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_FITMAMA's Photo _FITMAMA Posts: 3,395
4/1/09 6:45 P

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There are different variations and you could start w/ a 6 low and 1 high day and see how things go? Then if all is well you can try switching it up? I believe MARIADALE was only low carb for a while and switched over. You may want to ask her how she did it.

I do 3 low days, then 1 high as recommended by my trainer. She said this will keep my metabolism going. So far, so good.

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MELISSANTA's Photo MELISSANTA Posts: 14
4/1/09 5:39 P

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I have been eating as few as about 30 carbs a day for about 8 years now. I want to try carb cycling because I need a change (LOL, you'd think after all these years finally?) So I was wondering if anyone was in the same boat as me. I'm scared to have a high carb day and what it might do to me, but I'm going to try it and I'll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck! :(

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_FITMAMA's Photo _FITMAMA Posts: 3,395
4/1/09 4:05 P

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There are a few different ways to carb cycle. I think you should do whatever is best for your body and what you think you can do. I don't think I could do NO carbs -way too hard for me! I, personally, like the BFFM Carb Cycling.

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MELISSANTA's Photo MELISSANTA Posts: 14
4/1/09 3:59 P

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Help me understand this. The article below talks about High Moderate and Low carb days, but the article before this one talked about High, Low, and NO carb days. Which one is better? does anyone know? I'm starting the carb cycling but I just read this article and got confused. Thank you! :)

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_FITMAMA's Photo _FITMAMA Posts: 3,395
3/16/09 2:17 P

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Glad to hear it has helped!

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MOMFOURBOYS1's Photo MOMFOURBOYS1 Posts: 4
3/16/09 2:04 P

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This article helped me so much. I feel like all my questions for the past 10 years have been answered, thanks

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_FITMAMA's Photo _FITMAMA Posts: 3,395
3/1/09 8:49 P

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From figureathlete.com:

Carb Cycling for Women
Plan Your Week to Reshape Your Body
by Christian Thibaudeau


Tomorrow morning, flip on the local weather channel. You'll probably see the "five day forecast," that tells you the weather for the coming week.
If they predict it's going to be 95 degrees and sunny on Monday, and then say you'll get 15 inches of snow on Tuesday, you know what to expect. Not only are you in the middle of the weirdest storm ever recorded, but more importantly, you know exactly what you'll be wearing each day.

We can apply this same concept to our weekly diet plan to help us gain lean muscle and lose bodyfat. This approach is called carb cycling, and it's being used by bodybuilders and figure competitors to drop bodyfat consistently and effectively.
It's based on rotating your carbohydrate intake each day, depending on the amount of exercise you have planned. More training... you get more carbs. No training that day... less carbs on the menu.

In my original carb cycling article, I went into detail about the history of carb cycling, as well as discussing how you can manipulate nutrient intake to affect your body's hormone levels. But for now, let's learn how to make it work for you.

Carb Cycling: The Basic Structure

Carb cycling is similar to the nutritional practice of eating carbs only in the morning, and after workouts. The biggest difference is that the amount of carbs (and thus, the amount of calories) will vary each day. What will this accomplish?

• It allows you to have fat burning and muscle building days each week.
• Your metabolism never gets a chance to slow down or adapt, which often happens with "traditional" diets.
• Long-term success is reinforced because it's relatively easy to follow, especially compared to more strict, low-carb diets.

Carb cycling is based on having three different carbohydrate levels during the week: higher carbs, moderate carbs, and lower carbs. Ideally, these days are split according to your training schedule.

The carb cycling philosophy is, "Eat for what you did, and what you have to do, on that day."

If you train 3 times per week:
• Select your two "priority workouts." These are the toughest workouts of the week, or the workouts targeting the muscle groups you need to improve the most. On these days, you have a higher carb intake.
• The other workout day has a moderate carb level.
• With the four remaining days of the week, you have one moderate carb day, and three low carb days.

If you train 4 times per week:
• Select your two "priority workouts." On these days, you'll have higher carbs.
• On the other two workout days, consume a moderate amount of carbs.
• On the three non-training days, have a lower carb intake.

If you train 5 times per week:
• Select your two "priority workouts," and have a higher carbohydrate day.
• Select two "secondary workouts," with a moderate amount of training. On these days, you have a moderate carb intake.
• On the remaining workout day, and during on your non-training days, consume a lower amount of carbs.

The 6-Step Diet Plan

After you've established your basic structure, you need to figure out the numbers. The first thing to do is calculate many calories you burn each day. This will help determine your daily calories, protein, carb, and fat intake.

Go grab a calculator, a pencil, and a notepad. There's some important math coming up.

Step 1: Calculating Your Basal Metabolic Rate
If you're inactive for 24-hours, just lying around doing nothing at all, your body still burns a number of calories. That number is your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is effected by your size, sex, and age. It's also influenced by your metabolic status (hypo- or hyperthyroidism, for example).

Women can calculate their BMR with the following formula:

BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kilograms) + (1.7 x height in centimeters) - (4.7 x age)
So, for a 28-year old figure girl weighing 132lbs (60kg) at 5'6" (165cm) it comes up to:
BMR = 655 + (9.6 x 60) + (1.7 x 165) (4.7 x 28)
BMR = 1380 calories per day

Now, figure out your own BMR.
Remember: Pounds χ 2.2 = kilograms, and inches x 2.54 = centimeters.

Step 2: How Active Are You?

Your BMR is what your body burns everyday, all by itself. But, the more active you are, the more calories you'll burn. Obviously, this amount will change depending on your workout schedule.

To figure out what you burn in a given day, multiply your BMR by the proper activity level factor below:

Sedentary: BMR x 1
This is the same as your base BMR. If you're doing nothing all day long; just sleeping, watching TV, and posting on this site.

Very Light Activity: BMR x 1.2
Very light activity requires no physical exertion. Working behind a desk most of the day, and not performing any type of major physical activity (light vacuuming, folding laundry). No exercise.

Light Activity: BMR x 1.4
By light activity, I mean having a non-physical job, but performing some sort of physical activity during the day (like quick-pace walking). No hard training, and no weights.

Moderate Activity: BMR x 1.6
Moderate activity would be a non-physical job, doing some sort of physical activity during the day, and performing a good workout. This is where most of you are, most of the time (hopefully).

High Activity: BMR x 1.8
High activity means you're either working a physical job (lots of moving, carrying things, etc.) and exercising later on, or you have a non-physical job, but you're training twice a day (cardio in the morning, weights at night.)

Extreme Activity: BMR x 2
Extreme activity would be a very physical job (like construction work) and hard weight training and/or cardio.
So, if our 132-pound figure girl (with a BMR of 1380 calories) is moderately active, her energy expenditure is bumped up to 1380 x 1.6. She's going to burn 2210 calories per day.

She's earned some whole wheat pancakes.

Step 3: Match Your Calories to Your Goal

To gain lean muscle, you need to eat more calories than you use each day. To lose bodyfat, you've got to do the opposite. A 20% increase or decrease is ideal for most people.

Our sample figure girl has an average daily caloric expenditure of 2210 calories. If she wants to lose fat, she needs to decrease it to around 1770 calories, on average. If she needs to gain lean muscle mass, she should bump the calories up to 2650 per day.
Depending on your body type and metabolism, you may need to adjust these figures. It's a good starting point, but you might need more or less, based on the results you notice.

Step 4: Determining the "Moderate" Day

Note: Don't forget that protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, and fat has 9 calories per gram.

Losing Fat

If our sample figure girl wants to lose fat, carb intake on the "moderate" days should be set at 1.25g per pound of bodyweight. For her, that comes up to 165g per day.

Protein intake is 1.5g per pound of bodyweight (200g, in our example), and the rest of the daily calories are made up with fat.

In the case of our figure girl, who needs 1770 daily calories to get lean, we come up with 1460 calories from proteins and carbs, so she needs just about 310 calories from fat, or about 35 grams.

1770 calories — 200 grams protein — 165 grams carbs — 35 grams fat

Gaining Lean Muscle

When trying to gain lean muscle, on "moderate" days, the carb level should be the same as the protein. At least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is necessary, but for better results, I recommend 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight. As we saw earlier, that's 200 grams.

She's now consuming 2650 calories per day (800 calories from protein and 800 from carbs). She has another 1050 calories to consume from fat, preferably good fats, and this comes up to about 115 g of fat per day.

2650 calories — 200 grams protein — 200 grams carbs — 115 grams of fat


Step 5: Different Days, Different Numbers

Protein and fat intake remains constant for the entire week. Only carbs fluctuate up and down... it's called carbcycling, not everythingcycling. During higher carb days, bump your carbs to 25% above the moderate days. During lower carb days, reduce to 25% below the moderate days.

What would our 132-pound woman do?

When trying to lose fat:

Higher carb day = 200 grams protein, 205 grams carbs, 35 grams fat
Moderate days = 200 grams protein, 165 grams carbs, 35g fat
Lower carb days = 200 grams protein, 120 grams carbs, 35 grams fat

When trying to gain mass:
Higher carb days = 200 grams protein, 250 grams carbs, 115 grams fat
Moderate days = 200 grams protein, 200 grams carbs, 115 grams fat
Lower carb days = 200 grams protein, 150 grams carbs, 115 grams fat

Step 6: Fine-Tuning as You Go

In my opinion, no one who's trying to get lean and muscular should follow a restrictive fat loss diet for more than 16 weeks in a row. Actually, most people would be better off using just 8-12 weeks of dieting.

More than that, and you're bound to lose muscle mass, or at least limit your capacity to gain lean muscle. If you haven't gotten to the degree of leanness you wanted after 12 weeks of dieting, take 4 weeks "off" of your diet (continue to eat a good clean diet, but increase your overall calories), and then go for another dieting period.

When trying to lose fat, you'll need to eventually lower your calories as your body gets used to your level of food intake. With carb cycling, this is less of a problem since carbohydrates and calories regularly fluctuated.

But still, every three to four weeks, you'll need to decrease carbs and calories slightly, to continue losing fat at an optimal rate. However, you shouldn't make any drastic cuts, as this is the reason most people lose muscle during a fat loss diet.

I suggest dropping around 20g of carbs per day, every 3 or 4 weeks. For example, if your high/moderate/low carbs during the week were 250/200/150 grams, you'd reduce them to 230/180/130 grams. But if fat loss hasn't slowed down, there's no need to reduce anything.

Food: When, How, and What

To maximize food absorption, and favor lean muscle gain over fat gain (and also to preserve muscle mass while dieting), you should eat six or seven meals per day. Three of those meals should contain carbs and protein (breakfast, post-workout drink, and the meal 60-90 minutes after your workout). The remaining three or four meals should be made up of protein, good fats, and green veggies.

The ideal time to train is around 10:00am. This gives us the following meal schedule:
Upon waking: Carb and protein meal
Post-workout, around 11:00am: Carb and protein drink, like Surge
12:30pm: Carb and protein meal
3:30pm: Protein, fat, and green veggies
6:00pm: Protein, fat, and green veggies
9:00pm: Protein, fat, and green veggies

Obviously, not everybody can apply this exact schedule. For those who have to train in the evening (preferably around 5:00 or 6:00pm), the following schedule is appropriate:

Upon waking: Carb and protein meal
10:00am: Carbs, protein, and green veggies
12:30pm: Protein, fat, and green veggies
3:30pm: Protein, fat, and green veggies
Post-workout, around 6:00pm: Carb and protein drink, like Surge
9:00pm: Carb and protein meal

Those who have to train in the morning (preferably around 8:00am) should do the following:

Upon waking: Carb and protein meal/drink
Post-workout, around 9:00am: Carb and protein drink, like Surge
12:30pm: Carb and protein meal
3:30pm: Protein, fat, and green veggies
6:00pm: Protein, fat, and green veggies
9:00pm: Protein, fat, and green veggies

Note: In this situation, we use a carb and protein shake first thing in the morning. We need to get the nutrients absorbed as fast as possible, so digestion won't interfere with workout intensity.

Meals by the Numbers
Since protein is ingested in all meals, it should be evenly divided. For example, if you consume 200g of protein per day, you should aim for six meals of about 35 grams each.
Fat is ingested in three of the six meals, and it should also be equally divided. If you have to consume 35g of fat, you'd get about 12 grams in each meal.

Carbs are also ingested in only three meals. About 50% of your carb intake should be consumed immediately post-workout, 25% in the morning, and the remaining 25% 60-90 minutes post-workout.

If you're eating 165g of carbs, you'd have about 80 grams post-workout, 40g in the morning, and 40g about 60-90 minutes post-workout.

One scoop of Surge contains approximately 25 grams of carbs and 15 grams of protein.

The Food List

We've been talking about quantities for a while, but it's time now to talk about quality! To maximize your results, you need to put the right stuff into your body. Here's a quick list of good choices for each type of meal.

Breakfast: Carbs and protein
Protein sources: Egg whites, Metabolic Drive, tuna, chicken
Carb sources: Fruit (one or two pieces), oatmeal, grits, sweet potatoes, All-Bran cereal, buckwheat pancakes without syrup

Post-workout: Carbs and protein (Surge, plus rice to fill any remaining carb requirement)
60-90 minutes post-workout: Carbs and protein
Protein sources: Chicken, fish, shrimp, lean cuts of meat, Metabolic Drive
Carb sources: Sweet potatoes, brown rice, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, grits

Protein, fat, and veggie meals
Protein sources: All cuts of meat, fish, chicken, turkey, tuna, Metabolic Drive, whole eggs, ham, cottage cheese
Fat sources: Any protein foods above, fish oil, ground flax seeds
Green veggies: 100-200 grams (1-2 cups) of any green vegetable

Be keen on all things green.

Summary

This type of dieting has been proven effective in most individuals, including bodybuilders, athletes, and figure competitors. In the long run, it will definitely lead to a much more muscular and leaner physique. It takes work, and some planning, but your efforts will be rewarded!



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MARIADALE's Photo MARIADALE SparkPoints: (0)
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3/1/09 12:27 P

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This sounds very much like the TNT(Targeted Nutrition Tactics) diet... suppose to blast fat and build muscle. The exercise, especially strength training is an essential part of the plan.

Maria

The only real failure is quitting!

It doesn't matter how many times you begin again. It only matters that you begin again.

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Do not fear mistakes, there are none."
– Miles Davis

"I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don't work."
-Thomas Edison



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_FITMAMA's Photo _FITMAMA Posts: 3,395
2/28/09 6:37 P

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www.bodybuilding.com/fun/par30.htm


What you need to know about Carb Cycling by Twin Peak –

Introduction

What I am about to present is not a new paradigm, or revolutionary approach to diet. Nor is it the end-all, be-all to dieting; there are many viable approaches.

This diet is, on the other hand, an easy (relatively speaking) approach to diet that is physiologically and psychologically rewarding. Moreover, it is rather malleable and also forgiving, yet effective. For these reasons, I am astounded that it has not caught on to a greater extent (in some form or another), and played a bigger role in the dieting revolution.

This is the first installment of a multi-part article. Here, we will briefly discuss my background (as it relates to this diet), its genesis (in the form I present), the basic tenets of the diet, as well as the basic diet structure. We will also discuss, briefly, its psychological benefits, as well as its physiological strengths and underpinnings. Psychology and physiology, as you will see (and as Par Deus has propounded) are inextricably intertwined, in the world of diet and food. Or, "food and mood," as Par is so fond of saying.

However, this installment will address theory and science only minimally, out of necessity. Not only would this article be way too long, but more importantly, I'd be going well beyond my strengths, and I know my limits. For those seeking a deeper understanding, Dawza, who is far more apt than I in these regards, will provide a more in depth analysis in the final article in this series.

Also in future installments we will discuss synergistic supplementation, variations based on one's phenotype, tweaks for continued fat loss (should they prove necessary), variations for bulking or a steady recomposition, and other variations for those losing too quickly (we should all have that problem shouldn't we?), those not losing quickly enough, and for those looking for a more manageable "lifestyle" approach. Actually, in its most basic form, as presented here, Carbohydrate Cycling will be a rather quick fat loss plan for most.

Basic Definitions

First, let's get some definitions out of the way. This is not a glossary but rather an explanation of a few terms that are often used in a variety of manners. If the definition of a word or term used can be found objectively, I expect that you know it, or you'll look it up, or you don't give a rat's ass.

"Diet"
A way of eating. Period. Unlike in common usage, it does not refer to the goal of "weight loss."

"Cut" or "Cutting"
A hypo-caloric diet where the goal is to decrease overall body fat, while concomitantly maintaining or even gaining muscle mass. Often, a small amount of muscle loss is expected and acceptable.

"Mass Phase," "Bulk" or "Bulking"
A hyper-caloric diet where the goal is to increase overall muscle mass, while concomitantly maintaining or even losing body fat. Some such diets indeed allow for, or even plan on, fat gain, albeit minimal (hopefully).

"Recomposition"
Coining a new phrase, Avant Labs style, the concept of a recomposition was previously unheard of. But essentially, it is a slow, yet steady body transformation whereby you seek to both lose body fat and gain lean body mass, concomitantly. Beyond "newbie gains," rapid changes in the extremely obese or with the use of androgens, it is widely believed that a recomposition is highly inefficient, or even impossible. It is not. Utilizing numerous nutrient-partitioning techniques related to training style, and proper supplementation, recomposition can be accomplished rather effectively.

In The Beginning

Carbohydrate cycling is something I stumbled on when I trained for my first bodybuilding contest in 1996. It was not something I heard or read about, specifically. While I am certain I did not invent this concept, and others probably had used it in some shape or form, I devised it of my own accord based on the "little" that I knew back then.
How? Why? Well, I had struggled my whole life with being over-fat. Indeed prior to cutting for the show I was probably at around 20% body fat, and this was "thin" for me. I doubt I had ever been below 15%, and yet I committed to being on stage in posing trunks--in 16 weeks. Why? I had finally accumulated a decent amount of muscle mass, and well, why not.

I "knew" then that I "needed" to keep my fat content low, and protein high (the quotes reflect that I have a generally different view now, though this certainly is not a high-fat diet). I also "knew" that I needed some carbs, but that my calorie reduction must come from this macronutrient (as I always kept fat low, and wasn't about to reduce protein intake), and I knew I needed (as a genetic endomorph) to keep insulin under control.
I also knew that I hated calorie restriction, that I never stuck to a diet long term, and that I hated dieting monotony. I also hated (and still hate) counting calories -- I admit it, I am lazy. And despite this, and poor genetics with a high body fat setpoint, I needed to get to sub 5% body fat.

Oh, for some context, back then I thought Hot Stuff was the bomb -- so except for protein, I didn't use any supplements; the point being, with the exception of a protein powder, no supplements are necessary to make this diet work. On the other hand, supplements have come a long way since the mid to late 90s, and so has my knowledge on this topic. Today, there are many effective products that will contribute to the success of the diet (or the speed at which you will achieve it), depending on your goals, your phenotype, and your wallet, of course. Again, we'll get to this in future installments, but for now, the diet beckons.

So how could I, with my knowledge, genes, and personality traits, devise a plan that would be effective, and so user-friendly that even I would stick to it long enough that I could stand on stage, practically naked? Oh, and while 16 weeks may seem like a long cut, this time-frame did not allow any weeks to pass where I could simply maintain body fat. There was no margin for error. Nope, I needed to lose a steady 1 ? to 2 pounds of fat per week to attain my goal.

The answer - at least the one I came up with - was "Carbohydrate Cycling." My plan was that if I cycled my carb intake, I would have some days that were unusually strict. This was not a problem for me (being super-strict for short period of times), especially if I had a reward. Enter, the high carb day, where I allowed myself to eat as much as I wanted. What's the catch? Well, we will get to that soon enough.

But in the end, I would average out to a low carb intake level sufficient to remain hypocaloric, for the week. Or, at least, that was the plan. So yes, basically this was designed, originally, to meet my psychological needs. Oh, I also thought it a good idea to "keep the body guessing." Though I really didn't know what this meant. I had never heard of a refeed, and especially not of leptin.

Hell, leptin was just being discovered back then. So many of the positive physiological benefits of cycling carbohydrates were unknown to me then, except that it "kept the body guessing." You see, while knowing very little about biochemistry and physiology, I had the general sense that we bodybuilders were always battling homeostasis. Other than this general belief, I had no idea why in 16 weeks I never got stuck or hit a wall.

The Concept: Cycling 101

There are three types of days while on this diet:
· High Carb
· Low Carb
· No Carb Days

Generally, the three days are rotated, or cycled, equally. Again, I will stress that this can, and should, betweaked, based on the individual's goals, geno and pheno-types, and dieting history. Indeed, much of this will be discussed in future installments. Here, we will lay out the basic plan, which is designed for relatively rapid fat loss for most individuals and the one that got me into contest ready condition, twice.

Carbohydrate manipulation is the key here, but we will back into this by discussing our protein and fat intake, which each remain constant. Bear in mind the multitude of goals and assumptions this diet balances.

Nuts And Bolts: The Basic Plan

Generally
This plan is based on eating six times per day. An acceptable alternative is five meals daily, and if you so choose, be sure to keep the daily ratios consistent, as each meal will require more food.

Protein Consumption
Protein: the easy part. Actually, protein is the foundation of this diet. It is not to be skipped, skimped upon, taken lightly, or otherwise reduced simply because the diet does not focus on it. The significance of protein cannot be overstated, though such details are beyond the scope of this article. We shall not get into the minimum requirements for a bodybuilder, which types of proteins are superior to others, and the numerous other issues that have perplexed the scholars and been debated ad nauseam.

Suffice it to say, that one gram per pound of bodyweight is the absolute minimum, and there is no maximum on this diet. In other words, at each and every meal, of each and every day, you can feel free to dig in to as much protein as you wish. Though there are some rules. Beyond these rules, and for simplicity's sake, I will assume you are eating a sufficient quantity at each and every meal and leave it at that.

Assuming you are eating six meals each day, regardless of which type of day, you will eat a minimum of 1/6 of your total daily minimum requirement for protein at each meal. Thus, a 200-pound individual should eat at least 33 grams of protein at each and every meal. If five meals is the necessary course, the same individual should eat a minimum of 40 grams of protein per meal.

You can eat more, but to overindulge at one meal, does not excuse a deficient amount at another. In other words, do not shortchange your protein consumption at any meal.
Again, this is the minimum, so if you are still hungry eat up. Of course, like any other macronutrient, too much protein can hinder fat loss or even promote fat gain. This is another instance where I am putting some faith in the body's sense of self-regulation. For the few of you who eat too much protein and fat loss stalls, you will want to limit total daily consumption to no more than 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Most of your protein requirements must be satisfied from very lean protein sources. Indeed, four of your meals must use lean protein sources, while the remaining one or two may come from a higher-fat source. For our purposes, a "lean source" is one that has no more than 10% of its calories from fat. It is important that you look at the calorie breakdown here, as a product may say "10% Fat" but refer to the fact that 10% of its macronutrients are fat. And because fat is more than twice as calorically dense as carbs or protein, it will derive more than 10% of its calories from fat. Now, as I have stated, this is a simple diet, so if you don't want to figure out what you can and cannot eat, I have provided a list of generally acceptable lean protein choices.

In addition, one or two meals should contain a higher-fat protein choice. Again, I have provided a list for easy reference, but for those of you with peculiar tastes, you can choose any protein that derives about 20-25% of its calories from fat. If, however, you'd rather eat a lean protein, then for that meal you should add about 10-15 grams of fat from the "Fat List" below, in the fat consumption section. For example, if you have six meals, and four have protein sources from list A and two from list B, you are fine. You cannot have more than two from list B. And if you have none from list B, and all six from list A, then two meals must have an added fat source from the list below.

Approved Lean Protein Sources (A)
· Chicken (white meat)
· Turkey (white meat)
· Tuna Fish (can)
· Fish (flounder, tuna (fatty or not), salmon, shark, etc.)
· Shellfish (all types)
· Protein (preferably whey post workout, and casein before bed; MRPs must be low-carb)
· Lean beef (including lean cuts of steak)
· Cottage Cheese (0 or 1% fat)
· Egg whites (egg beaters)

Approved Higher-Fat Protein Sources (B)
· Chicken (dark meat)
· Turkey (dark meat)
· Eggs (half whites, half whole eggs)
· Steak and other meats (not exceptionally high fat cuts)
· Cottage Cheese (Whole Milk)

Fat Consumption
As for fats, this diet does not worry too much about them. Nor will we discuss them much, save for this brief discussion here. While this is not a high fat (or Ketogenic) diet, it certainly is not a low fat diet. When I first started cycling carbs, I kept fats to probably less than twenty grams a day. Here, I recommend keeping dietary fats on the low side, with the majority of fats coming from supplemented EFAs (essential fatty acids)-specifically fish oil (high in long chain omega 3 fatty acids -- EPA/DHA).

Why fish oil? There are so many good reasons that a detailed discussion can be an article unto itself. For our purposes, it is sufficient to know that it has all the benefits of other EFA sources (such as flax and hemp oil) and in addition, has been shown to increase leptin sensitivity and exert positive effects on body composition much more efficiently than other EFAs (this is one of the important nutrient partitioning "tricks" one must employ for a successful recomposition).

Now, on to the practicality of it. First, you will be getting some fats in your lean protein sources (probably between 10 and 20 grams of fat) and a few grams from the carb sources (another 10 to 20 grams on high carb day). Second, at least two meals per day will include protein of the higher-fat variety. And if not, then you should add a fat source from the list below.

Fat Sources (an amount equal to 10 to 15 grams of fat).
· (Natural) Peanut Butter
· Flax Oil
· Heavy Whipping Cream
· Mayonnaise
· Hemp Seed Oil
· Olive Oil

Third, you will be supplementing with fish oil at 10 to 20 grams a day -- the more the better. This assumes you are using a standard fish oil supplement which, on average, contains one gram of oil and is 30% EPA/DHA. Should you choose the superior version, you may consume a bit less. I recommend you either split it up equally across all meals, or split it in half, and consume it with two meals. If you absolutely refuse to take fish oil, despite my pleas that you should (and the evidence that will be provided in the third installment), add in one to two servings of flaxseed or hempseed oil daily.

Carbohydrate Consumption and the Cycling Process
Ah, the carbohydrate. By now (if you haven't skipped ahead, and I know some of you have - shame on you) you are saying, "its about time!" Well, the protein and fat portions of this diet are relatively easy to follow, but that does not mean they are unimportant. To the contrary, they are critical. This diet is one, however, that focuses on daily manipulation of carbohydrate consumption. First, we will discuss how we do this; then we will discuss additional concerns important to this diet. As previously mentioned, in a future installment, we will discuss in greater depth the theoretical and scientific underpinnings of the carbohydrate manipulation.

As mentioned, we have three types of days in the diet, and they vary only by the amount of carbohydrate that is consumed. They are the high carbohydrate day (high carb), the low carbohydrate day (low carb), and the no (approaching zero) carbohydrate day (no carb). Again, we are assuming six meals per day, so you will need to adjust if you follow a five-meal plan.

High Carb Day

On your high carb day, four of the meals (three if you are only eating five meals) can have as much carbohydrates (yes, they must also be from the approved list - we love lists) as you like. But remember, you must eat the minimum amount of protein at each meal as discussed above. So for you carb gluttons out there, you might want to make sure you eat your protein source before truly loading up on those carbs first.

Also, each one of those meals must include a small piece of fruit (again, a requirement before downing enough other carbs to the point of no return). Almost any fruit will do (save bananas, kiwis, avocado, and other very high calorie or high fat fruits). We are looking for a small serving of fresh fruit, say between 50 and 100 calories worth. The fructose from fruit will help keep liver glycogen stores full and keep your body in the fed state as opposed to starvation-mode. And, if only consumed in small amounts, is not likely to spill over into adipose.

Also --and this is important-- you can choose which meals (3 of 5 or 4 of 6) will have carbs and which don't, but the meal preceding and following your workouts must be a carbohydrate meal. Obviously, make sure you leave sufficient time between your pre-workout meal and your workout, or limit the quantity of carbs at this meal, lest your body succumb to reverse peristalsis. Other than that, it's up to you, as I don't want to bog you down with too many "rules" (we have plenty already). The other two meals will be made up of protein only, and, while there is a minimum amount, as always, there is no maximum.

So to sum up, all but two of your meals will have a small piece of fruit, and as much carbohydrate from the approved list as you like. The goal is to eat until complete physical, emotional, and thus, physiological satiety. You are not expected to gorge yourself, nor are you expected to exercise the usual strict self-restraint.

As I said previously, I am a big believer in self-regulation by the mind and body. You are not to worry or stress about whether you are eating too much, or too little. If you eat too many carbs one meal, you will probably eat less the next, as you'll still be full (just make sure you get the protein in). The beauty of this plan is its simplicity-you are not "aiming" for any number. Rather, you are aiming for the subjective feelings that I just discussed, a satisfied stomach and mental state. You should not "want" more.

Nor should you eat more than you want. Relax and go with the flow; it is quite hard to mess up the high carb day, if you stick to the right carbs. And you will learn your body's response as you go on. Increase your carbohydrate consumption if you are not "satisfied." You want a constant feeling of fullness, all day, such that you don't want to eat further. You need to be in tune to your body, and this comes with practice.

Most people find themselves looking forward to, if not salivating at the thought of, the upcoming high carb day. This is no surprise. Indeed, it is by design, and how I came up with the plan for myself. It is a psychological reward, satisfying your emotional need to eat. It makes the very strict part of the diet (which we will get to) bearable. It is a small but frequent reward to hang on to that also has these profound psychological and, equally as important, physiological benefits.

However, some of you will have a difficult time with the high carb day. Stress and concerns of eating too much will plague you. Not counting every gram of carb, and every calorie consumed, will haunt you. For those of you with such concerns I remind you that first, you are supposed to eat a lot of food on this day, to make sure that your weekly caloric deficit is not too low, and second, that no one should ever dread high carb day. The point is to eat as much as you want; not stuff yourself like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Low Carb Day

The low carb day is a bit trickier. Actually, it's the most difficult of the bunch. The anal group out there will love it though, as there are specific macronutrient goals. For those of you who, like me, deplore counting, fret not. There is a way around it (we'll discuss this privately later my lazy brethren).

Here, three meals (two if you are only eating five meals) may contain carbs. Again, one rule is that at least the meal following your workout must be a carb meal. The others you can schedule as you see fit. Here, carb amounts are limited, however. We are seeking to eat approximately one gram of carbohydrate (from the list) per pound of bodyweight each low carb day. So our hypothetical 200 pound dieter would eat about 66 grams of carbs in each of three meals of the day, and the others would be just protein. Oh, and don't forget your small piece of fruit, at these carb meals, as well.

Now, recall that this plan is designed for simplicity. So it is best if you simply learn general portions of the carbohydrates you choose to eat. I'd prefer that you don't measure out your carbs strictly; but for the exceptionally anal, this is your chance to shine. For those like me, the goal is a satisfied, but not full stomach. The subjective feeling to strive for is where you'd like to have more, but know you don't need it.

No Carb Day

The no carb day is the simplest, yet most physically challenging day. For most, the cyclical nature of the diet will make this day a relatively easy emotional challenge, however. It also, I am willing to bet, will be the most controversial day, among the dieting community. Yes, I am prepared to be tarred and feathered. Hell, I may enjoy it. Regardless, it is the key to this diet. And it involves, quite literally, no carbohydrates. Okay I lied: a few sneak in with your green veggies; as with any good rule, there is an exception.

Here, you will stick to your six (or five) meals, and only consume protein (and some fats); again from the list, and again, at least meeting the prescribed minimum. Unless "masticatory boredom" sets in, however, I doubt you will have any trouble eating your minimums, and you likely will eat far more. However, do not be surprised if you eat less than you expect, since eating protein alone can cause one to feel satiated more rapidly. This may seem like a painful or difficult day, but in practice it's not that bad. Trust me. And remember, a high carb day is just around the corner.

Veggies

No, I did not forget. You won't find veggies (except the truly calorically dense ones) on the carb list. And here, I am referring to green leafy, low calorie, fibrous vegetables. Things like salad (no dressing), cabbages, escarole, broccoli, spinach, zucchini, squash, and kale are appropriate. Generally, any vegetable that contains less than 50 calories per cup will suffice.
Each and every day, whether it be a high, low, or no carb day, at least three meals, each and every day should include one cup of green veggies. It can be with or without your carb meals. I don't care, though you may find it more pleasing to the palate to consume your vegetables with your no carb meals.
Now, on to the good stuff: the lists. Don't get overly excited because you aren't going to see most of your favorite goodies on here. Indeed, it is a relatively sparse list, given the plethora of carb sources found in grocery stores.
· Approved Carbohydrates:
· Brown rice
· Oats (Slow Cooked Preferred)
· Sweet potatoes or Yams
· Fiber One (All Bran) Cereal
· Starchy Veggies (corn, peas, etc.)
· Beans/Legumes
· Approved Yet Limited Carbohydrates**
· Whole-wheat pasta
· Whole grain breads, pitas, etc.
** These may only be consumed on high carb days, and only for one meal per high carb day

Additional Yet Important Concerns

Measuring Success.
The old dieting adage that one should not weigh (or take measurements) oneself daily is perhaps never truer than on this diet. This is especially important for those of you fixated on the scale. Wild weight fluctuations will occur, as you deplete, and replete, glycogen stores daily. And remember that for every gram of glycogen stored (or lost), three grams of water are also retained (or lost).

As well, you are likely to look and feel bloated at the end of, and the day after, your high carbohydrate days. This is normal and not an indication of lack of progress (as many an individual who were skeptical, yet tried the diet can attest to). To the contrary, it is an indication that things are moving along swimmingly. As well, if you try to measure progress in this manner, you will become frustrated after your high carb day.

You may then come to the "epiphany" that the no carb days are doing wonders, and you will start adding in extra no carb days. Next, you will skimp on your high carb days, and all this will speed progress correct? Wrong. Rather, you will speed up your inevitable metabolic crash, as well as emotional and physiological discomfort and you spiral into a pattern that's end is failure. Melodramatic? Perhaps, but I think I made my point.
So, we resolve this by always taking measurements, and charting weight after the same type of day. Whether it is the morning after a high carb day, or the end of a no carb day, or whatever, consistency is key. Personally, for psychological reasons, I prefer the morning after a high carb day, but the choice is yours. Moreover, you should not be weighing in after a single three-day cycle. Weighing yourself once every other cycle is more than sufficient; so you are will tracking progress every six to eight days, depending on your cycle length.

Cooking and Food Preparation
Ah, cooking. Before I get a zillion questions on this, let me try to head this off at the pass. This diet does not allow for calories (whether they be fat, sugar, or what-have-you) added at the preparation or cooking stage. Thus, you cannot fry, add butter, or oil. You cannot add salad dressing or breadcrumbs. You cannot add sauces or glazes. You cannot, well, you get the point, I hope.

You can use no-cal or very low-cal substitutes. So vinegar, soy sauce, and mustard are fine. No calorie dressing works if you can stand it. You can get away with some keto products, or even a small amount of balsamic vinegar. Pam is your friend, as are most spices, grilling, broiling, boiling, and baking.

While I don't necessarily recommend them, I don't shun things like sugarless gum, diet soda, coffee or tea (black or with an artificial sweetener only), sugar free jello, and crystal light, and other things containing artificial sweeteners while on this diet. With that said, one must be careful that an excessive amount of calories is not consumed regularly with such "low calorie" items. Likewise, one should be particularly careful on No Carb day with these items.

Post-workout Nutrition
While bodybuilders and non-bodybuilders can use this diet, most of us reading this perform some form of resistance training. For those that do, I assume you have a "typical" post-workout protocol, so I'll just give some basics. In conjunction with the Basic Plan (with fat loss being the goal), I recommend, at a minimum, between 30 and 50 grams of whey protein.

This can be a protein only meal, and then followed by a carb meal on carb days, or can be taken with oatmeal (or another carb from the list) on carb days. On no carb days, obviously you'd just be having the whey. When using this diet to cut, we are not looking to create a post-workout insulin spike. However, a pure ectomorph looking to cut should probably consider it (by adding 30-50 grams of dextrose and/or maltodextrin).

Water Consumption
In short, you can never have enough. The ten 8-ounce glasses per day recommendation is easily a minimum. I recommend at least a gallon per day.

A Word On Cardio
Briefly: cardio sucks. Or, and perhaps more accurately, cardio is overrated. And, hence, it is over-utilized, to the detriment of the dieter-especially the muscular dieter. I expect this will be the second most controversial aspect of this article. Perhaps I'll add a section on religion, to take some heat of my views here.

So for most people, unless "skinny" (as opposed to lean) is the look you are going for, or you just love your cardio, I'd suggest dropping it. Period. Resistance training can provide most, if not all, of the physical benefits of cardio, and can do so more efficiently. Benefits such as improved heart rate, reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increased metabolism, and nutrient partitioning are generally more efficiently achieved with resistance training, and of course, resistance training carries the added benefit of muscle growth.

With that out of the way, cardio does have its use. If you have been dieting for an extraordinarily long period of time, it may be beneficial. If you are already very lean, and still seeking to get freaky lean, that would be a good situation to add controlled amounts.
A thorough discussion of different types of cardiovascular activity is well beyond the scope of this article. Generally, however, adding in a weekly session or two of high intensity interval training at the appropriate time is a good idea.

Tweaking, Generally
As alluded to above, this diet is rather malleable. It can be tailored to the individual's goals, genetics, preferences, lifestyle, or all of the above. We have already taken up much of your time today, so the next installment will discuss in greater detail how to apply the basic plan to a bulk, how to optimize it in relation to one's training, how to optimize it in relation to ones supplementation regimen, and how to arrange it to fit one's lifestyle (if you have a specific idea in mind, be sure to email me, and perhaps I'll include it).

Here, I will state briefly, that the three-day basic plan will (or should) provide for rapid, steady fat loss. You can easily self regulate this. Should fat loss prove too rapid make no adjustments until at least three weeks or approximately 7 mini-cycles to attain a baseline (and know that you are losing weight as opposed to water). Then simply add in an additional high carb day. So the rotation can be, High, Low, High, No, and it is a four-day rotation. Conversely, if you are still not shedding fat quickly enough, you should add an extra no carb day, as such: Low, No, High, No. And, of course, this is not the only way to do this.

Who can use this diet?
Well, frankly, anyone. With any goals. With any genetics. As I said, the diet is malleable - such is its nature, by design. Who has used the diet successfully?
· Me (a meso/endomorph by nature) for two pre-contest preparations. I successfully got down to around 5% body fat each time, retained a substantial amount of muscle, and needed no tweaking of the basic plan, and no supplements, though I did do cardio. This was also the low-fat variety, which I no longer condone. I also did a "lifestyle version" just over a year ago simply to get "beach ready." I got down to about 10% body fat, retained all of my muscle, and did zero cardio. This time the diet was of the current moderate fat variety.
· In 1998, my training partner (a pure mesomorph, the bastard) used my original, low-fat variety of cycling to prepare for his first bodybuilding show. He won. My training program helped immensely, as he gained 15 pounds of muscle, I'd wager, drug and supplement free, in the six months he trained with me prior to cutting. He retained nearly all of it, while cycling carbs.
· In 2002, a new training partner (an endomorph with slight mesomorph tendencies) used a lifestyle variety of the diet, and went from a bodyweight of 228 pounds to 192 in ten weeks, without losing any significant muscle-mass; indeed, his strength increased in that time.
· Several females, in 2002, on-line, successfully used a third generation of the Basic Plan to drop a few pounds for summer. There progress has helped me tweak the Cycle to what it is today.
· A male personal trainer, who I coached on-line, used this diet both to cut and bulk. He was so pleased with his progres

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