Separating Fat and Carbs

December 13th, 2009 by

What’s the deal with separating fat and carb from each other? Some people seem to swear by it, and others seem to think it’s a load of nonsense. Is it better for fat loss? Is there any ‘magic’ to it?

There is definitely no magic to macronutrient splitting. Do you have to split carbs and fats to see progress? Of course not. And it’s correct that there’s no published data to support it either. Mind you, there’s really not any that directly refutes it either. It is but ONE way of setting up a diet. Nothing magical, just a convenient way for some people to eat.

What tends to be most important is caloric intake. Second to that would be adequate protein and adequate omega-3 fats. Anything that meets these qualifications and isn’t otherwise dumb will work … up to a point of course.

There ARE times during the day when you need and want certain macronutrients and times when these same nutrients are less than ideal, or even simply not really needed – and this really just reflects carb intake. Generally speaking, when consumed around greater periods of activity, nutrients tend to be absorbed and utilized more effectively. Everyone knows about the post-workout hooplah, so suffice to say it’s a period when you want what ideally? Protein and carbs. Not fat. I think everyone (most at least) will agree with that. Extend that to the the post-post workout meal – there’d still be an argument for this meal to be predominately protein and carbs, although some fat would be fine here as well. Of course, this all depends on the goals of the individual and the carbohydrate they’re alloted for the day. 

Outside of the hours following an intensive workout, our bodies aren’t so cooperative when it comes to making efficient use of nutrients. Once the effects of the workout have worn off, we return to normal physiological functioning, which is characterized by normal insulin sensitivity/resistance and a relative reduction in anabolic hormone levels. The rest of the day has the greatest variability obviously, but for the average person, while protein is a constant, quite simply, you don’t need as many carbs, so you can use fat (I’d say some fruit as well) as a caloric ballast to help you meet your daily caloric goals and aid in recovery. Basically low-carb meals because the carbohydrates are not really needed.

That’s it. One way of timing macros according to your training. Not magic. It’s not about the magic of macro splitting. It’s simply a method of nutrient timing – timing certain macronutrients around periods you need them most.