It is not my intention to write a primer about Carb Cycling here. There are many authorities on the subject and several different ways to use the technique as well as a great variety of different reasons that people do so. I just want to tell you a bit about my experience with it and share some meal ideas that I have used on my low carb days.
I will share a bit of background. I first became interested in Carb Cycling after reading a couple of books by Chris Powell. He is the Extreme Weight Loss trainer on the tv series. I hadn't seen it when I first picked up one of his books but the information he wrote made sense to me. He offers a few different ways to use the technique and I have tried a couple of them... finally settling on one that works for me.
My taste buds love carbs! But I have learned over the years that my body just does not tolerate them all that well. I am not talking about the carbs we find in fresh veggies and fruits. No, I am referring to the starchy carbs in rice, and quinoa, in legumes, and in processed foods made with grains... you know... bread, crackers, cookies, cakes... all the good stuff. And I have also found that once I do eat some of those things, I want MORE of them.
So, limiting them works for me quite nicely. It also helps me maintain my weight while giving me the fuel I need to power through my days.
In the past I have tried to follow an extremely low carb plan where I don't get to eat any of those things I like, and found it just too hard to stay with. I mean, who wants to never eat dates or sushi again... EVER? Not me. I know that some people do very well with Keto diets and I am not knocking them... again, just not for me.
Carb Cycling the way I do it works for me. I get to eat some of those 'trigger' foods occasionally. I have a drink occasionally. And I also eat a ton of fresh produce and lots of nuts and seeds. I am a happy carnivore, too.
I do keep track of macros with My Fitness Pal but I do not obsess over it. Here is what I am aiming for on each of the 3 different types of day I plan:
- Regular Day - Protein 35%/Carbs 40%/Fat 25%
- Low Carb/High Fat Days - Protein 40%/Carbs 20%/Fat 40%
- High Carb/Low Fat Days - Protein 40%/Carbs 40%/Fat 20%
- Sunday - Regular Day
- Monday/Tuesday - Low Carb/High Fat Days
- Wednesday - High Carb/Low Fat Day
- Thursday/Friday - Low Carb/High Fat Days
- Saturday - High Carb/Low Fat Day
On these days I avoid starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, beets, and legumes... most fruits other than berries and grapefruit.... dried fruits, grains or processed foods with grains, alcohol, sugary treats like fudgsicles, and so on.
Do I miss them? Nope, because I know I can have them on Sunday or Wednesday or Saturday... and let's face it... it isn't the law... it's NOT the boss of me, so if I want something I will have it anytime I choose. But honestly, I usually choose not to...
Let's have a look at what I have been eating lately on my Low Carb/High Fat days.
This is where I like to get creative. It is usually lots of protein with some fruit and/or veggies. On days I go to work in the morning, The Captain scrambles up some eggs with a bit of onion, sliced grape tomatoes and pre-cooked bacon crumbles... add a piece of grapefruit, or half an orange or some berries and I am set to go.
One of my favorites... eggs with bacon-style turkey and red grapefruit.
Protein 'cookie dough' with pecans, almonds, strawberries and coconut oil. The cookie dough is a low-carb vegan protein powder mixed with just enough almond milk to make it lumpy and thick like a real cookie dough.
Scrambled egg and egg whites with hemp seeds and cinnamon.
My High Protein Puck with Greek yogurt and mixed berries.
My High Protein Puck, cut in half and toasted with PB2, strawberries and cinnamon, with red grapefruit.
And just a note... My High Protein Puck is great torn up into bits and topped with Greek yogurt and fruit. Kinda like a trifle.
Scrambled egge whites with strawberries, slivered almonds, coconut shreds and cinnamon.
Eggs with Canadian back bacon and berries.
Protein shake made with protein powder, coconut milk and spinach.
Protein Shake made with protein powder, almond milk and frozzen mixed berries.
A couple of other breakfast faves...
Lunch is usually a huge salad with protein and and oily dressing. Or if I have some on hand I make a sandwich rollup with my Low-Carb Flatbread and some lean deli ham. I often have zoodles (zucchini noodles made with a spiralizer) ... and if it is a cool day, I will cook my veggies or even make a veggie soup and toss my protein of choice into that.
I love cottage cheese topped with tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, sunflower seeds and then drizles with an oily, herb-filled dressing.
Greek style tuna salad. A can of water packed tuna tossed into a bowl with lots of peppers, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and a dressing made with EVOO and red wine vinegar mixed with basil and oregeno.
Leftover barbecued chicken with lettuce, cucumbers, orange peppers tossed with EVOO and apple cider vinegar.
Lightly sauted peppers, zukes, onions tossed with canned chicken breast. I love the Kirkland canned chunk chicken breast that I find at Costco. Handy and tasty.
Spinach, cucumbers, strawberries, pecans with chicken and dressed with EVOO and apple cide vinegar. Snow peas on the side.
Raw zoodles topped with yogurt/avocado mixture and cilantro. Snap peas, cucumbers, tomatoes alongside.
This experiment turned out to be one of my favorites. Yellow and green peppers lightly sauteed in coconut oil with zoodles. Leftover barbecued chicken on top.
Check out some of the sauces I use on my zoodles:
I have become a meat and veggies kind of girl. Dinner is usually something cooked on the grill, if I am lucky... cause The Captain is the grill-master here! And I will prepare veggies or salad to go along with it. One of my favorite meals is a grilled Wild Pacific Salmon Burger (Trident brand from Costco - frozen) on top of a plate of salad or coleslaw.
Lean pork chop and fresh thyme with green beans and oven-roasted cauliflower.
This grilled eggplant with balsamic sauce is great! Yes, it is a bit higher in carbs but when I am low for the overall day, I enjoy it!
The Captain likes pizza so I make my own crust with ground flax (it's easy and quick) and then top it...
sometimes a little more elaborately...
Oven roasted veggies with barbecue chicken. Roasted veggies are a favorite and in the cooler months I make them a couple of times a week.
Baked meatballs with a wee bit of cheese melted on them, then placed on skewers with tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and served with coleslaw.
I normally have an afternoon snack. I try to avoid protein bars because they normally have more sugar than I want on Low Carb days. I ofen will mix up a couple of tablespoons of defatted peanut flour such as PB2 or Protein Plus, and then mix in some sunflower seeds and if I want a sweet... a small spoonful of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I love a handful of almonds or raw cashews and I also like cheese... mini Baby Bels or light old cheddar is a favorite too. I love the low fat turkey pepperettes that I find at Costco. Club soda has become my cocktail of choice!
Sometimes I like to make up what I call 'cookie dough' and have that as a snack in the afternoon. I find that the vegan protein powders work very well for this. I have a couple of favorites that I like that are low in in carbs... gotta be a labe reader.
Mix a scoop of the protein powder with cocoa powder or PB2 if you like.. and then enough almond milk or coconut milk to make it barely wet and quite lumpy.... probably 3 to 4 Tbs of milk. Add nuts or semi-sweet chocolate chips and eat with a small spoon. Awesome!
Yeah, I know it looks terrible. But if you like raw cookie dough you gotta try this.
This is another fave... can be a snack or a dessert. It is my High Protein Angel Food Cake and it is made with egg whites and a whey protein powder... I like it topped with berries and Greek yogurt or whipped cream. Mmmmm.
I think you can see why Low Carb/High Fat day has become my favorite... not only for the great things I eat, but because my body is leaner on these days. Starchy carbs hang onto water weight so on days I eat them, my belly is rounder, my fingers and toes are a bit puffier. I probably weigh 3 or 4 pounds more.
What is your favorite low carb meal?
Have you tried carb cycling?