In a world brimming with diet trends and nutritional advice, the question of whether carbs or fats reign supreme as our body’s preferred fuel source remains a hot topic. Bryan Dermody delves into this age-old debate to provide clarity on what truly fuels our bodies optimally.


While the answer may seem elusive, it’s essential to address this question with precision. For the majority of athletes, with perhaps extreme endurance athletes as an exception, prioritizing fat as the primary energy source can yield numerous benefits.


Considerations for Overall Health

When it comes to nutrient density, fats take the lead over carbohydrates. Essential micronutrients found in fats make them a more wholesome choice. Moreover, extensive research underscores the detrimental excess grains and sugars (along with seed and vegetable oils) to be the primary cause of obesity and other metabolic dysfunctions.


Challenging Assumptions

Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates aren’t inherently superior as an energy source. The body’s limited glucose storage capacity necessitates a continuous intake to sustain energy levels, leading to fluctuations in blood sugar and unwanted cortisol release. Conversely, excessive glucose intake can spike insulin levels, promoting fat storage. Fats emerge as a more stable, sustainable energy option, without the rollercoaster effects on blood sugar.


Avocado sliced open on countertop / Carbs vs. Fats myHMB blog

The Case for Fats

By relying on fats for energy, athletes sidestep the pitfalls of blood sugar fluctuations and benefit from the body’s greater storage capacity for fat-derived energy. Not only do fats offer sustained energy, but they also pack a nutritional punch, making them a more efficient choice overall.


Practical Recommendations

To optimize performance and health, athletes are advised to prioritize lean protein and healthy fats while minimizing sugar, grains, and certain oils in their diet. With the majority of energy needs met by protein and fat, carbohydrate intake can be modest, ranging from 30 to 60 grams per day or even less for those accustomed to a low-carb diet.

Exceptions include individuals transitioning to a low-carb diet, who should gradually reduce carb intake over several months, and athletes engaging in extreme training or competition, where additional carb intake may be warranted based on individual responses and energy demands.

In essence, by embracing a diet rich in lean protein and healthy fats while moderating carbohydrate intake, athletes can fuel their bodies efficiently, promoting optimal performance and long-term well-being.


male athlete in a gym flipping a big tire

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Powerlifter Bryan Dermody

Bryan Dermody

Bryan Dermody has a vast knowledge in the field of strength and conditioning with being a college football athlete and then going on to become the strength and conditioning coach for the University of Iowa football team, Drake University, and University of Louisville football team.  He ended his strength and conditioning career with 2 years as assistant strength and conditioning coach for the New York Jets.  During this time he also competed as a Strongman athlete and now competes as a powerlifter who has had the honor of competing at Arnold Sports Festival Pro Deadlift the last 8 years.


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