Friday, June 15, 2012

Carb Cycling for Weight Loss

One of my current projects is to drop the last 20 lbs of baby weight that I have stacked on over the last 5 years and 3 children.  Last year, my parents both went on the Atkins diet, lost a ton of weight, and looked great.  I have to say, I have always been a little leery of the Atkins diet as I thought it mainly consisted of eating eggs and bacon all the time.  I suppose that it could be done that way but after reading the book adn seeing what the diet truly consisted of, I became a believer and started induction on the 15th of May 2012 and have lost 10 lbs since then.  I know that most of the weight is water weight as it is with most diets but a pound is a pound regardless of what it is made out of when you are first starting out and every little bit motivates me to continue.  I did pretty well sticking to the Atkins induction plan and once my body went into ketosis, I had to remind myself to eat during the day.  It was great and my cravings really did disappear.  I have to admit that after awhile, I did probably consume too much bacon as it was a good substitute for the sugary foods that I craved before the diet.  At first, I was totally appalled at the amount of dietary fat and cholesterol that I was consuming but eventually got used to it.  I figured that any negative effects on my cholesterol levels would eventually be taken care of as I ramped up exercise and started adding in more fiber.  Since starting induction, I have been adding in more carbs at strategic points during the day and have continued to lose.  At first, I was doing one big carb binge day per week.  This kicked my body out of ketosis and I immediately would gain about 3 lbs of water weight almost overnight.  Then, I would go back on induction and lose that weight plus about 2 more pounds pretty quickly the following week until the next carb day.  I have since tried some other modifications and what I am currently doing is eating my fruit or oatmeal in the morning for breakfast after I have completed a weight lifting work out.  While I was on induction, I was not working out at all and felt like my muscles were pretty weak and I would tire out quickly.  On the other hand, I had great mental clarity and energy for the long term (ie. getting through the day without that big carb crash in the afternoon.)  I absolutely loved that aspect of ultra low carb dieting.  With the current way of eating, I am trying to keep my body in a glycogen-depleted state for most of the day and hoping to reclaim that low carb-mental clarity and preserve muscular strength in order to have some energy to complete a good workout and build lean body mass in order to get rid of my current flabbiness.

I have to mention that I was also breastfeeding my 7 month old when I was doing Atkins so I had to really work at ensuring I was consuming 1800 to 2000 calories during the day and drinking enough water.  I found that the milk supply didn't really seem to drop when I was in ketosis and I feel like I was getting enough calories to fuel the breastfeeding process.  My baby continued to gain weight and be satisfied with her nursing sessions.  I have to say that I think my body went into ketosis pretty quickly when I first started and I wonder if breastfeeding may have had something to do with it.

Many people report that doing Atkins induction does not negatively affect their muscular strength.  I found that it lowered mine and I believe that could have been due to breastfeeding as breastmilk has a pretty high carbohydrate content.  I know our bodies adapt to the particular fuel that we feed them and as my body has gotten used to ketosis, energy levels have definitely improved and muscular strength has improved somewhat.

Getting into the carb cycling portion of my diet as I added back in some carbs was fun and tasty!  I still have not eaten much bread as that seems to put me to sleep pretty easily.  Most of my carbs have come from fruit and beans.  I started the carb cycling by getting into a good deep ketosis and eating my portion of carbohydrate earlier in the day and immediately after a workout.  It should take about 45 to 60 seconds of lifting to deplete glycogen stores in a particular muscle group.  When we wake up, our livers are naturally depleted of glycogen as our brains use it up during the night when we sleep.  Upon waking, we are in a more ketogenic state.  If I deplete my muscles of glycogen by working out, my muscles are primed to refuel and the hormone glucagon is activated to shuttle that carbohydrate (sugar) into the depleted muscle groups (and the liver) and thus, fat storage is not apt to happen as readily.  So far, I have tried strategic carb cycling for a day and did not gain the usual 3 lbs of water weight that I would normally gain when eating carbs.  I also notice that if I try to remain in a glycogen depleted state for most of the day by going low carb for the rest of the day after lunch, I don't get that dopey tired feeling in the afternoon and can still maintain a clear head and plenty of energy throughout the day.  This helps a great deal when chasing after little kids and keeping up with all of their shenanigans all day long.

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