This is the reason you are here, right? You want to lose weight, get in shape, tone up, slim down, and stay that way for the rest of your life, right? Well Carb Cycling HeadQuarters is proud to announce that April is Get Fit and Stay That Way Month! All month-long we will be taking you from your current state, whatever that may be, to a new level of fitness, muscle development, and healthy nutrition. So follow along, check back often, or subscribe to the blog through RSS or email! If you’d like more information regarding what carb cycling is, or why it works check out our post on what carb cycling is. You can check out the other parts of this series below:
Learning From The First Three Days
Your first three days are complete. You passed, survived, and are now going to thrive on your journey towards fitness and health. The first three days of any difficult journey are the worst. It takes that long for the body to get out of shock and awe and to begin to adjust and adapt to the new routine, habit, or cycle. Things will begin to get a little easier as the hunger pangs go away, your body gets used to the amount of water you are drinking (1 gallon per day) and you push through your mental boundaries to new heights of fitness. In your first three days you could see as much as four to five pounds fall away, though don’t be discouraged if you don’t see those numbers as it varies widely from person to person.
One of the keys to going the distance is to continually identify in your life what and/or who your motivators are and what and/or who your demotivators are in the carb cycling process. Tim Ferriss, of the 4-hour work week, writes that we should identify who these people are in order to keep those who add to our lives and remove them from our lives. Doing so allows us to feel better about ourselves and get more done. Those who detract from your motivation often do more than just get you down. They often times cause the work you are actually able to do mean less and be less effective and efficient. So removing these people from your circles of influence or tribes, as Seth Godin identifies them, will increase your weight loss results!
Staying Focused on High Carb Days
Tuesday of your first week you experienced your first high carb day! High carb days are glorious after a long, tough low carb day (especially when you run on low carb days). They provide you with an extra boost of energy that may be missing from the low carb days of the week. High carb days are so important not just for the quick energy that they provide, but because they keep our metabolic fires burning. We eat more calories on high carb days because of the added food, which keeps our metabolism from slipping into the famine response that occurs on low-calorie diets.
One of the problems that can occur on high carb days is loss of focus. High carb days feel so good because of the release of endorphins caused by giving your body quick energy carbs. Even though we are sticking to the most healthy carbohydrates and not the bleached flour or highly fattening kinds, your body still acts like a drug addict when it is fed carbohydrates. This can cause loss of focus and motivation not because of depressed mood, but the opposite: a good feeling. Carbs can make us feel so good that we throw away our hard-earned weight loss for another release of endorphins by eating a cheat food, or even just too many portions of good carbohydrates.
So stay focused! Always go into a high carb day with the mindset of using those extra calories and bursts of energy to do something active. I like to add a few extra minutes of cardio to each high carb day. This helps to burn off any extra carbs before they get stored as fat and keeps me going into the next day without breaking the bank on dieting. Enjoy the energy on high carb days, but do not let it overcome you to the point of losing focus.
Staying Strong on Low Carb Days
Another potential issue you may face is the lack of energy that can come on low carb days. While this will begin to go away to a degree after your first few weeks, there are still days where I feel sleepy or just lethargic on low carb days. There are several ways to combat this. Mio, a water additive, is a great way to add flavor to that gallon of water you should be drinking daily. Some of their new flavors provide a measure of caffeine giving you an extra boost without calories, carbs, or sugar. Coffee is another option, but only black and without sugar. No frappes or double shot espresso. For those of you who, like me, don’t want to depend on caffeine to remain alert and awake, I usually try to do some sort of cardio workout if I’m feeling sleepy. That can be stair climbing (I work on the second floor), a brisk walk around the office, or even a few jumping jacks in your kitchen.
They key to low carb days is to fight through the feelings of lethargy by knowing that you are burning fat in a HUGE way on low carb days. This thought, combined with some quick energy boosting cardio or caffeine, helps get you through the worst parts of low carb days and helps to shred the fat that we are working so hard to get rid of. So stay strong, stay focused, and fight through low carb days!
Your First Two Cheat Days
Congrats! You are going to experience one of the best feelings (other than seeing that scale move downwards each weigh in) of carb cycling: the built-in cheat day! My family chooses to take Sunday as our cheat day as it works with our schedule and cravings, but feel free to choose either Saturday or Sunday, as these are both during the weekend and high carb days anyway.
Your cheat day should be a day where you indulge in those foods that you love that you crave all week-long. Reward yourself! Want some frozen yogurt? Head down to your local TCBY or ice cream shop for a treat! Feel like a perfectly cooked steak and potatoes? Hit up the steakhouse around the corner. Cheat days are free. Eat whatever you want all day long. There are two guidelines for cheat days. The first is that cheat food must be consumed by bedtime Sunday night. Do not wait until Monday morning to throw it out or eat it as this leads to it “accidentally” being enjoyed for lunch on low-carb Monday.
The second guideline is that women should consume no more than 2500 calories and men no more than 3000. This is still a massive amount of calories considering you are not going to be working out most likely on your cheat day. My wife and I have had very little problems with this guideline. Enjoy the foods you love, just don’t go completely overboard and pig out on a few dozen plates at Golden Corral. This limit helps to keep your weight from jumping up and regaining all the fat that you have worked so hard to lose in the week prior.
Enjoy your cheat day. But don’t overdo it. Also, remember that it is a cheat day, as in singular! Go into each cheat day with the mindset of enjoying yourself for 24 hours, then getting right back into the diet and exercise on Monday (or Sunday) morning. Otherwise, your mind may tempt you to have a cheat week, or simply give up carb cycling completely. We faced this often in our first few weeks. Cheat days can be an answer to prayer, but don’t let them become a curse that dooms your weight loss to failure!
Got questions? Have a success story? Want to share your first 3 days weight loss or even your two-week measurements? Go right ahead in the comments below!