For today’s rant episode, let’s talk about carb cycling and intermittent fasting. They’ve both been around for a long time, but I feel like now that it’s in more mainstream conversations, people might wonder if they should give it a shot, and what the benefits might be. I hope that by the end of the episode, we can rule out some misconceptions so that you’re able to make an informed decision about your fitness journey.
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/232
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- Carb cycling (7:47, 9:46, 14:25)
- Focus on the things that are going to move and can fit everything in (11:15)
- Reasons why do people do carb cycle (15:53, 16:37, 18:16)
- Principles of carb cycling (34:00)
- Intermittent fasting (40:30, 43:55, 48:45, 51:18, 52:30)
- Why both carb cycling and intermittent fasting don’t give magical results (32:16,43:55)
- The only way that you lose fat is by creating a caloric deficit (41:50, 46:07)
You're listening to Biceps After Babies Radio episode number 232.
Hello and welcome to Biceps After Babies Radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife, and mom of four. Each week, my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Intermittent fasting and carb cycling 0:47
Hey, hey, hey, welcome back to another episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke. And today's topic has been one, honestly, that has been pretty long coming. It's a topic I get asked all the time. And I actually am kind of surprised that I didn't haven't recorded a podcast until here in the two hundred about this topic, because it is a doozy. And it's one that a lot of people are curious about and that is intermittent fasting and carb cycling.
How to use macro counting as a tool effectively 1:17
But before we dive into the topic, let me tell you about something that's coming up. If you are tired of your only tool for transformation being restriction and deprivation and cutting out food groups, and you want to be someone who can look in the mirror and actually see a visible transformation. And like me, and you aren't willing to cut out sugar to get there, then macro counting is the tool that is missing from your tool belt. But just like any tool, any hammer, a saw, the tool is really only as effective as the person who is wielding the tool actually makes it. And when I see time and time again, are women who start using the tool of macro counting without really understanding how to do it. They don't understand how to set or adjust their macros. And this leads them to get lackluster results, getting frustrated with the process and scrolling through Instagram just feeling defeated because they're like well, macro counting worked for that woman, why the heck didn't work for me. And then getting to this place where they just quit and you say something silly like Well, I tried macro counting and it didn't work. That's like letting go of a helium balloon and watching it float away and saying, Well, I guess gravity just didn't work. No friend, science is science. Gravity is working just like it should on that balloon, you just don't quite understand the nuances of gravity, right? And it's the same thing with macro counting. The question is not does macro counting work? Because macro counting is just basic science. The question is, how can I wield that scientific principle? How can I wield that tool of macro counting to get better results? How can I use that tool for my specific situation? And that's what I teach my clients inside of Confidence In Your Numbers.
Confidence In Your Numbers 3:02
I created Confidence In Your Numbers because I saw a big glaring hole in the market. And that is too many women are relying on expensive coaches to set and adjust their macros for them. Now, again, I get it. Most coaches want you to pay them and in exchange, they'll set their macros for you. And then if you want to pay them more money, they'll “coach” you and they'll adjust your macros for you week to week. But of course, they're not going to actually teach you how to do it yourself. Because why? Well, it's simple. It benefits them to make adjusting your macros and set them to feel as complicated and as nebulous as possible. But it's really not that complicated. And well, that's not my business model. I don't want to set your macros for you. And I really don't want you to keep paying me to have me adjust them for you, I would rather teach you how to do it yourself. So that you don't have to keep paying someone month to month to do something that really is simple enough for you to do on your own. It's kind of like that comment saying, If you give a woman a fish, eat for a day, and if you give a woman teach a woman how to fish, eat for a lifetime. So the question really is, do you want to be the woman who gets given a fish, and then you're left metaphorically to starve when you stop paying for the fish? Or do you want to be the woman who learns how to fish so you can keep snagging those fish for free without having to rely on someone else to feed you? If you're like me, and you're the type of woman who wants to learn how to fish then Confidence In Your Numbers is for you.
What is Confidence In Your Numbers all about 4:26
Confidence In Your Numbers is a live masterclass where I teach you how to set your macros for your unique body. And I teach you how to adjust them over time. Because here's the second common mistake that I see a lot of women making when they start counting macros. They set their macros and they're like, oh, success is just as easy as following these numbers to the finish line. Which is kind of like saying you can travel the world in a single vehicle, right? Okay, stay with me on this metaphor. So sure, a car is great for driving across the US. But then, when you hit the Atlantic Ocean, you can't drive that car any further, you have to get into a new vehicle like a boat or a plane to keep going. And the same thing applies to your macros. If you just set your macros once and keep following them, you're going to plateau, you're going to hit the Atlantic Ocean and you're going to get frustrated because what you're doing isn't working anymore. And then you're gonna quit and then you're really not gonna see results. So just like you have to swap out your vehicle based on the terrain. If you want to avoid plateauing in your journey, you're going to need to adjust your macros throughout the process, which for some people could feel like it's really complex, and that's what most coaches want you to believe so that you'll pay them to do it. But I'm not like the type of coach, which is why inside of Confidence In Your Numbers I've simplified, adjusting macros into something that anyone can learn and allows you to skip the overpriced coach, accelerate your results and keep your hard-earned money in your pocket.
Come and join Confidence In Your Numbers 5:48
So if you want to learn to set and adjust your own macros, come join me for my Live, Paid Masterclass on July 28, you can go to my website right now and you can purchase a prior recording of Confidence In Your Numbers. It's always on sale for $199 but because I will be delivering this class live which is always more fun anyway. If you joined before July 28, you'll get all the secrets about setting and adjusting your macros for just $99 because Confidence In Your Numbers is the perfect step to take before signing up for MACROS 101. We also allow you to apply what you pay towards Confidence In Your Numbers into MACROS 101, which means if you're listening to this and you plan to join us for the next round of MACROS 101 at the end of August. Joining Confidence In Your Numbers is essentially free because the investment you make in Confidence In Your Numbers will be applied towards your MACROS 101 enrollment, which is super cool. So if you're ready to finally snap that after picture that you've always wanted, come and join my live masterclass Confidence In Your Numbers and you're going to walk away with all those secrets that most coaches won't share about how to set and adjust your own macros. To sign up, go to bicepsafterbabies.com/confidence to get registered for the class. And I'll see you on July 28. That's bicepsafterbabies.com/confidence.
The topic of carb cycling and intermittent fasting 7:10
Okay, so let's dive into the topic of carb cycling and intermittent fasting. Two things that have really come into vogue, I feel like in the last little while. They've been around for a long time but I feel like it's something that it's more in the mainstream general population, people are talking about it, people are trying it out, and people are testing it. And let's talk about why you may do it, what some of the benefits potentially could be, what my take on it is, and what your take I actually asked on Instagram, your experience with carb cycling and intermittent fasting. And so I'll share a little bit of what I received in DMS about it.
Rant episode 7:47
So let's start with carb cycling. Well, okay, before we dive into that, let me just preface this and say, I created this as a rant episode. So if you've listened to any of my rants before, you know that a rant episode allows me to be a little freer with what I say and not feel like I have to like couch my words so carefully. Okay, so just know that listening to a rant episode, I'm going to share what I think, I'm going to share my opinion, and it's just my opinion, I'll share some science and facts as well. But I like the rant episodes because I can just say what I think and not have to like a filter so much. So just know that going into this episode, this is a rant episode, and you guys tend to like them. So we're gonna dive in.
Carb cycling 7:47
So let's start carb cycling. So what the heck is carb cycling? Carb cycling is typically when you fluctuate between eating low carb foods and then higher carb foods. And typically, people will split them into days. So you'll have like high carb days mixed with low carb days. Now, if you understand how macros relate to calories, and if you don't understand that, go listen to episode 143 because I talk about that topic. So it's a little bit of an introduction to the relationship between macros and calories. But if you understand that, you know that each of the macronutrients, carbs, fat, and protein have a certain caloric value. And so you can start to see that if you are cycling your carbs, meaning some days are higher carb days and other days are lower carb days. People who carb cycle typically end up calorie cycling as well. So they will often eat lower calories on the low carb days and more calories on the high carb days. Now, that's not always how it is but if you're just manipulating the carbohydrate amount, then you're inherently going to be calorie cycling alongside carb cycling.
Carb cycling layered in macro counting and vice versa making it more complex 9:46
Now with carb cycling, you have to kind of do this in conjunction with macro counting. You need to know how many carbs you're eating. So inherently you need to be tracking and paying attention to the number of carbs that you are tracking during the day. So this isn't like carb cycling is something that is layered on top of macro counting, it's like you're already macro counting. And now we're going to have slightly different macros on different days and different targets that you're hitting on different days. Some are higher carb, and some are lower carb. So this really is more of an intermediate or advanced strategy. And that's the first thing that I want to say about carb cycling, is that unfortunately, I see a lot of people coming in, and their very first experience with macro counting is with also layering on carb cycling on top of it. And it's like you're already taking something that has a learning curve, macro counting has a learning curve to it. And you're layering something that makes it even more complicated and even more challenging of having now different macros on different days. And some days that are higher calorie and lower calorie and some days that are higher carbon, lower carb, you're taking something that has a learning curve and adding more complexity to it. I don't think that's the best way to go about it. I think for most people, that becomes very overwhelming. And I see a lot of women who come into macro counting, trying to layer on carb cycling right away, and become very overwhelmed and confused and quit. Because it's a lot to be doing all those things at the same time.
Focus on the things that are going to move and can fit everything in 11:15
And so I really think, if you're going to carb cycle, and we'll talk about how you can do it if that's something that you're interested in trying out for your body. I think it needs to be implemented when you have all of the rocks in place. And when I say rocks, I mean, there are things that move the needle a lot. And if you've ever been there, like there's like this classic Steven Covey object lesson, where you have a jar, and the idea is then you have some rocks and sand and water. And the idea is, how do you fit all of those things into the jar, if you put the water in first, and then you try to put the sand in, and then you try to put the big rocks in, you'll never be able to like it will all fit into the jar. But if you put the big rocks in first, and then you put the sand in, and it fills in all the little spaces, and then you put the water in very last and that sifts through and fills in all the other little spaces, you're gonna be able to fit things into the jar. So it's this idea of like prioritizations, like, focus on the big rocks first, because then you'll be able to, like fit everything in. And that principle is incredibly true in the fitness world of focusing on the things that are going to move the needle the most first. And a lot of people go to little tools and tricks and supplements and things like that they think are going to move that that may move the needle like 1 or 2%. And yet at the same time, they haven't gotten the big rocks in place, they haven't focused on making sure they're getting enough sleep, they haven't focused on making sure they're getting a wide variety of nutrition, they haven't focused on getting enough, the right amount of calories, they haven't focused on moving their body and their workout schedule, like those are the big rocks, get those things in place. And then if you want to mess around with more advanced strategies and test it out for your body, knock yourself out. But if you aren't getting enough sleep, if you aren't working out on a consistent basis, if you aren't lifting weights, if you aren't aware of your nutrition and eating a wide variety and at least familiar with how many calories you're eating and that it's the right amount. There's no use and adding more complexity, or more advanced tools to you first before getting your house in order.
Why do people do a carb cycle? 13:35
Okay, so why the heck do people carb cycle? Let's talk about the strategy behind it or the philosophy as to why this would be something that you would want to layer on top of macro counting.
Glucose as the body’s primary source of energy 13:52
We have to understand that your body uses different energy sources, your body's primary source of energy is glucose and that comes from carbohydrates. So that's the source that your body really likes to use. It's the preferential source, if there is glucose present, your body is going to use the glucose. It's a very easy transition. Your body is very adept at using glucose. And so that is the go-to default source.
Where carb cycling came into fruition 14:25
We also have fat storage in our body, and your body can burn fat for energy, but it's not as efficient as carbohydrates. So if there are carbs and fat present, your body will default to burning those carbohydrates because it's more efficient for your body. So understanding that helps you to see how some people have kind of made the leap in logic and conclusion that if your body is not going to burn fat unless it's used all the carbs first, then hey, if we took some days where we didn't give our body very many carbohydrates, then that would force the body into using fat for energy. And so the idea is that when you're eating lower carb, you are eliminating that source of carbohydrates, right that you're consuming in your food. And your body uses whatever carbohydrates it has access to. It uses the storage of carbohydrates, which is glycogen. And once that glycogen is gone, it will start using fat for fuel. And that sounds really awesome because most people are wanting to burn more fat on their bodies. So of course, we would want our body to want to force our body to use fat for fuel. So that is the idea of like, where carb cycling came into fruition, this idea that, Oh, if we could force our body to use fat, we will be able to burn more body fat and that sounds like a great idea.
Does carb cycling prevent metabolic adaptation? 15:53
There also is this push that carb cycling has been theoretically thought to prevent metabolic adaptation, we talk about metabolic adaptation as one of the reasons we do reverse dieting. This idea is that your body adapts to whatever it is that you push at it. And so oftentimes, we'll see metabolic adaptation down-regulating the number of calories that a person burns. And so over a period of time, if you're eating fewer calories, your body is going to burn less and less and less and less, because your metabolism is going to adapt to what you feed it. And so if the idea is if you cycle your calories, and you have some high days and have some low days, perhaps that would mitigate that metabolic adaptation occurring.
Do carb cycling help regulate leptin? 16:37
The other push that is behind a lot of people who carb cycle, the reason that they say they do it is that it helps regulate the hormone leptin, which is really responsible for hunger cues that your body is giving you. So the way that leptin works is that the more fat you have in your body, typically, the higher the leptin levels in your blood. And leptin basically tells your body, hey, we're good, you're satiated, you have enough, you're not hungry. Because that makes sense. If you have more fat in your body, you think your body would tell you you're not hungry, because you got plenty of storage, okay? However, when you go into a caloric deficit, when you go, you know, you start a cut, automatically, very quickly, your leptin levels start to drop, which is why you start to get hungry. So it's a natural cycle, you go into a caloric deficit, those leptin levels start to drop, and your body says, Oh, I'm hungry, I'm in a deficit, that makes sense as well. So the idea is if we calorie cycle, and if we carb cycle, then we can kind of help to regulate leptin, if we have a couple of more days, where we're eating a little bit higher calorie, we can kind of restore those leptin levels, so we're not as hungry, and then have a couple of days at lower calorie. And it's like, by the time those leptin levels start to drop, we're back at a higher calorie day so that we're able to restore those leptin levels. That's the idea is that you can cycle your calories enough that you can kind of stay ahead of the leptin curve to kind of minimize hunger.
Do carb cycling help replenish glycogen storage? 18:16
There's also talk of how it helps with replenishing glycogen storage. So glycogen is stored in your liver and in your muscles. Glycogen is basically the stored, it's like stored glucose. You eat glucose, it goes into your bloodstream, and then you're not gonna use all of that glucose, usually right the at the moment. And so your body has to have a way to store that glucose, and it stores in the form of glycogen inside of your muscles and inside of your liver. And so when you have lower carb days, you're not giving your body as many carbohydrates in the food that you're eating, your body is going to tap into those glycogen storages, it's going to deplete the glycogen storages that you have. And the idea is if we and that can make you feel kind of crappy, honestly, and make you feel like you don't have really good training sessions, right? There's glycogen in your muscles. And so if you are depleted in glycogen that can make training and especially weightlifting feel really, really hard. And so the idea is that we can get the benefits of having lower carb days by going lower carb some of the days, depleting those glycogen storages, using our fat as fuel, and then have higher carb days, and those helped to replenish those glycogen storages. So the idea is by cycling your carbohydrates, you're able to have some good training days on those like higher carb days and then use the other days to be able to cycle and deplete those glycogen storages to then be able to move on to use fat.
Is carb cycling well supported by research? 19:45
Okay, so that is the idea around carb cycling. And I want to put it out there that when it comes to science, one of the things that are really important and if you've done any science work, or you can even remember back to like high school science when you learn to like the scientific method, you know, the scientific method goes hypothesis, and then you're going to do some experiment to either confirm or negate that hypothesis. And move forward from that new vantage point. And so it's really important to understand that as I go over this, you may be nodding your head and be like, Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. Of course, I want my body to burn more fat. Of course, I want to like regulate my leptin levels, of course, I want to feel less hungry, of course, I want to like replenish those glycogen storages like that, it makes a lot of sense. But the important thing to remember is that just because something makes logical sense to us, doesn't mean that that's actually how it plays out in the body. And that's what we've seen a lot with carb cycling, when we talk about this, it makes a lot of sense. It's like, oh, yeah, that totally makes sense. I totally get that. This seems like something legit that I should add, that is going to work really well. And recognize that this is a hypothesis that some people put together, they kind of piece some pieces together. And we're like, oh, this seems like it makes a lot of sense. The challenge is, is that when we go, like, we need to make sure that it is confirmed by research, right? By research that is double-blinded, placebo-controlled, and as controlled for as many as many variables as possible, so that we're able to actually tease out okay, this makes sense in our brain. But does it actually play out in real life? Can we actually see a difference? Is there data to support this hypothesis that we have created? And in terms of carb cycling, it doesn't really play out in the research. Now, I am neither pro nor anti-carb cycling, we'll talk about my opinion on this in just a minute. Also, share your guys' opinion on it that when I asked you on Instagram, I'm neither pro nor anti-carb cycling, I honestly, like all talk about when if you want to try out this tactic, when that would be the time to do it and how to do it. But what I'm really here to do is I just want you to be really educated decisions that fit for you, and to understand what you're getting into, understand what the research is saying. And understand before you try this experiment on yourself of like, what the background is about it, why it might be worn why it might not what the research says. And then once you have that information, if you want to make the decision to go and go try it out and test it on yourself, knock yourself out, I'm all for that.
Carb cycling does not have that body of research yet 22:27
So the problem with carb cycling is that there isn't a ton of research that has been done on humans in terms of carb cycling. And so if we're looking at things from a scientific perspective, and science that has been supported and repeated in scientific studies, right, there's also a level of you can find a scientific study, to prove just about anything that you're trying to argue. One scientific study in and of itself does not tell us a ton, to start and all research gets started somewhere. So it has to start with a single study, but the body of research that grows over time, and if that single study is then replicated by other people in other circumstances and other fields, and not necessarily fields, but like in other areas, right. So it's like not just one researcher who found this evidence, but now multiple researchers in multiple cities or countries or in the world have found the same reproducible evidence that really starts to bolster how sure we are that this actually takes place, like the research and the results that we're getting from the research actually are reproducible, in multiple areas. That really hasn't happened with carb cycling, yet. So on a scale of like, 10 being like, Yes, this is very well, research supported lots of research, meta-analyses, multiple people saying the same thing, getting the same evidence. And one is like, there's zero evidence for this, this is just like a hypothesis that like nobody's tested out. carb cycling is much closer to the one that it is to the 10. And I think that's important to understand as you go into this, that I always love to share and help women to implement things that have been scientifically shown to actually be productive. If you know, my background, you know, that I'm a nurse. Sciences, you know, my language. I did a lot of science in college and I like to base the things that I'm telling people to do on hey, there's a body of research that really supports this. This is not me just making it up. It's not just me, hypothesizing that this may work. It's like there's a body of research that is supporting this. So carb cycling does not have that body of research yet. And until it does, it's not something that I'm going to say Hey, you should do this. Because it just doesn't it's not supported really yet. And maybe it will be, maybe it will play out. But we're not there yet with the research.
The inherent belief that the more complicated something is, the better it works 25:10
The reason that I think carb cycling becomes really appealing to a lot of people, and I think this is a really important point, this is where we start to get into like part of the ranty, right where we moved from, like the science, to like the, I'm just going to talk freely about what I think about this. I think that carb cycling lures a lot of people in because there is this inherent belief that the more complicated something is, the better it works. And so people, we just have this thought that it's like, Oh, something that's really simple, isn't going to make a big difference. So let me go for like the more complicated thing because that's going to be the thing that makes a big difference. And so back to what I was talking about with the rocks of like getting the rocks in place, like the really boring rocks of like, are you getting seven-plus hours of sleep at night, every night? Are you exercising 30 minutes a day, five plus days a week? Are you eating and at least having an awareness of the number of calories that you're eating and pretty consistent on that on a daily basis? Like those are boring, I get it, it's boring. It's simple. Simple doesn't always mean easy. But it's simple. Eat less, move more. I mean, that's simple. And so people disregard it, because it's simple. And they want to go for like the shiny, flashy, like new Oh, this is complicated. Oh my gosh, I have to like cycle my carbs, that's so much harder, it must work better. And, my friends, it's not that way. Like just because it's harder does not mean that it's better. Just because it's more complicated does not mean that it's better. And this is really where I tend to put carb cycling. If you're doing it before you got all your rocks in place, you're having a missed opportunity, you're focusing way too much time and attention on something that may move the needle a little bit. But in reality, you're missing like the big rocks, you're missing the things that are going to really move the needle. And if you just spent the energy you were spending on figuring out your carb cycling, on figuring out your macros and sticking with them, you probably would get much better results.
Feedback from what’s your take with carb cycling (answers from Instagram) 27:21
Okay, so I also asked on Instagram, what your guys' experience is with carb cycling, and here was interesting to read these I really enjoyed reading the experiences that you've had. So your take was was mixed, and I expected it to be mixed. And I feel like it was bifurcated whereas like either you really liked it or you really hated it. There's like not a lot of in between. And I kind of expected that is very bifurcated. Love it or hate it, nothing, not much in the middle. So some of the things, some of the people who really liked it, they said they liked it because it increased their food variety, which I totally get, on high carb days, you may be built to have a bagel. And on low carb days, maybe you have a little bit higher fats, and now you're able to have nuts. Whereas if you have consistent calories and consistent macros all the other days, maybe you're not able to like fit a bagel in or fit you know nuts in quite as easily. And so some of you like really liked the variety of food that you could have, you could have different foods on high fat days versus higher carb days. The same thing with like flexibility with weekends, it sounds like some people like to put their higher carb days on the weekends. And that allowed them a little bit more flexibility, a little bit more calories over the weekend. And somebody said that they felt like their high carb days were like a reward and kind of helped her stick with her like lower carb and lower calorie days. And so it was kind of like just every three days, they knew that they were going to have like a higher calorie day so kind of helped them on those two lower calorie days to be like, Okay, this is only for two days, it was like a little sprint, right, a two-day sprint versus the like, marathon that you're running that it's like, oh, When is this gonna be over, it was like two days, and then I know that I'm going to have a day that's going to be a little bit higher calories, and carbohydrates. On the other side, many of you said that you really struggled, especially on the low carb days with lack of energy, crankiness, hunger, and a lot of just general things that tend to come with low carbohydrates. Your body is being depleted of glycogen, it's being depleted of glucose, which is its primary energy source. So it totally makes sense that you're going to feel a little bit tired or more lethargic, or maybe a little crankier on those days. And a lot of people said that they didn't like that. A lot of you guys said it felt like an unnecessary step. It just felt like a complication to macro counting. And many of you said that maybe you tried it, but it felt like it was impossible to do forever. Like you could do it use it for a period of time but that it wasn't anything that you could do long term.
Should you do carb cycling? 29:55
So should you do it? Again, I'm not pro or anti I want to just give you that information and you can make decisions about your body. But I would say if you are wanting to test out carb cycling, you got to check some boxes. Like, are you already exercising regularly? Are you already getting plenty of sleep? Are you already eating mindfully? Are you already eating plenty of fiber? Are you already eating whole foods like getting enough vegetables? Like those types of things. Are you checking those boxes first? Are you already macro counting? And you got it. Like it's not a big deal. You're good at tracking, you're good at hitting your numbers. It's no big deal you've gotten over that learning curve. If all of those are a yes, you're like Check, check, check, check, yes, Amber, I would like something else to like, test out, or try or experiment with. Cool, then maybe carb cycling is something that you want to give a go. But if you are already inconsistent with macro counting, you're struggling with like binging or you're eating lots of processed food, you're not getting good sleep, or you're working out is sporadic. It's not the time to layer on a complexity, like a carb cycling in my opinion. Okay, so we aren't even sure that this like does anything, there's not a lot of research to support it. So get the big right. And there's a ton of research to support sleep. And let you know whole foods and fiber and exercise like there's a ton of research that supports that. So let's get the things that the research actually supports before we start experimenting with things that maybe there's not enough research to really support it yet. It also and again, it can be used, I think, more effectively with someone who is lean and who's trying to get leaner. So again, I think of this, this to me brings up the idea of like a competitor, like a fitness competitor. Someone who's going to get on stage who's already lean, they're trying to get like, to the leanest body fat percentage they can, maybe carb cycling gives you that extra oomph that extra like 1-2% It's like supplements, supplements are never going to give you the body that you want all by themselves. They may give you like an extra 1-2%. But you only add supplements, you only add carb-cycling, if everything beneath it is already on point. Okay.
Carb cycling doesn't get them magically better results 32:16
Now, the one thing that I will say about carb cycling again, I don't hate carb cycling. But I would ask you, if you've tried it, or if you want to try it. One of the questions in the back of your head is, am I enjoying this? Do I like this? Am I enjoying the variety of foods? Am I enjoying like high versus carb, low carb days, maybe working out during the high carb days you feel really good? Like if you enjoy it, knock yourself out. I love it. Great! If you like it, and it makes the process more enjoyable for you, it makes it feel like less of a grind, it gives you some variety, and you just like dig it, go for it. But I want you to do it knowing that it likely isn't going to give you any magical results. It may not even give you an extra 1-2%. Like we don't even know that there just is not enough research to support that. And the experience that I've had with clients is carb cycling doesn't get them magically better results. And for a lot of people just becomes one more thing to have to focus on that makes it a lot more complicated and a lot harder to stick to. And if that's the case, really just it's not going to make that big of a difference.
Principles of carb cycling 33:28
Okay, so you've listened to that and you're like, Okay, I still want to try it, Amber, how do I carb cycle? Now I will say I am not an expert on carb cycling, it's not something I've ever enjoyed. I don't like eating low carb, it doesn't make me happy. I'm not a fun person to be around. So I will share, with you know the principles of carb cycling. But this is not my area of expertise. So if you really want to, if you're like really gung ho about carb cycling, go find someone who does it all the time with their clients, but I don't I don't carb cycle most of my clients.
Set your calories just like you would with regular macro counting 34:00
So if you're wanting to carb cycle, first, you would set your calories just like you would with regular macro counting, I have a free guide to be able to set your macros, you can go to bicepsafterbabies.com/setmymacros. You can download that free guide and you can set your calories just as you normally would in a deficit and in a cut. The difference is, is that because you're going to be calorie cycling as well, instead of doing a just standard deficit, I usually recommend between, a 15% to 20% to 25% deficit. Every day, if you're just setting your macros consistently for every day, when you're carb cycling, you're typically going to be a little bit steeper of a deficit on those low carb days and a little and a little less of a deficit on those high carb days. So something like a 20 to 25, maybe even as high as 30% deficit on those low carb days, and then something more like a 10% deficit on your high carb days. So when you're setting your macros and in that guide, when you download that guide, you'll calculate your TDEE, your total daily energy expenditure, and then you will create a deficit from that. And so you would create two deficits, you would have your low carb day deficit, which would be, you know, 25-ish %, and your high carb day deficit, which would be more around the 10%. Protein is going to stay the same, you're going to set it just as you would if you were setting your macros usually. When you're doing carb cycling, the protein remains the same high carb days are the exact same as low carb days. And then on the high carb days, about 50% of your calories are going to come from carbohydrates. Whereas on your low-carb days, about 20% of your calories are going to come from carbohydrates. So that's going to help you to set those carbohydrate numbers. And then since you know that your carbs and your fat and your protein are going to add up to the total calories, once you've set your carbs and once you've set your protein, then any of the calories that are leftover, just go to fat. This is the most basic way to set your calories for carb cycling. Notice when you do that, however, your carbs will be cycling, but your fat will be staying the same in this scenario. If you want to do it a little bit more complex, and you want to cycle both your carbs and your fat. So on the lower carb days, you're having higher fat and on the higher carb days you're having lower fat, you might cycle your calories a little bit less, and maybe you have more of a consistent caloric deficit day to day. And then on those days that you have a lower carb, you would push your fat calories up. And then on the days, you have higher carbs you push those fat calories down. So you can either combine carb cycling with calorie cycling, in that case, your fat would stay the same and just your carbs would cycle. Or if you want to, you could have more of a consistent deficit and more of a consistent caloric intake. But it'll just be the proportion is different on higher carb days, it's lower fat, and on lower carb days, it's higher fat.
Carb cycling sample schedules 37:12
Now, when you're setting your high carb to low carb days, this is where there are a lot of different ideas about how to do it. And again, not a lot of research to support any of these ideas. So I've seen a lot of people do like two and one. So they do two low carb days and one high carb day and then alternate, you know, to continue to alternate that. Sometimes, people, I've seen people also do like a three or four to three ratio, where they're doing four days of high carb and three days of low carb per week, right, that equals seven, so it's a little bit more consistent. Whereas when you're doing the two low carb days and one high carb day, it's not going to be your Wednesday is not always going to be a low carb day, it's going to kind of keep going because you're not getting six in a week instead of seven. Anyway, you know what I mean? Right? Like, it's three plus three is six, not seven. So if you want something where it's like every Tuesday is a low carb day, you can go with like a four and three, where it's for high carb, three low carbs. And this tends to work better with, especially with people who are doing strength training. The more strength training you're doing, and the more lifting you're doing, the more high carb days you tend to get. You can also do something a little bit more variable where it's in line with your lifting sessions. So if you're doing four days of lifting a week, you can structure it so that your high carb days or on your lifting days and your low carb days or on your like rest days or your cardio days in between. So you can kind of play around with it that way. Again, these are all just like hypotheses. There hasn't been any research that has compared three or four threes, carbs carb cycling scheduled to a two-one carb cycling schedule. There's just not a body of research. So what I would recommend is getting started, testing it out, seeing how you like it, do you like, you know, maybe a shorter window where it's like the person who said hey, I really liked having to low carb days because I knew in just a couple days I was always gonna have a high carb day. Or do you like how you feel a little bit better when you get a little bit more carbohydrates over a longer period of time and then have a slightly longer low-carb streak? Okay, so that's how you would do it. If you're wanting to test this out. Again, this is an experiment. If you want to try it, make sure that you have all of the rocks in place before you are layering on something, and just remember that just because it's more complicated, doesn't make it any better. In fact, a lot of times overcomplicating something is the exact reason that a lot of people quit because overcomplicating It's too hard. It's too much work. And so weigh that as well as like only to carb cycling if it's fun and you like it and it makes you stick to it, it makes it more enjoyable, I talk a lot about how important enjoyability is in this process. If you are miserable doing something, it's not going to last. And if you can't do it consistently, and it's not going to last, you're not going to get the long-term results that most people want. So enjoyability and sustainability are key. And if that doesn't happen, when you're carb cycling, it's not worth it.
Intermittent fasting 40:30
Okay, let's move on to intermittent fasting. While most diets focus on, what you are eating, intermittent fasting focuses on the when, and the time period in which you eat. Like carb cycling, there are lots of different ways to implement intermittent fasting. But under a broad umbrella, they basically all are telling you there's a time to eat, and there's a time to fast, there's a time to go without food, and that those windows can look different. And there are lots of different opinions about what's the best window and who should eat and what kind of windows. But as for a general understanding of intermittent fasting is like, here's your window of eating, and here's your window of fasting. The idea behind intermittent fasting is that, again, it kind of is related to carb cycling in that the idea is that the body is going to utilize the glucose and the glycogen storage and then it's going to be left needing to burn fat. And so it's that idea of like becoming more, the ability to be able to go and burn fat, it's our backup fuel source. So we want to force the body into using fat.
What matters most is calories in versus calories out 41:50
Now, something that I didn't talk about, I probably should have talked about it with the carb cycling, but I'm gonna mention it here. And it's the same thing with carb cycling, and intermittent fasting. It makes a lot of logical sense that if our body primarily uses glucose, and we exhaust the glucose storage, and then we force the body to get to burn fat, that sounds like a really great deal. I want my body to burn fat? That's what most people say. They're like, I couldn't care less how my glycogen storages are doing, I want to burn fat. And so it seems like any technique that we can use to force our body into burning more fat seems like it would be more beneficial for fat loss. But here's the deal. If that is like you're looking at a fat loss in such a narrow view, it's easy to see why you miss the bigger picture. And the bigger picture is this, what matters most is calories in versus calories out. Are you in a caloric deficit? Because if you're in a caloric deficit, your body is going to pull from storage, and you're going to get that fat loss. And you know this inherently because you know that there are people who have lost fat, who did not carb cycle. There are people who have lost fat, who did not intermittent fast. And so this idea that the only way to get your body to burn fat is to like put it in a fat burning mode and exhaust all the glycogen storages. It doesn't play out in real life, because people lose fat without doing carb cycling, and they lose fat without doing intermittent fasting. And that is because at the end of the day, what really matters is the total overall caloric intake and the total overall caloric expenditure. And so these ideas of like carb cycling, and intermittent fasting, to be able to burn more fat don't actually play out. And that's what I mean is like they don't actually play out in the research to where people lose more fat with intermittent fasting or carb cycling than they do with just a regular or caloric deficit.
Why do people promote intermittent fasting? 43:55
Okay, so why do people promote intermittent fasting? The idea is often linked to more health benefits, and I think there is more research supporting some health benefits rather than actual weight loss benefits. Okay, so the research supporting intermittent fasting being the key to improved weight loss is not there. And in this realm, there actually is quite a large body of research. There's been lots of research, there have been systematic reviews of the research, and there have been meta-analyses of the research, which is really the top tier of research a meta-analysis is just a research study that looks at all of the body of research, all the research studies that have been done, and kind of brings it into a conglomerate and analyzes all the research studies and kind of gives this hey, here's a look at where we're at right now and what the research is currently saying. That's what a meta-analysis is. And there have been meta-analyses about human intermittent fasting and the researchers found there were no significant benefits related to change in body composition, in terms of fat loss, in terms of insulin sensitivity, or in terms of hormones. So that's pretty significant evidence to show that intermittent fasting itself doesn't actually produce better, faster fat loss. So a lot of the potential benefits that are being promoted in terms of intermittent fasting have to do more with health markers. So this idea of help for improving blood pressure, or helping with obesity, is specifically related to like diabetes. There have been some proponents of it, helping your brain and helping with brain health and memory. So, some of the benefits that are being tossed out and that are in the process of being researched a little bit more about how to do a lot more with health and a lot less with weight loss. Intermittent fasting, just like carb cycling is not anything magic.
The only way that you lose fat is by creating a caloric deficit 46:07
The only way that you lose fat is by creating a caloric deficit. It doesn't matter if you create that caloric deficit with intermittent fasting, carb cycling, or regular macro counting by just eating less food. The underlying reason that you're losing fat is that you're creating a caloric deficit. And it's like, there's like a lot of paths that lead towards Rome. And yeah, intermittent fasting can lead towards Rome. If by you intermittent fasting, you were eating fewer calories, but it's not the intermittent fasting that is doing it, it's the eating fewer calories, that is actually creating the result that you want.
Thoughts of intermittent fasting from the people on Instagram 46:47
So what did you guys think about intermittent fasting I asked on Instagram. And again, it was very bifurcated. Some people really love it, some people hate it. The people who love it, they, a lot of people talk about how it feels. And I think this is very similar to just eating low carbohydrates. If you've ever done keto, before, people will talk about the Keto flu. And that is like the first little while you're doing keto, you feel terrible. Because your body has a dearth of glucose that it's used to burning. And for a lot of people, you feel terrible, you feel cranky, you feel hungry, you feel tired, you feel lethargic, you feel kind of like you have the flu. But then a lot of keto proponents will say after you get through the flu, you feel great. Like energy levels up like you feel amazing. And so some people experienced that same thing with intermittent fasting. They're like, I like it because I feel really great doing it, which is great. I love that. Love that for them. Some people said it's really helpful because they don't like breakfast anyway, I'm not really a big breakfast fan. So intermittent fasting just is like super easy for them. Other people like it, because they don't like to think about food all day long. And so just having a window where it's like a shorter window to think about food was helpful for them. But then on the other side, there were plenty of people who said I tried it, it felt way too restrictive. I tried it, I didn't like ignoring my hunger cues. I tried it and I was super cranky. I tried it and when I would break my fast, I would just binge. It's really hard with a work schedule, especially if your work schedule continually changes. If you're something like a nurse or a physician, you're working like 12-hour shifts, it can be really challenging, you know, keeping that same window. So that was your take on it.
My personal take on intermittent fasting 48:45
What's my take on it? I think just like carb cycling, and hopefully, you're getting this hammered into your brain. That just because something's more complicated doesn't mean it works better. I'm all for you intermittent fasting because you love it. Because you enjoy it. And it makes you feel good. And it fits your lifestyle and works for you and you think it's just like it's just fun. You just like it, knock yourself out. I love it. I want you to enjoy it, I want you to do things that you like, but I don't want your intermittent fasting or carb cycling thinking it's going to be the key, the thing that is going to lead you to better results. It's not, I can confidently say neither carb cycling nor intermittent fasting is going to be the one thing that you add or change that is going to make all of the difference in the world. So just like carb cycling, can we layer on intermittent fasting? Can we mess around with it? Can we try it? Can we experiment with it with our bodies? A 110%, I love that. I am always trying to get my clients to be able to use themselves as experiments and see what works for them. I mean, that's a lot of what we teach inside of MACROS 101. How do you do that experimenting with your body? How do you read your body? How do you get the data and feedback from your body and be able to put your scientists head on and analyze what's going on with your body and then make decisions moving forward, that is going to be the best for you? That's what I teach. So I love it. Let's experiment but let's do it from a really like our science goggles on and recognize that these things are not going to make or break you. Let's go back to the basics. Are you sleeping? Are you getting fiber? Are you eating whole foods? Are you getting that fruits and vegetables? Are you limiting your stress? Are you working out? You know, if you've checked all of those boxes, then it's like yes, yes, yes, yes. Okay, cool. Let's test out let's try carb cycling, let's try intermittent fasting, let's do all those things, great. Intermittent fasting, I feel like it's a little bit it's a little less complex. Well, that's a little it's a lot less complex, let's be honest, and carb cycling is. So I also think maybe I would be more willing to entertain a client with intermittent fasting at the beginning with macro counting. If it's something that they're like, I just really liked doing it. I just like thinking about food less, I've like limiting my time, I don't feel hungry during the time, I'm not like miserable and starving, I just really like it cool, knock yourself out. carb cycling, I want you to have a good handle on macro counting, before you try it start to layer it on with carb cycling.
Intermittent fasting works better as a lifestyle when you’re in a deficit 51:18
Now, the one thing that I will say, and this actually played out when I asked about intermittent fasting, here's my thing with intermittent fasting. I think intermittent fasting works better as a lifestyle when you're in a deficit. However, you should not be in a deficit for most of your life, your deficit should be a very short part of your life. Most of your life should be spent at maintenance, that maintenance really, like so after the cut, we go into reverse and then we spend time at maintenance. And what I hear from a lot of people who intermittent fast is that as they reverse up as they get more calories as they eat more calories as they get up to maintenance, it can be really hard to fit the amount of food and the number of calories that you need to be consuming into a short eating window. And so that I think that is something that's really important is like maybe if you're gonna be using intermittent fasting, it's something to experiment with when you're in a deficit. But if you are now having to choose between an eating window and fueling your body with enough calories during maintenance, you can build muscle and feel really great. It might, you might need to extend that eating window so that you can get the number of calories that your body needs.
How do you do intermittent fasting? 52:30
Okay, so if you want to try out intermittent fasting, how do you do it? Well, the first thing is that you select your feeding versus fasting window. For a lot of people, I think one of the most common patterns is a 16-8, meaning you fast for 16 hours, and then your feeding window is an eight-hour period of time. And I would say more than half of people who do intermittent fasting default to that. But it's not the only way to do it, right, you can have a 10-hour feeding window, you can have a 12-hour feeding window, some people will even do it in days, like they will eat five days, normally, and then do two days of fasting, or do like four days on and then a one day fast. There are all kinds of patterns that you can do with fasting and feeding. So I don't have a whole lot of advice as to like where to start, I think to start maybe with the 8 and 16. Or maybe start with the 12 and 12. Right start, start to make it easy on yourself. Let's start with the hardest one. So the easiest one, like start with a 12 and 12. And then if you feel good, maybe move to a 10 and 14 and then maybe try an 8 and 16 and see how you feel the most important thing is to pay attention to how you feel and how your body is responding. Is this something that you can see yourself doing for a long time is it super freaking hard, play around with it. But that's basically the essence of intermittent fasting just like you pick your feeding, you pick your fasting window, and then you stick to it and you eat what you want to eat during that period.
Intermittent fasting is often done completely separate from macro counting 54:07
Now, I will say carb cycling, almost always needs to be layered with macro counting, intermittent fasting is often done completely separate from macro counting. And the idea is, is that it makes it creating a caloric deficit for some people easier because they simply are limiting the time that they can eat. So the idea is like I don't have to track, I don't have to pay attention to what food I'm eating. I'm just going to pay attention to the window, that which I'm eating and I can eat whatever I want during that period of time and then not eat during the fasting. And the idea is hopefully cross your fingers, you'll be in a caloric deficit because of that because you've just shortened your eating window.
Intermittent fasting is not the thing that creates weight loss 54:43
Now, just like I said before, intermittent fasting in itself is not the thing that creates weight loss. If intermittent fasting causes you to eat fewer calories and creates a caloric deficit, then you're gonna see fat loss, but plenty of people can do intermittent fasting and can eat all of the calories that their body needs and their body is going to use in a day or even more during that eight hour period, and if that's the case, you're not gonna see any fat loss, you're gonna see any change, because the intermittent fasting in and of itself does not create fat loss. It is if intermittent fasting creates a caloric deficit, then you have fat loss. So if you are applying, I assume that if you're listening to this podcast, you're probably thinking about integrating the two, integrating intermittent fasting with carbs or with some macro counting, then the goal is to eat all of those macros within that window. So really, the only reason you would be doing it is that it makes you feel more full, or it keeps you more satiated, or you feel less hungry because you're eating in a window. But again, whether you eat 1500 calories in an 8hour window or 1500 calories in a 23-hour window, they're going to produce the same amount of weight loss, and that's very well supported in the research.
Do what it's gonna be best for you and your body 55:55
Okay, so what's the bottom line? The bottom line is I don't hate carb cycling. I don't hate intermittent fasting. But it's not the end all be all. It never will be. And if there's something that you want to try out, knock yourself out. But do it from a perspective of like, I want to see if this makes me feel better, I want to see if this helps me with consistency, I want to see if this helps me have more energy, I want to see if this helps me feel less hungry. Rather than, Oh, this is going to be the thing that's going to make or break my weight loss goals. It's just not, neither of them is going to make or break your weight loss goals. And if you find yourself carb cycling, and you're miserable girlfriend, I give you permission to stop. It's not the magic pill. And if you're doing intermittent fasting and you hate it, you don't need my permission, but I give you my permission to stop. Okay, you can do what it's gonna be best for you and your body, and that to me is the key. None of these are magic. Some of them can like, make it more enjoyable for some people. And I'm all for that. I don't hate you if you carb cycle or intermittent fast. But let's not trick ourselves into thinking just because it's harder just because it's more complicated than it's going to work better because that just ain't the case.
Hoping that this rant episode is informative 57:13
Cool? Are we good? We're still friends, at the end of these rant episodes. I hope that that was helpful, I hope it was informative. I hope that you feel like you have a little bit better handle on these two things that you'll probably hear a lot about from your friends and from Instagram and from influencers of people who are doing these things. And my goal, again, is for you to be able to make an informed decision. I don't really care what your decision is, as long as you feel like it's going to work for you and it's informed. And that's really my goal is to hope you're leaving this podcast episode feeling a little bit like you understand carb cycling and intermittent fasting a little bit better.
Leave a rating and review on the podcast and continue to share the episodes 57:52
If you enjoyed this episode, will you do me a solid and go onto the platform that you're listening to us and leave a rating and review. Those ratings and reviews are a way that you can thank me for free, I'm giving out free content for you. And if you want to say thank you for the time and energy that spent putting out free content and the world the best way that you can do that is by leaving a rating and review on the podcast and by sharing this episode. So if you want to say thank you, those are the two ways to do it. Leave a rating and review and share this podcast episode with someone.
Confidence In Your Numbers class is coming up 58:26
And then remember, we have Confidence In Your Numbers coming up. I only do this class live twice a year. So it's a special time. If you're interested in learning how to set and adjust your macros. This is something that most coaches don't teach you because they want you to pay them forever. They want you to pay them to adjust your macros. So if you want to learn how to become your own coach and to set and adjust your macros on your own without having to pay someone continually then confidence in your numbers is for you. It is currently on sale for $99. It was only for a limited time the class will be on July 28. So if you were interested in coming in to attend live head to bicepsafterbabies.com/confidence.That wraps up this episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm Amber, now go out and be strong because remember my friend, you can do anything.
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