Summer is fast approaching—Will you be ready to peel off the layers and sport your sexy new bikini?
If you still want to shed a few extra pounds, it’s time to get back on a fat loss meal plan plan…and pronto! So how do you drop this extra weight by summer? One of the most popular fat loss, muscle-maintaining approaches for fitness-focused women is the carb cycle diet, as discussed in a previous post.
The carb cycling approach helps your body maximize the usage of the carbohydrates you provide it, while switching the body to use fat as fuel more efficiently. During low carb days, you will strategically fuel your body with carbs during the times it is most depleted: first thing in the morning and immediately after your workout. This will allow your body to burn through muscle glycogen and tap into fat stores more efficiently. Fats from good sources will be higher on low carb days. This will help switch the body to use fat as fuel, while sparing your hard-earned muscle. On high carb days, you will refill muscle glycogen levels and up-regulate metabolism, which keeps the body guessing and prevents weight loss plateaus.
Low Carb Days
On low carb days, carbohydrates will make up approximately 20% to 30% of your calories and will come primarily from complex sources, which are digested slowly by the body. This results in a sustained source of energy that keeps blood glucose balanced. Choose from oatmeal, whole grains, sweet potato, cruciferous vegetables and brown rice, to name a few. Fats will make up 20% to 30% and come from nuts, seeds, coconut oil, flax oil or avocados. Protein will make up the remaining calories and come from high quality sources such as poultry, non-fat dairy, whey protein, egg whites and lean red meat.
High Carb Days
On high carb days, carbohydrates will increase to 45% to 50% of your calories, while fats will be reduced to 10% to 15% and protein will remain steady at 40% to 45%. This switch in macronutrients will refill glycogen but will also cause hormone levels related to hunger to up-regulate. Leptin, a hunger hormone, starts to decrease when calories and carbs are reduced. As leptin decreases, so does metabolism, signaling to your body to go into starvation or survival mode. A jolt in carbs can trick the body out of survival causing a raise in insulin and leptin, keeping your metabolism active and avoiding plateaus.
Example Carb Cycle Meal Plan
The effectiveness of this diet is based on how efficient your body utilizes carbohydrates and your level of activity. Adjust your percentages of macronutrients and caloric totals, based on your activity level and your needs.
Generally, it takes 3 to 4 days of following a low carb phase before the body has used up all of its stored carbs in the form of muscle glycogen. Once it does, the body begins to tap into fat more efficiently as fuel.
Since this carb cycle is focused on fast (but safe) weight loss, aim to have only 1 to 2 high carb days per week, allowing at least 3 days before your next high carb day. If the weight comes off quicker than the healthy weight loss of 2 lbs per week, add another high carb day or increase your overall calories.
Remember, a 500-calorie deficit each day is sufficient for weight loss, so adjust calories slowly. This deficit can be created by decreasing overall calories or by increasing your workout time!
Here I’m sharing with you an example Carb Cycle Meal Plan that is based on my ‘Sexy Strong Fit Diet Plan’ that has helped bikini, figure and fitness girls get into their best condition! Use this diet to get your summer beach body now!
LOW CARB DAY
Based on 1500 Calories, Providing 180 g Protein, 85 g Carbs, 55 g of Fat
Sweet Potato Pancake: 5 oz Egg Whites, ½ scoop of Vanilla Protein Powder, ½ cup Mashed Sweet Potato, Dash of Cinnamon.
Blend together and cook like a pancake in a non-stick pan.
Simple Salad: 4 oz Grilled Chicken Breast, 2 cups of Spinach, 1 tbsp Flax Oil, 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
Protein Bowl: 6 oz Extra Lean Ground Turkey, 1 cup of Chopped Kale, Red Pepper Slices, Mushrooms, Green Onion, 1 tbsp of Salsa. Sautee chopped Kale, Peppers, Onion and Mushrooms and serve with cooked Ground Turkey, top with Salsa.
4 oz Grilled Chicken Breast, 10 Asparagus Spears, 1 tbsp Flax Oil
Meal 5: Post-Workout
4 oz of Extra Lean Sirloin, ½ cup Mashed Sweet Potato
Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie: 1 scoop of Chocolate Whey Protein Powder, 1 tbsp of Natural Peanut Butter. Blended with 6 oz of water and ice cubes
HIGH CARB DAY
Based on 1500 Calories, Providing 180 g Protein, 145 g Carbs, 20 g Fat
Berry Cake: 5 oz of Egg Whites, ½ scoop of Vanilla Protein Powder, ½ cup of Oatmeal, ½ cup of Mixed Berries, Dash of Cinnamon. Blend together and cook like a pancake in a non-stick pan!
5 oz of Grilled Turkey Breast, ½ cup Brown Rice, 1 cup of Steamed Broccoli
1 scoop of Chocolate Protein Powder, 1.5 tbsp of Natural Almond Butter, 1 banana, 2 Rice Cakes
4 oz of Grilled Turkey Breast, 2 cups of Spinach, Fat Free Italian Dressing
6 oz Tilapia, ½ cup of Brown Rice, ½ cup green beans
¾ cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt, ¼ scoop Vanilla Protein Powder, 1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter, 1 tsp cocoa powder
Blend all ingredients together until fully mixed and enjoy!