Kiefer Q&A: The Carb Nite® Solution For Women

q-and-a-carb-nite-women

From the archives:

In response to a line of questioning we’ve been getting a lot from you, here’s a Q&A segment with Kiefer addressing some common problems women run into within the first few months of starting The Carb Nite® Solution:

After my first ten-day cycle of the diet, I lost a significant amount of weight. Since then, I’ve had two or three carb nites. When I weigh myself afterward, I’ll have gained three pounds or so. The problem is that I don’t take that weight off until right before my next carb nite—after a whole week with no carbs—and then I just put those same 2-3 pounds back on again afterward. I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel lately. Why is this happening?

Unfortunately, the first thing this would indicate to me is that there’s something wrong from a metabolic standpoint. Usually, when this happens to women, there’s something going on with either their sleep or stress cycles. We also have to keep in mind that this is a totally individual thing, and there can be any number of causative factors. It could be something as simple as loading up on food first thing in the morning, which means you’re essentially loading your calories backward.

When this dead-end happens for three or four weeks in a row, it’s not your period that’s causing the problem. If this happens for just a week or two, that’s usually the reason. Men are less susceptible to these kinds of stress-related stall-outs, because they’ll burn more fat when their stress hormones are increased. Women don’t, so when they’re under stress, they can gain weight.

If this starts happening to you, you need to focus on keeping your carb nites limited, and they have to be a lot cleaner.

What do you mean by “cleaner”?

One big mistake women make is taking an “anything goes” approach to carb nites. It’s possible for men to get away with this, but for women, foods like Oreos are a no-go. They have a really high amount of fat—particularly trans fats—to go along with a lot of sugar. This is not a good combination for women, nor is having a whole pizza every carb nite.

You’re better off going with something sweet and tasty that’s also low-fat. For example, if people like it, I recommend a low-fat scone and a fat-free latte. This will give you a big sugar spike, it still tastes great, and your foods that night—when you’re including fats—will be more natural. This is why I’m always recommending cherry turnovers. They’re not super-high fat, but they contain tons of carbs and tons of flour. The idea here is to stay higher protein on your carb nites while restricting fat—especially junk fat.

What about the volume of food I’m eating on my carb nites?

When carb nites go wrong, it can literally be due to a volume problem. My theory is that this happens to women who start their carb nites with milk, cheese, or some other kind of dairy product—or they have dairy early on. If women have a pizza as their first meal, they’ll put down the whole thing, and then they’ll eat through the rest of the night, which I find amazing.

What’s really interesting about this is that I’ve worked with some clients who’ve been avid marijuana smokers. During the week—and all the time, actually—they were fine as long as they just smoked and went to bed. If they didn’t eat anything, they didn’t have any hunger problems. If they smoked and had anything to eat after that, though, they couldn’t stop eating. It didn’t matter whether what they ate contained carbs or not. They simply couldn’t stop.

What’s fascinating about this is that dairy has chemicals in it that are cannabinoid. These chemicals stimulate the same receptors in the brain that pot does. So, what I’ve noticed about people who have ice cream and pizza early in a carb nite is that they’ll eat all night long after that, whereas someone who starts with pasta will be full after that first meal. I intend to explore this further in a future article.

Okay, but I’m doing my carb nites exactly as you’ve outlined them in the book. They’re totally clean. What else could be causing this?

Most women don’t, can’t, or won’t eat enough fat during the day. If this is the case, you’re screwing yourself up and basically causing an insulin response—or enough of a glucagon response that your body won’t stay in a fat burning mode, and you’ll continue to gain.

This is a big problem I always run into when I work with someone on contest prep for the first time. Usually, their first meal consists of eggs cooked with Pam spray—which is kind of fatty, but not fatty enough. Then there’s lunch, which is a chicken breast, or extra lean ham, or lean roast beef, with a salad and a little bit of olive oil and vinegar. This won’t work. You have to get ample fats, even if this means having a cup of coffee with two tablespoons of coconut oil with every meal.

What if my period is causing this?

Usually, when your period is the culprit, you won’t even lose the weight you’re talking about during the week. Your period makes it much harder to get that water weight off, and you end up looking and feeling bloated.

I think this is all based on estrogen, and the water your body’s trying to hold. Your body is gearing up to have a second life in it. It’s storing more fluids and minerals to prepare both for a child and for more stressful emergency situations. There may even be some fat storage in some cases—although from working with figure competitors, this doesn’t necessarily have to happen, because they’re usually right back on track the following week.

I’ll use Caroline Gick as an example here. Every time I get a call from her saying she’s had a horrible week, and that things are off, it usually turns out that her period is coming up. This happens every month, obviously, and it’s sort of funny, because it always surprises her that this throws her off. This is just a fact of life that you have to deal with, and combating it isn’t worth the effort. You’d have to intentionally dehydrate yourself, and there’s no reason to do that, because your body will eventually shed that water.

What if I’m dieting to get ready for something important, like my wedding, and my period is scheduled to arrive at the worst possible time?

That’s when you’re going to have to do something to compensate. Caroline is having that problem right now. Her period is scheduled to hit right around the day of her show. I’ve laid this out in a few articles previously, but the idea is to drink a bunch of water, then cut your water off before your event. You’ll want, then, to have a small meal of fatty meat, plus some really dry carbohydrates and some alcohol. This combination usually gets most of the water weight off in emergency situations.

John Kiefer

JOHN KIEFER

Physicist turned nutrition and performance scientist. Currently considered one of the industry’s leading experts on human metabolism.

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Kiefer Q&A: The Carb Nite® Solution For Women

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