Carbohydrate Timing

Carbohydrate Timing for Fat Loss and Lean Muscle Gains

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Let me guess – you think carbohydrates are the devil when trying to lose fat and stimulate your metabolism?

This is actually quite the opposite. If you learn how to time your carbohydrates properly, it will actually enhance your physique, increase your metabolism and give you incredible amounts of energy.

You can’t build lean muscle mass, increase your metabolism, and burn fat optimally without carbohydrates.

Yes – they are important if you learn how to use them properly. You are about to find out how the timing of carbohydrates will dictate your body’s ability to build lean muscle mass and burn fat.

Carb Timing – Like a Video Game?

How's your "health bar" ?

How’s your “health bar” ?

Let me give you the video game metaphor. Chances are that when you were a kid, or maybe even an adult (it’s Ok, video games can be fun!) you were playing a game where your characters health or energy was constantly fluctuating.

Remember when you are playing a video game, and how you constantly had to find coins, food, unicorns or some other crazy item to restore optimal health? Maybe you were playing Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles (my personal favorite) and your turtle was hit too many times, or you were playing Sonic, Grand Theft Auto, or any of the other million games!

This is how your body’s glycogen levels are. Your glycogen levels are constantly increasing and decreasing depending on the energy being spent. Depending on how active you are, your glycogen is either being stored (if you have too much stored as fat), or when you are active it is being burned from the muscles.

Your body can only hold so many carbohydrates at once, and after that the extra will be stored as fat. This is why the timing of your carbohydrate consumption is so important.

Think of your carbohydrate consumption as if you were a character in a video game. You want to make sure you are never too low on carbohydrates, and you don’t want to be so full of carbohydrates that you are storing body fat. This depends on your energy expenditure and how active you are. Carbohydrates get a bad reputation because most of society thinks they make you fat. This is because they consume the wrong kind of carbohydrates at the wrong time.

Carbs and Glycemic Index
Every single kind of carbohydrate has a different glycemic index and glycemic load. Don’t worry – I’m not going to bore you with nutrition science here. I’m going to keep on explaining this stuff in easy to understand ways! I do realize that not everyone is as big of a nerd as me and actually enjoys learning this stuff.

You want to be consuming the healthy and slow digesting carbohydrates at breakfast time when you need energy for the entire day, and also before your workout when you are about to expend the maximum amount of energy.

Carbohydrate Timing Rule #1: Slow Digesting Carbs for Breakfast and Pre Workout
Oats are slow-digesting carbs

Oats are slow-digesting carbs

By consuming a slow digesting carbohydrate like oatmeal an hour before you workout – your body will have a sustainable source of fuel and you will be able to train at your maximum intensity.

Training intensity is the true X factor to shedding body fat and stimulating your metabolism. There are days when I eat a ton of calories – I’m talking 4,000-5,000 calories, yet I ALWAYS maintains six pack abs. This is because I know how to time my calories and I always train at maximum intensity.

You don’t want to eat too many carbohydrates at one sitting either – just the perfect amount to keep your body running at its peak efficiency until your next meal.

Carbohydrate Timing Rule #2: Approximately 0.30 Grams per Lb of Body Weight for Breakfast and Pre Workout

Eat a bunch of carbohydrates late at night and all that energy and fuel will be stored as fat when you sleep.

Eat some good carbohydrates 1 hour before your workout and at breakfast and you will have all day energy and a great workout.

Carbohydrate Timing Rule #3: No Carbs Before Bed if Your Goal is Fat Loss

If you want your body to become a fat burning machine – you MUST learn to eat your carbohydrates at the proper time.

Here are a few of my favorite breakfast and Pre Workout carbohydrates for maximum energy and metabolism benefits:

  • Oatmeal
  • Yams/Sweet Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice
  • Lentils
  • Red Skin Potatoes
  • Grits

Now – there is actually a time of the day where you body can utilize simple sugars to build lean muscle mass and shuttle amino acids into your muscle cells. The time is right after your resistance-training workout. This is known by many as the “anabolic window.”

This is the only time of the day where you can actually enjoy pure SUGAR and have it benefit you. Insulin is actually the most anabolic hormone in your body following a resistance-training workout. It helps to shuttle amino acids from the protein into your cells and initiate protein synthesis as well.

You’re probably thinking, how in the world can I get abs when you are asking me to ingest all of this sugar? Yes, you will be taking in sugar but it is the timing of the simple sugar that is so important.

In the Book “Nutrient Timing-The Future of Sports Nutrition” doctor John Ivy and Robert Portman discuss in great detail the importance of filling up your body’s glycogen storage before and after you workout intensely to increase protein synthesis, lower your cortisol levels (The bad hormones that your body produces when its under stress, aka training), and increase your protein synthesis when combined with a fast digesting protein post workout.

Carbohydrate Timing Rule #4: Fast Digesting Carbs Post-Workout for Maximum Lean Muscle Gains

By ingesting sugar at the optimal time you are actually turning your body into an anabolic muscle-building machine! This helps you build lean muscle, burn fat and tone up!

Keep your sugar intake directly proportionate to the intensity of your workout. For a 200 lb male, you would need about 80 grams of simple sugars after your workout, but only if this workout was very intense and you feel like you used up all of your body’s stored glycogen.

A good rule of thumb is about 0.4 grams per lb of body weight.

Fruits are a natural source of fast digesting carbs

Fruits are a natural source of fast digesting carbs


There are 3 times of the day that you should be consuming carbohydrates if your goal is to burn body fat and build lean muscle mass.

You should be consuming carbohydrates:
1. Breakfast – Slow digesting carbs that give you a long sustaining source of energy
2. Pre Workout Meal – Slow digesting carbs that give you a long sustaining source of energy
3. Post Workout Shake – Fast digesting carbs such as dextrose or maltodextrin powder that spikes your insulin and shuttles amino acids into your cells for optimal muscle growth

At all other times of the day you should be making sure that you are consuming high protein and healthy fat meals. This will keep your insulin levels low throughout the day, which is vital for maximum fat burning.

While it is true that you can’t build lean muscle and burn fat at the same time – you can certainly build muscle and burn fat in the same day with the concept of carbohydrate timing.