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Cyclic Nutrition Program for Hormone Optimization
By Gary F. Zeolla
Part One of this article provided the background to the Cyclic Nutrition Program (CNP). Part Two provided details on the first two phases of the CNP. This third and final part will discuss the third phase of the CNP and will look at foods and food ingredients that should be to avoid for the best success on the CNP.
High Carb Meals
Can Eat the low carb day foods from the low carb days, but in far lesser amounts.
Eat mainly moderate and high calorie veggies, whole grain breads and cereals, legumes, chestnuts, plain yogurt, HiFHiW and non-HiFHiW fruit, dark chocolate.
Moderate and high calorie veggies include: squash, yams, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, corn, beets, pumpkin, white potatoes. These are listed in order from lowest to highest glycemic. The majority of intake should be of the lower glycemic ones.
Whole grains are preferably low glycemic. These include: stone ground whole wheat bread, sprouted grain bread, rye bread, pumpernickel bread, whole wheat Pita bread, oatmeal, oat bran, brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, whole wheat pastas and noodles. These should constitute the majority of grains consumed.
Moderate and high glycemic whole grain products include: whole grain breads other than the ones listed above, whole grain pancakes and waffles, whole wheat pizza shells, whole grain crackers, whole grain cold breakfast cereals. These can be eaten, but in lesser amounts than the above, and the cereals must be low in sugar. You might need to go to a health food store to get some of these whole grain products.
All legumes (dried beans) are included, like chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, pinto beans, and red beans. If using canned beans, try to get ones lower in salt, and be sure to rinse them well. Baked beans and other processed beans are not included if they have added sugar or artificial ingredients. Legumes are all low glycemic.
Chestnuts are the only nuts that are mostly carbs, so they are reserved for the high carb meals.
Use plain yogurt only. Stevia or sucralose can be used to sweeten it if desired. Yogurt is low glycemic. But consumption should be limited to one cup per day. The reason is that only half of the carbs in yogurt can be used to replenish muscle glycogen, which is one of the purposes of the high carb meals. But yogurt is particularly healthy, so it is included.
Non-HiFHiW fruit includes: bananas, dried fruit, cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, watermelon. These are all moderate to high glycemic. Keep total fruit intake moderate. As with yogurt, part of the carbs in fruit cannot be used to replenish muscle glycogen. But fruit is also particularly healthy, so it is included.
Dark (not milk) chocolate has been shown of late to have many health benefits. This is due it its high antioxidant content. So it is included on the high carb days. But due to its sugar content, it should only be consumed in limited amounts, no more than 1-2 ounces per day.
There are two problems with sugar (sucrose) as far as the CNP is concerned. First, it is just empty calories. Second, only half of the carbs in sugar can be used to replenish muscle glycogen. So its consumption should be limited.
There are two approaches to use for the high carb days. The first is to eat one large high carb meal. The second is to consume several moderate carb meals throughout the day. Which would be best is a matter of experimentation. It will also be a matter of experimentation to see if you should have one or two high carb days a week.
It would be best to start with one a week. If that goes well, then you might want to try a second. If the two day a week pattern is used, they should be spread apart, like on Sundays and Wednesdays.
As for amounts, for the one high carb meal approach, the high carb meal should be mostly carbs, with just enough fat and protein to allow the consumption of combination foods, like spaghetti with meat sauce.
For the several moderate carb meals approach, one or two servings of a high carb food should be consumed for each meal, with the remaining calories split between protein and fat. A roast beef sandwich with some veggies on the side would be a good example.
As for how many carbs total to consume, that will require some experimentation. But half a gram per pound of lean bodyweight would be a good starting point. Lean bodyweight refers to total bodyweight minus fat. This can be calculated by finding your fat percent. See the article *Throw Away Your Scale for details in this regard. In any case, if that carb level goes okay, then you can try increasing it up to one gram per pound.
Ideally you should eat just enough carbs to provide the hormonal benefits of high carb eating and to replenish glycogen stores, but no more. It will probably take a process of trial-and-error to determine how much this is. Though it is not necessary to count carbs per se, having a rough estimate of how many carbs are in the high carb foods you’re consuming will be helpful to prevent over-consumption.
So this is not a "pig-out" day. Most likely, you'll want to continue to consume about the same amount of food (calories) as you have been for the low carb meals. Just the types of foods will change. This is also not a "cheat day." Your attitude towards this meal should be that it is your opportunity to eat the healthy, high carb foods listed above. This will fill in any nutritional gaps from the low carb days. But if you must, go ahead and eat some high carb junk food. Enjoy it, and don’t feel guilty about it. Just don't overdo it. Remember, you'll have the opportunity to eat your favorite foods again within a few days.
And finally, you should try to consume about the same number of calories as you were before starting this program throughout the initiation period and for at least your first two weeks of cyclic eating. You need time to adapt to the cyclic eating plan and to figure out your best carb levels. That’s enough to do without also trying to make bodyweight changes.
But starting after the second week, you can start altering caloric intake. If you are trying to gain weight, increase calories; and if you are trying to lose weight, decrease calories.
For specifics on caloric levels, to gain weight, a good starting point would be 25 times your bodyweight in pounds (or 55 times your bodyweight in kilograms). To lose weight, start with about 15 times your bodyweight in pounds (or 33 times your bodyweight in kilograms). Or another way of looking at it would be to drop about 500 calories from your daily intake. Give these levels a while to see how you do on them, then gradually alter them as need be.
Extreme Version of the CNP
What has been presented so far is the “basic” version of the CNP. But there is also a more extreme version. The main differences between the two are that in the extreme version, the carb levels on the low carb days are lower while the carb levels on the high carb days are higher.
Specifically, for the extreme CNP (eCNP), on low carb days, fruit and moderate carb veggies are not allowed. Also not allowed are cashews as they are higher in carbs than other nuts. Cottage and ricotta cheese are limited to one serving of one or the other a day. Nuts other than cashews and seeds should only be eaten in moderation.
On the high carb days, the eating pattern is the second described above where the carbs are split between several meals through the day. But the carb levels are higher while the protein and fat levels should be even lower. So this would mean, for example, spaghetti could be eaten, but with plain not meat sauce. Also, the high carb day would definitely occur only once a week, not twice.
The eCNP is harder to follow on the low carb days. It can actually be difficult finding enough to eat on these days. But then it is easier on the high carb days, assuming one likes high carb foods. But in a way it can be harder with having to keep protein and fat levels low. This limits the consumption of combination foods.
The caloric proportions for the eCNP on the low carb days would be similar to the Initiation period, with carbs being less than 10% of calories. Then on the high carb days, the carb levels will be 1 gram per pound or greater.
It is recommended to begin with the basic CNP. Follow it for at least a few weeks to see how you do; then if you want to try the eCNP, do so and see if it works even better for you.
Foods and Food Ingredients to Avoid
The following are foods and food ingredients that are best not eaten or only consumed in limited amounts:
Artificial flavorings, colorings, sweeteners, and other artificial food ingredients
Coconut and palm oils
Deep fried foods (but sautéing in high MUFA/ Omega 3 oils is okay, even encouraged)
High PUFA oils like high linoleic sunflower oil or soybean oil
Soybeans and soy-based products.
Trans fat (hydrogenated oils)
White flour and other refined grains
White sugar (sucrose), high fructose corn syrup, and other added sugars.
Milk is not included as it has too many carbs for the low carb days. And half of the carbs in milk cannot be used to replenish muscle glycogen, so it is not a good option even for the high carb days. Unlike fruit and yogurt (which are included), milk is not particularly healthy. If you consume a variety of the listed foods, you'll consume more than enough calcium on both the low and high carb days. And the protein powders (whey and casein based), cheese, and yogurt will suffice to provide the benefits of dairy consumption.
Soy is to be avoided as it can lower testosterone levels. For details in this regard, see the article Soy: Health Food or Food to Avoid?
As for sugar, as with milk, half of the carbs in sucrose (table sugar) and most of the carbs in high fructose corn syrup cannot be used to replenish muscle glycogen. And with these being just empty calories, it is best to avoid them on both low and high carb days. Be sure to read labels as these two ingredients show up in many products.
For more on the above items and on which carbs can and cannot be used to replenish muscle glycogen, see the article Basics of a Healthy Diet - Part Three - Foods and Food Ingredients to Avoid.
Much more can be written on this Cyclic Nutrition Program. But I hope the above outline gives the reader sufficient information if you wish to try this program. It is somewhat difficult to follow, but no harder than most popular diet programs out there today. In fact, I would say that the variety provided by the high carb meals makes it much easier to follow than many other programs.
But it does take time to get used to the program and to figure out the carb levels that are best for you. You might even feel a little worse for the first month or so until your body adapts to the varying eating pattern and you figure things out. So you should give it couple of months before deciding if this program is for you. But I think you’ll find the hormonal benefits are worth the effort.
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Cyclic Nutrition Program for Hormone Optimization. Copyright © 2006 by Gary F. Zeolla.
Disclaimers: The material presented in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The author is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any diet, exercise, or health improvement program, one should consult your doctor. The author is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice in this article.
The above article first appeared in the free FitTips
for One and All email newsletter.
It was posted on this site May 1, 2006.
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