Well, here you have it. The Carb Cycling Experiment is complete, and the numbers are in:
ORIGINAL STATS FINAL STATS CHANGE
- Height 5’5″ 5’5″ 0
- Weight 115lb 113.5lb 1.5lb
- Bicep 10.5″ 10.5″ 0
- Forearm 9″ 9″ 0
- Chest 31″ 31″ 0
- Waist 25.5″ 24 5/16″ 1.19″
- Hips 36″ 35″ 0
- Thigh 20″ 19 1/4″ .75″
- Calf 14″ 14 1/8″ .13″
All in all, the numbers don’t seem like much due to the low percentage of change. However, in the battle against fat, which just loves my butt and stomach, I feel victorious! AND I managed to keep the muscle I already had on my upper body, which was a huge deal for me. Will I choose to maintain it going forward? I haven’t decided that yet, but I have learned quite a great deal about the way I used to eat:
COFFEE For this experiment I decided to ditch my morning drug of choice because I only like it with lots of real half and half. And I mean LOTS. Way more that I thought I used until I actually measured it out 2 weeks ago – almost 1/2 cup! Wow, that’s 80 calories guys, so out it went. It was tough at first. No headaches, but a general lack of pep and vigor, which I’d learned to lean on for my morning workouts. Now, however, I’m getting away with not having it. I never thought I’d EVER say that, but I just did. It’s amazing how you can change long-term habits if you can muster the gumption for it, plus this saves on the grocery bill. By the way, I did try hot tea instead. I got nothing from this wanna-be jo boasting it’s “Awake-ness” on the box. I basically slept through the entire cup, and dealt with a bitter aftertaste for hours later.
ALMONDS I don’t think I ever admitted this but before this experiment the almonds I ate were not quite clean – dry roasted and infused with spices and chemicals (and half the protein). Now I’ve switched to the raw, unsalted variety. Do they taste bland? Yeah, but I still get the crunch I’d always looked to them for, and I know eating them is simply better for me in every aspect.
WHEY PROTEIN When I first started this transformation back in 2011, I used MRM protein powder reluctantly because it was recommended to me. It’s very straightforward in terms of the macros, having virtually no carbs, sugar or fat BUT it tastes like crap. Several months later I’d purchased a few emergency Muscle Milk shakes at the gym and started to rethink my strategy. Why couldn’t I drink a shake that actually tasted like chocolate milk instead of chocolate dung? I was hooked, and the rest is history until I started the experiment. Muscle Milk has 6 grams of fat and 9 grams of carbs per scoop. Taking 1.5 scoops for extra protein on low carb days brought these numbers to 12 and 18 respectively, and that was only for 1 shake! Not good, so going forward I’ll only be using Muscle Milk post-workout and I’m back to MRM for any other shakes I’ll be having. The good news is that MRM only requires 3 or 4 oz. of liquid to mix, so the 3 gulps worth goes down quick!
FRUIT I used to eat fruit several times a day, but cut back my portions significantly for this experiment. On the low carb days I’d have it only pre and post-workout, in half the portion. On the high carb days I’d only have about 2 regular servings instead of my usual 3 or 4. Going forward I’ll probably keep it to pre and post-workout only, since this change didn’t seem to bother me much. On the fruit note, I’ve also decided to eliminate the blueberry preserves used to sweeten my fat free greek yogurt. I’ve gotten used to it plain now, so a tiny skirmish won.
CHEAT MEALS This was a tough one, because you know how I love my cheat meals! I resisted eating even one cheat meal during these past 3 weeks. And that has not been easy, my friends, living with a family whose national past time is eating out. At one point, I was driving my husband around in the car while he stuffed 3 slices of piping hot double pepperoni deep dish into his face. On the countless other occasions I was the clean chicken breast with a side of broccoli girl. It was more than a little painful, and I DEFINITELY will be resuming my cheat schedule, beginning tonight!
THE BOTTOM LINE Does Carb Cycling work? Yes, for me I think it absolutely does. BUT, for those of you paying attention, let’s not forget the added cardio, water intake, shorter rest periods and ab work incorporated into this program during the Carb Cycling Sprawl. I believe all of those elements played a part, and I plan to continue most of them in my program in the future. I do feel, however, that once again the diet was the key factor here.
What have you learned from your fitness experiments?