Carbohydrates Cycling

27 04 2011

The philosophy behind carb cycling is that for 3 days you will deplete your carbohydrates by eating fibrous carbohydrates, which will allow your body to use up muscle glycogen and burn bodyfat. Then for the next 3 days, you will load your carbohydrates by eating mostly starchy carbohydrates and thus replenish your muscle glycogen. The great thing about this technique is the following:

  1. Fibrous carbs (which are mostly made of cellulose) have an atomic structure that our digestive system has difficulty breaking down. Therefore the majority of fibrous carbs we eat just pass through our digestive system. Although they aren’t digested, they do provide intestinal bulk, and they have the added benefit of not only speeding up the digestive process but they take a considerable amount of water with them.
  2. By eating fibrous carbs all though-out the day, your body realizes that it’s getting food frequently and speeds up your metabolism. Since fibrous carbs aren’t easily digested, it requires more calories to burn them than they give up, so in effect giving you a net loss of caloric efficiency.
  3. By eating like this for 3 days and then switching to starchy carbs keeps you just shy of ketosis, and prevents your body from entering a catabolic state. Catabolism is where the body begins cannibalizing muscle tissue to get energy from the protein in the muscles.
  4. By doing cardio on the first 3 days (your fibrous carb days), you burn more bodyfat and consume more muscle glycogen. During the last 3 days (your starchy carb days), you’ll be replenishing that muscle glycogen, giving your muscles a fuller, harder look, but with less bodyfat covering them.
  5. On average, women should lean towards 125-175 grams of carbs on low days and 200-300 grams on higher days. Men, 175-225 grams on low days and 350-400 grams on high days.
  6. Pay attention to how your body is feeling. If you are lacking in energy and feeling very week, increase your starchy and fibrous carbs, but focus your starchy carbs around your workouts. But, if you have plenty of energy, but aren’t seeing any fat loss results, slowly decrease your starchy carbs.

Category

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Carb intake

Low carbs Low carbs Low carbs High carbs High carbs High carbs

Calories

50% total 50% total 50% total 100% + total 100% + total 100% + total

Training

High reps, supersets Higher reps, training Higher reps, training Off Usual-style training Usual-style training

Ketones

“trace” range

“small” range

“small-medium” range

“medium” range

“normal” range

“normal” range

Arginine?

Yes Yes Yes No No No

Fibrous or Starchy carbs?

Fibrous Fibrous Fibrous Starchy Starchy Starchy

Junk food?

No No No Tasty treat day No No

Aerobic activity?

Yes Yes Yes Optional Optional Optional
For the first 3 days, you’ll eat mostly fibrous carbohydrates, then for the next 3 days you’ll eat mostly starchy carbohydrates. These include:

Fibrous Carbohydrates

Starchy Carbohydrates

Asparagus
Green beans
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Cucumbers
Eggplants
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Green peppers
Red peppers
Spinach
Squash
Zucchini

Barley
Lima beans
Red beans
Black-eyed peas
Corn
Whole-meal flour
Lentils
Oatmeal
Pasta
Peas
Popcorn
Potatoes
Rice
Sweet potatoes
Tomatoes
Shredded Wheat
Yams

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How to Brake a Fitness Plateau

14 04 2011

Weight Training PlateauIt is easy to take your progress for granted. Steadily you have been losing weight, shedding inches, gaining muscle and then all of a sudden it just stops. This is called a plateau and occurs when your body becomes accustom to the resistance being placed upon it and no longer needs to work as hard. The body adapts very quickly and a plateau can occur in as little as four weeks if the muscles are not being constantly challenged.

1.  Interval training.  The science really supports this one.  Intervals done right are very painful (you’re training at 90% or more of your maximum ability) but they are short.  As with most exercise, more is not better (hgh, human growth hormone, works while you rest, remember?) but do try working in a couple of interval workouts a week.  20 minutes max is all you need.  And don’t tack them on to another workout.   Seriously.  Because then you won’t be able to give those intervals your all.  Bored of treadmill sprints (or they give you shin splints)? Try bike sprints.  Or rowing sprints.  Or, heaven help you because you will barf, swimming sprints.

2.  Mess around with your macronutrient ratios.  Recent research has shown that eating fat and protein for breakfast can give you a metabolic boost that will help you burn fat throughout the day and help you stay full longer.  I’m not saying cut out healthy carbs all together, just don’t fear the fat!  And don’t mess around with that Smart Balance stuff – go for the coconut oil, olive oil, heavy cream and whole eggs.

3.  Try a new type of exercise.  Always do step class?  Try martial arts.  Die-hard runner?  Try boot camp.  There are more ways to exercise than even I can blog about (not that I’m not trying, mind you) and change is good.  It shocks your body and will make you sore in places you didn’t know you could be sore!

4. Cut back on your cardio.  For many of us, the instinct to just do more – more classes, more miles, more laps – is strong.  If some is good, more is better right?  Not so with exercise.  And you know that I speak from experience here.  Too much cardio actually teaches your body to store fat, can increase your hunger or just convince you that since you ran 10 miles you can eat whatever you want, goldanggit.  Many of the leanest people I know do minimal cardio and focus mainly on the weights.  I’m not telling you not to do cardio, just to resist the impulse to do more of it.  If you want to run a marathon to prove to yourself you can do it or because you love to run or because racing gives you a thrill or even just because you think the finisher’s tee is adorable then you should totally do it!  But if you are running a marathon because you think it will make you lose 10 pounds, rethink that.

5.  Lift heavy stuff.  If you haven’t started lifting weights, do it.  Not just because adding muscle will increase your resting metabolism (not by a ton, but every little bit helps) or because muscle takes up less space than fat but because it is good for you in so many ways.  Increased bone mass.  Stronger heart.  Fewer varicose veins (unless you squat too heavy and then you can get hemorrhoids but that’s another post). Increased confidence.  And if you already lift weights, change it up: try lifting heavy with few reps, or light with many reps.  Try doing supersets.  Lots and lots of different programs out there.

6.  Eat more calories.  This may sound counterintuitive but I think by now we’ve all heard about how our metabolisms will head off into the Siberia of starvation mode if it thinks it’s not being sufficiently fed.  Cutting back on your calories only helps you lose weight to a point.  You may actually need to eat a bit more.  How to tell?  Do you feel tired, lethargic and/or more cold than usual?  Have you lost your sex drive?  Losing your hair?  Brittle or strangely ridged nails?

7.  Get your metabolism tested.  If you have health insurance and this isn’t too costly, this can be a good thing to do if nothing else is working.  Get your thyroid tested (especially if you are pregnant, recently were pregnant, are lactating or are female and over 50).  Get your vitamin and hormone levels checked.  It can’t hurt and who knows – it might turn up a health issue you need to know about!





Super Sets: for Muscle Growth!

13 04 2011

When you set up a strength training program, one of the first things you’ll decide is how to structure your workouts. There are any number of training methods to choose from depending on what you’re after. Most of us start out with straight set training: doing one exercise for several repetitions, resting and then doing another set of the same exercise. This is a great way to get started with strength training but there are other options.

Supersetting is just one method of training that can save time, add intensity and help you bust through weight loss plateaus.

It’s a good idea to change your strength workout every 4-6 weeks to avoid plateaus, and supersets offer a great way to completely change what you’re doing.

Superset Basics
Supersetting is an advanced training method in which you do two exercises, one after the other, with no rest in between. The exercises can be for the same muscle group or two different muscle groups, depending on your goals. The idea is to do one exercise and, instead of resting and doing another set, doing a different exercise and alternating those exercises for your desired number of sets The Benefits of Supersets

Supersets help you:

  • Save time. Going from one exercise to another without rest will make your workouts shorter and more efficient.
  • Increase intensity. If you choose supersets that work the same muscle, but with different exercises, you’re adding to the intensity of your workout.
  • Overload your muscles. By working the same muscle with one exercise right after another, you can overload your muscles without using heavy weights. This is great if you don’t have a spotter or don’t want to lift very heavy weights.
  • Make things interesting. If you’ve been doing straight sets forever, supersetting can make weight training more interesting and definitely more challenging.
  • Easily set up a workout. All you do is pick two exercises, either for the same muscle or by using some of the other ideas listed below, do them one after the other. Rest and repeat!
  • Incorporate more variety into your workouts. You don’t have to do exercises for the same muscle group. You can do opposing muscle groups or even two complete different parts of the body.

 Types of Supersets

You may be surprised at how many options you have when it comes to supersetting.

Some of the basic supersetting training methods include:

  • Pre-Exhaustion Supersets: This involves two exercises for the same muscle group. The first exercise is an isolation move, which targets one muscle group, and the second is a compound movement, which targets multiple muscles. Example: Leg extensions, which target the quads, followed by squats. The quads are tired, but the other muscles used in squats (glutes, hamstrings and inner thighs) are fresh.
  • Post-Exhaustion Supersets: This is the opposite of pre-exhaustion. You start with the compound movement and follow that with the isolation exercise. Example: Bench press followed by dumbbell flies.
  • Compound Superset. This is a tough way of training since you’re putting together two compound exercises, requiring more energy and strength. Remember, compound exercises are those that work several muscle groups at a time. Example: Squats followed by lunges.
  • Isolation Supersets. In this type of training, combine two isolation exercises. Example: Dumbbells flies followed by a cable crossover.
  • Opposing Muscle Groups. When you do two exercises that target opposing muscle groups, one muscle gets to rest while the opposite muscle works. You can pair back and chest, biceps and triceps, hamstrings and quadriceps, etc. Example: Biceps curls followed by triceps kickbacks.
  • Staggered Supersets: In staggering, you do an exercise for a different muscle between sets. For example, during a straight set of chest presses, you could throw in a set of calf raises or crunches while you rest your chest muscles. This saves time, allowing you to work smaller muscle groups while the bigger ones rest.
 




Taro: Potato Alike Root

13 04 2011

What is Taro?

Taro is the root of the taro plant, which is grown in semi-tropical and tropical climates all over the world. Taro root is inedible raw and must be cooked thoroughly to leach out the calcium oxalate (associated with gout and kidney stones), preferably with a pinch of baking soda. Taro leaves should also be cooked before eating. Taro root is used in curries, prepared in similar ways to potatoes, cooked with lentils, used in baking, and even used in dessert recipes. Taro chips, also known as vegetable chips, are available in many health food stores. Taro has a mild, nutty flavor.

The Health Benefits of Taro

Taro root is often used in a similar fashion to a potato, but in fact has better nutritional qualities than a potato. It has almost three times the dietary fiber, which is important for proper digestive health and regularity. Fiber can also fill you up and make you feel less hungry with fewer calories. Taro root has a low Glycemic Index, as opposed to potato which has a high Glycemic Index. A low GI means that taro effects blood sugar levels slowly, without the peaks and crashes of a high GI, which lead to increased hunger later on. Eating a diet of low GI foods can also help prevent diabetes.

Taro is nutritious, and is an excellent source of potassium, which is an essential mineral for many bodily functions. Taro also contains some calcium, vitamin C, vitamin E and B vitamins, as well as magnesium, manganese and copper. Taro leaves contain good amounts of vitamins A and C, fiber and a relatively high amount of protein.








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