I practice mindful eating. I’ve realized that I feel so much better when I eat well. When I slip into eating junk it becomes a pattern and I crave more of it. This, in turn, impacts my sleep, my energy, and my motivation. I just don’t feel my best. Creating a healthy balance with mindful eating for me has meant learning to carb cycle.
Carbs. We love to eat them. We hate what they do to our body. For many, carbs are public enemy number one. For many years I moved away from eating carbs because I feared it would lead to much-dreaded weight gain. Then I tried the Lean With Amanda nutrition program (you can read my review of it here) and I learned to carb cycle. Low carb diets help with weight management (it gets so much harder as we get older) but I also don’t deprive myself from enjoying foods that I love. I just enjoy them on certain days so it feels special and doesn’t become an everyday habit. Eating carbs does not have to be an all or nothing approach!
The rationale behind limiting your carb intake is that when your body receives limited carbs, your body turns to fat for energy. Low-carb and keto diets are effective for losing weight but they are difficult to stick to for a long period of time. Carb cycling gives you the opportunity to be less restrictive for a few days each week which is a great strategy for long term weight management success. It also prevents your body from adapting to a low carb diet where you might see less success over time. Carb cycling is beneficial because regularly mixing in high-carb, high-calorie days “jumpstarts” your metabolism so your body doesn’t acclimate to a low carb diet. And it’s easier to stick to in the long run!
The way I was taught to carb cycle by my nutritionist is to eat fewer carbohydrates on back to back days (we do it on Wednesday and Thursday in the LEAN program) and more carbohydrates on other days. On my Low Carb days I eat 50 net carbs a day (carbs minus fiber equals net carbs). By contrast, on a regular carb day I eat well over 125 grams of carbs by cycling in complex carbohydrates like fruit, rice, beans, quinoa, and gluten-free breads. When you’re generally eating lower-carb and lower-calorie, getting in a higher-carb, higher-calorie day on purpose can feel really good physically and mentally. I can’t even express how freeing it is to know you have to consume carbs on your regular carb days. After years of avoiding certain types of foods I was happy to reintroduce them again.
My two main meals are lunch and dinner. At every meal I eat I aim to eat protein with vegetables. My snacks are where I usually go off track. I’ve been carb cycling for long enough now that I have a routine for what to eat on regular and low carb days.
On a Low Carb Day, I will eat a serving of nuts (like pistachios or cashews), a low carb protein bar, like the Gratisfied empower bars, or I’ll make a protein drink with a ton of fiber which helps keep me satiated. For a sweet treat, Lily’s chocolates satiate my cravings.
On a regular carb day, I’ll have a higher carb protein bar like a Perfect Bar, a sweetened rice cake (Quaker Apple Cinnamon rice cakes are a favorite) with peanut butter and chocolate chips, a healthy muffin, or I’ll make an acai bowl with bananas and fruit on top (my recipe for at home acai bowls is here).
Staying on track with your carb intake means monitoring what you eat until you figure out good combinations that will work on your low carb days. But once you know, you know and you don’t have to think too much about it!
I’ve learned to adapt so many nutritional strategies through the Lean With Amanda program. Use code SDD331 for a discount when you sign up for the seven week nutrition boot camp.
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