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Carb Cycling Diet, A Different Approach to Low-Carb

Updated on March 31, 2011

Hopping on the Weight Loss Train

Ever since High school I had been self-conscious about my appearance. Much of this stemmed from the fact that I was overweight and had a lot of extra fat on me. At 15 years old I weighed 230 and by sophomore year I was up around 255. I played football and this introduced me to lifting weights and running. I did exercise but never lost weight. I was missing the other half and most important aspect of weight loss, nutrition and diet. Now I find myself at 200lbs with my abs visible for the first time, ever! I want to share how I did it in hopes that other people find success like I and many of my friends have. In this lens you will learn how a Carb Cycling diet can be the key to leading a healthy life.

This can often be the hardest part. I'm here to help.
This can often be the hardest part. I'm here to help.

Getting Started

Motivation and Commitment

The most important part of weight loss is finding a reason that will give your goal of losing weight staying power. Wanting abs or letting go of that spare tire is not a realistic goal (but possible) because it takes weeks and months of commitment to achieve. What you need is a reason that will allow you to always stay on track when the going gets tough and those cravings begin to sneak up on you. For me it was a report I read on overweight football players who after retiring from the sport lead lives full of obesity induced diseases and resulted in early deaths. I didn't want to be another statistic. There are many reasons to lose weight such as, wanting to improve your appearance, live a long fulfilling life, being able to be active with your children, enhancing your confidence in order to get a promotion. I don't want to make a lofty claim that losing weight will make every aspect of your life better from sex to acquiring a job but I won't deny it either. Find that reason to start and get ready to make a lifestyle change.

Carb Cycling allows a delicious meal like this!
Carb Cycling allows a delicious meal like this!

Understanding CKD or Carb Cycling!

Losing Fat, Gaining Muscle!

In a nutshell, a carb(ohydrate) cycling diet entitles eaiting low carb for a certain period followed by a carb re-feed- or carb-up period. While there are many variations on how to do this I believe the most successful and easiest to adhere to is eating low carb for 4 days with a carb load meal at night, followed by 3 days low carb and another carb up meal at night. Essentially you will be eating low carb, refeed and that will hold you off until your next carb up.

Why Cycle Carbs?

Carbohydrates provide the body with quick energy in moments it demands it. While many will argue this, the quick energy that carbohydrates provides is only necessary in extreme weightlifting, Sports such as football and basketball, and other sports that require a lot of big amounts of energy in a short time. For regular working human beings Fat and Protein are a much more stable and efficient energy source.

In this diet you will go through an induction phase in which for 7 days you must eat under 20g of net carbohydrates. Net Carbs is Carbohydrates - Fiber. For example, peanut butter, a carb cycler's dessert, on average contains 7g of carbs and 3g of fiber per serving. This equates to 4g of net carbs. You will learn that peanut butter is very hard to eat in its serving size but that's where your commitment must come in. The induction phase will put you in ketosis. Ketosis is a state of burning fat for fuel. Once in ketosis your body will be using that extra flab around the waist as fuel for everyday activities. Essentially you will be losing weight while working on that final report or while washing the dishes.

One drawback of being in ketosis for too long is the potential for losing muscle due to your body being without carbohydrates. That is where Dr.Atkins had it wrong and where proponents of CKD got it right. In order to avoid this you will be carb-loading the day after the 7th day of starting this diet. This ritual, as I like to treat it as, will help restore your muscles' glycogen stores so they can grow but avoid any fat gain. It's the best of both worlds.

Nice Low Carb Meal
Nice Low Carb Meal

Enough Explanation, So What Do I Do?

I Hope This Changes Your Life.

Day 1 Through Day 7-

I will be using days in order to easier explain, besides, everyone starts on Mondays.

Okay, First 7 days are simple but the hardest. You will probably save money on groceries for this week as there is not much needed and not a lot thinking going into preparing a meal.

- First week net carbs under 20g a day. (Read Nutritional Facts Labels!)

- High Protein, High Fat.(contrary to popular belief Dietary Fat is GOOD!)

- At Least one serving of vegetables per day in order to keep the pipes clean. If you don't like vegetables like myself, invest in a fiber supplement or learn to like at least one vegetable.

-Things you should eat are chicken, beef, fish,eggs, and tofu if vegan. If oil is needed to cook always use extra virgin Olive oil. It will provide you with healthy fats. Flaxseed oil and Macadamia oil are also great.

-Make an effort to eat every 3 hours it will help keep insulin spikes low and cortisol in check. Insulin and cortisol are hormones that can wreak havoc on a diet. Eat as I recommend and it will keep these flab creating monsters in check and result in a less stressful life. (Cortisol is a result of stress). This eating frequency will also keep cravings and hunger at bay.

-Eat your veggies, the greener the better and a diversity of colors are recommended. When dressing up your spinach, broccoli, or any other veggie make sure you stay away from high carb dressings. Never go with the low fat kind because many times they add sugar in order to make up for the loss of flavor. Olive oil, butter, ranch, etc. are all okay. Remember, fat is good in moderation.

- Try to stay away from low-carb junk such as, bacon, sausages, beef jerky, and the likes. Having this every now and then is okay but don't make it a habit.

Don't be intimidated by these chumps You can look better!
Don't be intimidated by these chumps You can look better!

After the First 7 Days

Getting Ready For The Carb Load

Okay you've made it through the first 7 days and it is Tuesday now.

- Today you bump your carb intake to no more than 30- 50g per day. Staying in the lower half of that range is even better.

-Now you can introduce things such as peanut butter, almonds, pistachios, and some low carb protein shakes.

- All the points from the first 7 days are still intact, the only difference being the bump up in carbs.

Wednesday, First Carb load =)

- Stay under 30g of carbs until your last meal.

- For the last meal of the day you will consume at least 60g of Carbohydrates in this meal in order to restore your muscle glycogen stores. This carb load will help keeping your metabolism churning along, help muscle growth, and allow for you to remain on this diet.

- The carb load meal should contain mostly Starchy carbs such as, potatoes,brown rice, bread, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal and the king of complex carbs sweet potato. Avoid sugars as much as possible but you are entitled to a treat, a scoop of ice cream, a bowl of your favorite cereal, or some cake. Just make sure it's a small serving compared to the good carbs.

-At this meal make sure to keep protein and fat as low as possible no more than 20g each. Some people report fat burning even during this meal.

-Allow ample time(about an hour) to digest this before going to bed so it does not interfere with your sleep and growth hormones.

Next day go back to your 30-50g carb per day limit and carb load again Friday then Tuesday and so on. Every fourth and third day.

A Great Low Carb Breakfast!
A Great Low Carb Breakfast!

Sample Day on a CKD Diet

Breakfast:

I wouldn't be giving good advice if I didn't say this is the most important meal of the day. It starts your metabolism and get your body out of a catabolic state(muscle destroying). What you eat is completely up to you as long as it's high protein and moderate fat.

A list of sample breakfasts would be:

- 3 scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and a couple of slices 98% lean ham. Green and Red peppers are great too.

- A steak and two eggs sunny side up with a side of your favorite veggies.

- Hard boiled eggs with a side of your favorite veggies and a handful of almonds or a tsp of peanut butter.

A list of sample lunches:

- Grilled chicken salad with sunflower seeds and ranch dressing.

- Grilled Fish(any kind but try and eat smaller fish) and your favorite veggies.

- Grilled steak with guacamole, green peppers, onions, sour cream, and cheese. (Chipotle is great)

Dinner will be anything similar to lunch or breakfast. Staying under your 30-50g carb per day limit of course.

Unless it is your carb up day.

A sample carb load dinner would be:

- Oatmeal with banana, apples, and any other fruit you may please.

- Whole wheat bagel, Mashed sweet potatoes, and a piece of fruit.

- Whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce and a bread stick hold the butter.

These are only some options you have available. Read the labels of foods and learn what you can eat and when you can eat it.

Snacking

If you must!

Snacking is almost inevitable but do refrain from it if you can. It can help you stay on track and allow for your metabolism to keep working efficiently.

Thanks to Peanut butter, almonds, pistachios, cheese sticks, and protein shakes. Snacking can be done almost guilt free.

- A protein shake(mixed in water) will go a long way in calming a sweet tooth and keeping cravings at bay until your next meal.

- Always check serving sizes on nuts. A serving of pistachio is sometimes 40 nuts but peanut butter while delicious will add a lot of calories with just 2 tsp.

You'll be as happy as this guy but with some lean abs!
You'll be as happy as this guy but with some lean abs!

It's as simple as that!

Stay Focused

I will make this as simple as possible. Follow these instructions to a tee. No cheating and no mixing diets. No adding your twists to the limits. Just follow the steps. I guarantee that you will love me for this and will feel the urge to hug, kiss or send me a 5 page letter confessing how amazing I am for changing your life. While I say that jokingly I do hope it is the case. There will be times when you think it's hard but I promise you results will come. It did for me. I hope the fact that I took the time to explain this diet for free will help you realize that not everyone out there is trying to make a buck from overweight or self-conscious individuals. I want people to feel as rejuvenated and happy as I am now that I have lost the body fat that plagued me. After a year I am still adhering to that same diet I just explained and I couldn't be happier. It doesn't take away from having a drink with friends or going out to eat. Adjust your plans or events to your diet, avoid adjusting your diet to your plans.

If you can relate to this little guy, get moving!
If you can relate to this little guy, get moving!

No Exercising???

Sounds too good to be true

Many will refute this plan right away only because I don't mention exercise. Exercise is as much a part of my life as this diet is. Lifting weights with proper rest in between and a great cardio program will strengthen your bones, muscles, and will make a much more functional human being. It will also aid you in your weight loss but it's not completely necessary. Your metabolism burns energy all day while doing simple task such as, cleaning, typing, stocking the aisles at a supermarket (my job a couple of years ago) or walking up a flight of stairs. This will support healthy weight loss on its own. If you are considered a couch potato then by all means go out and get your butt moving! If staying completely compliant on this diet is hard for you make up with intense exercise.

Items That Will Make Your Life Easier - Not Necessary But Helpful

An Ipod will make counting carbs a breeze with the Myfitnesspal App! Also useful for making exercising more enjoyable.

A scale will help keep a measure of how you are progressing. A body fat scale provides a better assessment of how your are doing even though body fat measurement accuracy can fluctuate on home machines.

Good running shoes will make long jogs a lot better on your body and you will find it easier to want to run.

Staying on Track

You Just Made a Friend!

If you took the time to read this lens and believe it can help you, which I am proof that it will, then congratulations you just made a friend. Just leave a comment or send me an email. I will respond and help you out with any inquiries, concerns, or plateaus you may have. I really just wish for more people to be healthy and rely less on medicine and operation and more on good nutrition and knowledge.

If I need to further improve my lens I am open to suggestions. It is my first one and I hope it can change some lives. Some people who changed my lives were Rob Fagin and Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale. Read up on them and find out more about CKD!

The Book That Encouraged Me To Take This On

Natural Hormonal Enhancement
Natural Hormonal Enhancement

This book is the basis for the diet I prescribed here. Furthermore, he explains in depth how everything in your body works from muscles to hormones in order for you to have a better understanding of how this diet will work. He is a great writer and inserts humor in all the sections. It's a very interesting read for anyone whether prescribing to his diet or not. You will not be disappointed with this read.

 
Soak it up
Soak it up

Last minute Tips!

Some tips that will make dieting and your life a little better

-Set goals, It will make you more motivated. It's amazing how focusing on one goal at a time can make you so productive.

-Drink A lot of water! It will go a long way in curving appetite, keeping your digestive system in order, and muscles hydrated. Water is the single best thing on Earth.

-Go out and get soak up the rays. The sun goes along way in stimulating the body in ways that can ward off depression and produce Vitamin D.

-Make friends and be social. Tell your friends about this diet and how you're doing on it. It will be someone else who is aware that you are trying to improve yourself.

-Never settle. You lost 5lbs, great, lose another. Just got the body you always wanted, great, now go get that job you always wanted. Get the picture. Your body comes first but it's not the only thing you can improve. Relationships, status, and financial stability are a few others.

-Love those around you. It is they who will comfort you or push you to help you strive your weight loss goals.

Lastly, the most important thing I can say about losing weight and changing you life for the better is strive to learn. I have spent countless hours on bodybuilding forums, reading both of Rob Fagin's amazing books, who I credit most of my success to, and picking up all the text I could in order to further my knowledge on any given subject.

Some Knowledge

Many more out there such as Body Opus but these are my favorite.

Natural Hormonal Enhancement
Natural Hormonal Enhancement

Many of my recommendations come from here.

 

Poll!

How much did you lose your first week?

See results

Comments and Thoughts - It's encouraged

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This diet is worth recommending and I believe that dieting is not all about skipping meals because when you skip a meal, the more likely that you will eat more. Eat more though at breakfast as we need to energize ourselves for the day's activity and eat less at night.

    • profile image

      Matt_Lowe 4 years ago

      It's also a good idea to buy ketosticks to test yourself. The real weight loss takes place while your body is in a full-ketosis. I'm sure you know this, just adding for the benefit of your readers. I've got as much as 30 pounds in a month with this method. I normally wait 2 weeks before I do my first refeed though.

    • JavierMilian profile image
      Author

      JavierMilian 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I recommend you take "before and after" pictures and compare where you're at every 4 weeks. You will do great!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      How often do I check my progress? (Weeks)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      How often do I check my progress? (Weeks)

    • JavierMilian profile image
      Author

      JavierMilian 4 years ago

      @choosehappy: I'm glad you have had success following this method of dieting.

    • JavierMilian profile image
      Author

      JavierMilian 4 years ago

      @67Shelbygal: Thank you!

    • JavierMilian profile image
      Author

      JavierMilian 4 years ago

      @anonymous: If you need any further help just let me know! Atkins fails for some people becomes their metabolism slows down and muscle begins to be depleted because there is a lack of nutrients and calories. Carb loading allows for the body to experience a mini shock and kick starts the fat-burning process while shielding muscles from being lost.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This sounds like something i can actually try i tried Atkins diet before but it just never worked out for me.. i can't wait to give this program a shot!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This sounds like something id actually like to try i did Atkins and it didn't work for me.. soon as i move back down ill give this a try and let you know my results!!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i lost ten pounds and my abs started to come out with this diet,strongly recommend it.

      But you have to be committed.

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 6 years ago from US

      It works....in my own experience.

    • profile image

      67Shelbygal 6 years ago

      Very interesting and great information!

    • JavierMilian profile image
      Author

      JavierMilian 6 years ago

      @Sabre1000: I'm glad I could simplify things for you. If you have any questions be sure to ask!

    • Sabre1000 profile image

      Sabre1000 6 years ago

      Clear, concise and easy to follow directions.

      That alone should count for something!

      You know how many diets I have read and gone "Wha?" after reading them?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great lens, with lot's of great tips. I don't do dieting but I wish you the very best :)

    • JavierMilian profile image
      Author

      JavierMilian 6 years ago

      @David Stone1: Thank you for stopping by and glad you enjoyed it.

    • JavierMilian profile image
      Author

      JavierMilian 6 years ago

      @pixelposy: I read the lens on it recently and found it pretty interesting. Chances are it'll work as well. Whatever is easier to follow I recommend you do. Goodluck!

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 6 years ago from New York City

      Well done lens, detailed and straightforward.

    • profile image

      mahafas 6 years ago

      Thanks for the post it was very interesting

    • pixelposy profile image

      pixelposy 6 years ago

      Interesting concept. I've been following the Dukan diet because you don't have to count anything, but it's almost no carb to low carb alternating days.

    • JavierMilian profile image
      Author

      JavierMilian 6 years ago

      @magicgeniewishl: Thanks for taking the time to read =)

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      Very interesting.

    • magicgeniewishl profile image

      magicgeniewishl 6 years ago

      Great lens here, well done. I am glad you have found something that has worked for you! I have been one of thoes lucky people that have never struggled with my weight (yet) but feel for the people that do. I have some people close to me that seem to be in constant struggle to keep the weight off. I will suggest your plan, thanks and good luck!

    • mozartman profile image

      mozartman 6 years ago

      @JavierMilian: I'm glad you feel this has worked for you. Just keep doing whatever makes you most happy! :)

    • JavierMilian profile image
      Author

      JavierMilian 6 years ago

      In regards to Mozartman, while you are correct that carbs are the chief energy source for MOST people I must say it is not necessarily the most efficient. Carbs will provide will provide quick energy but not sustained. If you are a sugar burner then without a doubt you will feel fatigue when first attempting any low carb diet. That is why most have an induction period. Our bodies are highly adaptable and will use what we give it for fuel. Once in Ketosis Fat will be used for energy and provide a much more stable source without the drawbacks of highs and lows. I recommend moderate fat not high fat. And vegetables are incredible and can be eaten in unlimited amounts as well. Fruits being a higher in carbs (fructose) are better left for carb loads considering they would take up a lot of the daily alloted grams of carbs. I hope you can give this a try and maybe see for yourself. I appreciate the feedback!