Hi there, and happy Monday! This weekend felt RELAXING, which is just what I needed after a weekend of being sick (last) and then two weekends with company/out of town. For me, restful weekends usually include a few primary things: unscheduled time with no to-do list, time outside, and cooking something fun. Weekdays are so busy and I spend so much time inside that by the time the weekend comes around I'm just ready to PLAY.
About this carb cycling thing:
You guys know that I've been working on strength gains lately, in particularly, building up to a handstand. I've been experimenting with different approaches to eating for a long time (LCHF, IF, paleo, HCLF, eating frequently, eating 3 meals a day, etc), and trying out different approaches is something that I enjoy. I like learning more about how I feel with each strategy, as well as how my body responds to certain foods. I ate low carb for the longest time when my gut was really out of whack, and now that it's doing so much better, I've been adding more carbs into my diet (and loving it). I also have more energy during my workouts that way, and have definitely seen some noticeable strength gains in the handstand realm of things. (Let's not get carried away...I'm still working on getting my forearm stand off the ground...) In all of my research (RDN at heart over here) I know the theory of eating higher carb and lower fat for exercise and strength as well as the benefits of eating lower carb and higher fat for overall longevity and for toning. I've dabbled with a more keto-like approach in the past and am not sure that it worked so well for my body type (ectomorph, which tends to do better on higher carb and lower fat), but I do love my fats, as evidenced by my tendency to take a spoon to the nut butter jar at any given moment.
Enter: carb cycling. The theory here is to have both higher carb days and higher fat days, alternating through the week. This gives the body the energy to push hard during workouts as well as the opportunity to pull from stores on lower carb days. There are plenty of people out there who can give you a much more detailed explanation, but I'm going to leave it at that for now. If it works well for me, I'll do a more detailed writeup on the science later on.
Here's what it will look like:
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are my HIIT days, so those are going to be my higher carb days. Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday are walking days, so those will be my higher fat days. Saturday will be a flex day, meaning that I'll just do what I want, within reason.
I usually eat intuitively (aka, if I'm feeling like a higher carb day, I have it, and vice versa with fat), so being this structured will be an adjustment. I've decided to give it three weeks before evaluating.
This week's meal plan:
...is conveniently all Whole30 compliant! I don't live in the Whole30 (obviously), but I do know that I feel best when I eat whole foods most of the time, so my meals often fall into that framework anyway.
Breakfast: Fruit and Veggie Smoothie // On higher carb days I'll make this with fruit and coconut water, and on lower carb days it will be with avocado, unsweetened almond milk, and cocoa powder. As always, I'll include some frozen veggies, such as spinach, steamed yellow squash/zucchini, and steamed cauliflower. This week I'll be using collagen and bone broth protein as my proteins! More details: I usually use about 1-1.5 cups of veggies and 1 cup of fruit, along with about 12 oz of liquid. I aim for 30 grams of protein, which is one scoop of the bone broth protein and 1 scoop of collagen.
Lunch: No Cook // I'll be using deli turkey (which has been my super-easy go-to lately) + cucumber + carrots as the foundation, and then adding either an apple (on higher carb days) or avocado (on higher fat days). I'll also have Zupa soups stashed for a veggie boost! Don't forget that you can get 20% off your entire order PLUS free shipping with the code "wholedailylife"! More details: I leave most of these things in the fridge at my office and pull out my portions day by day! I pack the cucumbers in Stasher Bags, which are my favorite reusable option! They're an investment, but I've collected them over time and now have enough to prep a week's worth of food for both me and my husband.
Dinner: Shredded Italian Beef + Veggies // Regardless of the day, I'll be having some shredded Italian beef and kale. For the beef, I started with some beef stew meat (it's what I had on hand) and put it in my Instant Pot (this thing is such a time saver!!) with some garlic powder, salt, oregano, thyme, and basil. I added a splash of ACV and about 1/4 cup of water, then set the IP to manual, high pressure, for 75 minutes. The beef was so tender and easy to shred! For the kale, I added about 3 tbsp of ghee to a large pot, then dumped in two heads of kale that I had pulled off the stems and torn into pieces. I also added about 1/4 cup of broth and let it all cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally. On higher carb days I'll have some sweet potato (mix of roasted and steamed, once again cleaning out the freezer) and on higher fat days I'll have some crispy red cabbage with an extra spoonful of coconut butter. (I keep this at work.)
Snack: I'm loaded up with bars and samples from Expo (stay tuned for a huge giveaway later this week!) so I'll bring something each day from my stash. On higher fat days it will probably be a Bulletproof collagen bar and on higher carb days something like an RX bar.
As mentioned above, I'm using this as an experiment to see what works well for MY body! Every person is unique and there's nothing wrong with trying out new things to see how YOU feel best.
Have a great week and I'll see you back here next Monday!