Monday, December 21, 2009
Although particularly difficult around the holiday season, I tend to maintain a carb cycling diet during the 15-8 or 6 weeks prior to a show. This approach is helpful for controlling cravings, sustaining energy levels throughout the day, and keeping the metabolism active. Again, this approach is intended for fitness athletes or general dieters that want to get leaner. This is not intended for patients with diabetes, insulin resistance, or metabolic syndrome.
Overall, this diet is very clean. I will choose mostly foods free of additives or in their natural state. Some examples include fresh fruit, lowfat dairy (ex: plain cottage cheese, plain yogurt, low sugar whey protein shakes), whole grain breads and oats, fresh vegetables, lean meat, chicken, and fish, unsalted nuts, natural peanut butter, and black beans (*look for food lists compatible with low, moderate, and high CHO days in upcoming posts). The key to carb cycling is to keep protein and calorie counts consistent on each day while decreasing or increasing fat and carbs to fit the schedule.
The key is to become very familiar with the total calories (kcal), protein, fat, and carbohydrate content of your food choices and to monitor your intake each day. This is the only way you will know if you are sticking to the diet and although it seems like a little work, results come from consistency. If you are straying from the plan on a regular basis, you will not likely experience optimal results from carb cycling. In addition to reading labels on your food choices, there are several free online databases that provide food calculators that make this task a lot easier. These databases provide values for foods that do not have labels such as fruits and vegetables. I recommend www.fitday.com. Also, keep a journal of some obstacles you encounter, strategies for staying on track, monitoring your overall progress, and compliance with the program.
Below is an example of carb cycling:
Calorie Goal = 1800 kcal per day:
CHO = Carbohydrate
Prot = Protein
kcal = Calories
g = Grams (this unit is used on food labels)
Monday: Moderate CHO
Tuesday: Low CHO
Wednesday: Low CHO
Thursday: Low CHO
Friday: High CHO
Saturday: Moderate CHO
Sunday: Moderate CHO
Moderate CHO Day = 130g CHO, 130g Prot, 84g Fat
High CHO Day = 250g CHO, 130g Prot, 31g Fat
Low CHO Day = 65g CHO, 130g Prot, 112g Fat (*Carbs before 6p)