Frenemy is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “An enemy disguised as a friend.” I’ve learned that for me, carbohydrates just that. My best friend and my worst enemy, all wrapped into one.
P90X Phase 3 – Carbs, Carbs, Carbs!
This last phase of P90X, “Endurance Maximizer” allows me to eat three healthy carbohydrates per day, in addition to some extra fruit and other carb-heavy snacks. As I wrote in my blog entry P90X Phase 3 Nutrition – A Lifesyle not a Diet, I really enjoy this portion of the diet and feel that it is the most sustainable and realistic of the three phases in the P90X Nutrition Plan. It has provided me with a lot of energy and also has kept some of my cravings down. However, I haven’t seen any significant weight loss results. Basically, I’ve lost no additional pounds in the last 5 weeks. I lost the majority of my total 10 lb weight loss during Phase 1, Fat Shredder, which was a very low carbohydrate diet. Despite little weight loss in the last month, I did gain a significant amount of strength. I crushed my previous half marathon PR by over 5 minutes. I can now do 5 unassisted pull-ups during a session of P90X (not consecutively, but soon!). I’m curling 15s for the nearly the entire set of Biceps & Back and I use 20s during Lawnmowers. I can do at least 25 push-ups consecutively.
So basically, I have similar sentiment regarding carbohydrates as Tony does about Ab Ripper X, “I love it but I hate it.”
Low-Carbs For Weight Loss
To be fair, I don’t have a significant amount of fat left to lose. It’s not like I started with 30 lbs to lose and lost 20 in the first phase and only 2 in the last few months. I think I’m about at my ‘happy weight’ and when I’m eating such a large volume of carbohydrates, my body doesn’t want to shed that last layer of fat. Basically, I’ve plateued. Well, last week was the half marathon and as usual, I carbo-loaded for the three days prior, and ended up gaining about 3 lbs by race day (this is normal and to be expected/desired as each gram of carbs holds 2x the amount of water). With my impending weigh-in and final pictures just 7 days post-half marathon, I decided to get rid of my frenemy for the week. Starting Monday, I went back to my egg white breakfasts and my salad lunches and also banned my favorite carbo-loaded post-dinner treat, frozen yogurt.
I experienced three things when reverting back from my carb-rich diet to my low-carb diet:
- I felt full for longer on fewer calories
- My stomach was flatter
- I lost weight.
I am now back down to my happy, pre-carb weight and I feel much better. My stomach feels flatter and my hips and torso is more firm. On Saturday night when I went to bed before the race, I felt like a bloated cow, stuffed full of pasta, white bread, pita chips, fruit and frozen yogurt. What just four days of a low-carb diet can do! However, today is Friday and tomorrow I have a 15 mile training run so I’m back on my Phase 3 carb-loaded diet as of this morning, starting with a delicious bowl of oatmeal. See the love/hate I have?
You Are What You Crave
I think that everyone has different tolerances for different foods. I have a really unofficial theory that whatever people crave most probably makes them the most fat (since our bodies are predisposed to crave the type of food that we can store for use during times where the availability of food is uncertain – ie why we don’t crave veggies). Some people crave salt, I crave bread. I may have to say that the most delicious thing in the world to me is a good piece of warm or toasted bread with butter. Or a bagel with cream cheese. I love carbs. They are my comfort food. Although I don’t let myself eat massive quantities of bread, when I give these things up (particularly the bread and pasta), I always see big results. I tried the South Beach Diet about 5 years ago and saw a great results in the short period of time I managed to stick to it. The only problem was that I almost fainted at work from hunger when my manager at my internship ran a meeting a little too long (more proof that my body loves those carbs).
In the End, Carbs Win
“Carbohydrates are the gas in the athlete’s tank and provide the major source of fuel for exercising muscle. Carbohydrates are important to control blood glucose level. It is especially important for athletes during exercise and to replace the glycogen in the muscles. Carbohydrates provide essential energy. If athletes do not get the needed amount of energy,lean tissue will be used to fuel [ie muscle] the body.”
And right now, I’m training for a marathon, not trying to lose weight, so in this battle, carbs win. At the very least, I’ll be calling carbohydrates my friend during these last five weeks of marathon training.