Tuesday, August 26, 2014

So What IS Carb Cycling?

The easy way to answer that is to post this link.

Way back when I was first diagnosed with all of my hormonal/metabolic issues, the doctor advised a low carb diet. However, I never followed this advice. At this time, I was in my vegetarian diet years and an all carb diet was more likely! A way of eating that I could barely stand for a day was nothing I could do long term, so I never tried to do it. Even now, over a decade later, with my diet mainly consisting of lean protein, veggies, fruits, and raw nuts, low carb was still nothing I was willing to do. I need my rice and potatoes!
The day I clicked the above link and read about carb cycling, I immediately thought "This makes so much sense! I can do this" And I started the next day, a Friday. (I'm not a wait til Monday type, I learned years ago that if you're willing to wait til Monday, the next month, New Year, etc you are unlikely really ready to do it)

The basics of carb cycling are: you eat five small meals a day spaced three hours apart. You eat a protein with every single meal. You eat a carb with your breakfast every single day. The other four meals of the day, you alternate days doing low carb or high carb (although that's deceiving, it's truly small controlled amounts of carbs on high carb days). Once a week you have a reward day where you eat however you want to eat and consume about 1000 extra calories.
Although you don't have to count or track anything, you can use the hand portions for a guide, generally a low carb day will be about 1200 calories (1500 for a man, his hands are bigger) and a high carb day will be about 1500 calories (1800 for a man)

All of this alternating between low and high carb, varying the daily calories, and especially the many extra calories of reward day keep your body from adjusting to the eating plan and lowering your metabolism. We've almost all experienced or heard of the dreaded "plateau" where a person trying to lose weight is still doing everything right yet they stop losing. That's because our bodies don't know we live in the age of too much food and still tries to hold onto fat for that potential time of famine. So when you reduce calories to lose, eventually your body lowers the metabolism to try to keep holding onto your fat. That's what really clicked about this program for me. I know much of my issues are from my thyroid, but I also have years of calorie restriction behind me and I believe that was also contributing to my sluggish metabolism. Four weeks into this plan and I was down fifteen pounds! With my old ways, I'd have been lucky to lose four pounds in four weeks.

I find tracking what I eat and the specific number of carbs and calories very helpful. I do 1200 calories on low carb days, and only 40-50 grams of carbs, the majority of those at breakfast (remember carbs with breakfast everyday). I do 1500 calories on high carb days, and 120-150 grams of carbs (25-30 carbs at each meal, always balanced with a protein). On reward day, I aim for about 2200 calories and don't worry about hpw many grams of carbs and protein.
Now if all those numbers overwhelm you, use the hand portions. A portion of protein is the size of your palm. A carb portion is a small, tight fist. Low carb veggies as much as you want at as many meals possible, two big loose fists worth for a serving.

So those are the basics. They go into more details about fats and sauces, but I don't have a problem with over consuming those, so I don't worry about them at this point (for those who do need to monitor, a fat portion is the size of your thumb, sauces to flavor should be about two finger widths)
If you read this and think this is the plan for you, go for it! Don't waste another day being stuck with a body that doesn't make you feel good. If you read this and think it's not the plan for you, keep looking! No one thing is right for everyone, but never quit trying and searching for your own solutions.

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