Carb Cycling in a Nutshell

Tuesdays on ABC there is an inspirational show on that I just love called Extreme Weight Loss.  It is the journey of one obese person as they transform their life over the span of a year with the help of trainers Chris and Heidi Powell.  Yes, it is about weight loss, but it also shows the real life challenges we face to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I’m sure there is drama added in, but overall I like the “realness” of the show.  Life is difficult, bad stuff happens,  but there is a road back to wholeness and healthy living.  Yep, right up my alley! I enjoy the show also because Chris and his wife Heidi are examples of busy people with jobs and a family that are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  They model and share their expertise even to the extent of letting participants come live with them!  Through the team of counselors and physicians and who knows who else, they are able to really help these people change their lives and it is amazing and wonderful!

Book I recently read a book by Chris called Choose More, Lose More for Life.  He outlines the weight loss/fitness program he uses on the show and in his own life.  The nutrition component is called carb cycling.  As I researched carb cycling I found there are a variety of ideas about it out there, it has been around in the professional athlete realm for a long time. It seems there are many different ways to carb cycle.  I feel comfortable with Chris’s book because I’ve watched the proof. He is healthy and performs the challenging feats with his participants (triathlon, half-Ironman’s, marathons…) and consistently helps people transform. You have to be healthy and fueled well for all that stuff, he’s doing something right!

So, I am on my 12th day of carb cycling and I am amazed at the results!  The idea is that by alternating low carb days with high carb days, your metabolism is fired up and you burn more fat. In the book he goes into the science of it all (which really makes sense to me) but I won’t go into all that here.  The evidence is looking pretty good in my own trial run because my clothes fit differently already and I can tell that I am losing fat.  12 days!  So, I thought I’d post carb cycling in a nutshell and maybe at least peak your interest to check it out.  This plan is really flexible and realistic and will produce results.  I can see doing this long-term without a problem and that is critical because it is a lifestyle of health that will help you lose weight and keep it off long-term.

Here is the basic idea for what Chris calls the “Classic” cycle:

Day 1:  Low carb day (eat lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats). Women eat around 1200 calories, men eat around 1500 calories.

Day 2: High carb day (eat lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and complex carbohydrates)  Women eat around 1500 calories, Men eat around 2000 calories.

Day 3: Low carb day      Day 4: High carb day     Day 5: Low carb day     Day 6: High carb day

Day 7: Reward day (free to eat whatever you want and up to 1000 calories above your high carb day intake)

There are some rules to make sure you get the results you want:

  • Drink a gallon of water a day
  • Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of getting up
  • Eat every 3 hours; total of 5 times a day

He also has a well-defined workout routine that goes along with the eating plan that is very simple and clear.  Since I already work out regularly, I have just have been doing the nutritional changes and kept my normal exercise routine.  But the exercises he suggests are illustrated in the book and do not require equipment or a gym! I get excited when I see a plan that is realistic and encourages eating regular food that you love…that means you can stick with it!  So give it a try!  Pick up Chris Powell’s book for all the details, or go to his website, but this is pretty simple and the results are pretty quick…two things we all like!

P. S. On a side note, my husband is a weight lifter who has been trying to figure out how to avoid abdominal fat but still take in enough calories to power his lifts and so he is trying carb cycling too.  He is doing the “Fit” cycle which is just two low carb days out of seven with one reward day and guess what?  He too is seeing the results he wanted, less fat and maintained strength!


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