Mary Jackson struggled to reposition a patient in bed, a routine. task in her job as a geriatric caregiver, when she noticed the activity was causing her to tire quickly and sweat profusely. I’m only 57, but I’m going to be the one who needs help soon if I don’t get my weight under control, she thought fearfully, knowing that heart disease runs in her family.
For much of her life, Mary admits, “I always felt ‘less than’ because of my weight.” And after struggling with the scale for so many years, she shares, “I kind of resigned myself to thinking that this is just how I’m going to be.” But when Chris and Heidi Powell of the TV show Extreme Weight Loss launched their at-home Transform cellphone app, Mary gave their advice to cycle keto days with higher-carb days a try.
Mary says, “I’d tried Atkins before, but I couldn’t stick with it.” On this new flexible plan, however, Mary would cycle between lower-carb and higher-carb days. Mary’s body responded well to the cycle, releasing two pounds a week. Even better, Mary’s mind liked the approach too. “If I wanted chips and salsa, I knew I could have them on my carb day. I was never more than a few days away from being able to enjoy my favorite foods.”
Carb freedom was a game changer for Mary. “I know a lot of people who use strict keto and have success. But for me, not being able to have carbs is tough. Deprivation is huge. So this is more balanced.” On higher-carb days, Mary enjoyed oatmeal, fruit, English muffins, sweet potatoes, quinoa, or brown rice. And a favorite reset meal became barbecue chicken pizza on pita bread.
By carb-cycling, Mary lost — and kept off! — 77 pounds, including 14 inches from her waistline. Through the experience, she learned to no longer lose sight of her own health. “As caregivers, we keep promises for everyone else, but I needed to start scheduling time for myself too.”
And she learned another thing along the way. “At this age, change is possible. The things we’re told about post-menopause, they’re just not true.” She adds, “I’m in better shape now than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I went to my 40th class reunion and for the first time ever, I didn’t feel like the fat girl. Best of all is feeling confident in my own skin!”
The Timing Tweak That Burns More Calories
Keto-cycling allows you to enjoy carbs two days a week while still getting the benefits of the keto diet— and you can get even more impressive results simply by eating the majority of your carbs in the afternoon and evening, according to a study published in the medical journal Obesity. In the study, adults who skimped on carbs in the morning and loaded up on carbs in the afternoon and evening lost 120 percent more weight than those who ate carbs throughout the day — plus, they shed 25 percent more inches from their belly, felt less hungry overall and had greater reductions in cholesterol.
The researchers posit that this carb-timing strategy keeps cortisol levels lower throughout the day, which prevents belly-fat gain and promotes the production of sleep-promoting brain chemicals that increase fat burn throughout the night. For the best results, on your “carb days” enjoy 1⁄2 cup of carbs with lunch and one cup of carbs in the evening.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Keto Over 50.