Why carb cycling is the best diet for you….
well, probably…and notice I said best, not the most simple because if you are not a fan of writing down everything you eat then you likely won’t enjoy the attention to detail a carb cycling diet requires. If you are like me, in that I prefer the routine of eating the same kinds of food day in and day out, then carb cycling will be a pain. I like to eat the same food 5 days a week and then enjoy myself over the weekends, it works for me so I won’t change that. But the real benefit in carb cycling, is that it allows you to manipulate your carbohydrate intake on a daily basis which has several advantages, not least that you won’t end up starving for days as it allows a low carb day, a moderate carb day and a high carb day(popularly known as a ‘re-feed’).
Carbohydrate Cycling is something which has been used by the ultra lean bodybuilders and fitness models for decades, allowing you to get all the fat loss benefits of low carbohydrate dieting without the low carbohydrate side effects(lack of energy, starvation, irritability to name just three) even more importantly, as I touched upon above, you won’t end up starving for days because it keeps your metabolism elevated, preventing you from going into the dreaded starvation mode where your body ‘slows’ everything down to hold on to its weight to regain homeostasis which makes losing weight extremely difficult(after about three days in a row of low carbs your glycogen levels are almost depleted and if you are to continue you will notice your energy levels decreasing and your muscles looking softer). Carb cycling gets around this by introducing a high carb day every fourth day.
Carb cycling is based on the concept of rotating low carb days with high carb days instead of keeping your carbs low all the time, every fourth day your glycogen levels are restored with the high carb day. Mentally this is very important, the majority of people fail to stick to a diet because of the long haul ahead but by trying carb cycling you should find it much easier to stick to a low carb diet for three days and then re-feed yourself with a higher food intake on the fourth day. Carb cycling would also be great for those of us who successfully lose weight on a low carb diet only to see ourselves add all the weight back on(and more) when we stop. This is because when you consume low carbs for a long period of time, your body becomes inefficient at using carbs for energy and burning carbohydrates so when they are re-introduced to the body after a long absence you will quite simply blow up as your body gets used to coping with carbs again. Low carb diets are never good for the long run, you simply cannot consume low carbs day in day out for the rest of your life, for this reason if you are looking for a real ‘lifestyle’ changing diet, carb cycling is the much better choice.
How many carbs should you consume on your low and high carb days? On average, women would consume about 90-130 grams of carbohydrates on low
days and about 200 to 250 grams of carbohydrates on high days. Men would consume 150-200 grams of carbohydrates on low days and 300-400 grams of carbohydrates on high days. This is a general figure so you might find yourself taking a week or two to find out what the more accurate figure is for yourself, you’ll have to experiment with carb cycling and see what is your best number for the amount of carbs you need to be consuming, everyone is different.
An example of a carb cycling plan would be as follows:
Men/2200 calories/3 days low carbs Men/2700 calories/1 day high carbs
Protein 45% = 990 calories = 247 g Protein 30% = 810 calories = 202 g
Carbs 30% = 660 calories = 165 g Carbs 50% = 1350 calories = 337 g
Fats 25% = 550 calories = 61 g Fats 20% = 540 calories = 60 g
Women/1400 calories/3 days low carbs: Women/1800 cal/1 day high carbs
Protein 45% = 630 calories = 157 g Protein 30% = 810 calories = 135 g
Carbs 30% = 420 calories = 105 g Carbs 50% = 900 calories = 225 g
Fats 25% = 350 calories = 39 g Fats 20% = 360 calories = 40 g
Some tips on carb cycling – try to have your high carb days on those days in the gym where you are using the compound movements/heavier lifting such as the Squat or Deadlift, load the carbs around your workouts so you are performing and recovering better. By the same token, on days you are not exercising and are relatively inactive, consume a lower amount of carbs.
Also, it goes without saying, get your carbs from clean sources and not junk food, so please leave those 99p Chicken Steak burgers alone, the fried burger and lettuce doesnt make it any better….
Taper your carbs, so more carbs during the earlier part of the day and less carbs as the day goes on. Don’t count fibrous green veg as part of your total carb intake, you can eat much more of these, these are low in calories and a good source of fiber and not included in carb cycling so it is only the starchy complex carbs you need to be watching. Examples of complex carbs are foods such as bread, potatoes, oatmeal, pasta and rice.
Try to consume whole foods for your protein, I prefer protein from food rather than a shake, by consuming protein shakes you are missing out on the thermic effect of food, your body has to burn calories just to break down the protein so if that chicken breast is 100 calories, 30 calories will be burned just to digest it so you’re really only having 70 calories.
So there you have it, a quick break down of carbohydrate cycling, despite the attention to detail it is an extremely effective form of losing weight and one far easier to handle than other conventional forms of weight loss.