Or: “How much fat and protein should you eat on The Carb Nite Solution?”
Because of my history with Dangerously Hardcore 1, people often track me down to ask questions about Carb Nite and Carb Back-Loading. I’m happy to answer them, so it’s all good, but some questions trouble me.
One that comes up time and again, probably because of Kiefer’s video talking about a good macronutrient ratio for Carb Nite, is the question of how much protein and fat should a person be eating to lose fat during the ultra-low-carb portion of Carb Nite?
The answer in the video is classic Kiefer: technically correct.
To maximize fat loss, Kiefer says in the video, people can eat as little as .5g of fat per pound of bodyweight, and keep protein at 1g per pound of bodyweight.
That’s all well and good, except that what people actually do with this information is that they think they are failures if they’re not able to achieve the “maximimum” fat loss possible.
Well, news flash: real people have lives, and kids, and jobs, and stress, and differing activity levels, and they sometimes don’t sleep well. All of these factors influence the amount of satiety one experiences from food and how sustaining that food is, not to mention proximal effects on job performance and social life.
Kiefer works with athletes, fitness models, and so on, so it’s good for him to know how to maximize fat loss in an absolute sense. These types of people have make-or-break relationships with their bodies. I’ve worked with a few amateur powerlifters who, despite their everyday job stress (one was an ER nurse for example), still managed to follow rather aggressive protocols to make weight for a meet.
But most people are not powerlifters dieting down for a meet. Most people, especially on Carb Nite, are trying to fit a body transformation into their lifestyle, so they can lose baby fat from pregnancy or heal themselves from chronic obesity.
Most people will lose weight if they simply eliminate carbohydrates and compose their meals out of ANY combination of protein, fat, and vegetables. Most people also tend to underestimate the amount of fat they should use in their meals, so there is value in providing an absolute lower end consumption for fat — the .5g / lb bodyweight Kiefer talks about.
But let’s say you stop losing fat.
If you go (say) two weeks without any fat loss (not weight, but fat), then certainly it’s time to look at reducing the amount of fat you consume. This strategy of course assumes that you know what your current level of fat intake is, and that’s why I have everyone track what they eat regardless of whether they’re trying to hit specific macronutrient targets or not. It’s much easier to know where you’re going when you know exactly where you’ve been.
If you don’t know where you’ve been, then sure: give .5g fat / 1g protein per pound of bodyweight a try.
Actually, I advise a more conservative .75g / 1g ratio, which works perfectly well for many, many people. Keep in mind that hundreds of people have used The Carb Nite Solution successfully eating a ratio of 1:1 of fat and protein. 2
If you do try to go the “optimal” route, be aware that many people don’t feel sated on that little fat, and that this approach effectively constitutes a major calorie reduction for most people. Calorie reductions of any description all come with the same risks:
- lower energy
- lower willpower
- increased thoughts about food
- decreased brain power
- decreased motivation for exercise
- mood dysregulation
Not saying this happens to everyone, that’s why I use the word “risks”. If you don’t have any of these problems, then congratulations, you qualify for Maximum Fat Loss. The rest of us will take a more moderate approach, because if we don’t, we won’t stick with the diet long enough to see much progress whatsoever.
If you as an individual find it impossible to stay sated on a restricted-carbohydrate diet that is also very calorie-restricted, and wind up spending the rest of your day obsessing over food or taking little nibbles of things (which is counterproductive to fat loss) — or worse, winding up at the end of the day with depleted willpower, unable to resist the cookies you set aside for Carb Nite — then who cares what the “optimal” ratio is?
So consider: when you’re on Carb Nite or Carb Back-Loading, you’re already having to think about counting one macronutrient (carbohydrates); take a critical look at how well you are handling that little daily stress before you introduce yet more challenges to your lifestyle.
What you need to look to do is find the diet — any diet, not just Carb Nite — that allows you to lose fat, gain muscle, or whatever, while not screwing with your life too much. The moment your diet starts to overtake your enjoyment and engagement in life, it’s time to find another plan.
You have to know yourself and know your own body. The information on how to maximize fat loss is just that: information. How you make use of it depends on YOU.