Carb Cycling has become very popular in the last 2 decades as a way to trim down while still eating carb meals and maintain muscle. In this post we will walk you through the basic ideas so you can add carb cycling into your program if you wish to do so.
What Is Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling is structured around low, medium, and high carb days.
Carbohydrate cycling is used to shock the metabolism into a fat burning furnace at the last 16 weeks prior to a show or contest.
This is done by tricking your body into leptin spiking.
Leptin by definition is, Leptin (from Greek λεπτός leptos, “thin”) is a hormone predominantly made by adipose cells and enterocytes in the small intestine that helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger, which in turn diminishes fat storage in adipocytes. Leptin acts on cell receptors in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus.
Most only use carbohydrateate cycling when trying to cut fat or diet down.
Below is an example of how carbohydrate cycling works in a weekly diet
Monday to Wednesday – Low Carb Days (Under 40 Grams of Carbs)
Thursday – Medium Carb Day (100 to 200 Grams of Carbs)
Friday to Saturday-Low Carb Days (Under 40 Grams of Carbs)
Sunday- High Carb Day (Up to 500 Grams of CLEAN Carbs/Some may wish to go higher)
Sunday to Tuesday – Low Carb Days (Under 40 Grams of Carbs)
Wednesday – High Carb Day (Up to 500 Grams of CLEAN Carbs/Some may wish to go higher)
Thursday to Friday -Low Carb Days (Under 40 Grams of Carbs)
Saturday- High Carb Day (Up to 500 Grams of CLEAN Carbs/Some may wish to go higher)
Is Carb Cycling like a Cheat Meal?
No. Cheat meals are usually a no counting carb blast of food (free for all). Carbohydrate Cycling is a planned out ratio of clean carb intake on certain days. Clean carb intake is usually more rice or oatmeal for the day to increase the amount of clean carbs for that high carb day.
When carb cycling, you will only be increasing clean carbs, not protein or fat.
Why would someone carb cycle?
- It helps in retaining muscle mass while burning fat
- It ramps up metabolism
- Periodically spikes leptin levels (The fat burning hormone) to keep fat burning working
- Increases insulin sensitivity
Why does carb cycling work?
- High carb days spike your metabolic rate and increases fat burning for 36 to 48 hours
- Low carb days will see an increase in fat mobilization because the high carb day “metabolic spike” is still in play
- Low carb days see an increase in protein consumption which has the highest “TEF” of all the macronutrients. IE: The more protein you consume the more calories you burn through digestion.
What would a low carbohydrate day look like?
On low carb days only ingest fibrous carbs like green leafy vegetables. Keep the complex carb count under 40 grams, or depending on your body you may want to ONLY eat fibrous carbs.
What would a medium carbohydrate day look like?
On medium carb days add around 40 to 80 grams of carbs while dropping protein slightly (each individual is different so play with different numbers until you have found your sweet spot).
What would a high carb day look like?
On high carb days decrease fat as much as possible (under 25 grams) Keep protein at 1 gram per pound of bodyweight (if you are over 1 gram per pound normally). And increase complex carbohydrates up as needed (this will vary by individual and can be as much as 500 grams or more). Always remember, when adding a high carb day, reduce your protein intake for that day.
What day is best for low, med, & high carbohydrate day?
You know your schedule so map out which days of the week work best for you. Keeping the high carb days for the most energy use like leg or back day is optimal.
What supplement is best for a low carb day?
Fiber. When dropping carbs on low carb days, make sure to add a fiber supplement to your diet.
Tips for Carb Cycling
- Save your high carb days for the most energy expenditure (Leg or Back Day)
- Save your low carb days for rest day
- Introduce a cheat day or re feed day if you have been carb cycling for a while and are still having trouble cutting fat
Carb Cycling Wrap Up
Carb Cycling works. If you are having trouble cutting fat and are already on a strict diet, try carb cycling and see how your body responds.