Carb Cycling

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Do you want to know what is carb cycling and how it works and helps you get a strong and lean body? Then you must to read this article.

In this page, we are going to keep it simple and straight forward.

Much like Intermittent Fasting, Carb cycling is NOT a diet. It is a nutrition protocol that you can use to lean down.

Truthfully inorder to get a lean physique you do not need carb cycling.

When you have a lot of body fat to lose and not much muscle mass, carb cycling may not have a profound effect.

Carb cycling is an ideal nutrition protocol for those folks who have low body fat percentage and want to lose that last thin layer of fat.

No matter what nutrition protocol you follow, there is no shortcut to patience and persistence.

That being said, lets get to it..

What is Carb Cycling?

Carb cycling is a diet that changes your carbohydrate intake daily.

Its a perfect tool to use when you want to decrease or lose your body fat percentage.

What makes carb cycling so popular is that you can create a significant shortage of calories in terms of carbohydrates so that your body is forced to draw energy from the stored fat.

In case of cons, you can think of things like muscle loss and moderate performance in the gym but this can be avoided if you train hard and have enough proteins and fats in your nutrition plan.

How does Carb Cycling work?

There are various carb cycling methods, but most of them have you alternate between at least two of three types of days.

High carbohydrate days, when you eat, more carbohydrates, help to promote muscle growth and low carbohydrate days, when you eat fewer carbohydrates, this reduce fat.  The focus is on carbohydrates instead of proteins or fats because they have more impact on the composition of your body.

  1. No-carb day

On no-carb days you generally eat only 30 grams of carbohydrates.

These are the days you lose the most amount of fat because of the larger caloric deficit and your body utilizes stored fat for energy.

As your insulin level will decrease by consuming low carbohydrates, you create the ideal conditions for fat loss.

The disadvantage of these days is that insulin (besides enough proteins) on the other hand plays a major role in maintaining your muscle mass.

  1. High-carb days

On the other side of this spectrum, you find days that you turn around this process by consuming many carbohydrates (high carb). Typically 2 to 2.5 grams per pound of bodyweight of carbohydrates from non-sugary sources.

Thus, by insulating the insulin level, you will prevent muscle loss to compensate for the days you lose fat.

On high carb days, you will replenish your glycogen stocks, your metabolism will increase, and you’re ready to lose weight again.

  1. Low-carb days

In between the above days, you have days for a low-carb intake which is typically upto .5 grams per pound of bodyweight, so that you can maintain all of the above processes.

These days you try to keep the insulin level, your glycogen stocks, and your body fat as it is.

These are preferably the days you are in the gym to train.

An additional advantage is that you have enough energy on these days to get a good workout to maintain your muscle mass and your performance.

This is a way to lose fat without having to suffer too many disadvantages in the future.

Taming the Carb Cycling Beast

Mainstream media has vilified the carbohydrate macro-nutrient, stating that it is the reason for all the weight gain.

Improper usage of this macro is what causes all the weight gain due to fat storage.

If you eat at a caloric surplus, be it proteins, carbs or fat, you will gain weight. Its just inevitable.

Carbohydrate is a double-edged sword because of the following reasons:

a. They support muscle growth by fueling our strength training workouts which creates an anabolic environment in our bodies.

b. On the flip side, they spike insulin levels which basically increases the body fat because of the presence of glucose for it to store.

Hence, the reason why most people believe that it is impossible to gain muscle without getting fat, as it is a by-product of the bulk due to the consumption of high carbs.

This is where Carb Cycling can help you deliver all the muscle building benefits with little to no fat gains.

As mentioned earlier, we cycle the carb intake strategically with high carb and low carb days.

On high carb days, we replenish the glycogen stores, spike insulin levels to train hard and intensely for muscle breakdown.

On low or no carb days, you maximize fat burning.

In theory, Carb cycling should probably allow us to build muscle and burn fat at the same time.

However, that is far from true.

Carb Cycling to Lose Weight

Any nutrition protocol, be it intermittent fasting, carb cycling or anything can help you lose weight as long as you are in a caloric deficit.

It doesn’t matter what food you eat, or how well you structure your meals, you will lose weight as long as you are in a caloric deficit.

That being said, carb cycling is “just another way” to lose weight but it is being widely spread in the fitness community as “the ultimate” way to lose weight and “the best way to lose weight fast” and thats pretty much where carb cycling fails.

There is a stark difference between weight loss and fat loss.

When you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight from burning fat, glycogen stores, water and muscle (in some cases).

Water and glycogen levels can fluctuate according to your diet, water intake and other genetic factors etc.

The main objective for us is to improve the body composition. To reduce body fat and increase muscle mass for a high metabolism and to get a strong and lean body.

In order to lose weight from fat loss with carb cycling, you need to have 3 low or no carb days followed by 1 high-carb day.

Ideally you would place the high carb day on a muscle group that you want to focus more on in your strength training routine, for better performance.

For example,

  • Monday: Low-carb day
  • Tuesday: Low-carb day
  • Wednesday: Low-carb day
  • Thursday: High-carb day
  • Friday: Low-carb day
  • Saturday: Low-carb day
  • Sunday: Low-carb day
  • Monday: High-carb day

On low carb days, you should be in a 25% deficit with 20% of calories from carbs and protein staying constant at 1g per pound of body weight. Rest as fat.

On high carb days, you should be in a 10% deficit with 50% of calories from carbs and protein staying constant at 1g per pound of body weight. Rest as fat.

First thing you need to do is to determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure

For eg: If you are 148 lbs, your TDEE is 2000 calories.

For low carb days, you will eat

2000 – 2000 x 25% = 1500 calories.

Protein: 148 grams x 4 = 592 calories (1g of protein is 4 calories)

Carbohydrates: 1500 calories x 20% = 300 calories = 75 grams (1g of carbohydrate is 4 calories)

Fat: 1500 – (592 + 300) = 608 calories = 68 grams (1g of fat is 9 calories)

For high carb days, you will eat

2000 – 2000 x 10% = 1800 calories.

Protein: 148 grams x 4 = 592 calories (1g of protein is 4 calories)

Carbohydrates: 1800 calories x 50% = 900 calories = 225 grams (1g of carbohydrate is 4 calories)

Fat: 1800 – (592 + 900) = 308 calories = 34 grams (1g of fat is 9 calories)

Once these numbers are worked out and you prepare a meal plan based on it.

Its all a matter of following the meal plan.

Simple stuff!

Carb Cycling to Gain Muscle

To gain muscle or maintain your current body composition, you might want to make few changes to your calories and macro ratios.

The first modification would be to have 3 low-carb days and 2 high carb days.

You can have 3 consecutive low carb days and 2 high carb days, or else you can stagger them based on how your feeling in the gym

Mostly people follow this as alternate days like, one high-carb day, one low-carb day, one high-carb day, and two low-carb days.

On low-carb days you reduce water retention, which makes you look leaner and on high carb days you train hard and heavy to gain muscle.

The first thing to do is to determine your TDEE.

If you want to build muscle, set 10% surplus calories to your TDEE as your daily caloric intake.

As for macros, your protein intake stays constant at 1 gram per pound of body weight.

On High Carb days 50% of calories come from carbs.

On Low Carb days, 25% of the calories comes from carbs.

Rest of the calories come from fat.

For eg: If you are 148 lbs, your TDEE is 2000 calories.

Calories for gaining muscle: 2000 + 2000 x 10% = 2200 calories.

For low carb days, you will eat 2200 calories

Protein: 148 grams x 4 = 592 calories (1g of protein is 4 calories)

Carbohydrates: 2200 calories x 20% = 550 calories = 138 grams (1g of carbohydrate is 4 calories)

Fat: 2200 – (592 + 550) = 1508 calories = 118 grams (1g of fat is 9 calories)

For high carb days, you will eat 2200 calories.

Protein: 148 grams x 4 = 592 calories (1g of protein is 4 calories)

Carbohydrates: 2200 calories x 50% = 1100 calories = 275 grams (1g of carbohydrate is 4 calories)

Fat: 2200 – (592 + 1100) = 508 calories = 56 grams (1g of fat is 9 calories)

Conclusion

Carb Cycling is just another nutrition protocol.

It is not the ultimate solution. It always boils down to choosing the right protocol that fits your lifestyle and daily activities.

If you have noticed that your body is particularly sensitive to carbs, then why not try carb cycling.

If not try intermittent fasting and see how that goes for you.

No matter what nutrition protocols you follow, training hard and heavy, being patient and consistent is paramount to get a strong and lean body.

More to Read: A Comprehensive Guide to Effortlessly Get a Strong & Lean Body

By | 2017-12-29T01:01:11+00:00 December 22nd, 2017|Nutrition|0 Comments

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