The Carb Cycle Weight Loss Secret That Isn’t So Secret

(My Wordpress “Reader” isn’t working.  I usually opt out of email notifications because of the Reader, but I am probably missing people’s posts left and right, so I apologize.  I promise I’m not ignoring people on purpose!  Does anyone know how I fix this? It was literally working until Sunday…UPDATE: I downloaded Google Chrome.  Problem fixed!). 

So, I know everyone is over it already, how crazy was Boston?

I was at work during the race, so I couldn’t watch it (thank goodness for twitter peeps giving me the play by play), but I was tracking a few people as they ran along. Knowing how fast these superstars run normally, it was quite obvious that everyone was running “smart.”  I’m guessing most Boston Marathoners never thought they’d run a marathon that slow.  I kept watching in relief as another split was updated, because that meant that people hadn’t passed out along the course.   A couple of runners gave me a scare between the 35k and 40k mark, but everyone I was tracking finished!

Only 427 people deferred to next year.  After all of the training and traveling, it would take a lot for me to give up the opportunity.

All of the excitement also kind of made me sad that my marathon falls just weeks after the 2013 qualifying deadline, so the most I can hope for is a chance to participate in the 2014 race, two years from now.  Looks like I’m not having babies anytime soon!

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Right now I’m on my “taper” for my half marathon.  Because I’m not working out too much this week (and seriously, pollen, you are kicking my butt big time), I’m doing a carb cycle.

And I don’t mean cycling through different donut choices throughout the day.  Mmmmm….donuts!

I was first introduced to the concept about a year and a half ago through a weight loss/fitness challenge that we participated in through the gym Aaron works for.

(FOR THE LOVE OF GUMDROPS please realize that I am not even close to a registered dietician.  Aaron, though very well-educated in nutrition, is also not a registered dietician.  Though we’ve researched this, and I’ve done it myself, we are not qualified to give out nutritional advice.  I know you all obviously understand this, and really, I don’t think most little bloggers get sued by people over diet posts, but who knows? Please don’t sue me!).

I think everyone pretty much knows by now that carbs transform into fat on your body when you don’t exert enough energy.  Unfortunately just about everything tasty in life is a carb (very cruel world we live in).  But, it makes sense that if you want to lose fat fast, you reduce your carb intake.

For just about any normal person, giving up carbs altogether is next to impossible because they are so good and they give you energy, hence the whole “carb load” that I love so much.

So, in comes the carb cycle.

Benefits:

1) You can lose weight fast.  I usually lose about 7 pounds in a 2 week period.

2) Because you are still eating protein, the pounds you are losing are fat opposed to muscle (your body breaks down muscle faster than fat for energy, so a lot of times rapid weight loss only means rapid muscle loss.  And losing muscle is bad, unless you like heart attacks and osteoporosis).

3) As long as you don’t go crazy right after, you can keep off the pounds for a while.  I do this maybe 2 times a year and eat pretty liberally the rest of the time.  As long as I keep my workouts consistent and don’t eat fast food every day, I can maintain it until major holidays come along.

4) You aren’t completely depriving yourself.  Every 4 days you get to eat like a normal person!

Drawbacks:

1) This isn’t a permanent solution.  Your body will drop pounds fast, but then it realizes what you are doing, and the weight loss gets less and less drastic. A healthy diet and exercise program is the only way to get longterm results.

2) By the 3rd day, you will be grumpy, tired, and hungry.  The very thought of a slice of pizza can cause you to go over the edge.  And that annoying coworker will literally drive you to the point of considering throwing them out the window, and then stealing their bagel.

3) As most of you are runners, this isn’t something that combines well with training.  Early on in taper weeks, sure.  The rest of the time, running and carb cycling makes you want to die.

So, the way I do it is on a 3 day cycle.  I typically eat 5 “meals” per day: breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner.  The first three days of the cycle are “Low Carb” days.  For the first 2 meals, I eat 20 grams of carbs.  Then, that’s it.  No carbs until the next morning.

The 4th day, the “High  Carb” day, you can eat carbs with every meal (but still, not too many…30-40 grams per meal).  This “high carb” day helps prevent the binge that comes with deprivation.  It helps renew your energy, and it gives you an end point to the three days of suffering.

Then, on day 5, you go back to Low Carb. I’m only doing one round this week so I can start carb loading tomorrow for the race, but I’ve done it for up to 2 weeks.

I try to make sure I have plenty of protein and fiber in my diet during carb cycle days.

Sample Day of Meals:

Breakfast: Plain oatmeal w/ protein powder mixed in

Snack: Yogurt (Greek yogurt has more protein in it)

Lunch: Meat (chicken breast or sliced turkey), mozzarella cheese, carrots, handful of nuts

Snack: String cheese

Dinner: Either grilled chicken breast or grilled fish, asparagus, salad w/ vinaigrette dressing

For me, after the first 3 days I drop about 3 pounds.   I try not to weigh myself because the fluctuation is pretty drastic.  I get addicted to dropping 1.5 pounds a day and disappointed when I only lose .2 pounds, and then I get tempted to cut food intake even more, which is dangerous.  I prefer to actually go by how I look and how I feel.  Right now I’m 2 days in, and I can feel the belly bloat going down. I also am starting to see a faint hint of my Jamaica abs peaking through!

Super blogger celebrity Monica  from Run Eat Repeat did a post recently about carb cycling (like me, she has thyroid issues and her body can’t regulate her metabolism on its own without synthetic hormones.  Her diagnosis is much more recent than mine, so she still is trying to get that all under control.  From experience, I know that physically not having control over your weight is frustrating).  Her post has a lot of links to other great resources on carb cycling.

In my opinion, this is a much healthier and more reasonable way to lose some unwanted fat rather quickly.  You are still getting the nutrients your body needs, you aren’t reducing calories, you aren’t working out for unhealthy amounts of time, but you are limiting those foods (like soda, white bread, pasta, potatoes) that aren’t good for you and that make you gain weight.

Hopefully this is helpful!  Have you ever tried limited carbs?  Has it worked for you? Have you ever wanted to punch someone as a result, or is that just me?

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7 thoughts on “The Carb Cycle Weight Loss Secret That Isn’t So Secret

  1. I did the Atkins diet after college. It helped but I was so desperate for carbs again that once I stopped, I gained back the weight. I might have to try carb cycling. It seems practical and easy enough to not miss carbs entirely!
    Such a bummer about missing the Boston deadline. But that sounds like me…one more race and then another baby..5 races later and still signing up for more. Ha ha

    • Yeah, this is the first thing that has worked for me. I’ve never tried Atkins, but I’ve heard so many people say that they gained all the weight back after giving in and eating carbs. This has never happend to me with the carb cycle.

  2. I’ve never done carb cycling, but I did the Whole30 (www.whole9life.com) this past January. It was a great experience and I definitely saw the benefits that you mention. I did gain some of the weight back that I lost, but not all of it !

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