I’ve talked recently about how I’m adopting a new approach to my health, fitness and weight loss this year. This has included working for a two month period with a personal trainer to understand the best fitness and nutrition approach for me. One of the things I highlighted to my PT was how I would like to increase my metabolic rate, as it’s been very low the past few years and lead to me easily gaining weight and feeling tired and sluggish. While I’m doing what I can in the gym to achieve this, throwing in lots of resistance work, the other area that needed addressing was nutrition, which is where carb cycling comes in.
Carb cycling essentially involves having different levels of carbs each day of the week. I do two high carb days, two medium carb days and three low carb days a week. It’s a technique often used by bodybuilders before competing. I am definitely not aiming for a bodybuilder’s physique, but my overall aims are the same – to increase muscle and decrease fat. This approach should also help to improve my metabolic rate, rather than adopting a crazy low calorie diet, which would have a detrimental affect on my metabolism in the long term.
The type of carbs I’m eating has also changed. I’ve cut out bread, potatoes and rice. I’ve definitely found these to bloat me and leave me with an uncomfortable stomach, but have always just put up with it. In changing the food I eat, I find I’m not missing them at all. Instead the carb-rich foods I eat tend to be quinoa, wholemeal pittas and wraps, sweet potato and oats. That may sound restrictive, but when you get creative with recipes, it doesn’t feel restrictive at all.
On high carb days, I will have carbs with all three meals. Typically for high carb meals, I’ll have something like porridge with berries and almond milk for breakfast, a wholemeal pitta with turkey bacon, scrambled eggs, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach for lunch, and chicken thighs, roasted veg and sweet potato mash for dinner. This is just a typical example, as each day I mix it up and try different things. On medium carb days, I’ll have a similar amount of carbs for lunch, but I’ll have slightly less at breakfast and none at dinner. On a low carb day, I won’t incorporate any of the usual carbs, getting my carbs purely from fruit and veg. I still feel fulfilled on these days though. For breakfast, I might have a banana, strawberry and almond milk protein shake, for lunch bacon (fat trimmed off), two eggs and asparagus and for dinner maybe Bolognese with courgetti. Again, I change what I eat with each low carb day, trying different recipes and food combinations. I also have a morning and afternoon snack. My favourite is a corn cake with peanut butter and some sliced banana on top!
I have to admit, my trainer did give me a list of foods to avoid. And most of them I can easily, or already have. But my one vice is alcohol! I know I need to find the right nutrition plan that’s sustainable for me, and not drinking just isn’t sustainable! I definitely don’t drink every night. It is mostly saved for the weekend. But I enjoy that weekend drink, particularly if we are out socialising. So, I’m not going to give that up! When I highlighted it to my trainer, he said it was the one thing that would probably have the biggest impact. But I am dropping weight and still drinking at weekends. It might not be as fast as I could drop weight if I didn’t drink, but it’s still coming off and that’s good enough for me! I want this to be a lifestyle change and not drinking would only be a short term solution.
I started this nutrition plan about 3 weeks ago and have seen such a difference already. The main thing for me is that I hardly ever feel bloated. I realise now how much of my life I was spending in a bloated uncomfortable state! I’ve also lost more weight since taking on this plan. And I’m enjoying it. I’ve rarely found it difficult, even when eating out on low carb days, as I can just ask for something like extra salad or veg with a steak instead of chips.
And I am starting to notice that my metabolism is speeding up. I definitely have more energy. The weight is coming off. And I noticed a really big change in the gym the other day. I was sweaty! To some this may seem strange, that you should always come away from a gym session sweaty. But I rarely used to sweat, no matter how hard I was working. This is a typical sign of a low metabolism. Instead, I’d go beetroot red, as my body had no efficient way of expelling the heat. Now, I’m dripping in sweat and it feels so good!! Who would have thought that sweat would be so welcome?!
I’m definitely going to keep this nutrition plan going. It doesn’t feel like a diet. I’m not counting anything. And it is easy for me to sustain. I’ll keep you up to date with the results down the line!
Here’s me in all my sweaty, post-workout glory! So proud of that sheen!!!!