Is carb cycling for you?
DISCLAIMER: The following is not intended as health or nutrition advice. This is purely informative. It is up to you to decide what is best for you and your body.
Carb cycling is a dietary approach that I’ve found quite a bit of success with.
Now, we all define “success” differently, and a successful dietary approach can mean different things to different people, so I’ll more clearly define what I mean when I say I’ve had “quite a bit of success with carb cycling”.
My main goals from my diet are to aid in keeping body fat low, but to also provide enough energy to perform at a high cognitive level amidst a busy work schedule, and to fuel some pretty gnarly workouts where I also look to perform at or near my best.
I find that most dietary approaches, or “diets”, that are solely focused on improved body composition, are too restrictive, and aren’t sustainable.
Especially as many of them leave you zapped of energy, and I pack way too much into a day to be zapped of energy from a highly restrictive diet, purely for the sake of a couple less percent body fat.
In general, my diet typically includes lots of grass fed, pasture raised meat, organic fruit, raw honey, and raw cheeses or formed dairy. I find with these foods, I get the best balance of optimal benefits: burning body fat/keeping it low, coupled with high performance and function.
I’ve also been known to indulge on the weekends, or at special events, and will include potatoes and maybe a small amount of grains on high carb days, which we’ll understand more about as we read on.
Let’s learn more about this approach to eating, and arm you with more information to see if carb cycling is something you want to give a try.
Introduction to Carb Cycling
Carb cycling is a dietary approach in which you alternate your carbohydrate intake on a daily, weekly, or even monthly or yearly basis.
Carb Cycling is commonly used to help burn excessive stored body fat, optimize hormone balance & response, improve physical performance, and to shake things up when trying to bust through a plateau, whether with weight loss and/or physical performance.
**I will note that very little research has been done on carb cycling, so much of these potential benefits or use cases are anecdotal, including my own. That said, a quick YouTube search on carb cycling, uses, and benefits, will yield a lot of potentially useful results.
Carbohydrate intake, when carb cycling, can be extremely variable, and is something that can be tweaked and adjusted to see what yields the best response for you personally.
So don't be afraid to experiment a little, but also remember that you need to stick with a specific regimen for some time (at least 4 weeks) to have a true idea of what's working, and what could be tweaked and adjusted.
How Does Carb Cycling Work
Carbs are your body’s primary fast-burning fuel source. In the presence of carbs (glucose) in your system, your body won’t lean on its more slow-burning fuel source, fat.
If cutting out carbs allows your body to then burn fat, why not just cut carbs out entirely?
This is where low energy and sustainability come into play.
As mentioned above, one of my goals from my diet is to also have energy for cognitive function and to get lots of stuff done in a day, both mentally and physically.
Oftentimes, this calls for a faster burning, more readily available energy source, (glucose) which is what our body yields from carbs.
However, too many carbs results in too much stored energy, and thus, weight gain, and the accumulation of body fat.
This is where the magic is at in carb cycling.
The idea behind carb cycling is that there is variability in your carbohydrate intake, which leaves room to be in states where carbs (glucose) aren’t present, and thus, you are more likely to burn fat, and then also provide bursts of quicker burning energy in the form of glucose from carbs from time to time.
Anecdotally, I, and many others have found this to be the sweet spot for burning more fat, or keeping body fat low, but also having the mental and physical energy to get stuff done throughout the day, and to crush your workouts if you so desire.
It’s in this variability where you can have some fun, playing around, experimenting with, and tweaking actual carb cycling schedules.
Types of Carb Cycling Schedules
I’ve personally played around most with daily, weekly, and what I would call a feast/famine schedule, all of which I’ll walk you through briefly.
Once you understand carb cycling conceptually, and how creating your own schedule, you can create any kind of schedule you’d like.
This would be a schedule for carb cycling based on a 24-hour period. Typically, you would do a combination of intermittent fasting, then eating low-to-no-carb for the majority of the day, and eat all your carbs essentially in one meal.
Usually, this meal would be timed around your workout, with you consuming either a higher carb meal beforehand, or a higher carb meal post workout.
I’ve had a lot of success with this approach by implementing an intermittent fasting schedule, where I don’t eat for 14-16 hours, starting with my final meal of the evening, and into the next day. Then, when I’ve broken my fast for the day, I would eat high protein, moderate fat foods devoid of carbs, then workout/train, and finish the day with a higher carbohydrate meal of 100-200g carbs.
By beginning your day with intermittent fasting, and then a low-to-no-carb approach for the majority of the day, you are making it a lot more likely that your body will be burning fat as its primary fuel source.
Then, only at the end of the day, after a workout, and further expending my body’s fuel reserves, I’ll refeed with a higher carbohydrate meal to aid in recovery and get me going the next morning strong.
This schedule is based on our 7 days in a week calendar cycle.
In this schedule, you have low, moderate, and high carb days, thus cycling your carbs from day to day across the span of a calendar week, rather than over a 24 hour period as in the above schedule.
A typical week for me in this schedule will look like the following starting with Monday and ending with Sunday:
Low – Moderate – Low – High – Low –Moderate – High (Note how I make room for more carbs on the weekends)
A Feast/Famine schedule is going to implement a one day a week “refeed”, and is typically for someone trying to focus more heavily on lowering systemic inflammation and/or reducing body fat.
In a Feast/Famine approach to carb cycling, you would typically have 6 days of low-to-very-low carbohydrate intake (usually 25-75g per day) capped off with a higher calorie, high carbohydrate day.
In many circles this is known as a “cheat day”.
Oftentimes this is called a “cheat day” because it’s the day where you eat everything you couldn’t eat during the week and want to eat, or are craving.
And this is true, however, I like to call it a “refeed” day, because you should also focus on getting higher quality foods in that your body can use, and truly refuel the reserves you spent all week, rather than a bunch of empty calories.
In short, try to combine eating some junk foods you want, with higher quality carbohydrate choices like fruit, potatoes, and whole grains.
I’ve actually written a more complete guide to carb cycling that will help you create a schedule based on sex, body type, and weight. It’s complete with a recommended foods list and other useful information.
To check it out the Complete Guide to Carb Cycling, CLICK HERE
To watch a really solid 5 minute primer on the various types of carb cycling and potential use cases CLICK HERE
When choosing a wine, go ‘old world’ for the healthiest glass of wine.
‘Old World’ wines are wines described mostly by region, rather than actual style. An ‘Old World’ wine is typically going to be from Europe, however, it can also include regions of the Mediterranean basin with long histories of winemaking, such as North Africa and Near East.
European countries often included and considered ‘Old World’ are Austria, France, Italy, Georgia, Spain, and Portugal. These countries can have very different styles of wine, which is why ‘Old World’ is not considered a specific style.
It is also a term used in contrast to other regions, such as the United States, Australia, South America, and South Africa, which are known as ‘New World’ wines.
So, now that you know the distinction between an ‘Old World’ and a ‘New World’ wine, let’s discuss why choosing ‘Old World’ wines could be the greatest wine hack ever.
‘Old World’ Wines FTW
Generally, an ‘Old World’ wine is going to be made using, well, ‘Old World’ methods. Which means, the herbicides, pesticides, and other harsh chemicals we use in growing aren’t used, as they weren’t available.
You know how in the U.S. we make a distinction (and subsequently label as such) for plants grown like this, called “organic”?
Well, not the same with ‘Old World’ wines, as you can generally assume many of these wines are “organic” because inorganic, or “conventional” as we now call it, wasn’t a thing in the ‘Old World’.
The grapes grown for ‘Old World’ wines will also be grown in a more biodynamic environment, meaning in a more robust, nutrient-rich soil, which will make a healthier glass of wine.
These wines should also not have preservatives called “sulfites” added to them, because, well, once again, this was not a thing in the ‘Old World’. Wine naturally contains a small amount of sulfites, however, these sulfites are often added to ‘New World’ wines as an additional preservative, and people can have sensitivities to these sulfites, and in many cases, can be one of the main culprits behind the dreaded “wine headache”.
In short, ‘Old World’ winemakers are purists, making wine in the traditional ‘Old World’ way of making wine, before we started adding preservatives, and using harsh chemicals on our crops, making them “organic” and free of preservatives simply because that’s how it’s always been done.
Also as a result of this, the grapes grown using ‘Old World’ methods will be more rich in anti-aging antioxidants you hear so much about with red wine, as they have to be more resilient to natural elements, because they don’t have the protection of the herbicides and pesticides.
Finally, an ‘Old World’ wine will typically be lower in alcohol content as well.
All said and done, a great general rule of thumb if you want to drink the healthiest glass of wine without the headache (and yes, red wine, in moderation, is quite good for you and appears to provide real anti-aging benefits) is to go ‘Old World’.
How to Choose an ‘Old World’ Wine
If out at a restaurant, and they have a Sommelier, you can simply ask for ‘Old World’ recommendations as a starting off point, and then select something whose taste profile jumps out at you from there.
When shopping for yourself, or personally selecting a wine at a restaurant, going regional for Italy, France, or the Basque region (in between Spain and France) is a pretty good rule of thumb to ensure you are getting an ‘Old World’ wine.
I typically drink 3-4 glasses of ‘Old World’ and only ‘Old World’ wine per week, and some of my personal favorite styles are Tempranillo (Basque region of Spain), Bordeaux (French regional), and a Cote du Rhone (a coastal region of France). I’ve found Italian wines that are regional, and most likely ‘Old World’, are not named after a grape or region, but rather, the family vintner, so look for Italian wines named after the winemaking family itself.
And I know this may burst some bubbles, but for me personally, I never select wines from the U.S., even the esteemed Napa Valley. Sorry California.
Worth noting. I am not a wine expert, nor do I claim to be one. I know what I like, and why I choose the wines I do. This segment is meant to provide insights and guidance on selecting wine from a health and nutrition perspective.
9 Mental Dispositions that are Sabotaging your Social Life
I came across an article titled, 9 Mental Dispositions that are Sabotaging your Social Life, which on the surface, felt like kind of a negative title. However, I’m glad I read it, cause upon reading it, I found the findings of the research to be some of the most positive, uplifting research I’ve come across, and I’m stoked to share it with you,
Have you ever had a conversation with someone, say, at a party or event, and afterwards, became self-conscious of yourself, or things you said?
Maybe you felt you got too personal, or discussed things that after the fact, seemed a bit too intimate?
Or maybe you helped someone out, or did something to brighten their day, only to think it doesn’t really matter?
Well, it turns out, it does matter, more than you think.
And on top of that, it also turns out, people like you a lot more than you may think, and they also tend to appreciate deeper, more intimate conversations more than you might think.
This article is definitely worth the read, but I’ll share some of my favorites with you, and hope that it leaves you feeling more uplifted by how much more positive our social interactions are than we may realize.
You underestimate how much you will enjoy talking to a stranger.
We typically shy away from starting conversations with strangers, whether it’s out of fear that it won’t be welcomed, or several other possible reasons. Turns out, research shows that if you do strike up a conversation with a stranger, or a stranger with you, that it will be more enjoyable than you think, and leave you both in a better mood.
You underestimate how much new acquaintances like you.
Turns out, people like you more than you may think when they first meet you, and that’s pretty cool to know. I myself, find myself thinking back when I first meet people, thinking maybe I talked too much, or was a bit too intense. It’s probably somewhat natural to go back and second guess those interactions, however, rest easy, cause it appears that often, you make a better first impression than you think.
You underestimate how much people will care about intimate disclosures.
TMI. Something I think many of us are cognizant of in ourselves in conversations. In fact, so cognizant, that oftentimes we’ll preface a statement, or a detail we share by first alerting “TMI”. Divulging too much, or going too deep in a conversation, for fear of turning the other person off with all your deep, intimate details. Once again, it turns out those thoughts, or even fears, probably aren’t warranted. It’s not 100% the case of course, but it seems most people truly appreciate conversations that go past small talk, past the surface layers to be deeper, and thus, more meaningful.
You underestimate the positive impact of giving a compliment.
Turns out, we have a tendency to shy away from giving compliments to others for fear that it will be viewed as awkward, and this is an overestimation on our end in how it will be received. In fact, it appears that not only do you overestimate how awkward you may seem in giving a compliment, but you also underestimate how much of an impact that compliment will make on the recipient. So don’t shy away from complimenting others, even, or especially complete strangers, as you probably don’t realize just how positively that small gesture can impact them, and their day.
You underestimate how much someone will appreciate you checking in on them.
A quick call or text to check in on a friend or acquaintance can go a long way. The longer it’s been without talking to them, the seemingly more impactful it may actually be. If you’ve ever drafted a text to someone you haven’t seen or communicated with in a while, to check in on them, only to delete it before sending for fear that it might seem weird, don’t. It will be well received, and even the smallest gesture, like a quick text to check in and say “hey”, can go a long way.