Truth? There is no one right answer to this question, no matter what anyone tells you.
Let’s talk about the microbiome.
You are not just you. You are a collection of organisms, all ripe with their own DNA. We used to refer to our bodies as the “human body.” However, now in genetics and biology we are referred to as the “microbiome.” The genes in our microbiome, in other words the non-human genes that are a part of our bodies, outnumber our human genes 100 to 1. Think about that. We are mostly other organisms. Bacteria, fungi, and archaea.
This is significant because not only are we different genetically but the types of microorganisms that are either attracted to our genetic make-up or have found their way into our microbiome make us different as well.
Recent studies show that the bacteria in our intestines have a lot to do with how we digest food and what types of food we crave. Yes. Bacteria can influence your cravings. Bacteria can chemically alter your cravings. They tell your brain what they want to eat and you eat it. So next time you want a doughnut, it may be because your gut bacteria wants that doughnut. How’s that for contemplating your own consciousness.
Bacteria also play a role in how much fat your body stores. If you’re curious about this read about fecal transplants. Finish eating first though.
So, some people can eat carbs all day, everyday, and never end up gaining a pound. It doesn’t matter when they eat them. They are genetically predisposed or predisposed based on his/her microbiome to tear through carbs and never store fat. If this is you? Eat carbs at your leisure. You may want to read about insulin resistance over time though, especially if your favorite carbs are sugar-laden.
What are your goals?
If your goal is gains, and I bet gains is one of them, make sure you have carbs in your system before and after a workout. Eating carbs before your workout, or carb-loading, ensures an easy source of energy your muscles have to perform at their best. Eating carbs after your workout, or carb-backloading, is essential for restoring your blood glucose levels, which ensures your muscles have the elements necessary for repair.
Fat burning and gains?
This is tough. There are a lot of theories on how to do this. My favorite is carb-backloading. Keep your carbs down. Make sure your healthy fats are high. Eat avocados and nut butters as well as other healthy fats to burn as fuel. You only consume two types of energy rich foods, carbs or fats. If you go low carb you have to replace that energy source with fats. After your workout when your metabolism is ramped up, take in your carbs. This is when your body will tear through the carbs and use them for muscle repair.
Some of you can eat carbs and burn fat. Some cannot. There is still research being done here. I’d suggest doing some reading on ketosis, a metabolic state where your body looks to ketone bodies in the blood as opposed to glucose. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketosis. The idea here is basically no carbs. So much so that you don’t eat meat that has glucose stores.
Be very careful here though. Some scientists think ketosis is a DANGEROUS metabolic state. We are not promoting a NO-carb diet. We love carbs. If you intend to be this extreme, please, please consult a doctor.
How about balance?
Here’s the raw truth: We will not all have the bodies of Gods. We are not all meant for it. For some it is not reasonable to attain this and maintain health. For some we will not be able to attain this and maintain happiness. I will never give up Lays potato chips. They are just too good. I make sure there’s a bag present even for Thanksgiving Dinner as an accenting tertiary flavor/texture.
You have to find a balance between progress, self-acceptance, happiness, and health. Get your cheat meals in. Stay away from processed carbs as much as you can. Eat slow burning carbs like steel cut oats. Learn to love sweet potatoes if you don’t already. And whatever you do, get those GAINS!