The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Food Talk/Fat and Carb Cycling.

Food is very important to people.

No shit, right? But, hear me out...I'm not just talking about needing food for sustenance. I don't know too many people that are starving to death. Call me a privileged white boy, but I just don't know anybody in those circumstances. 

I've been at Des Moines for less than a week and I'm starting to remember what it's like to meet a large group of people. The conversation topics always cycle the following: Where are you from, Favorite - Booze, T.V, Movies, Opera (Specific to my profession), Sex, Partners (husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend), animals, and of course...FOOD! In fact, just on a very basic observation level, Food is a fairly regular topic. But, maybe I notice it more like an alcoholic would notice talks about drinkin (recovering addict, I suppose?)

Food: it's a sign of pride, of culture, of identity. We stake our claims and our livelihood into our dietary practices. We even associate some cultures in very racist food based stereotypes. Forgive the following borderline racist shit I'm about to type:
  • Spanish/Latino - Rice and Beans
  • Asian - Sushi, Chinese Food
  • African American - Fried Chicken, Watermelon, soul food
  • Italians - Pasta, Pizza
  • Germans - Beer, Schnitzel
  • Australian....Shrimp on the barbie?
I'm kidding with that last one, but you get my point. We like labels, and we like identities and we like to assign both. Labels are comforting. But, this also can lead to an individual developing a body and a relationship with food that they aren't exactly in love with.

I've heard of a lot of people who have grown up into a type of culture where certain foods are expected to be eaten, regardless of the physical activity of the family. Or if you're like me and a mutt with a taste of all cultural based foods, you bounce from one to the other every night in the name of variety!

Food and Sex

"I'll have what she's having."

People even talk about food as a sexual experience. It is that intimate to us. The blend between the worlds is so coherent that it's in our commercials. You guys remember those Carl's Jr. commercials?

No wonder I was a fat kid, my sexually frustrated youth attached itself as close to that beautiful woman as it could.

Does Food give the same stimulation as sex? Well, if you're asking if you can have an orgasm while eating food, then No....well, maybe some can, but for the general population, no. But, with the way people describe food, it's as if they were one and the same. No judgment, I fuckin love food too, but sex it is not. However, in the absence of physical affection, a person can certainly obtain similar pleasant feelings from their dietary choices, or they can double the fun by doing both? This topic is gettin way too dirty...I'm out of my realm of expertise.

What I'm getting at here is that our attachment to food can look rather unhealthy from the outside. But the alternative is what? To not enjoy food at all, to not acknowledge these primitive feelings we get when we bite into a huge piece of chocolate cake (unless you're allergic, in which case our feelings are waaayyyy different.)

Food Celibacy

I don't mean NOT eating, that's called fasting, and Ol' Yeargain does a little bit of that everyday. No, what I'm talking about is not indulging in certain foods that stimulate those visceral feelings one gets when biting into something that hits all of our cravings (sugar, fat, salt). There are people who will just NOT eat certain things, and not because they are allergic, but because they are convinced that eating it will either be harmful to them or lead them down to indulge too much and thus be harmful to them. Once you pop, you just can't stop. And, ya know, this is a real thing. I used to be pretty irrational with my random binging, and to break out of it I had to practice food celibacy.

In some ways I still practice food celibacy, especially with things like bag ass bowls of community candy. I don't trust myself with that shit. I fuckin love chocolate and peanut butter, but that's why I plan that shit out so I get my fix. Ol' Yeargain loves it like heroin, and I just need a taste to get me by and keep my obsession with my current aesthetic while progressing towards my physique and strength goals.

Flexible Dieting: Fat and Carb cycling.

We live in a very blended dietary society. You can literally have chinese for one meal, mexican for another, and finish the day off with Mediterranean food. Sounds like some good eats, but some whacked out macros. 

Oh yeah...

But there are days when we want this...but we have a guilt for wanting such food in that abundance. What do you do?

My Suggestion: Enjoy it.

The issue with most flexible dieting is that you're more than likely given a macro nutrient balance that's high in protein, moderate in carbs, and somewhat low in fat. Most people eat moderate protein and high carb and high fat. Things like pepperoni pizza pretty much embody this macro nutrient balance. If you're an average flexible diet practitioner, you're probably not eating too much pizza or full fat ice cream, and deep dish lasagna. Maybe an ample slice once in a while, or low fat versions of said foods, but not the quantity that is considered awesome.

I don't personally practice this, but I can understand why others would. I don't have as much fat craving as some people do, I usually feel pretty satisfied with the kinds and amount of fats I get from my regular diet. But for those individuals that need full fat milk, that only want full fat ice cream, cheese, nuts and butters, and those tasty fatty steaks, BUT also want to stay pretty damn lean should consider the practice of Carb and Fat cycling. Meaning, on days when you're training, ingest the majority of your calories from Protein and Carbs, and on resting days, ingest the majority of calories from fats and proteins.

*Warning: The following is only for those who are DIETING. Meaning, you are in a calorie deficit or operating at maintenance. Don't expect to get results from doing this if you're eating in even a minor surplus, it's not worth the hassle and it's not effective. There are no magical fat loss benefits to this other than satiation that will help a person remain consistent with their deficit.*

Here is the general rule for carb cycling that I used:

  • A high-carb day will generally have you eating 2-2.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. Your protein intake will be around 1 gram per pound, and your fat intake between 0-.15 grams per pound.
  • A moderate-carb day will call for about 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. Your protein intake will be between 1-1.2 grams per pound, and your fat intake around .2 grams per pound.
  • A low-carb day will call for about .5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. Your protein intake will usually increase to about 1.5 grams per pound, and your fat intake to around .35 grams per pound.
  • A no-carb day means less than 30 grams of carbohydrate per day. To achieve this, you basically can only eat a few servings of vegetables per day. Protein intake is around 1.5 grams per pound, and fat intake goes up to .5-.8 grams per pound.

When I was doing carb cycling, my low day would always include a big rib-eye steak and some bacon and eggs. Almost no carbs and a bunch of fat. Delicious as fuck.

Now, if I were to do fat cycling, I wouldn't do the previous system. I'd take my current maintenance calories, drop my protein from 250 to 150 grams of protein, get about 100 to 200 grams of carbs, and then fill the rest with fat until I reached maintenance with the foods I wanted it regardless of what it was.  

If you're in the maintenance game, or the I'm happy with my current weight game, then don't really fuss with this. If you're activity level is maintaining a fairly attentive level and you regularly lift heavy weights in compound movements, you can afford yourself a cheat meal here and there, meaning you just don't count the macros in that meal. Your body and activity will rise to the metabolic challenge of digesting a handful of excess calories. In contrast, if you're a person who is fairly inactive, and you only lift the pink dumbbells that look like they are made of candy, eating a couple rounds at a Cici's buffet is gonna wreck you a bit.

I've discussed my philosophy on Cheat Days and Cheat Meals before, but my basic philosophy is only utilize them whenever you need the mental break. No other time.

For the average Joe, a calorie is a calorie. When you're an elite level athlete, things like meal timing and consistent fat, carb and protein with the former two being adjusted around training requirements come into play. You can certainly use some of these techniques to achieve elite results, but it's rather difficult when you don't have a trainer, dietician and coach who are paid to monitor such things and frankly unnecessary. Luckily, we have myfitnesspal and YouTube to help us achieve some pretty stellar results while not living like goons.

Fuck yeah, ice cream and cookies.

Until Next Time,
Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro


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