugary foods—you can! Here are the two keys:
- Focus on more unprocessed varieties, when possible
- Save most of them for after exercise
An important clarification: This is not a recommendation for a “low-carb” diet. Rather, it’s a “controlled-carb” approach. Instead of eliminating carbs completely (which you do not have to do to be “healthy”) we are looking at the optimal timing of carbohydrate intake in relation to the goal of fat loss.
A side note:
This is one of my favorite things to help people understand! Carbohydrates seem to get a lot of attention in the media nowadays. People argue for high-carb, low-carb, or no-carb diets. Some give them a good rep, some give them a bad rep. Some say you can eat carbs, but only certain kinds—and to avoid all others like the plague! So, where’s the truth amongst all the discord? I’ve got a few answers to that one:
- For one thing, the “absolute right answer” depends on your goals.
- No “absolute right answer” exists for the entire population. It depends on your body type, blood chemistry, DNA and a whole bunch of other internal factors. On the cellular level, what is great for one person may be a horrible fit for the next person.
- You can find aspects of truth amongst every argument—the key (and in my opinion, this is the key for all things nutrition) is balance, variety, and moderation paired with the best possible timing for what you know about yourself and your goals.
More details to come about all of this in part 2, I promise!
How do I get started?
I’ve included a table here for your use. This table is courtesy of Precision Nutrition and was used during my Pn1 certification. It outlines things in a simple, organized way. This would be a great table to print out and stick on the fridge, or somewhere you will see it daily, as you are getting started and trying to remember the optimal timing for each type of carb.
Now, an important note: Do not, and I repeat do not use this table as something to obsess over. This table gives you guidelines. But if you eat a dessert and the last time you exercised was 24 hours ago, is all hope lost? Definitely not! Remember what I mentioned above? The very, VERY best thing you can keep in mind is variety, balance, and moderation. Use this chart as a helpful guideline, meant to point you in the right direction and be used most of the time, when possible.
*These selections are more carb-dense, so when including them in meals, remember Habit 1 and be sure not to overeat
Good luck getting started! For your action item this week, write down what a typical day or week of meals look like. How closely do your meals meet these guidelines already? If you match up pretty closely, then great! Pick the one or two little areas where you could improve. If you feel everything you do is completely opposite, then remember the baby steps we talked about during habit 1. Pick one meal/time of day and make your first adjustment there, and slowly build up from there.
Small and simple things can lead to AMAZING changes! So, don’t get frustrated, metaphorically take off bites you can finish chewing, and give yourself time to develop this as a habit rather as a set of rules you follow for one week and then give up on.