6 Reasons you are struggling to lose fat – Reason 4: Poor nutrient timing 
So before we get started, lets start with a little analogy that explains how carbohydrates get into the cell, and what happens when they don’t (get stored as fat). This is VERY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND. 
 
 
1) Carbohydrates are converted into sugar/glucose and enter the blood stream, where they drift around aimlessly like drunk students 
 
 
 
2) The pancreas receives a signal from the body that glucose (drunk students) has entered the blood stream and need escorting to the cell (night club). The pancreas releases insulin (club rep) to guide the carbs (students) to the cells (night club). 
 
 
3) Once the carbs (students) arrive at the cell with the Insulin (club rep), the insulin needs to give the bouncers (insulin receptors) a secret handshake to get the carbs into the cell. 
 
 
 
4) If all’s going well, the insulin receptor (bouncer) allows the insulin (club rep) to hold the door open for the carbs to enter the cell (night club) and have a good time. 
So what could possibly go wrong?? 
Well, if you constantly hammer the carbs, the cells start to become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is essentially when the receptors (bouncers) start to let fewer and fewer carbs into the saturated cells of muscles and the liver (the dance floor is packed). When this happens, the insulin takes the excess carbs down the road to the fat cells (the 24-hour casino). On arrival, the insulin pushes the carbs into the fat cells to stay there for storage. This annoys the pancreas causing it to send out more insulin (reps) to try and force the carbs into the cells. 
 
Inevitably, this causes the BLOOD SUGAR level to become chronically raised resulting in inflammation which in turn can cause a host of problems throughout the body, just ask any person with diabetes! When the body starts to become inflamed it causes the cells to become even more insulin resistant, a vicious cycle that ultimately leads to your pancreas giving- up producing any insulin as effectively. You are now a diabetic. So, does anyone see a problem with giving diabetics carbs?? That’s an article for another day. 
There is a tsunami of type 2 diabetes coming our way, and we are already spending £286 per second on it!!’ – 
(Katie Bowling BSc RN MPBsS (Diabites Specialist Nurse)) 
 
I hope you enjoyed that little analogy! I suspect you’re sat there thinking ‘what on earth has this got to do with nutrient timing?’ Well, it’s got everything to do with it! Once you understand that the cells must be sensitive to insulin to allow the carbs in, you soon realise that being insulin resistant might be a reason why you are gaining unnecessary fat! 
 
Read any newspaper and articles jump out telling you that there is a huge rise in obesity, not just in the UK but the world over. And with increased obesity comes an increased risk of diabetes or pre-diabetes (becoming insulin resistant without actually being diagnosed with diabetes). Probably around 75% of the general public are in a pre-diabetic state and have mild insulin resistance. Because of this, when starting with a new client I like to start them on zero carbs straight away. As always there are exceptions to the rule and not all my clients go ‘zero-carb’; if I believe you’re in a good place to handle them, then, believe me, you will be having them, as I keep mentioning Carbs are not your Enemy! 
I will typically keep my clients on zero carbs for between 2 and4 weeks, MAYBE more depending on their starting point. Why do I do this? Well imagine your cells are you (which technically they are) and insulin is a good friend of yours. But what if you saw that person 3-4 times a day and they were always in your face, hyper and trying to get your attention each time they saw you. You’d soon get bored and turn-off, right?? Well, that’s what your cells are doing with the carbs! So by going ‘zero-carbs’ you are essentially forcing the cells miss the carbs, so when I re introduce them to the diet, the cells readily suck them in and actually use them! I call this the Fat Adaption stage. 
 
As we know your body uses carbs for energy, so what happens when you take them away? Well if you don’t replace them with fats, you will be in a horrible place both mentally and physically. So when you replace them with good fats, as mentioned last week, your body will start to realise that IT CAN USE FAT FOR ENERGY!! And guess what, you have some stored on your body, so your body has a constant supply!! Well fancy that! This is why I consider the Fat Adaption stage to be so important, and why my clients should understand why they are doing it. It’s not intended as a punishment, but if they have spent 12 years enjoying life and all of its carby goodness, then 1 month without isn’t really a big deal in the grand scheme of things. 
The second phase sees the reintroduction of carbs. ’But when’s the best time to add carbs’ I hear you cry? Well, this is an on-going debate among the experts. When you are sleeping, for those 8-hours or so your body is usually burning carbohydrates to keep all your organs functioning (as there will always be a backup supply of glucose). However, you are now fat adapted (from Fat Adaption stage), so instead your body will be using ketones (fat) for fuel for the bulk time that you are asleep. Therefore, when you wake up you will be extremely insulin sensitive; because, unless you sleep walk to raid the fridge every night, your body is missing and craving the carbs. 
 
Some people advise eating your carbs first thing in the morning to take advantage of this heightened sensitivity. However, muscle and liver cells aren’t the only cells that are super sensitive in the morning, so are your fat cells. So if you’re consuming processed sugars and carbs in the morning, guess which cell is just waiting for you to overdo it?? That’s right, the fat cells. 
Because of this, I always like to start my day with a quality fat meal, to maintain the ‘fat burning mode’ begun whilst we slept. Erm Daniel, didn’t you just say your body was super insulin sensitive then??? So why would you not take advantage of it??? Fear not! You can make your body become insulin sensitive with weight training. When you exercise with weights, your muscles are doing a hell of a lot of work, and they will literally be screaming out for you to feed them. So much so that your muscle cells actually release something called GLUT-4 to the surface of the cell which essentially is like having straws sticking out of the cell waiting to suck up the glucose, and the amazing thing is these don’t even need insulin receptors!! These are like the secret back door into the night club where you don’t need the bouncer and all the secret handshakes. 
 
So now you have a cell that’s super insulin sensitive complete with its Glut–4 straws (receptors) waiting to suck those carbs into the muscle cells., do you think that this may be a better time to start taking on some carbs?? I do! For this reason, I will always add carbs to my clients post workout meal ( the meal they consume within 1-1 ½ hours of training). When I can see they are handling the carbs okay ie not becoming bloated or tired after eating I will introduce carbs into the intra workout to help fuel their workout. 
Consuming your carbs around your workouts in this fashion means the carbs ingested are used immediately and as soon as you are done with the carb meal, your body will still go back to burning fat for fuel. I also remove the carbs from the nutrition plan away on days my clients don’t train, so that their days off become essentially ‘insulin sensitising days’, basically you don’t end up with a repeat of what happened last time where you over did the carbs. The order I generally add carbs in is – Post workout meal, Intra workout, pre workout meal. Now in reality it’s A LOT more complicated than this, however can you see how the principle works?? 
 
To summarise all this, here is a handy little chart for when it comes to nutrient timing. Please note that this is based on people eating 3 meals a day, I actually try and get my clients eating 5 meals a day by slowly adding in a snack each week and then turning the snack into a meal as their appetite increases. 
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