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Leangains Truth about Alcohol & Fat Loss - Why differentiate between carbs?

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  • Leangains Truth about Alcohol & Fat Loss - Why differentiate between carbs?

    I was reading Martin Berkhan at Leangain's "The Truth about Alcohol Fat Loss and Muscle Growth" and I don't understand why he differentiates between carbs from veggies and carbs from other sources. I understand the distinction from a primal perspective but what I don't understand is the difference from a physiological perspective. In the summary he says to get carbs from only 2 sources, veggies and the tag-along carbs from certain protein sources (I'm assuming e.g. milk) but he doesn't say why. Staying under the 1.5g/kg carbs is no problem but I wanted to have some sushi as I greatly prefer it to sashimi which means consuming rice.

    I just can't see a reason for differentiating between veggie carbs and tag-along carbs on the one hand and say rice on the other. Maybe it has something to do with ethanol metabolization? Hoping someone has the answer.

    P.S. In case you're wondering, the answer is 'yes', yes I am planning to tie on a few tonight.

  • #2
    all carbohydrates work in different ways. Some, like glucose, goes straight into your blood stream, some have to go through the liver to be broken down into glucose first. Thus they have different metabolizing rates. Alcohol is a preferential fuel so it has to be burned off before other carbs can be burned. This also stops fat metabolism so if you are trying to lean out, drinking will stop or at least slow this progress.
    FWIW go have your sushi. Maybe just shoot for more sashimi and have sake instead of beer.
    Someone else might have a better explanation.

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    • #3
      Basically, the issue is that alcohol shuts down your fat and carbohydrate metabolism while the ethanol is being processed. It's not the alcohol that makes you fat. Your body doesn't actually have an efficient way to store alcohol calories as body fat. The issue is any calories that come in with alcohol. When you drink beer, you store the carbs in the beer as fat. Same thing as hard liquor with mixers - it's the mixers making you fat.

      Fibrous vegetables don't raise your blood sugar significantly. If you eat early beforehand and all the food is out of your system, a dinner full of lean protein and fibrous vegetables would be the best choice. Your insulin levels remain low, so when the alcohol comes in and your metabolism stalls til the ethanol is processed, you don't have a lot of insulin in your body storing whatever food energy is left over as fat. Same thing if you eat when drink booze. It's best to abstain from all food in general, but you're best off eating fibrous vegetables because it keeps your insulin low and there's very little fat. If you eat a high starch meal, your insulin and blood sugar shoot up and you store your calories as fat. If you eat a high fat meal, your blood sugar may not go up, but the insulin present in your system is going to shuttle all that fat into your fat cells since you're not operating on fat metabolism while the alcohol is being processed.

      When I drink, I do it on an empty stomach. I drink Miller Lite and Diet Coke w/vodka. I exercise beforehand, so the small amount of carbs in the Miller Lite go into my muscle glycogen, not my belly fat. With Diet Coke and vodka, there isn't anything for your body to store aside from trace amounts of poisons from the aspartame, and I drink that so rarely, I'm not concerned at all. The depleted glycogen on an empty stomach also allows me the ability to do a sugary shot or two if I have to (meaning a girl wants to do a shot with me).
      Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

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      • #4
        I really appreciate the help guys!

        So, MB over at Leangains probably should have said eat only FIBROUS veggies as opposed to veggies generally. Because last I checked potatoes were still vegetables, so would presumably be O.K. under the LG plan, but would cause an insulin spike similar to that of rice, making them not O.K. in reality.

        Taco, how does one calculate the depth of one's glycogen defecit? I fasted for 20 hours and then moved slowly for an hour burning roughly 400 cal. If I eat 100 grams of rice and 3 Tbsp's of tomato paste (love the stuff!) then drink a few shots of Whiskey, will I be storing much glucose as fat? Or merely restocking my reserves?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by nolineon View Post
          Taco, how does one calculate the depth of one's glycogen defecit? I fasted for 20 hours and then moved slowly for an hour burning roughly 400 cal. If I eat 100 grams of rice and 3 Tbsp's of tomato paste (love the stuff!) then drink a few shots of Whiskey, will I be storing much glucose as fat? Or merely restocking my reserves?
          You can't calculate your glycogen deficit. What I can tell you is that after high intensity exercise, my glycogen is pretty sapped because at the end, I can't lift very much at all. My muscles are shot. I usually refeed with 150g of starch afterward, and I'm a small guy. 6 foot tall guys could probably handle even more.

          Your glycogen stores will be full after what you did. Fasting and moving slowly isn't going to do much to drain your glycogen. You empty your glycogen with quick, brief, high intensity movements. HIIT sprint sessions, deadlifts, squats, benchpresses, shoulder presses, cleans - these are glycogen depleting exercises when performed at high intensity. This means no lightweight, high rep bullshit. If you're getting more than 6 reps in, you need to add more weight. I weigh 134 pounds and my deadlift are 5 X 250, my squats are 5 X 225 and my benchpresses are 5 X 200. That's what you should be going for - heavy shit.

          If you eat 100g of rice after a fast and a brisk walk, you're going to be storing a lot of it as fat. You need to change your workout to a glycogen-depleting one. And having shots of whiskey anywhere near your workout is a disaster waiting to happen. You're totally going to mess up the hormonal response. If you're going to drink, do it at least 3 hours after your PWO meal so your blood sugar returns to normal and a lot of the digestion is finished. White rice should be long digested after 3 hours.
          Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 07-22-2011, 08:58 PM.
          Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

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          • #6
            Thanks again Taco. I don't lift weights so that's not going to be happening anytime in the near future! If at all. I'm doing the PB routine without the sprints for the next 6 mo's at which poitnt I'll re-evaluate. I guess I'll just have to think about altering my diet by decreasing my post-workout carbs.

            I think I'm still missing something here though. So what is it about low-rep high weight exercise that depletes glycogen stores? I mean, why does glycogen get depleted at 6 reps but not at 8 reps? (I won't even ask about what's going on with 7 reps -- hah!) I'm still learning but this doesn't seem to gibe with HIIT sprinting depleting glycogen stores. Sprinting is effectively a body-weight-only high-rep endeavor. Why does that recruit G-Stores when body-weight air squats supposedly wouldn't?

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            • #7
              Fat metabolism is anaerobic. The lower your heart rate, the more efficiently you burn fat. When you fast, you're being sustained from your fat stores. When you're walking slowly, you're primarily burning fat because your heart rate is low.

              Glycogen is sugar-based energy, and your body uses that for intense workouts where you can't catch your breath and in situations where your heart rate is too fast for you to adequately metabolize fat. Lifting heavy weights is intense, and requires maximum effort from your muscles. You can't make that much ATP through Krebs cycle (anaerobic cycle), so you need to start burning sugar, or breaking down the amino acids in your muscles into sugar. When you lift weights and sprint, your fat metabolism can't keep up, so you start burning through muscle glycogen.

              The heavier the weight, the more muscle strain, the more glycogen you use. If you're doing high reps, it's not enough strain on your central nervous system. You're not making your body pump out high levels of HGH and testosterone, so fat burn isn't as intense. You're also not stressing your muscles enough and burning enough glycogen. Heavy weight/low rep sets are going to most efficiently burn through glycogen and produce fat burning/muscle growing hormones. You can do it with higher reps, but it's going to take longer and you're going to make yourself more prone to muscle fatigue and injury.

              I'm not experienced with cycling carbs for people that don't work out heavily. I know people do it - I've seen it. I'm just not familiar with it and don't want to give you bad info. Your total carb intake would definitely be lower. Instead of 1.75-2g/pound of body weight, you may only have to do 1g/pound of body weight. Ultimately, you'd have to find out what works best for you here. If you're not going to work out with weights or sprint, you may honestly be better off with taking the carbs in before a long walk. That way, you're burning through the sugar. You'd may want to take in half the carbs after your long fast and the other half before your walk or whatever your activity may be. Just a thought.
              Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ChocoTaco369 View Post
                Fat metabolism is anaerobic. The lower your heart rate, the more efficiently you burn fat. When you fast, you're being sustained from your fat stores. When you're walking slowly, you're primarily burning fat because your heart rate is low.

                Glycogen is sugar-based energy, and your body uses that for intense workouts where you can't catch your breath and in situations where your heart rate is too fast for you to adequately metabolize fat. Lifting heavy weights is intense, and requires maximum effort from your muscles. You can't make that much ATP through Krebs cycle (anaerobic cycle), so you need to start burning sugar, or breaking down the amino acids in your muscles into sugar. When you lift weights and sprint, your fat metabolism can't keep up, so you start burning through muscle glycogen.

                The heavier the weight, the more muscle strain, the more glycogen you use. If you're doing high reps, it's not enough strain on your central nervous system. You're not making your body pump out high levels of HGH and testosterone, so fat burn isn't as intense. You're also not stressing your muscles enough and burning enough glycogen. Heavy weight/low rep sets are going to most efficiently burn through glycogen and produce fat burning/muscle growing hormones. You can do it with higher reps, but it's going to take longer and you're going to make yourself more prone to muscle fatigue and injury.

                I'm not experienced with cycling carbs for people that don't work out heavily. I know people do it - I've seen it. I'm just not familiar with it and don't want to give you bad info. Your total carb intake would definitely be lower. Instead of 1.75-2g/pound of body weight, you may only have to do 1g/pound of body weight. Ultimately, you'd have to find out what works best for you here. If you're not going to work out with weights or sprint, you may honestly be better off with taking the carbs in before a long walk. That way, you're burning through the sugar. You'd may want to take in half the carbs after your long fast and the other half before your walk or whatever your activity may be. Just a thought.
                The Keens cycle is aerobic. Glycolysis is used for anaerobic metabolism. And light weight or even body weight exercise can easily be anaerobic if performed with sufficient speed, e.g. sprints.

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                • #9
                  Typo in the above. stupid autocorrect on my phone. should be Kreb's cycle is aerobic. Duh

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                  • #10
                    I never remember which is which from freshman year biology. I know there's glycolysis, krebs cycle and the electron transport chain. You're right, glycolysis is anaerobic, and that's what anaerobic bacteria sustain on. We make something like 2-3 units of ATP from that, so it's next to nothing which is why lactic acid threshold gives out so fast. Krebs Cycle is aerobic, but we only get a couple more ATP from that, too I think. It's the electron transport chain that we get something like 75% of our ATP from, and I think that's aerobic. I haven't taken biology for 11 years. There was a time where I knew this, haha.
                    Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

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                    • #11
                      Really appreciated this thread. Have generally adjusted my eating, but truthfully, I don't understand the details of the glycogen stuff, or really, the reasons why primal works. Have the book, and the Robb Wolfe one. Guess I should re-read.

                      Really appreciate the clarifying that carbs are not all the same.
                      30 grams from an apple and 30 grams from a Guinness obviously shouldn't be equivalent, but I couldn't articulate why.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lawbat View Post
                        30 grams from an apple and 30 grams from a Guinness obviously shouldn't be equivalent, but I couldn't articulate why.
                        An apple is a mix of fructose and glucose. Apples are actually one of the higher fructose-containing fruits (which is why they don't raise blood sugar much vs say, a mango or pineapple), so they're actually poor for muscle glycogen replenishing. They're more effective at replenishing liver glycogen. I include one with each of my two meal on carb refeed days to get my liver going, but anymore would overwhelm it and that's not what I'm going for.

                        Ironically, beer would be better because it's complex carbs from wheat, so it's all glucose. The problem? Well, there's alcohol in it, so it's going to ruin your metabolism, so that's out! Oh, and the whole gluten thing if you're anti-gluten

                        Brown rice and whole wheat pasta are actually pretty effective for carb cycling. I just avoid them because of the high levels of phytic acid in brown rice and gluten in the wheat...even though I don't appear to be all that sensitive to either of them. I can tell you my pet, dust and mold allergies have disappeared along with my mild eczema I used to have since going primal, so although I don't seem to have any issues digesting grains, the toxin buildup over years was obviously causing mild autoimmune issues that could have turned into something serious over decades. My skin is much clearer, too, but I suspect a lot of that is from removing most dairy. I used to go through a lot of skim milk and now I do almond milk only.
                        Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 07-26-2011, 07:13 AM.
                        Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It's true, each molecule of glucose only provides a few ATP when burned anaerobically with glycolysis. It provides much more when burned aerobically all the way through the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain. However, the oxygen is not a limiting factor in glycolysis, so this is the metabolic system dominant when you exercise beyond your lactate threshold. Ask a professional half-marathoner if it gives out quickly - they can race at those speeds for over an hour. It just needs to be trained in order to be effective.

                          Anyway, I was thinking about the notion that you need carbohydrate to lift heavy. I don't think this is NECESSARILY true - if you are doing a one rep max lift, the dominant energy system is going to be ATP and creatine phosphate, both of which can be recharged aerobically if you give yourself sufficient rest before your next effort. I don't have any practical experience in attempting this though, as I have never attempted VLC in any form.

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                          • #14
                            Any Alcohol 'ruins' metabolism? More details, please.

                            Originally posted by ChocoTaco369 View Post
                            The problem? Well, there's alcohol in it, so it's going to ruin your metabolism, so that's out!
                            Ouch. This thread is great but telling my husband I won't have a glass of wine (which he collects) at dinner, especially since he's been diagnosed diabetic II and this is one of his only indulgences, is almost like saying I'm eliminating sex for health reasons.

                            First, from the thread I think I'm hearing that my body will burn alcohol first and store other macros I consume at the same time as fat in the interim. I get the burning alcohol first thing but I'm unclear about how a system that shuts down all other metabolism until the alcohol is consumed stores fat. A couple of hours after dinner with wine we see our blood sugars at day-long lows. so the shutting down fits, but a glass of wine, or any alcohol, 'ruining' my metabolism as well as making me fatter than the same calories consumed as fat or carbs in the same context? This is harder for me to grasp.

                            I'd love to hear more thoughts about this. I know that red wine is viewed as a 'sensible indulgence' according to the Primal Blueprint.

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