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The Carbohydrate Tipping Point

Jade Teta ND, CSCS

In our book The New ME Diet, Keoni and I talk about different burner types and how carbohydrates impact hormones differently in each. We try to help people understand how to use food to send signals for fat burning to the body. This is different for everyone. The smart use of carbohydrates is one of the most important concepts in fat loss and body change. Smart manipulation of hormones allows for two of the most critical aspects of fat loss: the right amount of calories and balanced insulin. Notice that I did not say lower calories and lower insulin?

One of the most common mistakes made by fat loss experts is the “lower is better” mantra. This is especially true of carbohydrates. However, cutting carbs or calories too low can cause a slowed metabolic rate, insatiable hunger, uncontrollable cravings, unbalanced energy, lack of energy for workouts, changes in mood, and most importantly a loss of muscle. It is no wonder that these programs rely so heavily on willpower. The solution is not to make the mistake of assuming lower is better, but rather to find the tipping point (the amount of carbohydrates or calories that is low enough to initiate fat loss, but high enough to maintain energy, reduce cravings, and blunt hunger). We have found the “carb tipping point” is individual, needs to be adjustable, and when used correctly is a reliable and reproducible way to help people find their fat loss formula (the unique mix of diet, exercise and lifestyle factors to generate fat loss).

Adjusting to the tipping point:

The ME carb tipping point is the amount of starch/sugar a person can eat to supply energy for tough workouts, but not over produce insulin to engage fat burning. Finding this spot is important. The burner types in our book are simply a blueprint and in no way can represent every person. However, knowing your type can take much of the guess work and trial and error out of this process. We are all uniquely different and require a unique blend of macronutrients. Here is how we help people find their tipping point.

1) Know your burner type and start with that. Our book has an easy way to help you know where to start and an easy way to control carb intake based on bites. However, for those of you who do not yet have the book, you can still do this by tapping into the way your body feels. Hunger, energy, and cravings can key you in to your carb tipping point. These biofeedback measures need to be balanced, otherwise there is no way you can sustain any body change effort. For fat loss we usually suggest people drop there carb intake to 100g total for the day. This is a good starting point. From that beginning point you can increase or decrease your intake based on two measures: fat loss results AND monitoring of hunger, energy, and cravings. Paying close attention to these two measures helps you quickly dial in on your carb tipping point.

2) Again, pay close attention to your body’s hormonal feedback mechanisms. These include hunger, energy level, and cravings as I stated, but also include mood, motivation, digestion, focus and sleep. The proper response should be no hunger between major meals, no cravings, and increased energy. You should also feel motivated and focused without anxiety and depression. Gas and bloating should not be present and sleep should normalize. Don’t make the mistake of assuming these symptoms are not related to food intake. Getting your carb tipping point correct will balance metabolic function. Get it wrong and your body will let you know. Use these symptoms to monitor the mix of energy you put in your body. Remember carbs don’t work alone. Your protein, fiber and fat intake will need to be regulated as well.

3) If hunger, energy and cravings are stable you can be assured you have things balanced, but you will need to monitor fat loss using a body fat machine. If all the biofeedback sensations are stable AND you are losing fat, you found your tipping point. All you need to do now is stay there. Do not make the mistake of trying to cut carbs further. Doing so will sacrifice your energy and make your fat loss results unsustainable. If you want to speed results, proceed slowly and immediately increase carbs back again if your energy falters. Besides, one thing many forget is that insulin, while it does increase fat storing, also increases muscle building. Insulin in the right carb balance with plenty of protein and quality exercise will help build muscle and do little to hinder fat burning. This is the best of all worlds. Think insulin sensitivity NOT lowering insulin as much as possible.

4) If the biofeedback sensations are not stable or they are stable but you are not losing fat, you have not found the tipping point. You will need to alter your plan in one of two ways:

– FIRST– If sensations are not balanced, increase the amount of fiber, protein and water you take in. This is important. More times than not the issue has nothing to do with carbs, but is a protein issue. Wait a few days. If still having issues raise the protein content and fiber content one more time. If this still is not effective, increase the starch content of your meals by 5 to 10g starch at a time until you find the issues resolve. This is a trial and error phase where you will need to alter your intake of the major macronutrients to find your unique fat loss formula. This takes time and patience for some, and involves manipulating protein, fiber, starch and fat intake. This can take some work, but once you find it you have a system of body change that will never fail you even when your metabolism changes as you age.

– SECOND– If all hormonal sensations are stable and you are not losing fat, then begin to decrease the amount of starch at each meal by 5 to 10g. Also, begin to look at your fat and sodium intake. Adjust fat, carb, and sodium intake downwards every few days until the fat begins to come off. As you do this you should be ramping up protein and vegetable intake. Often, this is the stage where you will learn the difference between healthy food and fat loss food. If managing carbs/starch and fat are not helping the desired results, then look at fruit and dairy next. These are two important sources of suagr/starch that can keep many from the results they want. Finding your carb tipping point may mean you need to cut these foods back as well.

Final thoughts:

While there is much more to the carb tipping point then this, the above can get you started. The New ME Diet book can aid you in helping you find your tipping point by keying you into your burner type and teaching you a much easier way to control this process through bites…….or, even better, look into the ME 10-week fat loss program. This is a 10-week self-paced and email based fat loss coaching program that walks you through the entire Metabolic Effect fat loss system. This program has become hugely popular. Our clients refer to this program as “fat loss school” because it walks you through an entire education with a complete diet, exercise, supplement, and lifestyle plan with weekly lectures and daily emails. We have had over 1,000 participants from 10 different countries and the program continues to grow in popularity.