Carb-Burning versus Fat-Burning

I’ve been wanting to touch on a subject for quite awhile now, that I think is critically important for anyone trying to lose weight or change their body composition. What is it, you ask? Read the title of the post, duh! 🙂 Just a fore-warning, I am NOT a scientist or a registered dietitian or anything like that.  This is based off my personal experience and the copious amount of personal research I have done. To begin lets look a graphic from Forbes that I love!

To give you a little background, I will explain how this pertains to my life pre- and post-paleo. Before I found, devoured, and fell in love with It Starts with Foodback in October 2012, I was the typical 5 small meals per day, protein shake after cardio (treadmill, blah), calorie counting 20-something that you probably are, were, or are at least familiar with. I carefully selected all my high protein, low-fat, and low-carb foods and tracked each and every thing that went in my mouth often saving “room” for treats (Skinny Cow ice cream anyone?) All I could ever think about was food, what should  I eat, how long until my next tiny meal, how many grams of protein in this, “you shouldn’t have eaten THAT“, etc.

This was a really, truly negative relationship I had with something I love… food. Sound at all familiar?

After finding paleo and really researching what foods do to your body, I realized it wasn’t my fault or really anything I could even control eating the way I did at that point. Most of what I was eating was burned super quickly and I didn’t have any fat with my meals to satiate me and keep me full. When your body is running on sugar (carbs) you WILL get hungry, and fast. You WILL feel shaky, irritable, and weak if you let your blood sugar drop (by not eating more carbs, quickly). You will ALWAYS think about food, especially carbs, because they are 100% addictive, just like cocaine or heroin. I mean that whole heartedly.  Do some research on the web and you will find the truth.

Do you know how amazing it feels to no longer be controlled by food, mentally and emotionally? I do. And if you do too, congrats! If you aren’t there yet, I know you can get there!

One of the very best parts of the paleo lifestyle and the #1 thing that made me say “I’m never going back to the way I used to eat” was becoming a fat-burner. When you aren’t giving your body the sugar it is craving for energy, after while it re-learns to burn your fat stores for fuel. Thousands of years ago our ancestors didn’t get the luxury of eating a banana, a handful of almonds, or a protein shake every few hours for energy, so their bodies had to be able to burn their fat stores in order to stay alive. We live in a world where carbs are not only everywhere, but cheap, incredibly easy to procure, and tasty as all hell. What’s more is that everywhere we go we hear things like “eat 5-6 times a day to keep your metabolism going!” when that is absolutely the wrong idea. Think back to your grandparents or great grandparents. Do you think they ate every few hours? Don’t think so. They also didn’t have to spend hours at the gym on a treadmill, but that’s a whole other topic.

How happy would you be if you could eat breakfast, and I mean a HUGE, satisfying meal, and then not eat or even think about food until 5 or 6 hours later? Guess what? You CAN! I do it every day!

The key is to move from carb-burning to fat-burning, and you are absolutely capable of it. Yes, it may take some time and the few first days (maybe weeks, depends on how addicted your body is) will suck. You will crave carbs like never before, you may even crave things you didn’t like that much before you started (Oreos for me) but after awhile you won’t and fruit and veggies like carrots and sweet potaotes will begin to taste like candy. Plus you will look and feel better. I swear.

If you’re wondering, “how the hell do I get there?”, here is the answer: give up your grains, your sugar (even natural sugars), and (especially) your artificial sweeteners!!! Oh, and low-fat dairy while you’re at it. AND start filling your plate with veggies, protein, and healthy fats. Wait, that sounds familiar… Isnt that paleo? You got me 🙂

Here’s the deal. When your body gets sugar, it uses or stores it, then you get a crash and your body begs for more with cravings. The shakiness and irritability are literally withdrawal symptoms from the body’s drug of choice… sugar. You give it more sugar and temporarily it feels better… Until your next crash. If you stop giving it what it wants and replace those foods with protein, fat (do NOT be afraid to eat LOTS), and veggies, it will not raise your blood sugar and crash every time you eat. You will be able to eat a large meal and then get your brain back for hours and hours. You have NO idea how awesome this is until you have experienced it.

If you haven’t already, try it for one month, just 30 days and see what happens.  If you are already doing it I challenge you to give up your paleo treats for one month to see what changes for you.  I have done one Whole30 and a Whole45 and they were both amazing 😀 The best part is that after its over you can go back to eating whatever way you want and that is totally your choice! Neat, huh!

Tell me, are you currently eating a paleo diet? 80/20? Full on 100%? Just dabbling here and there? Any tips you have for those who are just getting started that really helped you?

Tomorrow you get a sweet (;)) recipe so make sure to check back!

Sweet Potatoes and Smiles, The Freckled Foodie

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Comments: 10

  1. JP June 25, 2013 at 7:32 pm Reply

    what is the Whole30? Have you written about it?

    • thefreckledfoodie June 25, 2013 at 7:39 pm Reply

      JP, The Whole30 is the strict 30-day “food reset” that got me started on my whole paleo journey! I talk about it in my Before & After and mention it in posts from time to time. It is the BEST thing I ever did for my health and it comes from the Hartwigs at and the book It Starts With Food. Let me know if you have other questions!

  2. Laura Santagaa June 25, 2013 at 7:40 pm Reply

    I am happy to say that I have been a Fat-Burner and following Paleo for 10 months now. All is amazing except that I GAINED 6 pounds of fat. I know it is fat because I went from a size 2 to a size 4, used to have abs now look softer in the mid-section, and have been taking a picture once a month to track progress. I also had my BMI and body fat % taken in November and then again 9 months later to find I went UP in the body fat.
    I’m not ever going back to grains, dairy, soy, or sugar-laden foods again; however, I want to get my lean body back to where it was (looks-wise). I feel amazing but want to look so as well!
    The only thing I can think of is that I ate too much fat at my 3 meals. I put a tablespoon of coconut oil in my coffee at breakfast time, cook my eggs in coconut oil, and top my eggs with avocado and salsa. Do you think the oil, the egg yolk, and the avocado is TOO much fat at one meal? That’s what I am wondering. If so, I want to cut back on 1 or 2 of those.
    Your thoughts?

    • thefreckledfoodie June 25, 2013 at 7:46 pm Reply

      Laura, Honestly that doesn’t sound like too much fat to me. We don’t gain body fat from fat in our food, that comes from carbs. Are you eating a lot of fruit (especially dried) or starchy carbs like sweet potatoes, yams, etc? Usually when people are trying to lean out on paleo they cut back on their carbs, not on their protein or fat. If you are trying to lose fat I would look at what kinds of carbs you are eating and perhaps cut out nuts if you are overdoing it with them.

  3. dayka robinson June 25, 2013 at 9:54 pm Reply

    I was 100% for months, then 80/20, now 50/50…but i’m getting back on the bandwagon this week. losing weight was great, but now that i have a baseline, i know that 100% paleo helped me to sleep MUCH better, and as we all know, i wasn’t hungry and thinking about food. i’m not at all against the lifestyle, i just realized that i’ve gotten away from being diligent about consistently grocery shopping which, as you know, is impossible if you’re doing paleo. you have to shop and have the right foods ready to go!

    thanks for this post…i already knew what i needed to do, but this was the kick in the pants i needed. 🙂


    • thefreckledfoodie June 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm Reply

      Dayka, Your situation sounds pretty familiar 😉 it’s so easy to slide away from paleo because of the convenience of “food like products”. I hope you can get back into it and feel the best you are capable of!

  4. Kelley Forbes June 26, 2013 at 6:57 am Reply

    Great post!

  5. Lisa November 28, 2013 at 9:48 am Reply

    I’ve been eating paleo for 4 weeks now. Felt fabulous for the first 2 weeks, but the last week or two have been nauseated and have a terrible headache. Have to eat constantly to keep the nausea at bay. Is this normal; will it pass? BTW, you hit the nail on the head when you talked about obsessing about food until you started paleo. For the first time since I was 13 years old (I am now 60!!) I don’t think about food, how much, how often, how many calories, and when or what I can eat again, etc! It IS truly liberating!! I didn’t realize how controlling food had become for me. I miss cookies and ice cold milk, bread and butter, etc. but do NOT want to go back to that way eating. Thanks for all the good information!!

    • thefreckledfoodie November 28, 2013 at 10:24 am Reply

      Lisa, congrats on getting away from being controlled by food, it feels so good doesn’t it?! I would say you may have a food intolerance. If you went from never or rarely eating something to eating a LOT of it your body may be telling you something. I would also really recommend taking some digestion enzymes or probiotics to help heal your gut and make digestion a lot easier! Good luck 🙂

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