Carb Cycling: The good, the bad, the ugly

My take on the first week of carb cycling plus an apple pie protein powder muffin recipe


I have been MIA for a while now. I just can’t seem to find the time to write. Which is terrible because it’s something I really enjoy. I have finally started to take my diet seriously. I’m going to the beach Memorial Day weekend, which is like 45 days away, and Peru in June/July (74 days away) so I’ve got this goal in my head that I’m going to be the skinniest me I can be by June so that I look amazing in my pictures. With that goal in mind I set out to find something I could do that would essentially jump start my weight loss and create better habits.

I decided to try carb cycling. This decision was based solely on a quiz I took on Facebook from a sponsored ad by HIITBURN. I found out that I’m an endomorph, defined as,

The endomorphic body type is the complete opposite of an ectomorph. This individual will usually be larger in appearance with heavier fat accumulation and little muscle definition. They find it hard to drop the weight even though they try several diets or workout programs.

This of course was sort of earth shattering yet not surprising. I have in my lifetime tried everything to lose weight and while I’ve had the occasional successes, they never seem to last. I’m not convinced carb cycling will last either, but I’m trying it regardless in an attempt to drop some weight, have some success, feel a bit better about myself, and thus continue the struggle so that by June I am Peru ready. I wound up buying a 3-1-2-1 program from HIITBURN for $17.99. They tried to sell me a whole bunch of other shit I didn’t want, but in the end I got my packet and started planning. The process took me about 2 weeks to begin. First, I had to read the packets, then I had to prep some meals, then I had to experiment with food and MFP.

I started my pre-carb cycle on a Monday, failed miserably when I realized at the end of the day I had eaten 120 grams of carbs. Tried again Tuesday and did better, staying around 50 grams. Talked to a friend who told me that anything under 50 is good, and tried again Wednesday, this time staying well below 50 grams. By Sunday, the day I was supposed to start, I felt I was ready to go and already had 3-4 low carb days under my belt and had lost almost 5 pounds. I figured if I started on Sunday, I would have a high carb day Wednesday and a flex (cheat) day Saturday. It seemed like a good plan of attack and I was ready to go. With week one in the books here are a few things I’ve learned about carb cycling that may help you if you decide to try it….

The Good: 
It really does work. In about a week and a half I lost around 6 pounds and an inch. Every morning I got on the scale and I was just a little bit lighter. It was super exciting. For someone who rarely sees the scale move and who struggles to accept that “it’s not all about the number”, while desperately wishing that number would move, this was AMAZING. I felt successful. I felt empowered. I felt like I was accomplishing something. I felt hopeful.

It’s not all that difficult once you have a plan. I actually find this easier than eating macros. The reason is because it’s not so much about balancing as just making choices to either eat it or not eat it. Knowing I have to stay under a certain number of carbs, while getting a certain amount of protein and fat made my choices for me. It was also nice to be able to eat certain foods that were once “off limits” to me while focusing only on macros. For example, cheese is back on the menu, which if you know me, you know that makes me extremely happy. I was also able to eat my Tessamae dressings again because on a low carb day I am supposed to eat high fat, so that was also a win!

It has taught me to be really conscious of what I am eating. I never really cared as long as the macros were good at the end of the day, I wasn’t a “good macro for every meal” person. Now I can tell you all about the foods I eat. It’s also made me very strategic in my eating. I know that I can have half a Quest bar on cardio days so I can take some ignite right before BBC. But I know if I do that I have to be careful with what I serve for dinner. It’s taken my meal planning up a notch.

The Bad:
While some foods are now back in my diet, it also manages to limit what you can eat quite a bit. For someone who loves food and loves to cook this has been a struggle. My experiment week was all about finding out what I could and could not eat in a day. I discovered that I could eat a lot of meat, but not a lot of veggies, and no fruit, yogurt, or Quest or Lara bars. Basically anything sweet went bye-bye and this left some serious cravings in it’s wake. There is no amount of cheese and meat you can eat that will ever take the place of the sweet, sweet taste of sugary goodness that can only be found in fruit and dark chocolate.

I basically have resigned myself to eating the same week over and over again for the length of this program. The lack of variety is slowly killing me and I’m getting sick of cheese, which I never thought would be possible, but there are only so many recipes one can make that involve meat with a side of meat.

The Ugly:
Carbs are in everything… I MEAN  ERRY’THING…
1 oz of English cucumber…1 carb…
2 cups of Romaine lettuce…3 carbs…
1 oz of mushrooms…1 carb…
1 serving of Alexa Parmesan Peas…16 grams of carbs…
Even the supplements I take have carbs in them. The gum I chew the hell out of to combat my cravings has carbs in it. And they add up, quickly. If I have a salad for lunch, I have to eat an all meat dinner. It’s infuriating and has led to many conversations with myself that go something like this, “4 grams of carbs in a packet of Truvia, F&#$ YOU TRUVIA!!!”… *drinks coffee black*

You get really tired sometimes and feel “fuzzy around the edges”. I don’t know how else to describe it. I think my brain must have run on carbs and on days when I don’t have them I feel all fuzzy and blurred and am pretty sure I’m not functioning on all cylinders. The first week it wasn’t so bad. I didn’t have the stamina I usually have at BBC but I got through the workouts without dying. The second week, I sat down on the couch on Monday before BBC and fell asleep, sitting up, I woke up at 5:31 and missed both afternoon classes. I’m also really hungry by Friday and not in the mood to eat anything, while simultaneously craving everything.

Carbs = Fiber…fiber makes you poo. You can figure out the rest of the equation. If you decide to carb cycle I highly suggest taking a fiber supplement (the bastards have carbs in them) and a probiotic (I use Align) to balance out the lack of fiber (and therefore poo) in your low carb lifestyle. Just trust me on this one…

I’m on Day 2 of Week 2 so we’ll see how that goes. I sort of epically failed at my flex day on Saturday and it rolled into Sunday because I didn’t have much energy or motivation to leave the couch. So I’m really rolling into Day 1 of Week 2, but am determined to get back on the horse and make it work. I didn’t meal prep yesterday but the week before I experimented with some apple pie protein powder muffins that aren’t too shabby so I’ll attach the recipe below for you.

Apple Pie Protein Powder Muffins


½ c + 2 tbsp coconut flour Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. (This recipe makes 10 muffins everything I do it)

Whisk together the coconut flour, PP, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

1 scoop Dymatize ISO 100 Cinnamon Bun PP
1 scoop Dymatize ISO 100 Gourmet Vanilla PP
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled Mix together the coconut oil, egg whites, and vanilla extract. Mix in the yogurt and stir until the mixture is smooth.
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ c nonfat Greek Yogurt (I used Dannon light and fit vanilla)
½ c + 2 tbsp cashew milk Alternate between adding the coconut flour mixture and the cashew milk to the yogurt, oil, and egg mixture. Beginning and ending with the flour. It’s best to do this in equal parts, I usually do 3 flours and 2 milks. Stir until just mixed. Let the batter rest for about ten minutes.
1 c freshly grated apples (peeled first) Gently fold in the grated apples and put the mixture evenly into the muffin tins.

Bake for 8 minutes at 425. Without opening the oven door turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes. They are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the muffin tins on a rack.

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