Friday, June 1, 2007

"Re-Feed" vs. "Carb-Shock"

I think there is a bit of confusion around our carb-cycling experiments.

Most often, the term "carb-cycling" refers to alternating carb-intake to improve weight training results. For body building, you want short cycles. Body builders' cycles are fairly short with carb-up days usually coinciding with their heavy lifting. They might for example do one day high-carb, one ultra-low, one low then start over. The carb-up days are often called "re-feeds". This method seems to work for them in that it allows for burning small amounts of fat while providing nutrients for workouts. But, these short cycles are really designed for those who are doing heavy workouts and have very little body fat to begin with.

I am more interested in longer carb-cycles intended for rapid weight loss. The theory is that while on a low-carb diet that mixing in days of high carb intake will prevent the body from adjusting and becoming accustomed to a steady low input of carbohydrates. It seems that the body adjusts to some extent to any steady intake of nutrients. So, we want to shake it up a bit and "keep the body guessing". I'm not shooting for a "re-feed" but rather a "carb-shock". Short cycles like those used for body building do not allow enough time for heavy ketosis to kick in. Therefore, longer cycles are used. I tried 5 days down and 2 days up (basically low-carb on weekdays only) but found it only allowed me to be in ketosis for a couple of days at best. I still lost weight, just not as quickly as I had hoped for. Now, I have increased the length to 11 days down and 3 days up. This allows me to stay in ketosis longer. And, my overall weight loss so far has been roughly the same as doing low-carb everyday.

It should be noted that while I have had positive results, the verdict is still out on whether or not this strategy is better than low-carb everyday. The only way we will know for sure would be if more people try it and share their results. PJ over at The Divine Low Carb has just begun a similar experiment using a 14 day cycle. Her strategy is a bit more complex than mine. Keep an eye on her results...

9 comments:

Amy said...
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Sparky's Girl said...

I'm certainly interested to see how this works out for you and PJ. I'm such a carb addict that I fear I'd fall off the wagon completely if I tried it. Then the wagon would run me over. :0) Thanks for putting this out there for all of us to see and learn from!

katiep said...

I'm having a go.

I have been doing a 6-1 cycle because I am lean and workout a lot, but even so I don't think I have adequate muscle bulk to suck up all those carbs!

Like you, it was taking 3-4 days to get back to pre-refeed weight only leaving a couple of weight loss days a week.

So I am switching to a 12-2, my last refeed was last Saturday so I am skipping this week and waiting until next weekend. I think your theory about coinciding with TTOM may have some value and hopefully that should occur at the same time.

Because I only have the last 5 pounds to go I am eating high protein, 55g carbs, incidental fat and lowish calories as 'down days' so my experiment is a little different.

I will keep you posted.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I'm very curious too.

I have LCed on and off for many years but I am currently down 40 lbs and I'm 10 lbs from my goal weight of 175 (I'm 5'11).

My wife (at goal and works out daily) and I cycle carbs on occasion cause we do think the body acclimates and needs a shock every now and then.. the 5-2 cycle does not seem to work very well so we plan to start the 11-3 cycle to see how well it does.

I still want to avoid flour and such cause it puts my stomach through hell for days but we might enjoy carbs from other sources (like french fries!!).

Steve and Lori (Williamsburg, VA)

Anonymous said...

I am also interested in such diets in order to redure weight and get slim... can anyone clearly explain what 'down days' and 'up days' mean?

Daron said...

Down days = low carb days (for me <= 45 net carbs per day).

Up days = high carbs (definition varies. For me there are no limits on these days. Some people up may be 150 net carbs. For others it may be more or less depending on their plan and personal body needs.

Anonymous said...

I am currently on the "carb-shock" diet. The first 2 weeks, you are not suppose to eat any carbs at all (I know, im dying!). But I started to notice a difference on day 6. Water weight was falling along with dropping fat, showing more definition. After the first 14 days, I can have what we call a "cheat day" once a week! Aiming for around 350, 400 grams of carbs on that day. What that does is boost the thyroid and helps burn fat. The first time I was on the diet, after two months, I had great results! Now that im getting back in the "lean down stage", im back on it.

Daron said...

I've heard of "Sugar Shock" but not "Carb Shock". Can you tell us a book name or where to get more details?