Carbohydrates and Fat Loss: Slow Carb, Low Carb or No Carb?

In the last decade, low carb diets have become increasingly popular, partially due to their profound effects on fat loss.

Now, with the rise of food “lifestyles” such as the Paleo and ketogenic diets, converting to a low-carb lifestyle in an attempt to reduce body fat is not uncommon, and you may have even tried one out yourself!

However, for those of you who are avid athletes, gym-goers or fitness fanatics, these low-carb lifestyles may not be giving your body everything it needs to train and repair, and you may wind up feeling tired, frustrated and still not reaching your ideal body fat percentage.

Although many people push passed this suffering and maintain a “no pain, no gain” mentality where carbs are the enemy, it is often forgotten that cutting body fat can become easier and more effective by focusing on carb quality rather than carb quantity.

Understanding Fast vs Slow Carbs: Key Differences in Fat Loss

When it comes to consuming carbohydrates, there is an important factor that determines whether your body will use the carbs as fuel for fitness or… well, fatness. That factor is the carbohydrate’s glycemic load.

The glycemic load of a particular food is a numerical value that indicates how the food will impact blood sugar levels – also known as the body’s glycemic response. Foods with a higher glycemic load produce sharper rises in blood sugar, while those with a lower glycemic load impact blood sugar to a lesser extent.

To understand the connection between glycemic response and body fat, the key lies in one vital hormone: insulin.

When your body experiences a sharp rise in blood sugar – for example, after drinking a can of soda – a compensatory rise in insulin is necessary to return blood sugar back down to a normal level.

Insulin’s role in glycemic control is vital to health, however something that is often unrecognized, is that insulin plays an essential role in storing excess energy as adipose (fat) tissue. In other words, the higher your insulin spikes following a meal, the greater your potential for fat storage1,2.

In fact, research regarding America’s obesity epidemic has demonstrated a strong relationship between simple carbohydrate consumption and weight gain. Not calories. Not fat. Just high glycemic foods3!

So, whether you’re trying to reduce body fat for overall weight loss or looking to get shredded and increase muscle tone, listen closely, because I’m about to tell you exactly how to have your [slow-carb] cake and eat it, too.

The Slow Carb Diet & Hacks for Fat Loss

Below, I’ve detailed four nutritionist-approved tips for controlling glycemic response and accelerating fat loss. These tips outline everything from your daily diet to unique hacks that will not only reduce body fat content, but also regulate appetite and improve energy levels. Definitely a triple-win!

  1. Eat a “Slow Carb Diet” – Eating a diet that consists mainly of low glycemic foods including plenty of vegetables, healthy fats, high quality proteins and complex carbohydrates is the best way to keep your blood sugar under control and experience weight loss and health benefits3.
  2. Fit in Fiber – Including fiber with your meals is important, as fiber has the power to slow the release of glucose, therefore reducing your glycemic response. Orange juice, for example, which does not contain any fiber, has over double the glycemic load of whole oranges. This means that consuming this same food in its juiced form can produce a greater impact on blood sugar and potential weight gain, simply by removing the fiber4.
  3. Save Simple Carbs for the Evening – Consuming simple carbohydrates in the morning destabilizes your blood sugar early on, setting you up for several glycemic highs and lows throughout the day.  If, however, you reserve high glycemic foods for your evening meal, your blood sugar can rebalance overnight to avoid this cycle. In fact, some studies have even shown this approach to improve glycemic control the following day5,6,7.
  4. Sprinkle on Cinnamon! – Studies have shown that cinnamon is capable of blunting the rise in blood sugar following a meal, therefore preventing sharp spikes in insulin and reducing your potential for fat storage. And best of all, it tastes cinna-mazing! Just be sure not to exceed approximately 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon daily, as it contains a compound called coumarin which may be harmful in excess8.

There you have it, four nutritionist-approved tips for controlling blood sugar that can change your body composition to achieve more gain with less pain!

Try out these tips, and let me know how they go in the comments below! Also, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with new articles and videos.

Transformation Coaching – Accepting New Clients

If you are interesting in learning more about carb cycling or how you can transform your body in as little as 12 weeks, be sure to check out my coaching page and shoot me a message. I would be thrilled to help guide you on your fat loss journey.


  1. Montague CO’Rahilly S. The Perils of Portliness: Causes and Consequences of Visceral Adiposity. Diabetes. 2000;49(6):883-888.
  2. Guilherme A, Virbasius J, Puri V, Czech M. Adipocyte dysfunctions linking obesity to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology. 2008;9(5):367-377.
  3. Brand-Miller J, Holt S, Pawlak D, McMillan J. Glycemic index and obesity. 2002;76(1):281-285.
  4. Publications H. Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods – Harvard Health [Internet]. Harvard Health. 2017 [cited 18 May 2017]. Available from:
  5. Nilsson A, Östman E, Holst J, Björck I. Including Indigestible Carbohydrates in the Evening Meal of Healthy Subjects Improves Glucose Tolerance, Lowers Inflammatory Markers, and Increases Satiety after a Subsequent Standardized Breakfast. The Journal of Nutrition. 2008.
  6. Nilsson A, Granfeldt Y, Östman E, Preston T, Björck I. Effects of GI and content of indigestible carbohydrates of cereal-based evening meals on glucose tolerance at a subsequent standardised breakfast. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006;60(9):1092-1099.
  7. Nilsson A, Ostman E, Knudsen K, Holst J, Bjorck I. A Cereal-Based Evening Meal Rich in Indigestible Carbohydrates Increases Plasma Butyrate the Next Morning. Journal of Nutrition. 2010;140(11):1932-1936.
  8. Medagama, A. (2015). The glycaemic outcomes of Cinnamon, a review of the experimental evidence and clinical trials. Nutrition Journal, 14(1).

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By | 2018-07-04T14:48:47+00:00 May 22nd, 2017|Articles, Carb Cycling, Nutrition, Weight Loss|

About the Author:

Anita Tee is a published nutritional scientist and gut health specialist. She carries a Master of Science in Personalized Nutrition, and a Bachelor of Science focused in Genetic & Molecular Biology. Anita is also a Personal Training Specialist with the Canadian Register of Exercise and Fitness Professionals, an avid athlete, and an expert in digestive health and weight loss. You can find out more about Anita by following her on Twitter @factvsfitness or checking out her website

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Always On Nutrition

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