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Old 10-23-2004, 10:12 PM   #1
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Unhappy How many carbs does it take to the get to the centre...

Hi. I'm a 24 y.o. male at 5'7" and 147 lbs with a medium build. I'm vegan and eat a lot of carbs and have some excess flab on me that I'd like to get rid of. I walk @ roughly 3.5 miles per hour (on average, of couse, I change this depending on my heart rate), four days a week, 50 minutes per day. I've always been very anti-low-carb dieting, but after 2.5 months of exercising and not seeing results, I'm willing to try just about anything.

My question is this: How many carbs per day should I intake to lose this fat?

Thanks for all your help in advance!


 
Old 10-24-2004, 09:25 AM   #2
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Re: How many carbs does it take to the get to the centre...

The fact that you are vegan will really make it impossible for you to go on a low-carb plan - I cannot imagine how this would be possible. Asside from that, there is no simple answer to this question. There are many theories on the relationship between carbs and body fat.

The premise of the Atkins diet (and other low- or no-carb plans) is that in the absence of carbohydrates, your body will burn fat for fuel. Is this ideal? You need to decide for yourself.

Carbs are the body's preferred fuel source. In the absence of carbs your body will attempt to get required fuel from any source it can - this will typically be a combination of fat and lean muscle mass. The problem with low-carb diets is that they do result in the loss of lean muscle mass and there isn't much you can do to prevent it. So while you may lose weight and lose body fat quickly, its is not going to help you tone your body.

Ideally, you want to not only retain lean muscle mass but increase it, if you can. Lean muscle mass burns more calories and fat, even while you are at rest - in other words, it increases your metabolism. You cannot easily (if at all) increase your lean muscle mass on a low- or no-carb diet.

On the other hand, consuming excess carbohydrates are a known cause of excess body fat and high cholesterol, even moreso for males than females. Think of the term "beer belly" and you will understand this concept. Excess carb consumption impacts liver function which in turn impacts metabolism of fat and cholesterol levels.

In summary, I think the answer to your question is in understanding the difference between excess carbs, and low- or no-carbs, and learning how the eat the right amount and the right types of carbs. Unfortunately there is no single answer to this - it varies for all people. There are some ranges however that do work well for most people. The USDA recommends a diet that contains about 60% of calories as carbs (on the food pyramid you see on nutrition labels). I personally think this is too high. But anything less than 40% of calories as carbs is too low (for a variety of reasons).

I recommend consuming 40-50% of your calories as carbs. How do you figure this out? Well, 1 carb gram = 4 calories. If you eat a diet of 2000 calories per day (for example) you will want to consume 800-1000 carb calories per day. This equals 200-250 carb grams per day. But you can't consume them all at once - they need to be distributes throughout the day in all your meals and snacks. So you might want to have 50-63 carb grams at each of 3 main meals and then a few snacks that include 25-32 carb grams. But as I mentioned earlier, as a vegan, I am not sure how you could accomplish this, because where you don't consume carbs, you must consume protein and fat and these are primarily from animal sources (meat, fish, cheese, eggs).

More than just watching your carb quantities, you want to watch the types of carbs you eat and what you eat them with. You want to balance your meals. You want to avoid highly refined, starchy carbs such as heavy breads, pasta, cake, donuts, sugar, any sweets, candy, beer, sodapop, etc. Instead, consume high-fiber, healthy carbs such as veggies, whole fruits, whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

You should also avoid eating meals that are mostly carbs and no protein - always make sure you are getting sufficient amount of protein with every meal and snack you consume. Many people eat extremely carb-heavy breakfasts - for example, cereal + milk + fruit. This is very carb-heavy (about 80% carb!) Better off having a little less cereal or fruit and adding a decent protein source (I know your vegan, so this might be tough).

Finally, it does not sound like you are overweight - but if you need to tone your body, try doing some strength training (weight lifting or resistance training) in addition to your walking. This will help you reduce the mid-section flab.

 
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Old 10-24-2004, 10:12 PM   #3
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Re: How many carbs does it take to the get to the centre...

jdimassimo,

Thank you for your advice. It is definitely helpful. However, I do have a few questions.

As I stated to another commentor, I have been told that in order to maintain the current weight you're at, you times your weight by 11 or 12, and that's how many calories you are to consume. Thus, to maintain a weight of 150 (for example), I should be eating 1650-1800 calories a day. (note: at present, I do not have any problems maintaining my current weight. My weight stays within the same 5 lbs: 147 to 152.) However, I've also been told that to lose weight, one has to create a 1000-calorie/day deficit. This would mean subtracting 500 calories from that 1800 calories, plus burning off 500 calories through exercise. That means I'd only be able to eat 1300 calories a day. (Tho, my goal is to not lose weight, per se [altho maybe get down to 140 would be nice], but rather, my goal is to lose fat.) Do you think 1300 is too low? Or do you still recommend sticking to 2000 calories?

Your calculation of how many calories are in one gram of carb is definitely useful. Would you happen to know how many calories are in a gram of protein and a gram of fat?

Today, I tried doing that 40 percent carbs / 40 percent protein / 20 percent fats thing, based on a 1300 calorie diet. This would mean I'd be able to eat 520 carb calories (or 130 grams of carbs, thanks to your calculation), 520 protein calories, and 260 fat calories. (Again, I'm not sure how to calculate the total number of grams of fat I should be eating cos I don't know how many calories are in each gram of fat, and the nutrition labels just list the fat grams [altho, they also mention "calories from fat", which I'm not sure is the same thing as "fat calories".])

Needless to say, this was very hard for me. I consumed 1,316 calories, 99.5 grams of carbs, only 65 grams of protein, and 63 grams of fat. Of course, I did this with food I already had in the house. I haven't gone out to buy groceries, which perhaps if I do, I could focus on buying less carby things and more proteiny things. The way I had been eating would allow me to get more protein, but to do so, I would need to eat more carbs, as well. Are "brown foods" lower in carbs than "white foods"? And if not, since "brown foods" are healthier for you, would it then be okay to increase that 40 percent a little higher, e.g. to 50 or 60 percent, since they are better for you (and tend to contain more protein, right? or am I mistaken?)

And yes, you are correct: I am not overweight, but I am overfat. I used to weigh 200 pounds, and when I lost all that weight, I did not exercise - I only dieted, and did not do so very healthily. As a result, my stomach is a shapeless conglomeration of rolls. I also do have a little bit of pudge on my chest, which I'd like to get rid of. However: I do not want to have nice, muscular, defined pecs, per se. Rather, I simply desire a flat chest. My rib cage is big enough as it is, so having pecs in general is not something I wish to maintain. Becos of this, I am hesitant to do weight lifting or pushups at this point in time. I am afraid that, while I would be creating lean and tone muscle, that muscle would actually being built up underneath my current fat, which would in turn push my manboobs out further. This is why, for now, I'd like to concentrate on just burning the fat off before creating a tone chest. (Yes, in the long run, being tone is something I'd aim for. Right now, I just wanna burn the fat (or cut it off. Ha.) and have a flat chest and a flatter stomach.

Thanks again for your help, and any additional advice you could give would be greatly appreciated.

 
Old 10-28-2004, 05:34 AM   #4
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Re: How many carbs does it take to the get to the centre...

Quote:
Originally Posted by el_avocado
As I stated to another commentor, I have been told that in order to maintain the current weight you're at, you times your weight by 11 or 12, and that's how many calories you are to consume.
Hello, el_avocado

This statement above is not quite right - that is the 'quick' estimate method for the number of calories one would eat to lose weight. It's the rough estimate of your basal metabolic rate - the amount of energy your body needs just to stay healthy if you were bedridden. Eating below this number (your BMR) is not recommended.

Quote:
Would you happen to know how many calories are in a gram of protein and a gram of fat?
There are 4 calories in a gram of protein and carbohydrate. There are 9 calories in a gram of fat.


Quote:
Today, I tried doing that 40 percent carbs / 40 percent protein / 20 percent fats thing, based on a 1300 calorie diet.
That is a pretty good ratio breakdown - just be sure you do get that 20% fat in there. Extremely low fat dieting is not healthy! Those calories, however, are far too low, especially if you're doing any activity at all.

Quote:
I could focus on buying less carby things and more proteiny things.
You're on the right track with the brown vs. white. How bout focusing on buying natural things. Foods as close to nature as possible - the less processing the better and healthier they are for you.

Quote:
This is why, for now, I'd like to concentrate on just burning the fat off before creating a tone chest.
I would strongly encourage you to change your mind on this front. You want to lift weights; it's the only way to ensure that what you lose is fat and not lean muscle - losing w/o exercising got you to this place and you're not happy, right? Just doing cardio will not ensure that what you burn is fat. Including resistance work will make it harder to lose muscle and easier to lose fat. It takes an excess of calories to grow a lot of muscle, it wont happen if you're dieting down. The lifting only ensures that you don't waste any more muscle - that you don't become flabby. And forget 'tone' - this word means nothing it's been used so often to mean everything. Tone refers to the tension a muscle is under while it is at rest - to get muscle tone you must cause that muscle to move something that causes it stress. Think of it this way; if you were to curl a pencil for 100 repetitions would you expect to see any results? Moderate to heavy weights for a few reps and a few sets once or twice a week will do more good than you could imagine.

Cheers,
Nat
__________________
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

 
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