Being Smart About Carbs and Weight Loss


Question: I cut my carbs in an attempt to lose weight before the summer. I lost 5 pounds last week but I can’t get a pump when I train. Is that because I cut carbs?

Answer: Cutting carbs to lose weight is common but consider what weight you lost. A low percentage of it is actually fat. Most of that initial loss is intracellular water. When your body stores carbohydrates they are held in muscle tissue and in the liver as glycogen.

Your body converts the four major types of carbohydrates, glucose, fructose, lactose and sucrose into glycogen if they are to be used for energy and not converted into body fat. For each gram of stored glycogen you have approximately four grams of water with it as well. Let’s assume your body has stored 1000 grams of glycogen and the associated water. So that’s a total of 5000 grams. If you eliminate carbs from your diet, then you use the stored glycogen over the next few days without replacing any. So you use 500 grams of glycogen and the corresponding 2000 grams of water along with it. That’s 2500 grams and 440 grams equals a pound. Mathematically you’ve lost about five and a half pounds.

Carbohydrates are not evil. It’s the types of carbs you’re eating that is the problem. If you are eating lots of vegetables and even a good supply of fruit then you’re consuming high fiber carbs that requires a longer digestive process than the carbs you get from highly processed foods. Plus they contain a valuable supply of vitamins and minerals.

  • Instead of eliminating carbs get your starchy carbs earlier in the day and eat high fiber carbs later.
  • Cut out as much of the processed food as you can. It’s calorie dense and a nutritional desert.

Choosing healthier carbohydrate sources will allow you to keep eating carbs and keep your pump. Just remember that a workout pump is not the only indicator of a productive training session.

God bless and keep training,