Nowadays, there’s just so many fad diets and cleanses out there – it’s truly overwhelming. Like many, I’ve dabbled in a few of them over the years and I guess my biggest lesson is not to trust anything that claims your results will be too good to be true.
The beginning of 2017, my goal was to get fit and healthier, not necessarily thinner or smaller. My husband and I are planning to start our family this year and I want to be the healthiest I can be for our kids and to make the whole process easier on my body. I started training with a personal trainer twice a week and worked out at my other gym the other three days (of the work week). My eating habits were good…but not great. I was having fun making clean moussakas, chicken parms, pastas etc. but I wasn’t watching my portion controls. Because I was just starting to get into the groove of things in terms of working out, my caloric deficit wasn’t enough for significant change. I only had time to train for about 5 weeks before we left on our honeymoon in March so when we did our weigh-ins after those 5 weeks, it wasn’t all that surprising that the number on the scale didn’t budge despite having lost a few inches. I’ll admit, it was a little disheartening.
Fast forward three weeks…
I started back up again late April once we got back into the swing of things post-honeymoon and birthday trip. My trainer and I started discussing what I needed to do to get some real results. He suggested carb back loading, but not the extreme version you would see if you googled the idea.
The way he explained is that carb back loading is meant to take advantage of natural daily fluctuation in insulin sensitivity in muscles and fat cells, as well as the exercise-induced increase in insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. The basic premise of carb back loading is not to eat carbs when your body is most able to store them as fat (early in the day – especially if you have a desk job). Instead, you eat your carbs when your body is most likely to store them as glycogen in the muscles (later in the day, after working out). The goal is to take advantage of our catabolic state and burn fat during the day. This is a form of metabolic flexibility – the ability to switch back and forth between the two major energy substrates (glucose and fat) based on availability and need.
I workout predominantly in the evenings after work, and am quite stationary during the day during work hours so this works out perfectly for me. I first thought it would be difficult to give up carbs during the day, but I honestly barely noticed the change. I snack throughout the day on high protein, high veg and fruit snacks. This is where my plan may differ from body builders’ carb back loading plans. When I refer to carbs, it just means grains, starchy vegetables or legumes. If I do consume them during the day, I keep it under 30g. For example, one of my fave snacks is vegetables and hummus – I just make sure I consume under 30g of hummus. And come dinner time, I don’t over do it. I’ve read some fitness blogs where body builders will eat an entire pizza after their work out because they can [based on the carb back loading premise]. I just keep my dinners simple and healthy – no additives, minimal sodium, loads of spices and herbs etc.
With this program, I’ve lost over 10 inches and about 10 lbs since February with the bulk of those lost numbers happening after April. I’ve gained strength, endurance and mobility – even suffered and recovered from a sprained ankle in May – and I never feel restricted, deprived or hungry. As I’ve posted before, I eat clean and train Mon-Fri and give myself some wiggle room on the weekend so I never get the urge to binge or ‘cheat’ since I can enjoy whatever it is that I’m craving on the weekends.
This is definitely not the only way to get results, but it works for me.
It can be a little confusing and overwhelming, which is why I am so grateful for my trainer. He has a wealth of knowledge and a fantastic attitude towards health and fitness.
Hmm..now to figure out how to keep my carbs in check during the day while eating plant-based.