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    heatseeker's Avatar
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    Carb cycling - time btw refeeds?

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    Hey all! So, I've been experimenting with Leangains, and I think I've got it down pretty well (though it took A LOT of reading on lg.com and searching for LG threads here). I'm also doing Starting Strength because I want to get serious about lifting.

    My only question has to do with the timing of carb cycling. Right now I'm doing a MWF lifting schedule. I know I'm supposed to do higher carb-lower fat on lifting days. But I'm wondering if it's correct to basically be doing low carb-high fat one day, then high carb-low fat the next, and back and forth? It seems to me (and really, I'm a total noob, so please correct me if I'm wrong) that all that quick back-and-forth can't really be the right way to go about it.

    Right now my schedule is:

    Monday: 5x5s squat, deadlift, press; high carb, high protein, low fat
    Tuesday: HIIT with sandbag, 15-20 min; med carb, high protein, med fat
    Wednesday: Active rest day (lots of moving slowly, yoga); low carb, med protein, high fat
    Thursday: 5x5s squat, deadlift, bench; high carb, high protein, low fat
    Friday: HIIT with sandbag, hill sprints, isolated gymnastic skills; med carb, high protein, med fat
    Saturday: 5x5s squat, deadlift, press; high carb, high protein, low fat
    Sunday: Active rest day; low carb, med protein, high fat

    And obviously it's a two-week cycle, but you get the picture.

    Does this seem right? I know this is super nitpicky and I should just go with the flow and all that, but I don't want to inadvertently be messing up my results, even in the smallest way.

    Thanks for the input!

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    activia's Avatar
    activia is offline Senior Member
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    that sounds exhausting!
    Primal since March 2011

    Female/29 years old/5' 1"/130ish lbs

  3. #3
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    It looks really good to me. If you can keep it up, you will see gains. Most importantly, you've grasped the concept of high carbs/low fat. Whatever you do, don't mix carbs and fat on your carb-up days. That spells S-T-A-L-L.

    It may look exhausting to some, but you have a workable plan. If it gets too hard, or you experience stalls, try going several days, ie. M-F on low carb then do a massive high carb/low fat on the weekends for 1 or 2 days. This will refuel your glycogen stores for your whole next week. Lots written on that plan, some call it Anabolic Diet. Also see ChocoTacos carb refeed experiment thread on this forum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heatseeker View Post
    My only question has to do with the timing of carb cycling. Right now I'm doing a MWF lifting schedule. I know I'm supposed to do higher carb-lower fat on lifting days. But I'm wondering if it's correct to basically be doing low carb-high fat one day, then high carb-low fat the next, and back and forth? It seems to me (and really, I'm a total noob, so please correct me if I'm wrong) that all that quick back-and-forth can't really be the right way to go about it.
    Why not? In order to really wrap your head around it, you have to understand what you're doing.

    If you've read any of my carb-cycling trials in the past, you'll see that I followed what is typically known as a CKD-pattern cycle. CKD stands for Cyclical Ketogenic Diet. Whether or not you achieve ketosis is negligible. What you are essentially doing is spending 4-5 days eating very low carbohydrate and depleting your glycogen, culminating in a 2-3 day carbohydrate refeed. Your hypertrophy (strength-gaining) exercises would occur over the carb-up, while the glycogen depleting and cardio workouts would occur during the low carb phase. This likely makes a lot of sense and is easy to understand.

    Leangains-style implements a different style of carb-cycling. It's based on a TKD, or a Targeted Ketogenic Diet. Again, whether or not you achieve ketosis is negligible. A Targeted Ketogenic Diet has carb-up meals pre-workout and post-workout ONLY. Hence the 'Targeted'. All other meals are low-carbohydrate. Now, it just happens that Leangains-style is IF, so people generally only eat two meals a day. Since you're only eating two meals, your pre-workout and post-workout meals are both going to be low-fat/high-carb. I would strongly recommend your pre-workout meal be low-fat with fibrous vegetables and fruit, approximately 3-4 hours before your workout. Things like eye round, pork loin, chicken breast, lean fish, lean ground turkey, etc. are all fair game, here. Think around 0.5-1g/lb lean body mass of carbs. So if you're a 120 lb woman with 20% body fat, you're eating roughly 50-100g of carbohydrate in this meal. The post-workout meal, on the other hand, will be even more strict with fat and have a lot more carbohydrate. Think extra trimmed chicken breast, 96+% ground beef, 99% ground turkey and the very leanest fishes - ahi tuna, cod, tilapia - you get the idea - and 1-1.5g/lb lean body mass carbs. For the same woman, that would be 100-150g of carbs. I would strongly recommend you keep fats under 10g during this meal. I typically eat 1.25 lbs of 99% ground turkey and 2 lbs of sweet potatoes for this meal. White rice is another fantastic option - it's superior to the sweet potatoes, but I just love my sweet potatoes!

    Quote Originally Posted by heatseeker View Post
    Right now my schedule is:

    Monday: 5x5s squat, deadlift, press; high carb, high protein, low fat
    Tuesday: HIIT with sandbag, 15-20 min; med carb, high protein, med fat
    Wednesday: Active rest day (lots of moving slowly, yoga); low carb, med protein, high fat
    Thursday: 5x5s squat, deadlift, bench; high carb, high protein, low fat
    Friday: HIIT with sandbag, hill sprints, isolated gymnastic skills; med carb, high protein, med fat
    Saturday: 5x5s squat, deadlift, press; high carb, high protein, low fat
    Sunday: Active rest day; low carb, med protein, high fat
    Jesus. Rest much? I would completely drop HIIT. Martin is adamantly against it, and I am, too. ESPECIALLY on a CUT. Way too much cortisol, completely unnecessary and will crush your recovery. Squats, deadlift and press on the same day? You will kill yourself. You will never be able to put the effort required to gain strength doing them all in one day. You need to separate them because they require max effort, and you need 3 days recovery between squats and deadlifts. If my opinion means anything to you, I'd do:

    Sunday: Low Level Steady State, 45 mins
    Monday: Deadlift (3 sets RPT), Shoulder Press (3 sets RPT), Bent Over Rows (3 sets RPT), Lateral Raises (2-3 sets)
    Tuesday: OFF
    Wednesday: Benchpress (3 sets RPT), Dips w/weight belt (3 sets RPT), Incline Dumbbell Press (2-3 sets)
    Thursday: Low Level Steady State, 45 mins
    Friday: Squats (3 sets RPT), Chin-Ups w/weight belt (3 sets RPT), Calf Raises (3 sets RPT), Curls (2 sets)
    Saturday: OFF


    You will never keep up with your plan. You will have trouble getting strong due to lack of recovery, plateau, become frustrated, injure yourself and have low energy due to exhaustion. Take it from my experience. You shouldn't be in the gym more than 45 minutes a day following my plan, sans stretches. And you shouldn't be in the gym more than 45 minutes on my plan because if you are, you're not lifting heavy enough. These 45 minutes will kick your ass because you will be putting in maximum effort. If you can lift the first set more than 5 times, you need to add more weight. If you can lift the second set more than 8 times, add more weight. If you can lift the third more than 10 times, add more weight. If you need less than 2 minutes of recovery in between sets, you're not lifting heavy enough. If you have room for a fourth set, you aren't lifting heavy enough. I won't do a 5X5 set. Know why? Because if you can handle more than three sets...you're not lifting heavy enough

    And ALWAYS start with the heaviest set first!!! Minus warmup, of course. You will never be stronger than that very first set after a warmup. Do not end with your heaviest set, because you will be giving a fraction of the effort where it counts. Reverse Pyramid Training allows you to lift the heaviest, and that is how you get the strongest.
    Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 01-25-2012 at 02:36 PM.
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  5. #5
    Diana Renata's Avatar
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    Sunday: Low Level Steady State, 45 mins
    Monday: Deadlift (3 sets RPT), Shoulder Press (3 sets RPT), Bent Over Rows (3 sets RPT), Lateral Raises (2-3 sets)
    Tuesday: OFF
    Wednesday: Benchpress (3 sets RPT), Dips w/weight belt (3 sets RPT), Incline Dumbbell Press (2-3 sets)
    Thursday: Low Level Steady State, 45 mins
    Friday: Squats (3 sets RPT), Chin-Ups w/weight belt (3 sets RPT), Calf Raises (3 sets RPT), Curls (2 sets)
    Saturday: OFF
    Choco... I like this. It's not that different from what I'm doing now.

    So what does diet look like on these days?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChocoTaco369 View Post
    Jesus. Rest much? I would completely drop HIIT. Martin is adamantly against it, and I am, too. ESPECIALLY on a CUT. Way too much cortisol, completely unnecessary and will crush your recovery. Squats, deadlift and press on the same day? You will kill yourself. You will never be able to put the effort required to gain strength doing them all in one day. You need to separate them because they require max effort, and you need 3 days recovery between squats and deadlifts. If my opinion means anything to you, I'd do:

    Sunday: Low Level Steady State, 45 mins
    Monday: Deadlift (3 sets RPT), Shoulder Press (3 sets RPT), Bent Over Rows (3 sets RPT), Lateral Raises (2-3 sets)
    Tuesday: OFF
    Wednesday: Benchpress (3 sets RPT), Dips w/weight belt (3 sets RPT), Incline Dumbbell Press (2-3 sets)
    Thursday: Low Level Steady State, 45 mins
    Friday: Squats (3 sets RPT), Chin-Ups w/weight belt (3 sets RPT), Calf Raises (3 sets RPT), Curls (2 sets)
    Saturday: OFF
    ^This. Take it from me-I have two herniated discs from doing squats and deadlifts on the same day. More is not better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diana Renata View Post
    Choco... I like this. It's not that different from what I'm doing now.

    So what does diet look like on these days?
    That is my exact routine above. I love it, and the only thing coming faster than my time in and out of the gym is the strength gains. It's pretty astounding and it's taken me awhile to settle on that routine.

    I eat two meals a day. On rest days, I'll usually have a BAS with a fattier cut of meat or eggs and 1 tablespoon of olive oil with 6-8 tablespoons of vinegar (I don't like using much oil because it's calorically dense and essentially unnatural). Dinner will be a fattier cut of meat and a pile of vegetables, preferably with a little fiber to keep me full but not enough to mess with my digestion. I often go with carrots, turnups and brussels sprouts over spinach, kale, broccoli and other very fibrous options.

    On higher carb days, I'll eat a BAS with only vinegar,no oil, lean protein and two pieces of fruit for lunch, usually apples. Dinner post-workout will be 1-1.5 pounds of very lean meat and usually 4 or 5 sweet potatoes, which will be about 2 lbs total, and a piece of fruit for dessert. My go-to dessert is usually half a can of pumpkin puree with sliced apple and a handful of mixed berries, but I usually wait an hour after eating for the dessert so the fiber doesn't blunt the initial insulin spike from all the starch and lean protein. Another option is 3-4 cups of cooked white rice. Generally, the higher GI the starch post-workout, the better.

    If I had to guess, I probably eat around 50g of carbs on rest days and 300g of carbs on workout days. I'm 5'7", around 135-140 lbs depending on how depleted my glycogen and water is. If you're 6 feet tall, 180 lbs and are very lean, your carbs on workout days are going to be more like 400g. I try and keep fats at 30g or less on workout days, but you may be able to get away with under 50g if you're a big guy. You have to experiment to find what works for you.

    One day a week I'll do a 24 hour fast (hello, today!). I won't eat from 9pm the night before to 9pm the next night. Today I'm only eating one meal. 24 hour IF's are ONLY for rest days, of course. Now, if you'll excuse me, I just got back from a 13.5 mile bike ride, haven't eaten in 23 hours and I'm getting hungry
    Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 01-25-2012 at 04:22 PM.
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    Great advice, Choco. I was the OP and let me tell you, I got burnt out and haven't made any gains bc I was doing way too much. I am scaling back to a choco style workout and leangains approach and I will see what happens. I think I am finally realizing less is more! HIIT isn't a rest day and really interferes with recovery.

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    Thanks for all the advice, everyone! Choco, I was hoping you'd get involved.

    I was just following the beginner workouts outlined in SS, but that is really good to know about the sets/sequence of lifting workouts. I'll tailor accordingly.

    So, why no HIIT? I've been doing Crossfit/Bodyrock for so long, and I love it. I kind of can't imagine not doing at least a few 12-15 minute interval workouts a week (I've been doing them 5x/week, sometimes two a day). Usually I just do a combination of bodyweight and sandbag moves, at 50:10sec work:rest intervals. Why is this bad? I feel like if I cut the HIIT I'll be sabotaging fat loss.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heatseeker View Post
    Thanks for all the advice, everyone! Choco, I was hoping you'd get involved.

    I was just following the beginner workouts outlined in SS, but that is really good to know about the sets/sequence of lifting workouts. I'll tailor accordingly.
    Well, just be careful how you stick everything together. I laid out everything in such a way for a very specific reason:

    1.) The "Monday" is specifically back and shoulders. Deadlifts are rough on your hamstrings, glutes, (which is why deads and squats get max distance apart), upper back and shoulders. They are paired with bent-over rows and shoulder presses because bent-over rows are a complete back workout and shoulder presses are a complete shoulder workout. Lateral raises then follow to give special attention to your lats and the edges of your shoulders, which the deadlifts and bent-over rows don't hit as well as they could. Swapping it for, say, pull-ups or lat pulldowns wouldn't be as effective at targeting everything, and all exercises are complex and will provide maximum stress on your central nervous system to generate growth hormone.

    2.) Outside of deadlifts and squats, the next most stressful complex exercise is arguably benchpresses. That will lead the "Wednesday" because it's the big hormone generator that hits your chest and triceps hard. Since we're already doing triceps, we throw in weighted dips as a complex arm workout while growth hormone output is elevated. Doing dips also allows your chest to recover sufficiently for the final workout. Finally, incline dumbbell presses will work your stabilizer muscles in your chest very well, much better than benchpressing will.

    3.) Squats obviously lead the pack for leg workouts. To give yourself recovery time for calf raises - which you'll be able to lift the most weight overall - you do weighted chin-ups with a dip belt. That is a complex workout that will get your forearms, biceps and core very well. This will be your primary bicep-building workout. After you hit your chins, your legs will be sufficiently recovered to throw the extremely heavy weight on your back and do standing barbell calf raises. Finally, cool down with 1-2 sets of straight barbell curls to isolate your biceps and swell them while growth hormone is at maximum.

    Basically, there's a method to my madness. I always start out with the most hormone-generating workouts FIRST. It's useless to do curls as a first exercise because they don't stress your central nervous system enough to generate hormones, and you're tiring yourself out so you won't provide maximum effort on the biggest lifts. However, following squats, chin-ups and calf raises, your central nervous system is flooding your body with HGH, testosterone, IGF-1 and your estrogen is suppressed. Suddenly, throwing a few curls in at the end will have a much greater effect. It's just pointless to overwork the muscle, so 2 heavy sets of 6-8 is sufficient. More will just lead to burnout and injury. Furthermore, taking them out of order and mixing and matching them differently will lessen the effect of the workout because the way it's set up, you're doing all complex workouts while allowing previously worked muscles maximum recovery. I spent a lot of time laying this out and I feel it's pretty damn close to optimal. I put a lot of thought into this.

    Quote Originally Posted by heatseeker View Post
    So, why no HIIT? I've been doing Crossfit/Bodyrock for so long, and I love it. I kind of can't imagine not doing at least a few 12-15 minute interval workouts a week (I've been doing them 5x/week, sometimes two a day). Usually I just do a combination of bodyweight and sandbag moves, at 50:10sec work:rest intervals. Why is this bad? I feel like if I cut the HIIT I'll be sabotaging fat loss.
    Why not HIIT? I think the better answer is "Why HIIT?" You're trying to recover, and HIIT will stop your recovery. The most important part of building muscle is proper recovery. You can completely stay home from the gym and do nothing, but never be sore and injured. Or, you could go to the gym, bust your ass, burn yourself out, get injured and still be weak because you never allowed your muscles and central nervous system to recover and grow. IMO, it's more dangerous to your health to do too much and not recover properly than to never pick up a weight in your life. I used to do HIIT and enjoy it, but then I quit that and aerobics entirely. Only until then did my gains really start coming, and only until then did I really get a handle on my workouts. Now, I'm completely off whey protein - which I was absolutely dependent on for recovery - and the gains have never been greater in my life.

    Sorry for being so long-winded in my responses. I'd rather be long-winded and lacking tact if it saves you from the countless failures, body aches and frustration I've experienced from making so many stupid mistakes throughout my life. And I'm only 25. I see 40 year old men that don't know what they're doing. Just the other day I was watching a grown man that appeared to be in decent shape do assisted dips. And don't even get me started with the people that steal my weights at the bench and take them onto the other side of the gym to do decline situps and never bring my weights back. Ugh! It just makes me want to scream.
    Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 01-25-2012 at 07:04 PM.
    Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

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