A Detailed Guide to Carb Cycling

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carb cycling

The intake of carbohydrates has been a hot topic for a long time.

There are several diets which limit the use of carbohydrates and some even totally exclude them.

Mind this, carb intake isn’t a bad thing, no macronutrient categorically is, but yes excess intake of carb and not burning it might end with an overweight body. So, carb intake should be tailored according to the need of every individual.

And that’s when carbs cycling comes in picture. 

What is carb cycling?

Carb cycling is a dietary approach wherein you cycle your carb intake on a periodic basis. Could be daily, weekly, or monthly.

Carb cycling is basically a fat loss diet that will help lose extra fat from your body while preserving your muscle mass. Also, carb cycling maintains your physical energy to not interrupt your workout sessions and make them an efficient one.

Carb intake on a periodical basis can be adjusted in low, moderate and high carb diets.

Carb manipulation can be done on the basis of following factors:

1. Body goals: This means that you lower down your carb intake for fat loss and add them back to build muscles or better physical performance.

2. Body fat levels: Carbohydrates can be cycled on the basis of an individual’s body fat level. The leaner they get the more high carb days they include in their diet plan.

3. Training type: Carbs can also be tailored upon the type of training you will be doing on a particular day. An intense training session will consume more carbs and vice versa.

4. Training and rest days: This implies the days of training with high carbs and days of rest with low carbs.

Carb cycling is an advanced diet strategy requiring more programming than a normal typical diet.

Generally, the carb cycle may include 2 days of high carb intake, 2 days of moderate and 3 days of low carb intake.

However, people with overweight can follow a bit intense version of it with  1 day of high carbs, 2 days of moderate carbs, and 4 days of low carbs. This, if followed rightly, will lead to an effective weight loss.

How do the other two macros work with carb cycling?

Other two macros, protein and fat, are adjusted according to your carb cycle days.

  • High carb days will have moderate intake of protein and low intake of fat
  • Moderate carb days will have a bit more intake of protein and moderate intake of fat
  • Low carb days will require high intake of protein and moderately high intake of fat.

NOTE: Fat intake should be unsaturated and not saturated. Quick summary, unsaturated fat is good for our health and saturated fat isn’t.

How much carb, protein, and fat should you take?

The recommendation of macros during carb cycling won’t be the same for every individual. Considering your goal, your macros in the carb cycling days should be adjusted according to your calories intake. I.e, caloric deficit.

Make sure your high carb days should be within 200-250g of carbs (considering the calories you intake from carbs) and low carb days should be within 50-100g of carbs.

Can carb cycling help you lose weight?

The mechanism behind carb cycling suggests that it can be beneficial for weight loss.

Your low carb days will have fat to provide fuel to your body and that will help your body to burn fat, like in keto diet.

NOTE: The mechanism of keto diet is entirely different from carb cycling. Click here to know more about keto diet.

Moreover, the mechanism behind weight loss is a calorie deficit diet. Programming your carb cycling with a calorie deficit may help you in losing weight.

Benefits of carb cycling

Just like any other diet, carb cycling also has its own benefits. Benefits that other diets may not provide.

  1. Muscle growth and physical performance

It is believed that carb cycling can help you preserve your muscle mass while cutting out extra fat from your body.

Also, your sports performance on high carb days will be optimal enough to allow you to have a good workout session and less muscle breakdown.

  1. Help you stay in shape for a longer time

Because of its complex nature you may face adherence issues and confusions with it, especially for beginners.

However, if you adhere to it and keep on working and improving your carb manipulation, your body will improve with it too and you will be able to maintain a better looking physique for a good amount of time.

  1. Metabolism health

metabolism

Manipulating your carbs on a periodic basis may help in boosting your metabolism.

When you are on low carbs your metabolism will work low. However, when you shoot high carbs it will again be active and burn more calories than before to result in effective weight loss.

  1. Insulin resistance

low blood sugar level

Working on your carbs may also help you in maintaining your blood sugar levels. As you will replace sugar contents with protein and fat.

This will result in no insulin spike and controlled glucose in your blood.

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