Saturday, November 24, 2012
Hey there, Sparklers! Hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving!
Earlier in the month I wrote that I was experimenting with calorie/carb cycling. I also engaged in 'exercise' cycling where I varied low and high intensity activities.
My results were...interesting.
On the plus side, I definitely became stronger and improved endurance. Mostly, I attribute to Jillian Michael's workout videos. "30 Day Shred" is tough as nails...and it works. I am a true believer. I consider myself to be an 'intermediate' cardio performer, and 30DS kept me plenty challenged. I saw the biggest improvements in my pushups and cardio endurance using the videos 3x per week. Pretty amazing considering the workouts are only 20 minutes long.
Calorie/carb cycling was also a success. I lost a little bodyfat and weight, and my body was responding.
But there were some downsides.
While 30DS and HIIT were effective, I started to feel signs of fatigue after a couple of weeks. It's frustrating when you want to keep pushing forward, and your body is saying 'slow down'.
So I slowed down, then holidays came around. As many of you know, I've been eating low carb for a year and a half now. With the end of year with birthdays and holidays, I've been eating more carbs, though. Cakes, cookies, breads and pies. I personally believe that when in Rome, don't be a fanatic. I would never tell my friends or family that I can't eat their bread roll or pie because of the carbs. Nor would I push gluten free bread rolls on my guests. If I was gluten intolerant or had celiac disease, that might change things slightly. I just accept that I will be eating more wheat products and sugar than I do at other times of year.
Interestingly, despite my increased carb intake, my weight has been holding remarkably stable. I attribute it to 2 things: regular walking and no store bought processed foods. Even though I have eaten more bread, pies, cookies, and cakes, they have been home baked goods made with little more than flour, sugar, milk and water. I eat one cookie - just one - and that's enough. I'm not tempted to eat more. Just one seems to be satisfying.
It hasn't exactly been entirely risk or consequence free, though. I am certain that I have some sort of wheat intolerance. I am not gluten intolerant or celiac, as those are gastrointestinal, and that is not my issue. However, since I increased my wheat consumption, I had a return of a sinus infection, and an asthmatic like cough. Problems that I haven't had since going low-carb.
This isn't coincidental or due to seasonal infections. I get an increase in mucus production in my nose and throat after eating wheat regularly. It's not a virus because no one else in my proximity is infected. This does not happen if I eat starches. It clears up within a day if I avoid wheat.
Wheat and starches have a lot of calories/carbs, and that does seem to have had an effect on my metabolism...in a positive way, which is going to sound contradictory and odd. Eating low calorie diets for a long period of time downshifts the metabolism so our bodies adapt. Eating more calories shifts the metabolism up so that it burns more calories. Eating high calorie for too long, though, increases weight gain.
So in conclusion, I do believe calorie/carb cycling high/low has merit, at least for me. Finding the balance of how long to go high and low is going to vary per person. Eating low carb makes it very difficult for me to eat more calories since it suppresses my appetite so well. Having a sweet potato on a high intensity exercise day is an easy fit. After the holidays are over, I'll continue calorie/carb cycling, though I'll opt for starches instead of wheat.