One of the biggest misconceptions in nutrition is that carbs and fats are 'bad', and should be eliminated or heavily restricted if you want a lean, healthy physique. In my twelve years of working in the health and fitness industry, I've seen (and experienced) more damage done by this idea than any other. This is because the hormonal and metabolic issues, not to mention poor mood, sleep and performance problems, caused by lack of adequate carbohydrates and fat in someone's diet have to be corrected before lasting progress is able to be made.
Let me first assure you that giving up these two beloved macros is not required to look and feel your best. Both carbs and fats play crucial roles in overall health, and neither fat, nor carbs will make you 'fat' or unhealthy. It is eating too much of either or both that will contribute to weight-gain. This is why I highly recommend limiting processed food, sugary beverages, sweet treats, alcohol, heavy sauce and pasta style dishes, since too much of these too often will indefinitely result in some excess fat storage. For more direction on when and how to indulge, read my article on When to 'Cheat'.
Here are a few key things to consider about carbs and fat in your daily diet:
Carbohydrates are the body's number one source of energy and are used in helping the body's natural processes, such as good brain and organ function. They are broken down into what is called glycogen, and primarily stored in the liver and muscles as a readily available energy source anytime blood glucose levels decrease from these processes and activity, such as movement and exercise. In other words, when your body needs energy, its easiest source comes from glycogen produced by carbohydrates. This is why depriving the body of carbs (especially for prolonged periods of time) results in low energy, brain fog and a noticeable decrease in performance. Carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and grains are also a primary source of fiber, which is hugely important in digestive health.
Healthy fat (such as olive or coconut oil, avocado, nuts, nut butter) is vitally important for many of the body's natural processes, including brain, eye and organ function, nerve function, and fighting inflammation. Fat is also necessary for balancing hormones and breaking down and absorbing fat-soluble vitamins.
Most people with moderate-intensity activity levels throughout the week benefit from taking in a significant amount of both carbohydrates and healthy fat based on the intensity and duration of their activities and lifestyle. 40-percent of calories coming from carbohydrates, and 30-percent of calories from good, healthy fat per day is a good, general baseline and can easily be tailored based on personal needs.
Not consuming enough carbs or fat in your daily diet will result in less than best performance levels in your workouts, daily activities, mood, sleep cycle, brain and body function and metabolism, while too many too often result in unwanted weight gain, lethargy, mood swings and poor digestion. There are also many longterm side effects of restricting carbohydrate and fat intake that I will cover here in the near-future.
Keep in mind, how much of any macro (carbs, fats or protein) you need is largely based on several factors, such as: current lifestyle and nutrition habits, activity levels, goals and preferences.
If you still have questions or have found this helpful, drop me a line through the 'contact' form here on the website!