Back to Basics Part 3: Carbohydrates

(PS: I have a podcast now! You can find it in the navigation bar, or here.) 

In Back to Basics Part 1 we discussed how humans can use primarily glucose (usually from carbohydrates) or primarily fat for fuel. Part 2 explained the difference between the three macronutrients that comprise our food: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. 

Today I would like to discuss carbohydrates, in particular the differences in carbohydrate consumption for both a glucose and fat burner. 

Years ago, my "healthy" diet as a glucose burner looked something like this:

  • Breakfast: banana, blueberries, spinach, protein powder smoothie 
  • Snack: protein shake  
  • Lunch: baked potato, cottage cheese, salsa
  • Snack: almonds and an apple
  • Dinner: salad, salmon, a smidge of non-fat dressing, brown rice 
  • Snack: Lara bar 

The macronutrients for this day equal: 

232 g carbs, 112 g protein, 44 g fat, with 1986 total calories

In contrast, let's look at a day in the life of a fat burner: 

  • Breakfast: eggs and bacon on a bed of spinach, coffee with full fat cream 
  • Lunch: huge salad with lots of greens, veggies, olives, avocado, and chicken, smothered in Primal Kitchen dressing 
  • Snack: handful of macadamia nuts 
  • Dinner: grilled salmon, onions and broccoli roasted in avocado oil 

The macronutrients for this day equal: 

47 g carbs, 101 g protein, 138 g fat, with 1791 total calories

Lets compare them side to side: 


What a huge difference in carbohydrates! (Did you notice the other huge difference? That's right, FAT- our topic for the next post in this series.) 

Now, I know what you are thinking. The glucose burner "gets" to eat so much more food! 

Based on personal experience, being the glucose burner sucked. I was ALWAYS hungry. As soon as I finished eating one meal I was already thinking about the next. If I went more than three hours without eating I felt dizzy, my brain was fuzzy, I was irrationally emotional, and occasionally I felt like passing out. It took huge amounts of will power to eat that way and not go to town on a bag of Halloween candy. I was constantly craving sugar. 

My life is completely different as a fat burner. I feel hungry just a few times a day. When I'm hungry, I eat, and I eat a ton of satiating fat. Every meal tastes amazing, in contrast to those old protein shake days. I have no rules about how much I can or can't eat, I just stop when I'm satisfied and know that there will be something equally delicious to enjoy the next time I get hungry. There is no will power involved, nor are there sugar cravings. It's easy and joyful and feels like freedom. 

However, I know that you have to determine what is right for you.

If you enjoy life as a glucose burner, your best choices for carbohydrates are: 

  • vegetables
  • fruits (local and in season are the best!) 
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains (they will still turn to glucose, but at least they will make you feel full longer), unless you are gluten intolerant
  • legumes 
  • quinoa 
  • dark chocolate 

If you want to transition to a fat burner, the carbohydrates to choose are:

  • vegetables, with starchy veggies in moderation (sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, beets) 
  • fruits (in moderation, the best would be a serving or two of berries a day)
  • nuts and seeds
  • dark chocolate, in moderation 

For full on fat and ketone* burning, choose:

  • vegetables (minus the starchy ones) 
  • nuts and seeds (in moderation)  

*more about ketones and ketosis in an upcoming post 

Do you have any questions about carbohydrates? Are you curious about life as a fat burner? I'd love to hear from you.