WHat is carb cycling?
A carb cycling program is an intentional variation of carbohydrate intake each week. Most carb cycling plans consist of high carb days and low carb days. In all of my programs, I base our cycle on the workouts we will be doing to maximize fat burn and energy levels.
Why carb cycle?
Long term restriction of carbohydrates and calories can lower your metabolic rate and negatively affect your hormone levels. This is a big reason women find themselves at one of those weight loss plateaus. For a short period of time a significantly restrictive diet will bring you results. However, over time it will cause your metabolic rate to decrease. Once that happens you will see your weight loss stop and will need to restrict calories even further to lose more weight, thus lowering your metabolic rate once again. Not only is this a terribly unhealthy way to live, it is also incredibly frustrating.
What does carb cycling do?
Carb cycling allows for planned high carb days that increase your thyroid output and help you control hunger. Because you are cycling your carbs, you will also have low carb days that offset your high carb days. With this type of cycle you will continue to see fat loss, increased energy levels, and improvements to your overall body composition.
Carb cycling improves insulin levels, helping your body to store less fat. When paired with intermittent fasting and effective workouts, carb cycling can help you break through those dreaded plateaus so you can truly look and feel your very best.
WHat is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not a type of diet, but an eating schedule. Your body is always in one of two states: fed or fasted. In the fed state (anytime your body is digesting food), your body’s insulin levels make burning fat a challenge. However, in the fasted state (8-12 hours after your body finishes digesting), your insulin levels are lower and better able to reach into your fat stores. People rarely go into a fasted state throughout the day. In fact, the traditional theory of several small meals per day keeps us from ever reaching the fasted state. In addition, that type of eating schedule regularly spikes our insulin levels which also hinders fat loss. So, while eating several small meals per day can lead to weight loss (calorie deficits always do), you will likely be losing both muscle and fat. When you lose calorie burning muscle, you lower your metabolic rate and make it harder for your body to burn fat. You also might become frustrated because you never feel toned and fit, even though you are working out and eating clean.
so, you don't eat?
Not exactly. In my programs we have eating windows, combined with our high and low carb days. We eat all of the time! We simply confine our eating to a shorter window throughout the day, allowing our bodies to enter into the fasted state.
Does your brain hurt yet?
There’s actually a lot more but I realize just this much information might seem like a lot to think about. However, once you really understand this cycle and process, it is a truly simple lifestyle to live. My clients have seen amazing results from an intentional combination of carb cycling, intermittent fasting and effective strength training workouts. You don’t need to figure this out yourself, I’ve already done it for you in my FASTer Way to Fat Loss program. This program is truly the best program out there. I have literally helped hundreds of women find their six packs, increase their energy levels, feel in control of their food choices, and find more confidence than they’ve ever had before and I’m thrilled to work with you too!
PS If your family or friends are anything like mine, they’re likely skeptical of “the F word” — Fasting. I created a basic guide and information page to explain the intermittent fasting concept in layman’s terms. Feel free to share this with anyone who is curious.
You will be overwhelmed in the beginning. I am giving you a lot of information! Stick with me thru prep week you will do great!
Please note your main priorities through prep week:
Day 1 - Introduce yourself on the Facebook community group welcome thread and familiarize yourself with the Comprehensive Program Guide in the FASTer Way to Fat Loss portal.
Day 2 - Watch the LIVE training and fill out new client assessment form
Day 3 - Download the MyFitnessPal app, watch the instructional video, and calculate your macros for regular macro day and low macro day.
Day 4 - Familiarize yourself with the food and exercise cycle. Optional: Try Intermittent Fasting (16/8 protocol - break your fast around noon) and test the sample workouts.
Day 5 - Stick to the list of approved foods and start your weekend prep to prepare for week 1 success. Ask any remaining questions on the Facebook page.
FOOD CYCLE OVERVIEW
Low Carb + HIIT/Tabata/Sprints
low carb day food guidelines
- Your goal is to eat fewer than 50 grams of net carbs on this day. Total carbs - fiber = net carbs.
- Break your fast around noon and maintain an 8 hour (or less) feeding window.
- Avoid starchy carbs (root veggies, grains)
- Eat protein at each meal
- Eat lots of leafy and cruciferous veggies
- Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full
- You macro pie graph will not look "normal" on these days. You will want to hit the MyFitnessPal recommended protein goal, stay at or under 50 grams of net carbs, and fill the rest in with healthy fats.
- Percentages may vary but should be between 10-20% carbs, 20-35% protein and 40-65% fat.
- Still aim to hit your calorie goal on these days. With the decreased carbs, you will have to consume more fat to make up the difference.
- Look at the nutrients tab (next to the macro tab in MyFitnessPal) and pay attention to the gram goals to make sure you are getting enough food.
- If you are breastfeeding, you can have up to 100g net carbs for low carbs days.
low carb day foods
- Eat unlimited amounts of these foods (as your macros allow):
- Spinach, kale, swiss chard, lettuce, collard greens, arugula
- Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage
- Other - bell peppers, celery, mushrooms, bean sprouts, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, eggplant
- Eat the following foods but watch carb content:
- Nuts, seeds, avocado
- Avoid the following foods:
- Root veggies (squash, sweet potatoes, beets, etc), carrots, peas, corn, all fruit & fruit smoothies, dairy, wheat & glutinous grains, healthy non-glutinous grains, (quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, brown rice)
low carb day exercise guidelines
- Sprint Interval training, Tabata or HIIT (high intensity interval training)
- Followed by low intensity cardio. Keep your heart rate LOW (fat burning zone)
- How to find your fat burning zone:
- Figure out your max heart rate (Max Heart Rate = 220 – your age). Then determine your fat-burning range, which is 60% to 70% of your max heart rate.
Regular Macro Day + Strength Training
Regular macro Day Guidelines
- Use the MyFitnessPal app recommendations to calculate your regular macro day goals.
- Pay attention to the gram goals under the nutrients tab to make sure you are hitting your recommended grams of each macro.
- Break your fast around noon and maintain an 8 hour (or less) feeding window.
- Each time you eat you should at least include protein & fiber (other than the odd apple here or there).
- At meals, your plate should be: ½ fibrous veggies, ¼ protein, ¼ starchy carbs & oils & fats.
- Liquid meals: 2 handfuls of fibrous veggies (spinach, swiss chard), 1 palm size portion clean protein (almond butter, hemp seeds), ½-1 handful starchy carbs/fruit & ½ shot of fit fats (flax oil or coconut oil).
- The macro pie chart shows how many of each macro you have consumed and the percentages tell us how much each macro took up of your total calories. While you can hit the percentages (example; 50% carbs, 30% fat, 20% protein) you can still be under in grams if you do not look at the nutrients.
Regular macro Day Foods
- Fibrous Vegetables: 2 to 4 handfuls
- Clean Protein: 1 palm-size portion
- Starchy Carbs & Fruits: 1 handful
- Fats: ½ shot glass (1½ Tbsp) for oils & butter- for nuts & seeds 1 thumb-size serving
Regular macro Day exercise guidelines
- Full body workout - bodyweight, eccentric or strength
Low Macro Day + Active Recovery
Low marco Day Guidelines
- Break your fast later in the day and consume a lot of water and herbal teas.
- Eat 25% less macros than a Regular Macro Day. For example, if you typically eat 100 grams of protein on a Regular Macro Day, you will consume 75grams total proteins. (100*.25=25. 100-25=75)
- Aim to still hit the recommended macro percentages.
- If you are breastfeeding, you can do regular macros. If you have a well established supply and don't notice a drop or feel famished with a small decrease, decrease some if you want.
Active Recovery Day Guidelines
- Take the day off.
- Or engage in a longer duration (1 hour or more) activity or very-low intensity active recovery (walking, biking, etc) that will rely on fat as its main fuel source.
Regular Macro Day + Leg Day
Leg Day Guidelines
- Focus on eating healthy foods on the approved foods list.
- Break your fast around noon and maintain a 8 hour (or less) feeding window.
- Don’t binge or stuff yourself; eat until you are 80% full, not to the point of discomfort
- Ideally, eat your biggest meal after you work out.
- If you can’t eat more at any given meal, then graze throughout the day (in between meals) on nuts, fruit or other healthy foods.
- Stay within calorie goals for the day, but feel free to add in a treat if wanted.
- Pay attention to your grams (under the nutrient tab) to make sure you are getting adeqete carbs, fats and proteins.
Leg Day Foods
- Gluten-free grains - quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat or oats.
- Starchy carbs - sweet potato, carrots, beets, parsnips,
- Fruit (low glycemic generally recommended), berries, pears, and apples. But for training days, feel free to have any fruit you like including bananas. Great for post workout options.
- Nuts - almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, etc.
- Legumes - black beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.
- Healthy fats - avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, fish oil, flax oil, hemp oil
- Proteins - lentils, beans (kidney, navy, etc.), grass fed beef, free-range chicken, wild fish, eggs, bacon, hemp seeds, chia seeds, protein powder.
- NOTE: If you choose to leave room for discretionary calories/fun foods, this would be the day to do it (ie: donuts). Ideally, you consume the treats immediately after your workout.
Leg Day Exercise Guidelines
- Leg workout 1-2 hours before you begin your day or before you have your biggest meal of the day.
Important Resources + Training Videos
My Fitness Pal Instructions
If you are new to my programs and are not sure how to set your goals or log your food on My Fitness Pal, please watch this video!
Please watch this video with important program details.
Through this program, we will do the following:
- Eat the right macros and nutrients, at the right time, for the right reasons
- LIFT heavy to develop lean calorie-burning muscle
- Engage in fasted cardio and HIIT/metabolic training
- Maintain the proper mindset
I strongly suggest you live gluten free and dairy free as much as possible. I sometimes incorporate fun foods on leg day and use an IIFYM approach. If you are serious about seeing results, stick to this strategy. Use the MyFitnessPal app to calculate your calories and macros.
Focus on whole food nutrition. If the food comes from the ground or has a mother, it’s fair game.
Low Carb Sample Food Log
View these pages for an example of what I eat on each food cycle day. I like to keep things VERY simple.
Remember, on a low carb day, we will break our fast later in the day and maintain an 8 hour or less feeding window. Our goal is less than 50g net carbs.
Low Carb Day Food Log
I will break my fast around noon
2 or 3 Eggs (or protein shake)
HUGE Cobb Salad with low carb toppings
1/4 C EVOO
2 tsp lime zest
3 Tbsp lime juice
1.5 tsp honey
Freshly ground black pepper
Low MACRO Sample Food Log
Break your fast around noon.
Have a protein shake with a banana and a hardboilded egg
Make a salad that includes a lean protein like smoked salmon, tuna or grilled chicken. Add nuts and berries for flavor.
Lean protein and a grilled/ baked veggie.
After Dinner Snack
Fruit such as apple, or grapes; also try cutting up strawberries and bananas to serve together.
Regular MACRO Day Sample Food Log
I will break my fast around noon
2 or 3 Eggs (or protein shake)
HUGE Cobb Salad with low carb toppings
Dates or Strawberries
1/4 C EVOO
2 tsp lime zest
3 Tbsp lime juice
1.5 tsp honey
Freshly ground black pepper
Banana and peanut butter
Green beans or brussel sprouts with bacon
Regular Macro Dinner Ideas
Mahi mahi - marinated for 15 min in mojo and baked/grilled. Shred fish and serve in gluten-free tortilla; top with homemade guacamole or just sliced avocado. Shred red and green cabbage and toss with olive oil, vinegar, celery seed and a drop of honey then top the fish with it.
Post Dinner Snacks
Veggies and homemade hummus
*The sample food log is simply an example of how I may eat on a given day. It is not a meal plan to follow strictly. This listing is not all inclusive and it is not a prescription diet. If you choose to follow a similar plan, log your food in My Fitness Pal with your desired portion sizes to be sure you are staying on track with macros. Focus on protein and be sure you are not going overboard on good fats. Please post in our accountability group if you have questions about how to form your own personal meal plan or if you have questions about particular recipes, ideas, etc. Clean nutrition and hard work in the workouts is key. Be committed and consistent. Keep me updated on a daily basis and stay accountable for maximum results.
More Food Log Ideas
Brussel Sprouts w/ Dijon
In small bowl, whisk olive oil, Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, garlic powder and onion powder until combined. Pour mixture over Brussel sprouts. (I use mustard and spices "to taste" - based on the flavor I want).
Drizzle olive oil on carrots and sprinkle with curry powder and salt to taste; roast at 375 degrees for 25-30 min. Stir at least once. Toss w/a drizzle of honey before serving.
Parmesan Roasted Green Beans
Drizzle green beans w/olive oil; roast at 415 degrees for 15 minutes and sprinkle w/parmesan cheese before serving.
Grilled Asparagus w/ Balsamic
Whisk 1 Tbsp. olive and 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar; coat asparagus with mixture and let marinate 30 minutes then grill (in foil or directly on the grill); you can also roast in the oven.
Toss chickpeas with olive oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and salt; roast at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Sauteed Artichokes w/ Capers
Use canned artichokes for this. Drizzle olive oil in saute pan, add artichokes and saute until they have brown crispy edges; add a splash of chicken broth to the pan, 1 tsp. real butter, a squeeze of half a lemon and as many capers as you'd like; simmer until the broth cooks down a bit.
Food Log Protein Ideas
Grilled Chicken Salad
Spinach/Kale w/grilled chicken and berries (strawberry/blueberry/dried cranberry) - pecans/walnuts/pine nuts and if you want, 1 oz goat cheese. For the dressing: use balsamic and olive oil, or lime w/olive oil and honey.
Mixed Greens with Tuna
Thinly slice celery, scallions, and mince 1 sweet gherkin to add to the greens and tuna. Serve without dressing. You can also add chopped boiled egg.
Another Dressing Idea
1 Tbsp. dijon/whole grain mustard, pinch of salt, juice of half a lemon, minced garlic, whisk in olive oil (about 1⁄4 c).
Salmon with Sriracha and Lime
Mix juice of half a lime with 1 Tbsp. maple syrup, 1 1/2 tsp sriracha and a pinch of salt. Pour over salmon and bake in foil or in a baking dish at 425 degrees for 15 min; top w/chopped cilantro to serve.
Shrimp with Feta and Tomato Sauce
Saute onion in olive oil; add as much garlic as you want (2 cloves is what I use); add 28 oz low sodium diced tomatoes; bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes; add 1/4 c. parsley, 1 Tbsp dill and 1 lb shrimp (peeled and deveined); top w/2/3 c. feta cheese; bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes (I serve this alone or over brown rice).
Flavorful, Moist Chicken
Marinate chicken breasts overnight in mojo - grill or bake the next day.
IF YOU’RE TRAINING FOR A MARATHON, TRIATHLON, OR ENDURANCE RACE
Do not participate in low macro day. Allow your body to rest, but do not limit your macros. You’ll need the fuel for your long training days. Remember, the purpose of low macro day is to help deplete the glycogen stores in your muscles. But, you’re using the glycogen in your muscles when you train, so you’re naturally simulating a low macro day.
You’re welcome to be flexible with the cycle. Switch the FASTer Way workouts around so that they coordinate with your running training plan. For example, if you have a long run scheduled for Saturday, feel free to move leg day to Sunday. Make sure that you adjust your macros and calorie intake accordingly.
Listen to your body and bump up calories on long training days if necessary. Remember, you burn about 100 calories for each mile you run, which means you’re burning an extra 1,000 calories if you run 10 miles. Under-eating will only make your body store fat! I recommend considering a 25% increase in macros/calories. It’s important to eat until you’re 80% full.
Embrace the fact that you’re not simply “on the train or off the train.” It’s OK to miss one day of training if you’re not feeling fresh and strong, either with running or with the FASTer way workouts. Don’t skip a day because you just don’t feel like working out, but if your body is genuinely telling you it needs to rest, take a day off. You can help avoid injury and/or getting sick this way.
It is vital to fuel properly for training. Incorporating the FASTer Way nutrition plan into your training is valuable. The FASTer Way will help you stay lean while training versus gaining weight. Carb cycling will also prove valuable. You’ll help teach your body to burn fat instead of sugar, which helps reduce the chances of you “bonking” or “hitting the wall” during your race.
if you are breastfeeding
Be sure you watch your supply and drink plenty of water. I recommend going OVER the usual half your body weight in ounces. Our focus is healthy, whole foods that fuel and nourish our bodies properly! This alone will do wonders for your milk supply. However, things like carrots, almonds, garlic (also good for your immune system), oatmeal, and sweet potatoes are some of my favorites for increasing milk supply while breastfeeding.
For low carb days, you can have up to 100 grams of net carbs. If your supply does fine with less, that is totally fine. If you hit 50 grams net and notice a drop, bump up!
For regular days, follow the recommended macros in MyFitnessPal. If you have an infant or newborn, do not do low macro days and keep them as regular days. If you have an established supply, and you can tolerate low macro days without feeling famished, depleted or notice a drop in supply, feel free to keep them as low macro days.
You will also NOT do our planned 24 hour fasts later on in the program. Replace them with a regular or low macro day (depending on your supply). If you order the juice cleanse, you can drink a couple a day and eat throughout the day with them!
Again, watch your supply, how baby is feeling and hunger cues, dirty diapers, and keep water intake up. If you notice your supply dropping, please let us know and we will adjust accordingly!
Feel free to read my blog post I did on breastfeeding while doing the FASTer Way to Fat Loss!
Included are three exercise plans (gym, at home and beginner) for you to use. If you have not worked out in a while or are new to exercising, I want you to use the beginner plan until you are more comfortable with exercising and can safely move to the at home or gym version. My workouts are meant to be short and effective while not over training! If you only have 30 minutes to do the workout, only do 30 minutes!
If you are working out at home, I suggest a variety of dumbbells or weights (5lbs - 15 lbs) and a heavier object like a kettle bell (20-25lbs). If you have an elliptical, spin bike or row machine at home, this will work fine for sprint days! If it is too hot or cold to sprint outside, repeating the other low carb workout is okay!
If you are injured or something hurts, I want you to stop! We are working to prevent injury and illnesses and not aggravate them. You will not need to adjust macros if you are injured as our body still needs fuel to heal. I do suggest that you go to the doctor and get looked at to know what the problem is your restrictions and when you can resume working out again.
Prep Week Details
On our advertised start date we will begin a full week of prep. This means, our program will actually end 7 full weeks after the “start-date.” Prep week is important for several reasons. First, I will educate you regarding the cutting edge strategies we utilize through the FASTer Way to Fat Loss. Second, you will have the opportunity to try the workouts, food cycle, and gluten free/dairy free lifestyle. This will allow your body the chance to “ease in.”
On Monday of prep week, I will send through a link to join your Facebook accountability group. On day 1 of prep week I will post an introduction thread for you to introduce yourself and get to know the other ladies in the group.
Your success through the FASTer Way to Fat Loss is largely dependent on your diligence to consume information and try the strategies through prep week before we officially get started with the week 1 workouts and cycle the following week.
Please post your questions on our Facebook group page. Do not send me a text, email, or Facebook message with questions. It will help others in the program if they see me answer your questions on the Facebook page. It will also ensure that I answer your questions in a timely manner. I check the Facebook page three times per day to answer questions and view your updates.
Our goal through the FASTer Way to Fat Loss Program is progress, not perfection. Let’s not allow perfect to be the enemy of good. Commit to a healthy lifestyle for the remainder of the calendar year and focus on making steps toward better health for both you and your family.
Remember, it takes 6-8 weeks to see a significant change in your body and 12 weeks for others to notice. It’s important to remain positive and trust the process. Consider the FASTer Way your 6-week jumpstart to a lifestyle transformation. If you’re not seeing results in your body composition after 6 or 8 weeks of following the plan “to a T,” it could be for the following reasons:
- You’re not getting enough sleep
- You’re chronically stressed
- You do not have a healthy gut flora
- You have hypothyroidism or another underlying issue that we need to address
Stay tight through our 6 week program and then we will re-assess.
Please note: Temporarily, your pants may get tighter in some areas like quads, hammys and glutes — but you will notice looseness in other areas like your waist. We have fewer fat burning enzymes in our thighs and butt areas due to estrogenic effective on our beta receptors. Therefore, while you have some extra body fat at the beginning, you will likely build the muscle faster, and very slowly, the fat will start burning off. Depending on how much body fat you have determines how much subcutaneous and intramuscular fat in your thighs and butt. Some women will burn much slower than others, but you will eventually burn fat. Ultimately, training our back and legs burns a lot of calories, so be sure you’re hitting it especially hard on back and leg day.
Also, many of my clients come to the FASTer Way after years of over- exercising and under-eating. Unfortunately, our culture has promoted the concept of grinding in the gym at 4 a.m. or hustling through an intense workout even at the very end of an extremely stressful day. This is NOT healthy! If you're chronically stressed or sleep deprived, intense workouts will hurt, not help you. As a trainer with 10+ years of experience working with clients from all over the world, trust me when I say sleep, rest, and proper nutrition are the main priorities on your journey toward better health.
While I provide kick-butt workouts through the FASTer Way, I only expect you to kill it in the gym twice per week. Yes, that's right - only twice per week. And if you did not sleep well or feels an illness coming on, I recommend rest and tight nutrition versus an intense workout.
It's not necessary to go a million miles per hour every day, all day, and in every area of our lives. Listen to your body and be willing to slow down when necessary. This is a paradigm shift for so many of us, and if you're accustomed to pushing through a workout "no matter what" it may take a while to get used to a more balanced perspective. Consider a walk outside or a low intensity workout on days you are not feeling 100%. Your body will thank you later - promise!
If you follow the nutrition plan and focus on adequate movement, you will see incredible results. I will upload our workout plan and food cycle on the weekend so you can prepare for the following week.
I have three group rules and expectations that my clients are required to follow.
- Keep me updated daily. Post your macro screenshots on our Facebook page and let me know how your workout went. I need to hear from you each day to ensure you are consuming enough nutrients to fuel your workouts. Additionally, I need to know if you are experiencing any pain or soreness from your workouts.
- Stay off the scale. After your initial weigh in, you are not to hop on the scale until our 6 week program is complete. If you email me to state that you’re feeling leaner, more energized, and in control, but you have only lost 1 pound and wonder what you’re doing wrong - I will throw you out of the group (no refund). Read this article about why you should ditch the scale.
- Stay positive. Studies show that women who stay positive through a fat loss program see far better results long term. Let’s encourage other members on the page and stay optimistic through the program. PS. I’m known to give out gift cards to supportive group members ;)
It is my honor and privilege to work with you. Thank you for prioritizing your health and investing in the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program. Let’s do this!