Experimenting with carb cycling

I have a special treat for you today – one of my fellow bloggers Cat has written a post about her carb cycling diet. Her blog, Cat Food Is Good For You is one of my favourites – Cat writes in a really approachable and interesting way about healthy living, eating, fitness and beauty (and she loves cats). In the past she’s inspired me to try a new healthy snack, suggested meditation techniques and I also love her series of morning routine interviews, where she chats to fellow foodies or yogis about their typical morning.

I love her and I think you’ll love her too.

Take it away, Cat…

A carb cycling experiment

I think we can all relate to the on-going cycle that is our diet. I’m not talking about crazy cycles of fad-diets or crash ‘weight loss’ plans interspersed with binges on junk food. All I mean is the natural ebb and flow of our diets (as in, what we eat day-to-day) that get affected by anything from seasons, travel, work hours, or any change in routine.

This is totally natural – after all, our ancestors didn’t have 3 square meals on the table all year round either. But I think it’s safe to say that when the balance is too far in one direction, we sometime need to make a very conscious effort to tug it the other way.

What I’m doing

I’m currently experimenting (yes I love self-experimenting!) with cycling my macro ratios. For example, eating foods higher in carbohydrates and lower in fat some days, and vice versa on others. Protein for now is getting kept at a steady 0.8g per pound (every good experiment needs a control!)

Why I’m doing it

Well my dietary balance naturally got out of whack over the holidays (whose doesn’t!?) and even more so after my trip to the beautiful Costa del Sol.

Think: high fat AND high carb each and every day. Needless to say, it doesn’t leave me feeling too healthy – and my jeans are starting to feel a little too snug for my likings!

However, I enjoy food too much to attempt anything that feels like a calorie-restrictive diet. I know from past experiences these are a terrible idea for me – physically and mentally – so I had to come up with something else.

Tuna salad with tahiniFat to the rescue! Tahini and tuna – a new combo for me, but it totally worked.

I’ve been interested in how my body responds to different ratios of carbohydrates and fats, and I’ve read about successful experiments in body recomposition from others dabbling in these ratios.

Honestly, sticking to anything for a long period of time leaves me feeling bored and cranky. Switching things up is a MUST for any dietary change I try.

Enter, carb cycling…

Carb cycling variations

There are different ways of doing this. Some people eat very low carb all day, and ‘carb load’ at night. Others eat low carb during the weekdays and stock up on carbs come Saturday.

(Keep in mind when I’m talking about low carb days, fat is high on these!)

My plan is to alternate between low carb and high carb days throughout the week.

Fish and greensI like white fish, but I can’t pretend I love it like I do salmon and sardines! The salsa definitely helped.

Carbs to match workouts

Part of this is to adapt my meals to my workouts. If I’m working legs or HIIT, then that’s a high carb day. If I’m resting or doing some light yoga, it’s a low carb day.

Carbs to match social occasions

It also allows me to adapt if there is a social occasion. Usually, I want to carb up on these days (unless I’m going to the Hawksmoor… and then it’s no holds barred.)

Sample menus

High carb

Breakfast: Egg whites, oatmeal, cocoa powder

Lunch: Tuna, sweet potato, broccoli

Snack: Cottage cheese, apple

Dinner: White fish, rice, mixed veg

Dessert: Protein balls

Low carb

Breakfast: Eggs, avocado, leafy greens

Lunch: Sardines, avocado, broccoli

Snack: Full fat yoghurt, nuts or nut butter

Dinner: Salmon, spinach, cauliflower rice

Dessert: Low carb cookies

What next?

So, like any of my self-experiments, I don’t expect this will be how I eat ‘forever’ – nor do I see this as a sprint I need to get through. I will give the carb cycling a go for another 3 weeks and see how I feel. If things aren’t working for me, I’ll try something else!

By the way – if you’d like to keep updated with my progress, I’m going to be emailing my progress updates – you can sign up here: http://eepurl.com/YprDb

Don’t scrimp on the protein

Cat also shared a few of her favourite protein foods – give them a try!

protein coffee recipe

New obsession: pre-workout coffee and protein powder latte! I don’t always need a pre-workout, but I because I like to train first thing, it helps get through certain heavier days.

Protein oats recipe

Yes I eat directly from the saucepan. What? They stay warmer longer and there’s less clean up! I always add either an egg, egg whites or protein powder to my oats for extra staying power.

Protein chocolate mug cake recipe

Seriously obsessed with this dessert. One scoop whey protein, 1 tbsp cocoa, a pinch of baking powder and 35 seconds in the microwave. Definitely worth playing with timing – overcooking these is seriously not recommended!


Thanks Cat!

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The new dinner set I absolutely had to buy

Yes, I am now one of those people who gets exciting about buying new dinner plates.

I have been looking for new crockery for ages, ours is a mish mash of things that don’t match – although that’s only part of the reason for buying new dining ware. Our old stuff is bits we had with our exes. Despite me and Rob being together for six-and-a-half years we never got round to buying stuff that was ‘ours’.

So I was rally pleased when I spotted these mint green and white dinner plates in the George home section of Asda. We ordered a 12 piece dinner set online and got two extra of everything in store plus six pasta bowls – so in total we have six plates, side plates, bowls and pasta bowls for £50.

Asda mint green dinner set

I love the colour and the pattern, they couldn’t really be any closer to my taste! As they’re mainly white, they’ll also look brighter and ‘cleaner’ in my future food blog posts.

Admittedly the bowls in the set seem quite small, for cereal anyway (Rob eats BIG  bowls of cereal!) so we may keep hold of some of our old bowls – and of course serving bowls and dishes as I don’t need those to match.

I’m actually really excited about the pasta bowls which I’ve wanted for ages. They’re are great for anything with a sauce or gravy so it doesn’t slide off the plate (I have really had an incident before where I served up a plate of spaghetti bolognese and while walking a few feet to the table, the whole lot slid off my plate into a big splodge on the floor).

So these make me very happy!

They almost look Moroccan-influenced, no?

Asda dinner plates and side plates

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Weekly round up #38

Hi everyone, hope you’ve had a good week despite the miserable weather. A grey, dull, rainy day isn’t very inspiring is it? Despite that I’ve been continuing to focusing on my health and relaxing and I’ve played a small part in some creative projects.

First – how I’m trying to unwind. To give my body a chance to recover and to hopefully ease my ongoing migraines I decided I need to take a rest from roller derby and skating for a while. It’s frustrating because I do enjoy it, it’s fun and it’s great exercise but it’s not the best thing for me to be doing right now. Noisy leisure centres with bright lights, whistles and being knocked around do not make for a happy head. I’ve spoken to my coaches and they were lovely so I don’t feel as bad about letting them down every session now. I don’t know why I do feel guilty – it comes back to my New Year’s resolution doesn’t it? I need to stop worrying about others, put myself and my health first and know when to say no.

Deliciously Ella and The Migraine Brain

I’m still trying to eat healthily and the new Deliciously Ella book (I mentioned in last week’s round up) was perfectly timed for that. I’ve been trying her new recipes for miso and sesame brown rice, chunky cashew coleslaw and marinated kale salad from the first book. I also had a go at the new gooey black bean brownie recipe but it was a bit of a disaster. Only when I got home from food shopping did I realise I didn’t have some of the ingredients I thought I did, decided to give it a whirl anyway with substutions and the result was a weird-tasting soggy mess. That’s why me and baking don’t really mix well. I rarely follow recipes exactly because I like adding my own little spin (and I’m reluctant to buy ingredients I think I’ll only use once) which can work when cooking but not baking.

I’m already planning the other recipes I can try next week!

I have reintroduced meditation into my life (using the Headspace meditation iPhone app) – only done it a couple of times this week but will try to start making it a part of my daily routine again. I did some yoga for the first time in ages this week too.

I’ve been going to bed earlier nearly every night this week and reading to try to unwind and also get a better night’s sleep. My mum bought me a book about migraines which is fascinating – when I’m reading it, it feels like it was written about me. I’m only a couple of chapters in but already it’s helpful and it’s interesting to know that so many other conditions and symptoms are related to migraines. Perhaps I’ll write a proper review of the book in another post when I’ve finished it.

This week I joined a knitting project too – I think I’ve blogged in the past about my venture into knitting (I’m very much a beginner though and knit about 2cm a year… when I remember). I came across a charity campaign that asks people to knit small beanies and blankets for premature babies and thought it was such a lovely cause that I’d give it a go.

I’m also still continuing with the photography project – week three was an aperture challenge. I struggled with this a bit as I think my camera is something between a compact and DSLR (it’s a Coolpix P510) and it only has an aperture range between 3 and 8.3. Also I took these photos on a grey dull day so there isn’t much natural light. But you can see a subtle difference if you look closely at the plant in the background. The top picture was f-stop 8.3 (the whole picture is in focus) and the bottom one was 3 (the background is more blurred).

Aperture photography challenge

Despite having a low key week and early nights, I did also go to a gig. The band were Dilly Dally who are described as a cross between The Distillers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Pogues. I bought tickets based on that alone, without even listening to them! I don’t see the comparison with the Pogues, but the singer’s voice was very Brody Dalle and there was a similarity with YYYs.

So I haven’t been too boring this week, promise!


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Perfect strangers gift swap

Within days of receiving a lovely surprise pamper parcel from my mum, I received a parcel from a perfect stranger named Michael.

In November I joined a project called Perfect strangers, where you prepare a parcel of lovely things and pop it in the post to a stranger. When I signed up I was asked to write a little bit of blurb about myself, which would be shared with my stranger partner gto give them some hints about what to get me.

I was paired with Michael and one of the things he told me about himself is that he’s a big horror film fan. I’m a horror fan too so I thought that’d be a great thing to focus on for a present.

I bought him a classic DVD – Creepshow. Directed by George A.Romero and written by Stephen King, it features five mini films inspired by 1950s horror comics. I also sent Michael a big bag of popcorn and a card which told him to snuggle up and have an old-skool film night while it’s cold and miserable outside.

My parcel from Michael arrived recently and I’m so pleased with it – it’s so thoughtful! Continue reading

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Weekly round up #37

Hi guys – hope your 2016 has been good so far.

I’ve unfortunately not been so lucky! I’ve had a cold and migraines over the last week (I wrote about my migraines here) so cancelled most of my evening and weekend plans to focus on relaxing and getting better. That’s meant lots of hot teas or lemon and honey, baths and early nights. Rock n roll eh?! I think I’m a bit run down too as I keep breaking out in spots and getting ulcers in my mouth. It’s obviously my body’s way of telling me to slow down and take it easy.

I’ve also been trying to eat a bit healthier this week. I’ve felt the results of Christmas eating and drinking – and that combined with being ill gave me a bit of a kick to get more fruit and veg down me. I also haven’t been skating for a couple of weeks (a sweaty contact sport in a loud, noisy leisure centre is definitely not the cure for a migraine) so although I haven’t been able to exercise I have been trying to eat well. I’ve taken inspiration from ye old faithful Deliciously Ella (I’m sure I’ve gone on and on about how much I love her cookbook before) and been eating a mixture of things for lunches and dinner. I’ve been teaming it all with chicken so it’s by no means vegan like her dishes but I have been having sides like brown rice or quinoa, kale and pomegranate salad (raw kale sounds gross but it’s so good), hummus, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, spinach and sweetcorn. I just pick a combination of those things and pile them high on my plate.

Chicken and salad plateSorry the photo quality isn’t better – I was trying to take it quickly so I could get on and eat it!

For breakfast I’ve either been having porridge or soya yoghurt mixed with flaxseed, a handful of oat granola, sunflower seeds and fresh raspberries. So yummy! I hope it all contributes to making me feel better.

On that note – I have just received Ella Woodward’s second book and I’m very excited about trying some of her new recipes!

Thanks for everyone’s supportive comments on my recent migraine post too and suggesting remedies. Loads of people said they’d read that a daith piercing (on the ear) can help with migraines so I spent a bit of time thinking about it… and bit the bullet.

Daith ear piercingA daith ear piercing

I got it pierced yesterday by the lovely Sham at Punktured in Brighton and I love it! There’s no scientific research behind it so it’s not guaranteed to help but I know it has helped some people. And if it doesn’t work, it still looks nice!

I’m also looking into acupuncture, shaitsu massages, magnesium supplements and getting another appointment with the migraine specialist doctor at the National Migraine Centre. If anyone has had any results with any of these things please do let me know!

Being ill also made me miss week two of the photography project I joined! Not the best start but it can’t be helped, I have the information I need to tackle the theme of the week so will do it another time.

I’ve enjoyed catching up on other people’s blogs recently too – if you’ve discovered any good new ones let me know and I’ll have a look.

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