Episode 173: "Carbs" or Carbohydrates?

Apologies in advance if this seems a little cranky.

But how is it that Dr. Tim Noakes, one of the most accomplished sports and exercise physiologists anywhere, and author of “The Real Meal Revolution” and “Lore of Nutrition: Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs,” somehow doesn’t know that vegetables and fruits are generally either mostly or almost entirely carbohydrates?

In his own diet, for example, he claims to aim for no more than 25 g. of “carbs” a day. That’s, like, as few as one serving of fruit. Or is it just lazy use of terminology, i.e. “carbs,” when he really means processed and/or high glycemic index forms of carbohydrates?

Kudos to Trevor for gently trying to clarify this, but this lazy use of the term is frustratingly common, even among such luminaries in the field like Dr. Noakes.

Related: Fast Talk Episode 173: Is Weight Management as Simple As Calories In, Calories Out? With Dr. Timothy Noakes

Hi @auteneric and welcome to the community!

I would look at Dr. Noakes’ comment as you suggested: meaning the processed forms of carbohydrate. This is a pretty hot topic with a ton of detail, and I think we’re all guilty at some point of using that word “carbs” in a shorthand version from time to time. Lucky for us, Trevor will always dig into the details to make sure the right message comes through!

Hi all. A little loath to comment as it is so controversial, and Trevor has made pretty strong negative statements about Keto.

But here goes.

Noakes is popularising the “Banting” diet. Which I understand as a moderate protein keto diet.

He can get under 25g of net carbs a day (not counting fibre) by

  • avoiding all processed foods, all added sugar, all grain products etc
  • avoiding most fruit, except berries (and tomatoes, eggplants etc but most tend to think of these fruits as vegetables) in small amounts
  • eating only veggies that grow above the ground. Mostly leafy greens. Also brassicas, and those fruits we all think off as veggies.
  • small amounts of low carb nuts and seeds (no cashews!)
  • moderate animal protein
  • “good” fats to satiety

Less than 50g is not hard. And you can do it with 7+ serves mostly leafy greens and a little ‘low carb’ fruit a day. You can eat the rainbow.

Less than 25g is challenging, but doable.

You will mostly avoid fruit to do it while still having a high greens intake. Much harder to eat the rainbow.

I think it also important to remember that Noakes wants to appeal to the “every day man on the street”.

That does not train 10-20h a week.
That does not know all the correct terminology.

Yes on this forum he could have been more technically correct but in general he knows he can get the right message across better, by using “street talk”.

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On another note. If you ingest more carbohydrate DURING a ride than you use, what happens to it? Does it replenish your muscles with glycogen if there is capacity there or does it just convert to fat?

I would be interested in knowing how you could exceed the caloric use vs caloric intake? I g of carbs is 4 cal, so a moderate ride will burn a few hundred cals. It is not too hard to burn 400 cal per hour, that is 100g of carbohydrate per hour ( it is hard to pack that much into a fluid, but one could try with maltodextrin or some other low osmotic solution). I imagine to exceed the caloric use one would have to go reasonably over that intake… I have never tried to see if it is possible but then again I am a camel and do not drink a lot of fluid during a ride. That is another issue.

I was talking about carbohydrates not calories. I had a metabolic efficiency test done a couple of years ago ( a little difficult to get one at the moment) and at my Z2 power I was burning fat at approx .8g/min and whilst it is by no means exact that means on a steady Z2 ride I’m only using 35-45 g per hour of carb. It’s quite easy to eat more than that amount on a ride. Bear in mind my threshold is only a measly 230W.

I thought Dr. Noakes did a great job talking about how it really depends on the person. He talked about what he has found that works for him, but by no means said this should be followed by all. I’ve followed Dr. Noakes for several years now and I love how as the literature evolves, so too does Dr. Noakes. He used to be very much in the keto or bust camp, but has since evolved which is very evident when he said, “most satitating combination of 3 macros that keeps us at our weight we need” (or something like that). I think Dr. Noakes’ ability to evolve his own views is a testament to his integrity as a scientist and a human.

Last note, if you are a nutrition junky like me, I will echo what Dr. Noakes said about Dr. Ted Naiman. Give him a follow on social media and read his book. I’ve used his concepts a lot over the past year and have never been leaner. But like all things nutrition - to each their own if it means good health and meeting your goals!


Just saw Noakes post this morning on Twitter and made me smile.
Shows how you can be both a world expert and a newbie at the same time. We’re only human after all.

Have a great day everyone!

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