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.
Fat 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.
I 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.)
Breakfast: Egg whites, oatmeal, cocoa powder
Lunch: Tuna, sweet potato, broccoli
Snack: Cottage cheese, apple
Dinner: White fish, rice, mixed veg
Dessert: Protein balls
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
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!
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.
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.
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!