Losing weight doesn’t have to be a miserable experience where you cut out carbs completely to achieve ketosis – a state where the body burns fat instead of carbs as its main fuel source. Personal trainer and fitness expert Matt Hodges spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about why carbs are not the enemy.
Many of us will be trying to slim down this month to look and feel great in our favorite Christmas outfits.
And there’s a world of information online about how to do this, such as the hugely popular keto diet, which involves eating less than 50g of carbs per day.
But according to expert Matt, “no carbs before Marbs” is a limited idea in the weight loss trend.
He told Express.co.uk: “I think it’s widely known now that harmful carbs are old news.
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“Carbohydrates are an important macronutrient and are consistent with a healthy balanced diet along with protein and fat.”
Indeed, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45 percent to 65 percent of total daily calories.
If you are a woman who consumes around 2,000 calories (the NHS recommendation) per day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should be from carbohydrates – between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates per day.
Matt continues: “Reducing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet is just another way to reduce overall calories that equates to losing weight/fat.
DO NOT LET GO…
“Nowadays, carbohydrates are more readily available, and tastier than proteins and fats, which is why most people overeat them.
“So logically, by reducing your carbohydrates, you will lose weight. But to reduce them to zero like a ketogenic diet, in my view, is unnecessary, and for some people, unhealthy.”
Because the body is supposed to eat carbohydrates, a no- or low-carb diet may not actually be suitable for the long term.
The expert said: “More precisely, it is also quite unsustainable and will lead to further issues later on. The phrase may be attractive, but the philosophy has its flaws.”
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Of course, there are some carbs that are healthier than others. Wholegrain varieties such as wholemeal bread have more health benefits than refined ones, such as white bread.
Harvard published a guide to getting enough healthy carbohydrates, recommending whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, fruit and nuts.
Matt’s next tip is to be careful not only what you eat but when you eat it. He states: “Eating regularly is essential to gaining muscle and losing fat.
Again, this is another myth told in the 80s and 90s by pro bodybuilders who tended to eat every two to three hours.
“The idea that eating in these intervals will help you build more muscle and burn more fat because you’re ‘keeping the engine running’ is a misconception.
“It’s one of those myths born out of context. Professional bodybuilders eat, sleep, train, repeat. Kevin in accounting sleep, eat, work, work, work, eat, sleep.”
According to Matt, eating your standard breakfast, lunch and dinner will help you lose weight more easily than if you eat little and often throughout the day.
“Eating at intervals like this will probably only lead to higher calorie consumption (aka grazing) that day and also, more importantly, give way to disordered eating.
“Imagine not being able to go to a meeting, or pick up your kids from school because you have to eat half a turkey and some rice? No thanks. Understanding and knowing how many calories you need each day is just something that Joe is used to like we need to think.”
Fitness expert Matt Hodges is the author of Behind Gym Doors, a deep dive into the world of personal training, complete with weird and wonderful anecdotes about the industry and the people in it.