Top 10 Carb Intake Rules for Optimal Body Composition

by Charles Poliquin

1.  Eliminate grains, particularly wheat. This is the most important principle regarding carb intake. Wheat influences blood sugar levels the same way as plain table sugar.

2.  Yes, eliminate grains, Part II: Gliadin family grains such as oats, wheat, spelt are the most common food allergen. People of the Celtic ancestry, like the Irish, are more likely to be gluten allergic. Besides raising insulin levels in the body and their rapid carb intake, grains also release cortisol in response to the stressor that a food allergen is.

3.  The main source of carbs should be fibrous. Fibrous carbs typically have very low carb content. Their inherent high fiber brings about a very moderate insulin response, thus making them an ideal fat loss food. The best sources of fibrous carbs include:

  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Mixed Salad Greens
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans
  • Onions
  • Cucumber
  • Spinach
  • All forms of peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Squash

4. The darker the fruit, the better it is for you. Dark fruits tend to have very thin skin, (hence they need to produce more anti-oxidants to protect themselves from the sun). That is why darker fruits are great anti-inflammatory foods. Bananas have thick skins therefore they have lower anti-oxidants contents.

5. The darker the fruit, the better it is for you, part II. The darker the fruit, the lower the glycemic load. Again, compare berries, and cherries to bananas and pineapple. Of course, this applies to fruits in their natural state; when grapes become raisins, their glycemic index goes up because of dehydration of the fruit.

6.  Replace grains with greens in sandwiches. This one is promoted by Jonny Bowden, author Living The Low Carb Life: Instead of using bread, use dark leafy greens to wrap the protein. It will slow down the glycemic response and help shift in your favor the acid/alkaline base.

7.  Limit fructose intake. Even though fruits are great foods loaded with nutrients, they also contain fructose. Fructose in too high quantities can slow down thyroid function and increase glycation. Glycation in layman’s term is browning, like the browning that makes crust in bread. Glycation is the cross linking of proteins (and DNA molecules) caused by sugar aldehydes reacting with the amino acids on the protein molecule and creating Advance Glycosylation End-products (AGE’s). If you want to see protein cross linking in action, cut an apple in half and watch it turn yellow! Very few people realize that glucose can go through oxidation. Why is the worst glycation agent fructose? Because it does not raise insulin. In other words, the insulin is not getting it into muscle cells. Therefore, it lingers around and wreaks metabolic havoc. As nutrition expert Robert Crayhon would say: fructose is like the guest that won’t go home once the party is over. Crayhon recommends that the average American should eat no more than 5-10 grams of fructose a day! For very active individuals, 20 grams of fructose should be the maximum intake.

8.  The best time to load up in carbs is the first 10 minutes following your workout. Since insulin sensitivity is at its highest after the workout, this is the time to take in your carbs to maximize muscle mass gains. As a general rule, I would recommend the following carbohydrate intake based on training volume for a given workout:

LBM / 2.2 = kg x (0.6 to 1.2) = grams of carbs postworkout
Example: (LBM)135 / 2.2 = 61.4kg x (0.6 to 1.2) = 37 to 74 grams of carbs postworkout

Regarding the source of carbohydrates post-workout, I have experimented with various sources, I like using fruit juices with a high glycemic index (i.e. pineapple, grape) to provide 30-40% of the carbs, the rest of the carbs coming from carb powders ranging from dextrose to various types of malto-dextrin. You can also any type of mushy fruit like bananas or peaches.

9.  Use insulin sensitivity supplements with high-carb post workout meals. Nutrients like taurine, arginine, and magnesium will help dispose of glucose to muscle cells instead of fat cells.

10.  Add protein to your post-workout carb intake. Using 15 g of protein for every 50 lbs of body weight, will increase glycogen storage by as much as 40%.

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