I recently completed a six-week carb cycling bootcamp led by Erica D. House and if you’re planning on skimming this, let me give you a quick summary (with more details below).
Six-Week Carb Cycling Bootcamp Results
- I loved it and am planning on continuing with a lot of what I learned, now that the six weeks are over.
- Despite having a fast day (or in this case, a fast morning) built in, this is not a restrictive diet/lifestyle and in fact, I ate more calories than I normally averaged before the plan.
- It did not affect my breastfeeding or milk supply at all. If it had, I was prepared to stop and go back to my standard eating habits.
- I lost a total of 8 pounds over the six weeks and am now lower than I was when I was at my lifetime Weight Watchers weight.
Now, the details.
(An important note here: I had actually contacted Erica to sign up for the bootcamp when she first started promoting it but she then offered to give me a discount on the registration in exchange for sharing here on the blog…which I would have been doing anyway, as I have with other diets and workout plans I’ve tried. Oh, and remember, I’m not a dietitian. This is just my personal experience!)
What is carb cycling all about?
Well, it depends on who you ask. Our bootcamp loosely followed the work of Yuri Elkaim, as he lays out in The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet: The 5-Day Food-Cycling Formula That Resets Your Metabolism To Lose Up to 5 Pounds a Week (affiliate link) and talks about in this Lewis Howes podcast episode and on this FAQ page for his book.What is carb cycling all about and does it really work?Click To Tweet
Essentially, it’s a method of keeping your body’s metabolism in constant guessing, or active mode. Much like as personal trainers and fitness professionals we work toward muscle confusion with some types of workouts, carb cycling can have the same effect on your fat-burning process.
What is the food cycle?
Again, our bootcamp loosely followed the 21-day plan that Yuri lays out in his book (which I have since read and will be following with my own somewhat loose interpretation, moving forward). It includes:
- Low Carb
- High Calorie Day (Feast)
- Fast (Erica’s bootcamp has a morning fast; Yuri recommends a full day fast)
- Regular Calories
- Low Calories
Erica had us track our calories on My Fitness Pal, while Yuri uses portion sizes as a gauge. I will say that while I hate tracking calories, I think it was crucial for these six weeks, while I got to know my macronutrients and really started to identify which foods made sense for each day.What are the five days in a five-day carb cycle? Find out!Click To Tweet
What can’t you eat on the carb cycling plan?
If you’re being strict? No gluten, no or low dairy, no added sugar (and Yuri prefers that you avoid soy). On low carb days, you’ll need to stay below a specific number of net carbs (carbs minus dietary fiber).
One of the reasons that I really wanted to start the bootcamp when I did was that I was looking to play around with an elimination diet to see if giving gluten up and limiting dairy would have a positive effect on Remy‘s very serious eczema.
Starting around 4 months old, Remy was having such bad eczema flare-ups on her face, wrists, back of knees and ankles that our dermatologist gave us a prescription for a steroid ointment. It crushed me to have to use it, but she was scratching herself raw and in serious pain.
Our pediatrician recommended that since I was breastfeeding, I consider giving up dairy and gluten in my own diet for at least three weeks and as much as I wanted to fight it…I just couldn’t say no to something that might help.
And guess what? IT DID. Remy’s skin cleared up so quickly and stayed so healthy that I was able to totally take her off the steroid oinment just a week into my dietary change. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was nothing short of miraculous. (And when I started eating gluten again at the end of the six weeks, just to see what would happen, her face was back to being broken out within two days.)Can giving up gluten help with eczema breakouts? This experiment says...Click To Tweet
I was mostly on-plan for the rest. I couldn’t bring myself to give up coffee or coffee creamer (again), so I allowed myself one cup a day. And I did have some full-fat cheese and cottage cheese through the plan (OK through Erica, not recomended by Yuri). Also, because we took a family vacation on week 2 of the plan, I did have an extra treat or two (but was actually fairly compliant!).
What can you eat on the carb cycling plan?
Lots of delicious foods! I used CookSmarts.com a lot because it offers vegetarian and gluten-free versions of all its recipes (paleo, too!) and it integrated with My Fitness Pal. (I reviewed CookSmarts a LONG time ago but have been paying for it and using it on my own for a couple of years since. We love it.)
I also made some yummy recipes from Oh She Glows — all of her recipes are meat- and dairy-free and most are also gluten-free.
I planned ahead so that on low-carb days, I had eggs, nuts, beans and other yummy meals ready, as I found low-carb to be the most challenging, at least in the first two weeks. Fast mornings were not too challenging, as the rest of the day allowed for a normal amount of calories. And feast? Well, feast is FUN.
Does carb cycling work?
I can tell you that it did for me — and frankly, it surprised me to see the numbers on the scale falling (along with my pants, as my waist started shrinking). With Erica’s leadership and Yuri’s book, the workouts are tailored to work with each day of the cycle, and I really did try to follow the plan as closely as I could.
While I was happy to lose some of my post-pregnancy weight, I was most concerned with building strength and feeling satiated, especially since I was breastfeeding and burning a lot of calories that way, too.
I absolutely did not want to cut calories, “diet” or feel deprived.
I found that this carb cycling plan actually gave me more energy, and I discovered that while I was eating “clean” foods 80% of the time before I started, changing the amount and types I ate each day really worked for my metabolism.
And while it absolutely could be a coincidence — after all, I was approaching the six-month post-partum mark when I started the plan — the issues I was having with hair loss, fatigue, mood swings and other concerns cleared up over the six weeks. (I did have my thyroid tested at the end because my OB/Gyn and I were concerned, and it came back normal; I wish I’d done the test at the start of the bootcamp to see if any of the carb cycling could be given credit!)
I probably drove Erica crazy in our private Facebook questions asking why. I wanted scientific rationale for a lot of what we were doing, and between Erica, Yuri’s book and his other online resources, I got my answers!
What’s the problem with gluten and sugar?
So, I hope that it’s given you something to think about. Again, I am not a dietitian or nutritionist, and I can’t tell you whether or not this type of plan is appropriate for your needs. But I gave it a shot with great results!