You may have heard the term “carb cycling” and thought I have no idea what that is and it just sounds too confusing. Well, today I’m simplifying this nutrition strategy to show you how you can eat carbs and still lose weight. If you want the full details, including sample meals, make sure to watch the video at the end of this article.
In my last blog I talked about how I like to focus on three types of meals for women:
1. Fat Burning meals
2. Hormone Building meals
3. Planned Indulgence meals
I told you how to implement fat burning meals by lowering your carbs and increasing your healthy fats to help switch you into fat burning mode. Today, we’re going to focus on hormone building meals and how they relate to carb cycling, so, let’s dive in!
Sometimes the term carb cycling can be overwhelming to the average person. It’s a little more of an advanced fat loss strategy then eating the same way every day, but I promise it is super doable!
The majority of the time our goal is to keep blood sugar and insulin stable so we can remain in a fat burning state. I recommend before starting a carb cycling approach that you allow your body to get used to eating fat burning meals for several weeks. Depending on how much weight you want to lose, this may take around 8+ weeks.
After that I typically recommend changing things up a bit to keep progress moving along. Just like in exercise, variability and change is also very important in nutrition to continue to see improvements. This is where carb cycling and hormone building meals come in.
I'm going to go over:
1. What carb cycling is
2. Why you may want to try it
3. How to use carb cycling and hormone building meals
4. If you want a sample schedule with meal ideas, don't miss the video above!
I really don’t want moms out there to be scared of this strategy, so if you know someone that would find this information helpful, I would love for you to share this with your friends and neighbors.
What is Carb Cycling?
In the simplest terms, Carb cycling a just a nutritional approach that plans ahead for switching between periods of eating low carb and periods of eating high carb.
Why Try Carb Cycling?
Well, we know that on the days we eat fat burning meals, we are promoting fat metabolism by causing our body to switch from using carbohydrates to fat as its main fuel source. This helps us become more insulin sensitive, which is a good thing.
Overtime for women, if we stay without enough carbs for too long, we risk a negative impact on our metabolism and hormones. Intermittent amounts of increased carbohydrates help:
· Build muscle while still allowing for fat loss
· Aid in recovery from exercise
· Regulate our thyroid
· Regulate leptin, the hormone which controls appetite and body weight
· Break fat loss plateaus
· Prevent boredom of always eating the same foods
How to Carb Cycle?
There are many methods that include no carb, low carb, medium carb and high carb days, but as you know I like to simplify things. With my clients, I only focus on low or Fat Burning Days and high or Hormone Building Days.
A low carb or Fat Burning day is going to consist of eating just that… Fat burning meals, like I discussed in my last video. You will focus on 3 meals with protein, healthy fats and low carb fibrous veggies and fruits. In addition to avoiding processed carbs, you will also not eat any healthy smart carbs on these days, which I’ll talk about in a second.
On high carb or Hormone Building days you’ll still eat the protein and veggies like the other days, but simply swap out your healthy fats for a Smart Carb instead. For instance, instead of adding your sliced avocado for healthy fats, you’ll have a sweet potato instead.
Smart Carbs include:
• Steel cut oats
• Butternut Squash
• Brown Rice Crackers
• Brown Rice Pasta
• Gluten-free tortillas
• Any fruit
My tip is to still use healthy oils to cook your veggies on these days, but just don’t add the fats that aren’t really necessary to cook with like nuts, avocados, etc. Everyone handles carbs differently, so you will need to do a little trial and error on whether you can handle all 3 meals as hormone building or just 2 of your meals.
If you’re not getting the results you want after a couple weeks with 3 smart carbs/day, remove the smart carbs from just your first meal, and stick with 2 meals instead. To plan your cycle, I find that if you have a regular menstrual cycle you can plan your hormone building days leading up to this, but for many of my clients they feel it is easier to do more regularly. It is just personal preference and depends on how bad you react to your cycle each month or not.
I recommend eating Fat Burning Meals on all days except Wednesday or sometime mid-week when you know you’ll also workout. So on Wednesday you’ll eat Hormone Building Meals – the ones with smart carbs. Think of it as your mid-week burst to balance hormones and keep you going. In addition, the only other different day is on Saturdays, where I typically like to include one Planned Indulgence Meal and keep the rest of the day low carb.
You can find more info on my thoughts on indulgence or cheat meals in this video.
So that’s it! All days are the same except two. Again, if you want to see a full week's sample of what carb cycling meals might look like, check it out at the end of this video. Feel free to take a pic or screen shot of it to save for your reference.
Thinking that you may need extra help or accountability to put these actions into practice? Check out my online coaching.
Let's get FIRED UPP,