By Anthony Yeung | Wed, Oct 11, 2017

Carb Cycling 101

Carb cycling isn't just about fat loss — it’s a dynamic approach to nutrition that can also build muscle at the same time. The great thing is it’s easy to follow, it allows you to still enjoy the foods you love, and it creates great physical and hormonal benefits. The result? Solid results and a solid body.

Read on and we’ll break down how carb cycling works, why it gets its benefits, and how you can try it yourself.

What is Carb Cycling?

At its core, carb cycling involves varying your daily intake of carbohydrates — and fat, to an extent — depending on your workout routine. Throughout a given week, for example, you’ll have either “high carb” or “low carb” days (which are also high and low-calorie days).

This fluctuation optimizes your body’s ability to build muscle and lose fat simply by adjusting your calorie intake via your carbohydrate consumption.

Thus, depending on your goal, carb cycling can be used to lose fat, build lean muscle, or change your body composition while maintaining your weight.

Satisfy Cravings And Have Flexibility

Carb cycling is a very straightforward diet approach that also provides great flexibility to satisfy your cravings. The problem with a lot of diets is that they avoid carbs at all costs when, in reality, we should really welcome them. If you’re pushing your body hard in the gym and on the field, carbs play a huge role in building and preserving muscle as well as metabolism.

Instead of eating a mouse-sized portion of rice or a tiny sweet potato, with carb cycling, you can enjoy an athletic-sized serving on certain days of the week. Oh, and it gets better: on the low carb days, you can have fatty foods like a juicy ribeye steak, almond butter, or even bacon!

The trick is that you can only satisfy one of the cravings on a given day to maintain balance.

Burn Fat and Build Muscle

Can you really do both at the same time? With carb cycling, it’s possible.

On high carb days (which coincide with your strength training), you’ll increase your calorie intake to go anabolic. Those carbs will also be used primarily to refill your glycogen and build muscle instead of going to fat storage.

Even better, carb refeeds will keep your energy and strength high as you push heavy weights. Meanwhile, the low carb days will decrease your overall weekly calories enough to keep the fat gains at bay. 

Support Hormones

Carb cycling is a solid way to improve your insulin balance. Low carb days keep insulin low and improve sensitivity, while high carb days rev your metabolism back up and facilitate muscle growth and repair.

The more sensitive your insulin, the better your body is at processing the sugars in your bloodstream from carbs. When your insulin is working at its best, it takes those sugars and uses them as fuel or to refill muscle glycogen.

Carb cycling also has benefits with leptin, a hormone associated with satiety and metabolism — the more leptin you have, the faster your metabolism and vice versa. Leptin only gets triggered, however, if calorie and carb intake rises for 12-24 hours.

Combined, those high carb days will help keep your leptin elevated while low carb days keep insulin sensitivity high, creating a great balance for better results.

How to Carb Cycle

There are many ways to use carb cycling and you can tailor each to your particular schedule and preferences. One popular method is alternating high and low carb days throughout the week.

If your workout schedule is spaced out or sporadic, this is probably the best approach for you to stay on track. Here’s what it might look like if you do a bodybuilding split:

  • Monday: Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps (High Carb)
  • Tuesday: Off/Cardio (Low Carb)
  • Wednesday: Lower Body (High Carb)
  • Thursday: Off/Cardio (Low Carb)
  • Friday: Back and Biceps (High Carb)
  • Saturday: Off/Cardio (Low Carb)
  • Sunday: Off/Cardio (Low Carb)

Another common method is to split the week in half and do three to four low carb days in a row followed by three to four high carb days in a row. It requires a slightly stricter schedule, but many people find more effective because it puts you in fat-burning mode half of the week and muscle-building mode the other half.

This could also create a bigger hormonal impact because your body has more time to respond and adjust to the changes in your carb intake. 

  • Monday: Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps (High Carb)
  • Tuesday: Glutes, Hamstrings, and Abs (High Carb)
  • Wednesday: Back and Biceps (High Carb)
  • Thursday: Quads and Calves (High Carb)
  • Friday: Off/Cardio (Low Carb)
  • Saturday: Off/Cardio (Low Carb)
  • Sunday: Off/Cardio (Low Carb)

What About Your Macros?

With carb cycling, it’s important to have accuracy with your numbers: Otherwise, you might miss your carb targets and struggle to get the results you want. (In other words, you might eat too many carbs on your “low carb day” and too few carbs on your “high carb day.”)

The following are some general guidelines for macronutrient ratios to use to based on your body weight:

Sample High Carb Day:

  • Carbs: 2-3 grams per pound of bodyweight
  • Protein: 1 gram per pound of bodyweight
  • Fat: Minimal

Sample High Carb Day Meal Plan:

  • Breakfast: 6 egg whites, 2 slices of whole wheat toast, 1 cup of oatmeal
  • Lunch: 8oz lean ground turkey, 1.5 cups of rice, broccoli
  • Snack: 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt, ½ cup mixed berries, 1 banana
  • Dinner: 8oz tilapia, 2 medium baked potatoes, greens salad

Sample Low Carb Day:

  • Carbs: 0.25 grams per pound
  • Protein 1-1.25 grams per pound
  • Fat: 0.5 grams per pound

Sample Low Carb Day Meal Plan:

  • Breakfast: 3 eggs, 3 egg whites, 3oz bacon, 1oz cheese, sauteed vegetables
  • Lunch: 8oz salmon, 2 cups of broccoli, 1 cup of blueberries/strawberries
  • Snack: Deli turkey, cheese, and avocado rollups
  • Dinner: 8oz steak, 2 cups of mixed veggies 

Ultimately, carb cycling is one of the most flexible diet approaches out there to help you gain muscle and burn fat at the same time. As long as you stay strict on which day is high-carb (low-fat) or low-carb (high-fat) AND you hit your carb numbers, you’ll see some great results. 

Good luck!

Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Health and helps guys get fit for their wedding at GroomBuilder.

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By Guest Contributor | Tue, Sep 26, 2017

The Weight Loss & Training Plan That Helped Jarrod Lose 90 lbs.

By: Jarrod R.

My fitness journey started on February 29th, 2016. I remember the date particularly well. That was the Monday after a “blow-it-out-weekend.” AKA I ate every bit of junk food I could get my hands on that weekend. Then Monday, I buckled down and got serious.


Before: Me at 285lbs

As far as why I started, it was simple for me. At the time, I had a 3 ½-year-old son (my first) and I knew I was setting a terrible example for him. Sitting in front of the TV, playing video games, eating garbage, and not taking care of myself was taking its toll on my health. 

My goal, in the beginning, was to go from 285lbs to 250lbs. I felt like 35 lbs was an attainable goal. But I also felt that kind of dread you feel when you first get started, knowing how far you have to go, how long it will take to see results of your hard work pay off.

Those initial workouts and first few weeks of dieting were brutal. But once I got into a rhythm, it was a lot of fun watching the pounds come off and feeling stronger. I went from 1-2 workouts a week to 3-4.I ended up dropping that first 35lbs within the first three months. 

Currently, I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m 195lbs, my body fat is down under 15% for the first time in my life. I spend a couple hours (or more) in the gym at least 4 days a week, so I've come pretty far.


After: Me at 195lbs

The Plan That Helped Me Drop The Weight


My Nutrition

Full disclosure: I’m not creative in the kitchen. I keep it really simple, focusing on foods that are low sodium, high-protein and have high-nutritional content. 

Protein

  • Lightly seasoned chicken breast 
  • Turkey burgers (optional bun) 
  • Top Sirloin 

Fruit and Veggies  

I eat a TON of fruit and vegetables for carbohydrates and don’t count them as calories towards my daily total. I look at them more as maintenance…

It’s hard to explain but I workout so much and usually for such a long period of time that I feel like I’m burning through the nutrients in fruits and veggies. So for me, I’m really just refueling and replacing what I burn. Either way, it’s working, so I just go with it.

  • Bananas (I eat 3-4 per day)
  • Slices of pineapple
  • Apple 
  • Handful of grapes
  • Broccoli (a big plate at dinner)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers

As far as liquids, I drink at least a gallon of water a day, sometimes even two gallons. Occasionally I will allow myself a diet soda. 

Cheat Meals 

I’ve had conversations with people who are so vehemently against the cheat meal concept. Good for them. But for the nearly two years I’ve been on this journey, I have allowed myself one meal every week to dominate whatever food my heart desires…The truth is, I grew up loving junk food and no matter how much weight I lose, I will always love that food.

In my mind, if I work hard and eat healthy 90% of the time, that other 10% I'm allowed to indulge helps keep me sane and on track for the long haul.

Here I sit, writing this entry, 90lbs lighter than I was when I started, body fat % lower than it’s been my entire life. I don’t think my weekly cheat meal is having any kind of a negative impact on me, especially given how hard I train.


My Training

I’m a family man, my wife and kids come first. But if my family is #1 in my life, then training is like 1.1. It’s amazing how much family and fitness are intertwined. You could say one part of me doesn’t function without the other. If I didn’t train as hard as I do, I wouldn’t be in the shape I’m in and I wouldn’t be much of an example to my kids in terms of physical fitness and how important it is to their quality of life.

Training is no different for me than brushing my teeth, or putting on shoes before I leave the house, it’s just an automatic part of my day. I look forward to those 2-3 hours spent with the music turned up loud and sweat pouring down my face. 

I will usually train 5-6 times a week depending on the week. What I’ve found works best for me is to get up super early and be ready to workout by 5 am.

Sunday-Legs

I love to run. Over the summer I spent a lot of time racing so I laid off heavy leg days. Now that it's fall, I've increased the intensity in my leg workouts. Every leg day I will do:

  • Leg press
  • Leg curls
  • Leg extensions
  • Squats

Then I throw in a variety of other exercises like lunges, wall balls and calf raises. Overall, I just try to keep it interesting!

Monday-Off day

I’m usually required to be at home with both kids in the evening, and let’s face it, waking up at 4 am when you have to work a full day on Monday isn’t a fun idea.

Tuesday-Chest day

When I train chest, I do exercises that isolate my upper pecs and lower pecs. I usually do about 8 different exercises on chest day, various types of dumbbell work on both incline and flat benches, chest flies (on the floor to avoid shoulder strain), and I end each chest day with about 120-150 push-ups–just to make sure I torture myself a bit more.

Wednesday-Arms (bi’s and tri’s)

It’s hard to get stoked about training your biceps and triceps until you start seeing results. I love to do body weight exercises for arm day like underhand grip pull-ups and tricep dips, But this is also an opportunity to really toss some weight around. Curls, overhead extensions, and variations of both are always good. Usually, I try and hit 4 exercises for my bi’s and 4 for my tri’s, then do a big finisher sequence for each at the end. 

Thursday-Back day

Back day used to be my least favorite day of the week, but I’ve had a lot of muscle development, so now I really enjoy it. I focus on the lower back, the lats, rhomboids, and obliques. I do a lot of lat pull-downs, rows and pull-ups to hit my lats. I usually do the Y-raise, W-raise, and back extension as well. Other than that, I’ll just throw in a couple oddball exercises to keep it interesting.

Friday-Shoulders

This is the best day of the week in my opinion. I love training my shoulders, and I’ve broken it down into a really detailed science. I isolate each part of my shoulder (front, side, and rear) and my traps. I do at least 3 exercises to hit each delt head and 3 exercises to hit my traps. I do variations of delt raises to the front and side with varying weights and rep counts, I do rear delt flies, face pulls…the list goes on. I do variations of shrugs, and my favorite exercise ever, the barbell military press. I do a set of 10 military presses after 3 sets of every exercise. It exhausts me, and really fires up my shoulders.

Saturday-Short/Intense Workouts

I like my Saturday workout to be shorter but more intense than my other workouts. It really depends on the day but typically I'll push myself through a CrossFit style workout like the Becky or Fran.

Cardio

I love running, usually, my minimum distance is 5k (my 5k PR is 21:22), but I’ll run as much as 10 miles depending on the day and what I’m training for. Overall I aim to do 3-5 cardio workouts a week. 

My Supplements 

Well first off, supplementation is simple. My thought has always been ‘less is more.’ Truthfully, I don’t even like to take things for headaches.

But I do use C4 Ultimate (Icy Blue Razz!) about 20 minutes before I work out while on the way to the gym! By the time hit that first rep, I’m feeling great.

I also drink protein shakes (25g/serving) 2x a day. Once in the morning after my workout, then once in the afternoon about an hour after I eat lunch. 

That's it.

That's how I went from 285lbs and probably close to 35-40% body fat down to 195lbs and 14.5% body fat. Was it easy? No. Was it fun? For the most part. The dieting sucks but that’s never going to be easy. Do I feel better? Absolutely.

Thanks to these lifestyle changes, I’m going to live a long time, and hopefully, see my kids grow up to be old men. The benefit of looking better, and being stronger is just an added bonus.

Word of Advice

I’m a person who is super results-driven, so most of the struggles I dealt with were early on. Wanting to see the results after a few workouts, starting to feel discouraged when I didn’t see them... But I just kept moving forward. I started to feel better, run farther, faster, and lift heavier for more reps. The path I was on was working, and I started to feel an addiction to the results.

As far as advice, it sounds cliché for me to stand in front of a room full of people who are where I was and say, “If I can do it, anyone can.” I’m sure those people would roll their eyes–I would have. But that the most honest answer I can give. If I can do it, anyone can.

 - Jarrod 

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By Team Cellucor | Thu, Sep 21, 2017

5 Minute Protein-Packed Snack Ideas for Early Morning Workouts

Are you an early riser who likes to workout while everyone else is asleep? Congrats–you know how to start the day off right. 

Although you have an edge over those who choose to workout later in the day, your biggest challenge in the morning is time. You likely only have 1-2 hours to get ready for the gym, eat, take your pre-workout, head to the gym, sweat it out, and then get ready for work.

In a race against the clock, you may choose to save time by skipping your pre-workout meal. Don't. There's no need to have a full-blown breakfast, but you shouldn't head into your workout hungry. Instead, focus on the following tips for fast, efficient pre-workout snacks for your AM sweat session.

Think Fast

Because you don't have a lot of time to digest a heavy breakfast, keep the focus on protein and simple carbs to help fuel your workout. 

5-Minute Pre-Workout Protein-Packed Snack Ideas

  • Protein Shake: Cellucor COR-Performance Whey (1 scoop) mixed with water. Banana on the side. 
  • Protein Yogurt: Plain Greek yogurt with a scoop of COR-Performance Whey. Top it with some berries or sliced banana.
  • Protein Smoothie: In a blender, add 1 scoop of COR-Performance Whey, fruit, a handful of ice cubes. Throw in some uncooked oats for extra energy (1/2 cup or less), blend up, drink and enjoy!
  • Proats: ½ cup quick oats cooked, add a scoop of COR-Performance Whey!
  • Protein Bar: If you're in a serious hurry, save time and grab a FitJoy bar!

All of these snacks take under 5 minutes to prepare, most of them even under 2-3 minutes.

Don't Forget to Hydrate

Rehydrating after a night’s sleep allows for a more efficient and energetic workout at the gym. Have a glass of water immediately upon waking up, then another 2-3 glasses before you head out the door. 

Enjoy and go crush your workout!

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By Team Cellucor | Mon, Jun 12, 2017

10 Questions with CrossFit Athlete Brooke Wells Pt.1

(Photo: Preston Smith @prestonsmithphotography)

You asked, Brooke Wells answered! Check out this first round of Q&As with our newest member of the Team Cellucor family. Look out for part two of her Q&A coming soon! Follow Brooke Wells as she prepares for the CrossFit Games in August!

1. What does your meal plan look like? @dcutt

 

2. What's your favorite cheat day meal? @sir_007


I would say either pizza or Mexican food! For dessert, ice cream!

3. There are so many supplement manufacturers out there - Why Cellucor? @motionislife

The first thing that attracted me to Cellucor were the people! They are so genuinely sweet. But of course, the supplements are very important too! They have the highest quality products and sell all the products that I use on a day-to-day basis. I truly believe in their products to help me pour everything into my training.

4. What are your favorite supplements? @schwiet4you

I use the COR-Performance Whey Protein, Alpha Amino BCAAs, Fish Oil & COR-Performance Casein protein every single day. I can't pick a favorite, they are all equally important!! But I can pick a protein flavor for you that's my favorite..... Peanut Butter Marshmallow!

5. How do you determine when to take a rest day? Do you have a strict schedule or do you go off of how your body is feeling that day? Thank you and good luck at regionals! @thelastimeraj

I take an "active recovery" day every Thursday which includes about 45 minutes of swimming. Then I fully rest every Sunday. It doesn't necessarily depend on how sore I am, sometimes I work through that or revise programming.

6. What is your number one key to consistent recovery? @kristophercole

The keys to recovery are definitely sleep & nutrition! But also, other things like stretching, foam rolling, using a stem cell simulator, etc. can contribute a lot also! I always make sure to hit my macronutrients and get at least 8 hours of sleep every day.

7. How do you balance being a student and training? @maxphommaly

It definitely keeps me busy! I planned my class schedule for the mornings, so all my classes are before noon. Then I have the rest of the day to focus on training. I do my homework at night.

8. What’s your favorite type of music? @hgomez100

I actually like pretty much whatever is new. I keep up with the "Top 100" charts a lot & find my favorite songs there! But I listen to "Chainsmokers" Pandora or a rap playlist in the gym. When I'm not in the gym, I love hip-hop, pop & country! 

9. Good afternoon from Icemens CrossFit @ Eielson AFB, Alaska. You look impressively strong this year! I'm wondering what improvements to your training you have made to improve on your long game for some of the endurance/pacing WODs you will see at regionals and the games. It is only a matter of time before you are standing on top at the CrossFit Games. Your fan Jonathan. @yeah_lets_try_that

Thank you, Jonathan! This year I have been lucky enough to work with a new coach, Ben Bergeron. He has really, really helped my aerobic base. I have also been working with a new nutritionist who has helped me lean out & be ready for the long events at the Games! Lots and lots of hours in the gym!!

10. What’s your spirit animal? @lukadams

 

About Brooke Wells

A two-time individual CrossFit Games athlete, Brooke Wells won the 2015 Central Regional at age 19 in her first appearance. A year later, she took third in her region, but vaulted to the top of the Games with six top-five finishes and one event win.

A senior at University of Missouri, Wells is on track to graduate with a degree in business and plans to continue competiting in CrossFit in the future.

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