Hello Your Fit Day Friends!
I know, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated my blog. Yes, I’m a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to blogging. But I have been working on this post now for a few months. Let me explain…
For those of you who are on my newsletter list you’ve already been updated weekly about what’s going on. For those of you who are now just joining us here at Your Fit Day, the news is that I had shoulder surgery May 10, 2012, seven months after my hips surgery, which was in October of 2011. I apologize for the gap, but life really got in the way of my life, not to mention blogging. But now that things are settling down I’m back. Yippee!
My body went through a lot of changes during both of these surgeries, especially right after the second one, my shoulder surgery. I lost a lot of muscle on the second surgery, the one for my shoulder. I did the best I could to maintain my fitness, but because I was so close in months post hip surgery to having major shoulder surgery on the opposite side of my body, I was quite limited in what I could do.
So here’s the update on what helped keep my metabolism humming as best as it could after my shoulder surgery, and my body from atrophying as little as possible.
Why The Carbnite® Protocol
Almost a year and a half ago, and about two months into my recovery from my shoulder surgery, I started a cyclic ketogenic diet, using John Kiefer‘s Carbnite®Solution plan as a way to help regulate my metabolism and carb intake ( which I tend not to take in when I’m not training). And I believed that using a cyclic ketogenic diet would help me through my recovery from recent shoulder surgery while not training. I wasn’t unfamiliar with Kiefer’s book, as I’ve referred and coached many friends and clients through it over the years since the book first came out.
I like Carbnite® because it has many similarities to some of the low carb and carb cycling protocols that I have used over the past two decades to maintain my lean fit body, as well as getting in shape for fitness competitions, events, and photo shoots. And also because Kiefer’s book is educational and explains well why you don’t want to go very low-carb for too long, and that eating fat is OK.
Yes!! I get to eat schmaltz!
Now, maybe I’m just a wee bit biased because several years back, when Kiefer lived in Oakland, CA, he helped me a great deal with my nutritional programming when I was doing a lot of endurance training along with my strength training. He was very generous with his information and gave me great advice…that worked.
But that aside, Kiefer is highly regarded as a fat loss expert, you can always count on him to present a ton of research to back up his programs and articles, and in my opinion he’s not the type of guy to shove a piece of schlock on the shelf. I’d say he’s on my list of to be trusted fitness authors!
My Past 25 Year Diet Overview
I’ve only been following a strict Carbnite® protocol and ketogenic diet for about one and a half years now. Before this, and roughly for the past 25 years, the bulk of my meals were predominantly lean protein like tuna and turkey, deep cold water fishes, and vegetables.
I remained pretty low in fat (except what you would find in fatty fish), with small amounts of carbs cycled around my training times; sometime before, sometimes after, sometimes both.
And there were periods where I was even very low starchy carbs, relying mostly on veggies for carbs. I’ll admit, those were times I should have been eating a bit more starchy carbs with all the training I was doing.
About The Fat
It wasn’t until about four years ago that I even started cooking with added fats, instead of just using a non-stick pan.. My option
was is coconut oil. The higher fat protocols were always very interesting to me, but being a child of the 80’s and 90’s I was part of the ‘low fat to no fat’ frenzy! This obviously changed as I learned more about keto diets.
I was also red-meat free up until about one and a half years ago (save for bison and buffalo when I could afford it, and the venison that my friend gave me during hunting season, which was seldom!). That’s when I added grass fed and pastured ground beef and lamb back into my diet, after abstaining for 35 years!! I can’t believe what I was missing!!
You could say that before adding red meat back into my diet I was mainly a ‘tur-pescatarian’ ( That’s my made up name for a turkey/fish eater!). But I enjoyed mostly the fattier fishes, like sea bass (back then it was not yet on the endangered list and only $1/lb for the chowder fish), turbo, and fresh wild albacore; and especially the collars, skins, bellies and remnants of halibut (I now include salmon bellies, skins and collars).
Come to think of it, fat was pretty much seasonal for me. When the halibut were jumping, which was about six months of the year, I’d venture to guess that my diet was very high in natural fat from all of the pure fish oils that were in the skins, bellies, collars, and cartilage that I ate during the week.
I mean, literally, I’d eat the sweet bubbling succulent fat that oozed from just under the fatty crispy skins, and spoon up the savory sizzling oil right from the oven skillet! I even
ate eat the bones of the halibut and salmon too. I left leave nothing! I was like am a coastal cave woman! This is how I still love to eat.
Pump It Up
Now, back in the late 80’s and into the mid 90’s, I did the super-low-fat bodybuilding lifestyle of oatmeal, cream of rice, my veggie egg white omelets, (which I still love and eat) as well as eating five smallish meals a day. Yes! You know that diet I’m talking about!
Maybe it had something to do with the myth that eating more meals meant a machisma metabolism. But for me, having had disordered eating for a short period in my life, it was easier to wrap my head around smaller meals throughout the day, rather than eating larger ones more spread out. To me they were baby steps. And besides, it gave me back my power to be able to just eat, without stress, knowing it was building my body back up!
And I stuck with this low fat, multiple meal plan for many years, thinking low-to-no added fat, and many many meals, was the way to go. I’m not going to knock it, because I liked how I looked, felt and performed while I was training for bodybuilding, fitness competitions and endurance events.
And it was over the next several years, during the training for these events, that I learned more about how to use carbs for performance.
Cycling My Carbs
Although I eventually gave up sugar in the late 1980’s and early ’90’s, and cut down my overall carb consumption, I of course didn’t give up carbs completely while I was training, which was always pretty hard. I just limited carbs, in the right amounts, around my training, to make sure I had energy, my glycogen was replenished, and/or to prepare me for the next days training.
And if you know me, you also know that I’ve always trained with the intensity and volume of a Super HER-O Human! (Well, up until my two surgeries, anyway). So, I needed carbs in my diet while I was working out hard. Remember, I was not keto adapted back then.
Note: When I’m talking about cycling carbs I’m talking about starchy carbs, not veggie carbs.
In fact, when I was about 16 weeks pre-contest in body building, and in my cutting phase, it was a very common practice for me to Zig Zag my diet and go five days lower/moderate calories and carbs, with the fifth or sixth day being a ‘cheat’ day eating anything I wanted (I still limited my choices to wholesome foods and didn’t go bananas, but I ate bananas!).
It was great for me mentally and socially, I never felt like I needed to binge, and I looked forward to it every week. I even made the day into a breakfast club, where each week my friends and I would choose a different breakfast spot in Berkeley to explore.
My favorite meal was a big, 1/2 inch thick multi grain pancake with smashed bananas on top, followed by non fat (usually sugar free) frozen yogurt in the evening! However, now that I’m learning more about the hormonal responses to food (which I’ll be writing about more later) I realize that there were years in my training that I probably could have cycled even more carbs, and fats, into my diet.
My Sugar Addiction Was Real And So Was My Cellulite!
But to be honest, ever since giving up sugar 25 years ago, after competing in my first body building show (I came in at 10.5% body fat), up until doing the Carbnite® Solution Plan, I’d had a fear of starchy carbs and sugar. And with good reason: because carbs and sugar can be addictive.
I know this personally, because I had a sugar (as in gum-balls) addiction from age 16-26 (I’ll be blogging about this in the future). Once I started eating them I couldn’t stop. And I’d buy bags full.
I was like Pavlov’s dog. Just the thought of going to the market made me plan out my route and do ‘drive-buys’ for binges. Drooling all the way! Just the thought of biting into that crunchy crust of sugar-coated gum made me salivate and run for that nearest gumball bin. As a result I carried a lot of extra belly and lower body fat during the periods when I ate them.
But here’s the thing: When I would give up the gum balls for a period of 3-4 weeks I would notice that the fat melted away like magic. After several trials of this new behavior I realized processed sugar was the culprit in making me fat and squishy. Because those were the only processed sugars I was eating by that time; besides the measured carbs I was using for recovery.
So after my first competition in the late 80’s, I gave up sugar for good, while continuing to limit my starchy carbs around my training. And I stayed naturally very lean and muscular as a result, with just enough fat in all the right places!
Sugar also made me quite lethargic and very emotionally depressed, which was another motivation for giving it up. I’m so glad I’m free of that addiction. But that’s another blog altogether!
In a nutshell, sugar and starchy carbs can make you fat if used incorrectly, and/or eaten in abundance at the wrong times, not to mention all the other unhealthy things it can do to your body.
And for us girls too many carbs and too much sugar (and well, just too many extra calories) can pack on cellulite…like it did with with me, on the back of my legs. Most of us girls struggle with that, and who needs anymore struggles! I didn’t, and I knew what the culprit was.
In fact, after finally giving up all processed sugar back in the late 80’s, and early 90’s after my first body building show, (it took me a couple years to really ‘get off’ sugar; and yes, I’m dating myself), and limiting carbs to support only my hard training days, I slowly got rid of all the fat on the back of my legs. Honestly it took many years of persistence, dedication and hard training so see it finally go away for good.
And as for the washboard on my stomach (which I’m lacking now after my shoulder surgery recovery), well, let’s just say people began to drop their laundry off on my doorstep! I transformed my legs from dimpled to dazzling, and became a human washing machine to boot.
It was a lot of hard work, which included hard training sessions in the weight room, in the pool and on the track; while being mindful of how much I put in my mouth; and especially only eating carbs to suit my activity levels. So since then I’ve used carbs only to support my training. And I’m still sugar and processed-foods free.
But trust me…Nothing stays the same forever!! I had great success cycling my carbs strategically for many many years. But after back to back hip and shoulder surgeries, when I could no longer train like I had before, I needed to make some tweaks to my program. And that’s why I decided to test out The Carbnite® Solution for a while and switch over to a ketogenic diet.
Are you still stuck on my weird gum ball addiction?!
Keeping The Fires Stoked
So, after my shoulder surgery in May 2012, and because my
lack of training didn’t support eating carbs while recovering from surgery, I needed a program that would keep my metabolism humming, and not tank, while staying ultra low carb (ULC). As I’ll explain below, The Carbnite® Solution Plan would help me to do that. And… I thought it would be fun to use Carbnite® along with my clients! Talk about support!!!
So instead of falling into a completely carb free eating plan post surgery, I found that doing the Carbnite® plan seriously while rehabbing my shoulder, and while I wasn’t training with intensity or volume after surgery, would be a good way to put carbs back into an ultra low carb lifestyle; and keep my leptin levels and other hormones working in concert for optimum fat burning and muscle maintenance.
After my hip surgery, (and here is Day 5 Post Op), it wasn’t such a problem since I could train my upper body, and do hard pool workouts, and utilize the starchy carbs to support my training. But without ‘training’ for several months post shoulder surgery, and knowing that I would be low carb, I knew that I would have to force myself to eat carbs so that my metabolism wouldn’t shut down. And at my age you have to do everything you can to help your metabolism along. I’m certainly not going to give up just because I had two surgeries!!
You see after staying super low carbs, even for as little as 7-14 days, your leptin levels (leptin is a hormone that helps regulate the thyroid so our metabolism stays on an even keel) start to decrease. I’m not going to go into the science of how this works here, but if you are at all interested in making your body a fat burning machine I highly recommend the book , and to read Kiefer’s article about leptin here.
Here’s my Haiku:
Go long time with no,
Makes metabolism slow.
Eat carbs, now not low. -DebbyK
DebbyK’s Abridged Edition for Carbnite®:
After an orientation period of 9 1/2 days of eating Ultra Low Carb (ULC) of only protein, fat, and less than 30 grams of net carbs consisting of mostly fibrous veggies, (the purpose of which is to get your body into a ketogenic state so it adapts to using it’s stored fat for fuel; and to shut off an enzyme that potentially turns carbs into fat), on the evening of the 10th day you spike your insulin levels super high by eating high glycemic, insulin spiking, low-fiber carbs. The following day you’re back to the ULC part of the plan for another 6 1/2 days, with your next night of carb loading and insulin spiking on the evening of the 7th day. Now, rinse and repeat, typically every 5-7 days, depending.
Actually you want that spike higher than high. And it’s not just about one little dessert and BOOM! your done for the evening. And thank god, because that would be such a tease! Not to mention it would ruin the whole shebang.
No, instead it’s this lovely window of 6-8 hours (women may do better with the shorter period) in which you keep your insulin levels spiked by eating some of your favorite high glycemic foods. Yup! Eat, rest, rinse and repeat, about every two hours, starting this party at around 4 PM.
Get it? Carb ‘NIGHT’ !
According to Kiefer it only takes your body 6-8 hours of re-feeding it carbs to re-set your fat burning hormones and jump start your metabolism. Actually when you do this your body becomes a fat burning machine. Who knew!!
Now, even though this is a high insulin spiking re-feed, I still maintain a gluten- free, sugar-free, processed foods free-zone in my home (I’m a poet!). I like to describe my eating and lifestyle as ‘my own whole foods living with a primal flair‘. I try to eat in-season, fresh, whole foods that also have healing properties. Basically if it falls too far from the tree I don’t eat it! Although I admit it: I do use some Splenda (which I’m slowly cutting out). Please don’t throw pebbles at me!
Some Cautions on Carbnite®
If you plan to use Carbnite Solution Plan, some things you’ll want to avoid in extreme quantities on this night of treats are table sugar and fat. And the timing of these two are very important; sugar in the first part of the night, and fat more towards the end.
This is because fat, eaten with high insulin spiking carbs, can potentially be stored as fat if eaten too early in the night, due to fat’s slow digestion time. So I limit the fat I eat on my treat night, and have it at the end of the evening, during the last hour or so.
And why not a lot of sugar? Well, for one, sugar is 50% fructose, and, as directly stated by Kiefer on his You Tube Video, “fructose, when you’re in an energy surplus, can be stored directly as fat”. Yuck! We don’t want that!!
Well, I just avoid sugar anyway since I’ve been committed to a life without refined sugar for the past 26 years and I don’t want it or crave it; and I limit fruit, since my body doesn’t react well to fructose anyway. So if you want to sweeten the pot, use dextrose as your main sweetener.
But, I love my bananas and berries as much as any Yogi Bear, so if Ido want fruit on my ‘Night Of Treats’ I have it, but limit it to small amounts, and try to have it early on in the evening when my depleted liver can use it. But since this is a night meant to enjoy yourself, if you want to have a french pastry, or some pancakes drizzled with maple syrup, by all means indulge yourself!!
Another NOTE: Carbnite® is marketed as a ‘power diet’ for fat loss. My intention for using this program was NOT to lose fat. It was primarily to have a structure that I could follow while maintaining my low carb lifestyle to (a) keep my fat burning hormones in check, and (b) use a ketogenic diet to help optimize my body ability to maintain it’s muscle while recovering.
In fact, my goal since my last surgery has been to increase my weight and gain some of the muscle back that I lost. I have done both. In the last few months, however, as I’ve increased my calories, I have also gained some fat. My non-scientific speculation is that this is some sort of evolutionary protection from being so lean pre and post surgeries, while also going through two traumas so close together.
However, I do believe that I may be going through some hormonal changes as a result of the trauma, as well as age related hormonal changes, which may also affect the distribution and accumulation of fat. Does this concern me? Yes, a little bit. I’ll be honest I loved my six pack.
Well, I may only have a two-pack now, but I’ve packed some size back onto my booty and I’m happy about that!
I’m not sure how long I’ll stay on Carbnite®. As of late fall of 2013 I’m feeling strong and I’ve started to train heavier again with my legs, glutes, and back. Plus, I’m back in the pool now after my shoulder surgery, and I’m starting to crank it up there too! So, I think I’m ready to start cycling some carbs back into my diet based on my workout schedule. Plus, I just like the look and feel of my muscles better when they are filled with glycogen throughout the week.
For that, I plan on going back to cycling more carbs around my workouts, the way I used to do when I was training with more volume, while maintaining the ultra low carb portion of the day.
I also plan on incorporating the latest research and fat loss principals that I’ve learned from Carb Backloading® into my program (see sidebar and click on that picture of those 6 pack abs!), as well as any new protocols in the field of nutrition, fat loss and metabolism that may give women approaching menopause a better arsenal for a healthy fight against fat. Whatever I decide, I’ll be sure to let you know…
As a fat loss coach I’ve added the Carbnite® and backloading protocols into my toolbox, along with my other low carb/cyclic ketogenic and whole foods lifestyle plans. And my clients who are using these protocols are getting great results. Just take a look at my client Jos.
Plus, they’re having so much fun, which is key to any successful program. I mean what’s not to like: rice puddings, porridges, pies and poppy seed cakes one night a week!
And succulent savory ultra low carb meals, like slow cooked brisket, with pan roasted, caramelized red bells and brussel sprouts the rest of the week!
In fact, I’m having tons of fun creating gluten free recipes to use for those who indulge in the low and ultra low-carb lifestyle, as well as for those times for treating and re-feeding yourself with some high-carb creative cooking…and baking.
And yes, they will all be in future posts, if I can get myself out of the kitchen long enough to write them up!!
Only kidding…I promise, they’re coming.
And now… for some shameless self promotion!
If you want to know more about Carbnite® and if it’s right for you, or if you’re interested in losing body fat, gaining muscle, increasing athletic performance, or just living a healthy and fit lifestyle while using a whole foods based diet plan that is sustainable, then please email me so we can talk about how my coaching can help you.
What fat loss programs have you used? Are they working for you?