Arch – I echo what the others are saying here: kick regular soda, use the “do I really need to eat this?” mindset. I’m not a fan of diet soda, but if you can’t go cold turkey successfully, then use it to bridge the gap!
One thing you need to realize is that you don’t need carb cycling, or any “periodized nutrition” plan at this point. You need basics. You teach the newb to squat the same way no matter how fast they want to progress. Same here. Simple, straightforward. Small things here will make a big difference down the road if done consistently, just like fundamental coaching work in the Big Three. You ever know an elite powerlifter who didn’t have his coaches shout the same coaching cues every newb hears ad nauseaum? Nope, because everybody at the top of the game knows you still need that shit pounded into your head, no matter if you’re struggling with 200 lbs or 1000.
Same goes for nutrition and supplements. Keep it SIMPLE, for a long time. Traditional progressive overload works great for lifters all the way from beginner to intermediate…Then they can get the most out of more complex approaches later. You are a beginner in nutrition, even if you know the info: you’re not using it, so you’re still new to it. Same thing you’d tell “fitness trainers” applies to you: if you haven’t practiced it, you don’t know how to use it… “If you haven’t ever gotten any clients really strong, you don’t know how to do it most effectively do you?” Worry about new approaches when you have the basics under your belt for 6 months or a year. No need for low carb, no need for V-Diet, just fundamental work (think progressive overload )
I think you will be surprised at how much good workout nutrition can keep you recovered without the need for hundreds of carbs at all other times of the day. One thing to note is that I feel like you will need to keep an eye on your strength levels due to “bloat” – Having spent years getting your bloat on, you may end up feeling weaker just as a result of not having so much water weight while you diet down, but just keep in mind that it is not true strength loss…just loss of fat leverage :). It’s not as hard to keep strength up as people think on a diet.
Last bit is this: find a couple pictures of what you think represents a good intermediate term goal, and one that represents your “end goal”. Then post them on your fridge door by the handle.