Strategy 1: Carb tapering
Carb tapering revolves around the principle of tapering the carbs you consume as the day progresses. You want to reduce all the carbohydrate content in your diet in the evening.
Iif you are consuming 6 meals, you want your last two meals to be made up of lean protein (chicken breast, tuna fish, salmon etc). fibrous vegetables (green salad, broccoli, tomato, beans, mushroom, asparagus etc ) and high quality fats (olive oil, flaxseed oil etc).
Equation for low carb meal at the end of day:
Low carb meal = Lean protein + Fibrous vegetables + 2-4 tsp of high quality oils
Dividing your meals into 6 portions is the recommended strategy with a tapering of carbohydrates towards the end of the day. Ideally you want a different kind of menu for the night meals. This could be done in the form of home prepared soups or sea food dishes with salad.
Strategy 2: Modification for fat loss resistant individuals: Moderate carb dieting for increased fat loss
Some people lose fat more easily that others and it depends a lot on genetics. A person with ideal genetics can lose fat as long (s)he maintains a calorie deficit diet even if they eat bakery products and sweets. Their body doesn’t care about the type of food they eat. As long as they maintain a calorie deficit, their body is going to burn fat.
In other individuals the fat may not burn off easily despite maintaining a calorie deficit diet. In such cases increasing the proportion of proteins and decreasing the carbohydrate consumption by 5-10 % can work wonders. So in such cases you are aiming for a higher protein (40% of total diet) and a lower carbohydrate (40% of total diet) to get the job done.
You can drop carbohydrates upto a certain point safely such as limiting your total carbohydrates to 25-30% of the whole diet. But if you drop the carbohydrate level beyond this… you will suffer from the side effects mentioned previously.
Strategy 3: The competition diet – Low carb dieting for maximum fat loss
If you want to look ripped for special occasions such as a body building competition or professional photo shoot then you should aim for a high protein diet i.e. up to 50% protein and lower your carbohydrate intake to about 25%. This is a short term diet and is not recommended on a daily basis.
This kind of diet is adopted by bodybuilders just before a competition. You need to be extremely watchful if you plan to adopt this diet, because once you drop your carbohydrate intake to 25-30%, the protein consumption has to go up to prevent a huge calorie deficit. Our body goes into starvation mode once it senses a huge calorie deficit and this will trigger all the unwanted side effects.
Strategy 4: Carb cycling
Carb cycling is a method that can be readily used to accelerate fat loss or break a plateau. This methods allows you to maintain a high metabolic rate and eliminates all the side effects associated with low carb diets.
As discussed earlier, your body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen and draws upon stored glycogen to support your workouts and physical activity. When you are on a low carb diet all the muscle glycogen gets depleted within 3 days.
If you continue the low carb diet beyond 3 days you would notice a significant drop in your energy, your muscles tend to lose the pump effect and become flat, and your metabolism begins to slow down. After 4-5 days of a low carb diet your body goes into starvation mode and brings about a lot of unwanted side effects.
Carb cyling is based on the premise of rotating low carbohydrate days with high carbohydrate days instead of maintaining a low carbohydrate diet all the time.
What you do here is very simple: You increase the load of carbohydrates on every fourth day to replenish all the glycogen in your muscles. This special day can be termed as a “high day”. This day allows you to restore your energy levels and prevents your body from going into starvation mode.
The high day also makes the whole dieting process seem a lot less difficult, because once in four days you can break out and have high carb meals. If you want to cheat on your dieting plan and consume excess food, the high carb day is a good day to implement it.
Such a pattern boosts the metabolic rate and your body never slows down as a result.
Many people who go on low carb diets quickly regain their weight once they switch back to the normal diet because the body has lost its skill to burn down the carbohydrates as efficiently as before. So by cycling your carbohydrates and feeding your body with a load of high carbohydrates periodically, you are also retaining your body’s ability to handle high loads of carbohydrates and efficiently process them.
The carb cycling strategy will prevent overnight weight gain and help you stick with your dieting pattern for the long run.
As we discussed in the Introduction… we don’t want massive fat loss. A fat loss of 1.5-2 pounds per week is ideal and you don’t want to exceed that.
So if under any circumstance you find that you are losing more than 2 pounds of weight per week, you need to increase your high carb days. so you would cycle 3 low carb days and follow them up with 2-3 high carb days. However, if you’re experiencing ideal amounts of weight loss you want maintain 3 low carb days and cycle it with one high carb day.
Watch your weight and adjust your carb cycling patterns.
to summarize, if you are losing more than 2 pounds of weight per week, increase the number of high carb days. If you are losing 1-2 pounds per week then you want to maintain 3 low carb days and cycle it with one high carb day.
How much is considered high carb and how much is low carb?
|100% of your calorie requirements are met on high carb days80% of your calorie requirements are met on low carb days and macronutrient ratios change as below:Low carb day = 30% carbs+ 45% protein+ 25% fatHigh carb day = 50% carbs + 30% protein + 20% fat|
Now you can plan your low carb day and high carb day accordingly by applying the formula:
- Grams of protein = daily calories x percent protein / 4 calories per gram
- Grams of fat = daily calories x percent fat / 9 calories per gram
- Grams of carbs = daily calories x percent carbs / 4 calories per gram
|Men/2240 calories/3 days = low carbs||Men/2800 calories/1 day = high carbs|
|Protein 45% = 252 gCarbs 30% = 168 gFats 25% = 62.22 g||Protein 30% = 210 gCarbs 50% = 350 gFats 20% = 62.22 g|
|Women/1440 calories/3 days low carbs||Women/1800 cal/1 day high carbs|
|Protein 45% = 161 gCarbs 30% = 108 gFats 25% = 41 g||Protein 30% = 135 gCarbs 50% = 225 gFats 20% = 40 g|
The above calorie requirements are examples. You need to monitor your weight and practice this till you get it right. It will get easier with practice and look at it as a skill that you can carry for the rest of your life.
On low carbs day you want to follow the carb tapering regimen strictly and limit starch carbohydrate consumption towards the end of the day. But on high carb days you can include starchy carbohydrates in almost all of your meals. If you want to cheat on the diet with some form of junk food… do it during the high carb days.