Of all the macronutrients Carbs are definitely the most controversial. You have diets like Atkins that tell you carbs are evil, then others that will tell you eating your bagel and cereal for breakfast is optimal for fat loss. Like most things in life the truth is somewhere in between.

I do not believe in taking an entire macronutrient out of your diet. Carbs such as fruits and veggies provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, as well as adding variety to your diet. A diet has to be followed for the long haul in order to be successful.

Different types of Carbs ?

You will not get fat eating green veggies (salads, broccoli, etc.) so I consider these free foods allowing my clients to eat unlimited amounts of these veggies. Carbs that release into your digestion system slower and cause less of an insulin release should make up the majority of your carb intake. Examples of these foods are….oatmeal, brown rice, ezekial bread, and other high fiber choices. Carbs such as white bread, bagels, pasta, and most cereals that lack fiber (just to name a few) are not great choices if fat loss is your goal. Fruits have been controversial as of late. I tell my clients that fruits are not the reason they are fat. Period. I will say though to stick with fruits that have a higher fiber content such as berries.

Another important thing to consider is the entire makeup of the meal. I tell all of my clients to focus on getting their protein first. This is not only great to help control hunger but slows down the digestion of carbs consumed in the same meal(less insulin release).

How much do I need?

This is very individual to each person I train. I have formulas that will put me in the ball park for each client and highly recommend cycling carbs. The concept of cycling carbs is one I will discuss in more detail later, but basically comes down to….

• Timing carbs around workouts when muscles are depleted of glycogen
• Alternating days of lower carb intake with days of higher carb intake to ensure carbs are not spilling over into storage (AKA….your waistline, butt, or thighs)

If you are the average person trying to lose weight then just about all of your carbs should come from green veggies and the “slow” carbs I mentioned above. If you are a hard training athlete then I suggest post workout carbs and occasional higher carb days before harder training sessions and competitions. I consider hard training athletes those participating in intense longer duration activities (powerlifting, bodybuilding,sprints,5-6 miles runs, etc.) and not a few cardio sessions per week and basic strength training.

Detric Smith, CSCS, USAW, ACSM-HFI is a personal trainer in Williamsburg, VA and owns Results Performance Training which specializes in weight loss and sports performance. More information about his services can be found at www.resultsperformancetraining.com