Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cycling Tips!

I discovered that it is not easy to overeat on a diet that is 60% healthy fats, 25% proteins and 15% carbs. Sure, I tweak those numbers just a bit to fit my individual needs, but 60-25-30 is a good base "formula."

Cycling (or rotating) various low carb plans works wonders. Since May, I've implemented ideas from Stillman's (low-fat, all lean proteins, very low-carb), Atkins Induction, the PSMF (Protein Sparing Modified Fast, aka Rapid Fat Loss), the Schwarzbein Principle, Protein Power, and Eat Fat, Get Thin.

There's even more that I've studied, including South Beach (which - let's face it - tweaked the original Atkins plan), as well as tips from professional body-builders (like Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle and Fit Over Forty). What I find true in every instance is that every one has their own low-carb philosophy. For example, some M.D.'s think carbs are not even necessary - and they explain why. Others, like body-builders, consider a low carb woe (way of eating) to be anathema...well, most of the time.

What I do is research, research, research and tweak, tweak, tweak because I know that the metabolism catches on very quickly. It's designed to do we have to be one step ahead of it if we need to slim down. (And if we're stalling, we have to think positive and stay on plan. Remember: It's always better to maintain than gain. Unless, of course, you're exercising, in which case you very well may see maintains or even steady gains. Again, that's an exercise gain of Lean Body Mass - not fat.)

These are a few tips I've learned and used, mixing and matching ideas from various sources and adding quite a few of my own:

---Log your menus and count everything - fats, carbs and proteins. Seriously. I know - I didn't want to do it, either. Yet I made myself do it. Am I glad I did! It will make all the difference in the world, months down the road, when you are analyzing what works, how you react to certain foods, how much water you really drink a day, etc. Use "The Daily Plate" or "Fitday" or any one of the free, online food diaries available. I promise, you'll find the time you put into logging goes faster every day. Besides, aren't you worth the time? Darned right you are!

---Keep daily lean protein grams to an amt. between your LBM (Lean Body Mass) and your goal wt. Another good method is to have 2-3 lean proteins at breakfast (2 eggs, 2 slices of lean Canadian bacon – because 4 small pieces of Canadian bacon is considered just 1 serving), 4-6 oz. lean protein serving at lunch, and another 4-6 oz. lean protein serving at dinner. (It's not often people want seconds on protein, but if you're honestly hungry and not just wanting to nibble, have more protein with a good fat - add a drizzle of full-fat dressing or cook your proteins in good fats. It's much better to eat the 2nd helping of protein than to have a 2nd helping of carbs - even good ones!)

---Keep it low carb. You can either start at 65 carbs per day and begin lowering the amt. (especially if you are a diabetic). Some nutritionists find that, for diabetics, 35 carb grams per day is the perfect amt. Or you can start right away with 20 carbs per day (net or total, your choice), and after 2-4 weeks, begin upping them by 5-10 gram increments. Another idea: Start with 30 total carbs per day (7-10 carbs per meal); remain at that level for 4 days, then cycle "up" to 50 carbs per day (and see how your body responds).

---Eat real foods, not convenience foods, like specialty low-carb products (for example, low-carb bars). The most important thing to do is EAT real food and heal the metabolism and hyperinsulinemia.

---Sweep the idea of even low-carb treats completely out of the mind. Treats might be fine for very special occasions, but even then be sure they are low-carb and don't over-do it. Stick with a modest serving, slowly taste it, and enjoy it. And stop right there!

---Experiment with dairy products, if you really want to. Have up to 2 servings of high-calcium milk products a day (but dairy is not a good idea if you suspect or know you have candida albicans, aka “The Yeast Syndrome”). To know serving amounts, carefully read the labels.

For example, shredded sharp cheddar cheese may state that 1 serving is ¼ cup. That means you can have a whole ¼ cup and count is as 1 serving - but be sure to count everything - protein, carbs, and fats. (Btw, 1/4 cup is just about right for your omelet or for sprinkling on a salad).

Other ideas: Have ½ cup of fat-free cottage cheese or regular cottage cheese; have 8 oz. of low-carb milk (also great for the lactose-intolerant, since the sugars have been removed), or a piece of string cheese, or 4 oz. of sugar-free yogurt or even regular, full-fat yogurt. (Some studies indicate that the good yogurt bacteria consume the sugar, so that the glucose impact from yogurt is non-existent). If you find that you are not experiencing fat loss or even gaining (while not exercising, since since exercise gains means muscle gain, and muscle is heavier than fat), then cut out the milk products for 5-7 days and see if the scale goes downward.

In my experience, low-carb yogurt (not low-fat yogurt) is a safe option but cottage cheese (low or high fat) causes maintains or slight gains. Cheese is safe, but don't go over 4 oz. a day, and if you're stalling - eradicate it from the menus until the scale moves down and keeps moving down.

---Cycle fat grams! For example, if your total fat grams have been high and if you're experiencing a stall, keep your fat gram levels between 50-60 daily grams...which is about as low as we should go. On the other side of the coin, if your fats have been too low and you're not experiencing any progress, it's time to up them. Always be ready to cycle fats up but never go way too low - our thyroids need fat to function properly, and we can easily burn them out if we keep the fat levels too low.

---Eat 4-5 mini meals (women), or (for men) 6 mini-meals.

---Use EVCO (Extra Virgin Coconut Oil: It kills yeast, bacteria and viruses! It also facilitates weight loss. The processing method to extract the coconut “oil” is important, so do purchase the extra virgin. And cook with extra virgin coconut oil. (It does wonders for skinless, boneless chicken.)

---Watch your sodium. We do need sodium in our diets, and a sprinkling of salt (sea salt, kosher salt, or potassium salt) over our main course (eggs, chicken, turkey, fish) is enough for the day. However, certain foods have very high sodium content - including but not limited to turkey pepperoni, turkey bacon, low-fat chicken broth or bouillion (cubes included), and regular bacon.

---Avoid aspartame completely! It's a terrible health risk, and it also can stall your wt. loss.

---Avoid nitrates. These are primarily found in processed meats, like bacon and deli luncheon meats (cold-cuts).

---Consume more than enough water ever day. 64 oz. a day (eight 8-oz. glasses) is just a bottom line estimate. The more weight one needs to lose, the more clear water one needs to drink every day. A 100 oz. limit, consumed throughout the day, is the minimum amt.

---Don't be afraid to cycle or rotate various low-carb woes or a combo of low-carb/controlled proteins diets (Atkins, Stillman’s, Protein Power, Eat Fat/Get Thin, etc.) This takes some experimentation and careful logging on your part, but that dedication helps you discover how your body reacts to certain foods, fats, protein and carb amounts.

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