Category Archives: Low Carb

Carb Cycling for Fat Loss & Muscle Fullness

One of the most widely used strategies among bodybuilders for decades is carb cycing. When I first began competing in 1996 this was the very strategy I used for contest preparation. It was also the strategy that many of the competitors were using, and still use till this very day.

In fact, fast forward 21 years later, and I still utilize this very strategy for weight loss & maintanance. As much as Iʻve written about the low carb diet, and intermittent fasting for weight loss acceleration, it would not be complete if I did not include something about carb cycling.

I believe carb cycling is critical, especially if you are following a regular weight training routine, and even more important if you are hitting the weights hard, and with high intensity.

So what exactly is carb cycling? Well, thatʻs a pretty simple question, with a pretty simple answer. It essentially involves cycling the amount of carbs (cabohydtrates) you consume over a period of time. This typically involves days of low carb consuption followed by a day or 2 of high carb consuption.

In the 90ʻs and early 2000ʻs, when preparaing for a competition Iʻd typically follow a protocol that would look something like this.

Day 1 – Low Carbs

Day 2 – Low Carbs

Day 3 – Low Carbs

Day 4 – High Carbs

Then repeat the cycle all over again.

As Iʻd get closer to showtime, Iʻd sometimes extend the low carb days to 4 or 5 days, followed by a day or two of carb loading. Keep in mind that in preparation for a contest, the carb days did not consist of Pizza, burgers, and fries, or other types of prcessed carbohydrates. However, the carb days consisted of typicallly the same protein Iʻd consume on the low carb days, such as chicken, turkey, beef, or fish. However, Iʻd replace the low glycemic vegetbles Iʻd consume on the low carb days with more starchy comlex carbs, such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, or poi on the high carb days. If you’ve never heard of poi it’s a low glycemic complex carbohydrate, similar to a yam or sweet potato, and a Native Hawaiian staple.

Fast forward to the current day, and my more commonly used approach when I’m not in contest preparation mode will typically look something like this.

Sunday – Low Carbs

Monday – Low Carbs

Tuesday – Low Carbs

Wednesday – Low Carbs

Thursday – Low Carbs

Friday – High Carbs

Saturday – High Carbs

Since I am not preparing to get on stage in my underwear, the high carb days in this regimen will typically consist of some complex/refined carbs, such as pizza or burgers, etc. However, the strategy is the same. Deplete the body of it’s glycogen (sugar) storage throughout the week, then load it back up on the weekend.

This is not just my current carb cycle, but one I’ve used for years during the off-season to reduce & maintain body fat levels.

If you’ve never tried this carb cycling approach it may be worth giving it a shot. Besides helping your muscles to fill out after being depleted throughout the low carb days, it also allows for a little flexibility to enojoy some of the foods you wouldn’t typically eat on a true low carb day. 

Good luck!

Low Carb 101

What exactly is eating Low Carb anyway? These days, largely due to the internet and social media, more and more people are becoming aware of the low carb lifestyle. Not just for augmenting the body composition, but for it’s natural health benefits.

Whether it’s Atkins, Paleo, Keto, or just plain low carb, they all have very similar low carb effects.

When I first started competing in bodybuilding contest I talked to many of the local competitors in the gym for dietary advice. I was in search for the secret diet to get the ripped physique that most bodybuilders and physique competitors strive for.

The interesting thing I discovered is that everyone was using some variation of a low carb diet. Some competitors would eat complex carbs early in day, then cut it out after 6:00 p.m. While others would not eat any complex carbs for 2-4 days, then eat complex carbs with protein meals the entire on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th day.

Whatever variation you follow is really dependent on your body. The key to a successful low carb diet is to find your individual carb threshold.

What do I mean by threshold? It’s simple if you drop your daily carb intake down to 100 grams per day and you are continuing to she’s bodyfat at 1-2 lbs a week, that may be your individual threshold. If you drop it to that same level but do not see continued weight loss, you may need to drop it down to 75 grams, 50 grams, or even 25 grams a day to continue dropping bodyfat. That’s the first step, discovering what your individual carb tolerance threshold is.

One of the most common questions I get asked is, what do you mean by carbs? What types of foods? So here is a simple list of carbs you want to stay away from while eating low carb.

Carbs to stay away from

  1. Sugar
  2. All foods containing sugar (sweets)
  3. Bread
  4. All foods containing flour
  5. Rice
  6. Pasta
  7. Potatoes
  8. Fruit
  9. Corn

Now, that may not be a very extensive list. However, one thing I’ve learned, is that once you start reading labels, you’ll soon discover that most processed foods contain some form of sugar or flour.

Also most people that are struggling to reduce weight/bodyfat are typically consuming one or more of the items on the list above on a daily basis.

So what kind of carbs can you eat? I’ll keep the list short.

  1. Just about all vegetables.

Now, some may argue that not all vegetables are created equal, and some may contain more carbs than others, which is true. However, we’re trying to keep it simple, 101 here. So, we’ll keep the list simple. Not to mention, if you really want to find out how many grams of carbs are in a cup of onion, Google is right at your fingertips.

In case you’re wondering what you can eat, besides all the vegetaboes, that’s the best part. So here’s a list of other foods that will typically make up most of your diet, besides the veggies.

Protein & Fat to eat regularly

  1. Eggs
  2. Beef
  3. Chicken
  4. Pork
  5. Turkey
  6. Fish
  7. Bacon
  8. Sausage
  9. Butter
  10. Coconut oil
  11. Olive oil
  12. Lard
  13. Heavy cream
  14. Cheese

Again, this may not be a complete list, but we are in low carb 101 here, right? So let’s keep it simple. Be a little creative and you’ll discover, there is a lot of variety of meals you can make from the protein and vegetable sources listed above.

I’m a big believer in flavor, and having a variety of flavors in my food. Since my very first bodybuilding contest in 1996, I have always cooked a variety of foods with a variety of spices and seasoning. I have a section in my book titled “Creative cooking 101” with a few of the recipes.

As I state in my book, “There are not very many people, who like unseasoned, plain old chicken breast. So you must be creative in the way you prepare meals. The easiest way to go off of your nutritional regimen is to continue to eat food that you hate.”

Be creative, research recipes, read labels, and enjoy the food you can eat, living a low carb lifestyle. The scale, the mirror, and your body will thank you for it.

Low Carb Numbers Don’t Lie

As a Financial Professional by trade, one thing I’ve come to learn is that numbers don’t lie. It’s now been a little over 3 months since I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, and also 3 months since I implemented the low carb lifestyle, so a lab test was due.

Both my doctor and I are pleased with the results.

3.2017.a1c

As anyone who has been on a low carb diet can attest to, your blood sugar number will certainly improve. How can it NOT when you’re not forcing your body to produce excessive insulin due to excessive carbohydrate consumption. As the chart above shows, that’s exactly what happen. On December 13, 2016 my Hemoglobin A1C was at 11.9%, which is definitely in the full blown diabetes category. As the guidelines state “ADA recommends reevaluation of therapy:>8.0%.”

After just 3 months of implementing the old low carb strategies the Hemoglobin A1C number is now at 6.1%, which is almost normal. According to the guidelines, “Increased risk for future Diabetes.” I don’t know about you, but it looks to me like the Diabetes has been reversed. In fact according to the numbers, I am just 0.6% away from the “Non-Diabetic patient” category.

Now, for everyone out there that consistently bashes low carb diets, due to the “It’s bad for your health, and will increase your cholesterol idea.” Here are the results of eating a low carb, high fat diet over the last 3 months.

3.2017.cholesterol

As you can see from the graph, the Cholesterol total went down from a previous 325 to 232 mg/dL, HDL increased from 29 to 36 mg/dL, and my personal favorite, the Triglycerides , whichcame down from a whopping 1499 to 133 mg/dL.

Overall, I can say with complete confidence that the Low Carb Lifestyle is not just a strategy to help you get ripped for a bodybuilding contest, but also a great strategy to improve your health.

Atkins-Low Carb-Keto for Your Health

It has dawned on me that more recently, the Low Carb Revolution is becoming a reality. Wherever you look on the web, whether it be websites or social media, you can easily find something on the low carb/ketogenic lifestyle.

As many people are discovering, the low carb diet is nothing new. It’s not a fad, as it’s been around for pretty much the beginning of time.

In fact, I was first exposed to low carb strategies for weight/fat loss in the mid 1990’s. In 1995 I went to my first bodybuilding contest. Not to complete, but as a spectator. It was the Golds Gym Ironman Naturally Bodybuilding competition. I remember it like yesterday, because it was my first bodybuilding contest I attended, and the one that motivated me to compete in my first contest the following year. The trophy for the overall winner of the contest was a beautiful Excalibur style sword, which I really wanted to win. Sure, I could have went out and bought one, but it would be much better earned.

After that contest I decided to come back the following year as a competitor. At that point, at the age of 21, I had already been training off and on for over 10 years, and consistently for about 2 years. It was time to see the results of all the training. I say, “see the results” for a very specific reason, because I donʻt naturally have a super fast metabolism, and am not naturally lean. So though I had been training for quite some time, I donʻt think it would have been super obvious if you were to catch me on the street. So how was I going to get into contest condition? To stand on stage in my underwear, and actually look like a bodybuilder? Luckily, the contest was not for another year, so I had some time.

Over the next 8-9 months I trained hard to put on whatever extra muscle my body would allow. I also started talking to all the bodybuilder’s in the gym. Some were natural, and some were not, but they all had pretty much one thing in common, the contest diet. They all followed a low carb diet. Almost everyone I talked to had the same strategy. Low carbs for 2-4 days, followed by a high carb day, then repeat the cycle over and over, until you are shredded. There were also those who would eat complex carbs earlier during the day, then stop eating then at a certain time. Overall, they all drastically reduced consumption of carbohydrates.

Keep in mind, this was back in the 90’s. You couldn’t just Google, “how to get ripped.” Or look for your favorite YouTube video on the subject. In fact, I had already spent over 10 years reading bodybuilding & fitness books and magazines, and had never come across the secret to getting ripped. At that time it was almost like a secret code, or secret handshake. Either you knew how to do it, or you didn’t.

That is actually the very reason I titled my book, which is now available on Amazon, The Best Kept Secrets to Weight Loss Fitness & Building Muscle, because at that time it was pretty much a secret within the bodybuilding community.

I was fortunate that there were a number of good local bodybuilder’s in the gym I was training at in Hawaii. Both Chris Faildo, who I’d say is one of the best Natural Bodybuilder’s of all time, and Clifton Torres, who was one of Hawaii’s first IFBB Pro’s, were just a couple of the competitors in the gym at that period.

So I took the knowledge I acquired from the competitors I knew and used the same low carb strategies.

In 1996 I went back to the newly named Hawaii Natural Bodybuilding Championship and won my weight class, and was in the best shape of my life. After the contest, I did as many competitors do, I began eating all the carbs again, and started packing on weight. This was largely due to the concept that carbs were needed to build muscle, and that eating low carbs as a lifestyle was not healthy.

before
Pre 1996 Hawaii Natural Bodybuilding Championship
pose
My favorite picture to date, taken backstage after the pre judging at The 1996 Hawaii Natural Bodybuilding Championship

It was not until 2003 that I would set foot on stage again. It was also in 2003, that I came across Dr. Atkins book, New Diet Revolution. I read the entire book from cover to cover, and was convinced that low carbs was the way to go. However, at that time it was still a very controversial diet, and still is a bit today. Although, with many more new studies being done on the Low Carb/Ketogenic lifestyle, it’s acceptance is certainly growing in numbers with the mainstream public.

These days you hear the terms LCHF (Low Carb High Fat), Keto (Ketogenic), & Paleo,  tossed around as if it’s some new-found diet fad. I still just refer to it as a Low Carb diet, because that’s the basis of it.

In the last 5 years more and more research and studies have been done on the low carb diet, and more and more evidence is pointing to the long-term health benefits of it. It’s no longer being viewed as just a quick fix, contest preparation strategy, but a strategy to live a healthier lifestyle.

You can find a detailed outline of exactly what I did, and what I ate to drop over 40 lbs. for my very first bodybuilding contest, using low carb strategies in my book, The Best Kept Secrets to Weight Loss Fitness & Building Muscle, now available on Amazon.

Reversing Diabetes

So what is the plan? You’ve now been diagnosed with type II diabetes. Your doctor has recommended you go on a 2,000 calorie a day SAD (Standard American Diet), and start testing your glucose level daily.
Your doctor has also put you on Metformin, to help reduce your glucose level, and suggests that if you reduce your weight, your numbers will improve.

If you are a type II diabetic, you’ve probably heard this story before. This is exactly what happen to me at the end of 2016.

So, where do you go from there? Unfortunately, many people will just do, exactly as the doctor recommends.

The general thinking is that the doctor is a trained professional with the expertise to treat the symptoms of type II diabetes. Which is true! The symptoms of type II diabetes is typically hyperglycemia (high blood glucose or blood sugar). So it would make sense that using medication to help reduce glucose/blood sugar levels would help control the symptoms. Wich it will.

However, for me personally, I didn’t, and don’t want to just treat and manage the symptoms. I want to reverse the Diabetes.

Unfortunately, if I went ahead and followed the SAD (Standard American Diet), high carb diet, I don’t believe it would ever reverse the diabetes, but only control the symptoms.

As a natural bodybuilder with years of experience with low carb dieting for contest preparation and overall weight loss, I told my doctor that, “I’ve used the low carb method in the past, and always had good results.” His initial response was like many people, stating that it was not healthy in the long-run, would cause  high cholesterol, and also commented that Dr. Robert Atkins death was due to heart disease. He still provided me with a Standard American Diet brohure, and also recommended the MyFitnessPal app to help track my calories.

However, he was not opposed to me using the low carb method initially to get the blood sugar under control. So I took that as a go! I still went ahead and bought the MyFitnessPal app for $40, contemplated using it, then said to myself,  “I’m sticking to my previous fat loss strategies of low carbs and non caloric tracking.”

Since I have accumulated a number of journals, which I kept evwrytime I prepared for a bodybuilding competition, I figured I had a bit of an edge. In fact I’ve recently published my very first competition journal from 1996 on Amazon.

That very day, after leaving the doctor’s office I began implementing the low carb lifestyle. I essentially eliminated all starchy (bread, pasta, potatoes, etc.) & sugary carbs (pretty much all sweets) from my diet, while continuing to eat various protein sources (beef, chicken, fish, eggs, sausage, bacon, etc.).

In the last 3 months I’ve lost about 20 lbs. More importantly is that I’ve managed to keep my blood sugar in the normal range.

I’ve also reduce the Metformin to a minimal dose of 500 mg per day. I actually did layoff the Metformin for about a month, while still managing to keep the blood sugar in the normal range. However, within the last few weeks I’ve added the 500 mg a day dose back, just to see how much it actually improves the blood sugar.

One thing I can say with absolute confidence is that, “the low carb lifestyle works, not only for weight loss, but also for managing diabetes.”

Have I cured my diabetes? That I cannot necessarily say yet. Have I reversed the symptoms of diabetes? Absolutely! Will I continue on my journey of reversing diabetes, through a low carb lifestyle? You better believe it!

As a Financial Advisor by trade, one thing I do know is that numbers don’t lie. For a diabetic, the most commonly monitors number is your A1C number. Which is basically your average blood sugar levels over the last 3 months. Since I’ve now been following the low carb lifestyle for the past 3 months (as of yesterday), since bring diagnosed I am due for an updated lab report.

Once that has been done, I will provide an update on the actual lab results of 3 months following a low carb lifestyle. Until then!

Photo taken in 2003, after e 2003 Aloha Natural Muscle Classic.