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The Smart Way To Do Carbs (Part 2)

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How do you make carb cycling work for you? Some recommend two days of low-carb meals alternated with one high-carb day, but you could also switch between the two every other day - it’s up to you. The key is to eat high-carb on the days that you’ve planned to do your toughest workouts. Aim to have your highest carb meal following your workout so that you can replenish your glycogen stores - this should help you refuel and feel energized after a grueling session.

It’s also important to get enough protein, whether you’re having a low or high-carb day. Try to spread out your protein intake evenly, throughout all your meals. Protein helps to slow down blood sugar spikes that could be caused by the carbohydrates you’re eating, but it also keeps you feel fuller for longer and helps your body to recover from exercise. ‘Eggs, oily fish like salmon and sardines, beef, chicken and turkey are all good protein sources,’ says Russell. ‘You can also include some good-quality protein powders, such as whey protein isolates and brown rice or hemp protein.’

The key is to eat high-carb on the days that you’ve planned to do your toughest workouts.

The key is to eat high-carb on the days that you’ve planned to do your toughest workouts.

When your carb intake is low, counter it by eating plenty of healthy fats. Eating a low-fat diet while you’re restricting your carb intake will leave you feeling deflated, unsatisfied and hungry. It’s important to keep your energy levels high, your brain focused and your tummy full if you want to stick to this plan. ‘Eat good fats like linseeds, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds,’ says Russell. ‘These sources are high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E, which can help with your weight loss.’

What carbs to eat, when

Use these sample menus to ace your carb cycling plan

On Iow-carb days

Breakfast: Eggs with spinach and tomatoes

Morning snack: Handful of almonds

Lunch: Chicken and avocado salad

Afternoon snack: Carrot sticks and houmous

Dinner Grilled salmon with steamed veg

Non-starchy veg are high in fiber as well as having high levels of vitamins and minerals, so they’re a great way to control your appetite. Stock up on broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and beetroot.

Avoid sugary and low-fat snacks - the high sugar content encourages excess insulin release.

Avoid sugary and low-fat snacks - the high sugar content encourages excess insulin release.

Avoid sugary and low-fat snacks - the high sugar content encourages excess insulin release.

On high-carb days

Breakfast: Porridge with nuts and seeds or whole meal toast with avocado and tomato

Morning snack: Handful of raspberries

Lunch: Thai green curry with brown rice

Afternoon snack: Sliced banana with a dollop of nut butter Dinner: Homemade beef burger on a whole meal bun with salad and sweet potato fries

Low-GI foods release their energy slowly, avoiding a blood sugar spike that leads to weight gain. Fuel up on sweet potato, squash, whole grains (think brown rice, bread and pasta), quinoa and oats.

Small amounts of fresh berries area good snack option.

Carb cycling 101

Use Russell’s top tips to make carbs work for you

Be aware of the change

You may experience some headaches or moodiness when switching to carb cycling as your body gets used to using fats and proteins as a fuel instead of carbs. This doesn’t mean it’s dangerous, there’s simply an adjustment in metabolism taking place.

Get even

Aim for an even number of low-carb and high-carb days suited to your training regime. This might even call for medium-carb days. To work out the amount of carbohydrates in grams you should eat, use this formula: for low-carb days 0.6g x body weight in pounds; on high-carbdays:1.4g x body weight in pounds.

Aim for an even number of low-carb and high-carb days suited to your training regime.

Plan ahead

Make sure you have snacks on hand to avoid getting stuck somewhere without any healthy food choices around. If you know you’ll be without good food for a while, a fiber supplement such as Psyllium Husks (1 tablespoon in a large glass of water) can help you resist temptation.

Cheat it

Having a ‘cheat day’ where you forget your carb cycling plan once every week or so is a good way to keep your body guessing. Schedule it on days of intense activity to offset the damage.

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