Abs by Gunpoint
Dr. Mike Roussell and Chris Shugart are blindfolded and tied to chairs in a room with no windows. A fully-automatic assault rifle is pointed in their direction.
A gruff voice says, "When I count to three, you will both tell me one thing that will solve the obesity epidemic for the general population and help the advanced athlete and bodybuilder shed fat rapidly."
Mike and Chris hear a metallic click. The safety has been removed.
"One, two, three!"
"Eat about 100 grams of carbs per day!" they shout simultaneously.
Silence. Then the rifle is lowered. The kidnapper smiles.
Why? Because even a homicidal nutrition nut knows that this simple solution makes more sense than just about any diet strategy you'll ever try.
The Power of 100 Grams
We've both been recommending this ridiculously simple yet powerfully effective dietary approach for years. We've seen it work with everyone from hardcore male bodybuilders to hardcore female kindergarten teachers.
It not only strips off the excess body fat, it accelerates the process of health improvement by exponentially improving the quality of your diet... all with one little guideline:
Eat about 100 grams of carbohydrates per day.
Why 100 Grams is Magical
Eating 100 grams of carb a day is as close to nutritional magic as you can get:
It's Low-Enough Carb
At 100 grams of carbs per day, you won't be in ketosis, but your carbs will be low enough that you'll be preferentially stoking your metabolic furnace with stored and dietary fats and not carbs. Also, most people won't experience any mental fogginess, crabbiness, or lack of energy that often accompany really low-carb diets.
It's High-Enough Carb
At 100 grams, you still have room to get in fast-acting carbs as part of your peri-workout nutrition strategy.
There's never a reason to skip tactical carbs consumed around your weight-training workout. Carbs taken in at this time won't contribute to fat gain and may even speed up the fat loss process. With a 100 gram daily allowance, you can scorch off the belly fat and maximize the anabolic potential of the peri-workout timeframe.
In addition, with 100 grams of carbohydrates allowed every day, there's no reason to avoid nutritionally ass-kicking fruits, berries, and vegetables as you have to do with 20 and 30 gram diets. This not only allows you to eat good-for-ya foods, it opens up your diet to a wider variety of meal choices. No need to live on bacon and string cheese for twelve weeks.
Key point: If you eat five meals per day plus your workout drink, 100 grams of carbs is the perfect amount. At each of your five meals you'll eat around 10 grams of vegetables (preferably green and fibrous) or berries, then during your workout you can slug down a serving of Mag-10® and boom... 100 grams of carbs.
The Autoregulation Effect
With 100 grams of carbs to "spend" every day, the average person is going to experience powerful autoregulatory effects, even if they pay little attention to the other macronutrients. Follow the 100-Gram Carb Cure and, well, everything else just falls into place:
- With a limit of 100 grams of carbs, you'll naturally become selective about the types of carbs you eat, especially on training days when you only have around 50 grams to eat depending on your peri-workout strategy. You'll have to remove refined carbs and the obvious junk food. You'll need to stick to mainly green fibrous vegetables, small portions of berries, and nuts. On non-lifting days you'll have room to eat some beans or a protein bar.
- Calories will be largely controlled since you'll be choosing more filling foods. These satiating food choices, being on the lower end of the carb count, aren't going to cause your blood sugar levels to go bonkers, which can lead to cravings and mood/energy fluctuations that we often try to "fix" with more food (and usually not the physique-supportive stuff.) In short, it's just difficult to overeat when your food choices are controlled and carbs don't exceed 100 grams daily.
- Some people are label-reading, food-weighing, ingredient-list scanning, waitress-interrogating nutrition freaks. You know, like the humble authors of this article and many T-Nation readers. But not everyone is. They probably have lives and stuff. For those folks, the 100-gram rule becomes an educational tool that teaches them to adopt eating strategies than can last a lifetime. The 100-grammer will be forced to read labels and check out serving sizes. He'll probably learn to cook his favorite foods since store-bought versions have all kinds of carby crap added to them. The 100-grammer won't fall for bullshit "Low-Fat!" and "Made with Whole Grains!" health claims you see all over the cereal, bread, and Pop-Tart aisle. He'll ditch the fruit juice, most sugary dairy products, pasta, and HFCS-infused condiments. He'll become wary of those "guiltless" menu options at chain restaurants, which border on fraudulent.
In other words, by paying close attention to this one macronutrient, the 100 gram dieter will self-regulate, self-educate, and become more self-reliant. He also won't look like a land whale come summertime. Bonus.
How to Do 100-Gram Carb Cycling
You can tweak this plan even further by adding the element of carb cycling.
As mentioned above, on training days you can eat around 10 grams of fibrous carbs at five different meals and then have a Surge Recovery for your workout nutrition.
On non-weight training days, don't add more vegetables and beans in place of the Surge Recovery to get to 100 grams of carbs. Instead, just remove the Surge Recovery and don't replace the carbs. This way you'll only be eating 50 grams of carbs that day.
So, about 100 grams of carbs on training day and 50 grams on non-training day. This simplified carb-cycling plan would easily get you over a weight-loss plateau or accelerate your current rate of fat loss.
The Rest of Your Diet
For the rest of your diet (i.e. protein and fats) there are a couple of other guidelines.
Eat protein at every meal: a bunch of eggs, protein powder, or a hunk of meat. It's hard to screw this part up.
Add fats to each meal as well. Don't go overboard with nuts and seeds because they come with their fair share of carbs and you'll quickly be on the 250 Gram Carb Plan. Walnuts are great because they have a lower carb count than any other nut, and they contain the most diverse fatty acid profile (including omega-3s).
Use oils and some butter on your vegetables. Sprinkle salads with different oils or cheeses. Don't skimp on fatty fish like salmon and take your daily Flameout.
Wait! Why Not Just Count Calories?
Good question. Sure, eat just 1200 calories of anything in a day and you'll lose weight. Thank you, Law of Thermodynamics.
But you could also lose muscle, wreck your metabolism in the long term, perform poorly in the gym, squander your long-term health, send your hormone levels into tailspins, raid a Chinese buffet, and risk programming in bad dietary habits ("Twinkie Diet," anyone?). It's also unsustainable and usually leads to fat regain and rebound.
Oh, and one more little-bitty thing: the higher-carb, "just eat smaller amounts of junk food" diet plan has the highest failure rate of any fat-loss strategy ever developed in history.
Yeah, there's that.
Mike's Sample Menus
- Meal 1: Eggs, spinach, cheddar-cheese scramble
- Meal 2: Metabolic Drive® Protein, walnuts, 1 serving blueberries, Superfood
- Meal 3: Salad (romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers) with chicken and extra virgin olive oil
- Meal 4: Flank steak with asparagus and butter
- Workout: Mag-10®
- Meal 5: Chicken breast with broccoli and extra virgin olive oil
- Meal 1: 4-egg omelet with salsa and cheese, 1/2 a grapefruit (sprinkled with Splenda) on the side
- Meal 2: Metabolic Drive® Protein, flaxseed oil, 2 serving strawberries, Superfood
- Meal 3: Roasted chicken breast with spinach (wilt in a pan with minced garlic and extra virgin olive oil) and a small apple
- Meal 4: Extra-lean ground beef sautéed with peppers and onions
- Meal 5: Roasted salmon (spread Dijon mustard on top before roasting) with asparagus and 1 serving great northern beans
Eat about 100 grams of carbs per day.
One rule. Damn-near universally effective for fast, painless fat loss. No gun-toting kidnapper required.