What is Carb Cycling and How Does it Work?
Carb Cycling is the best way, and pretty much the only way to reach your desired weight!
- Many diets that are known for working well restrict carbohydrates.
Eating strictly meat (Paleolithic diet) does wonders for fat loss, but that is not enough.
After a lot of trial and error, science has discovered that “cycling” carbohydrates is the best approach to fat loss.
That is exactly where the idea of carb cycling comes from. Rotating carbs to keep your body guessing and burning fat!
What Is Carb Cycling?
Carb Cycling is simple, and you may have heard of it before.
- Carb Cycling is a cycle of taking in carbs, followed by eliminating carbs.
I have found that cycling carbs is the best approach for several different reasons.
Here are some of the main reasons you should cycle your carbohydrate intake, and why it works!
The Science Backing Carb Cycling
1. Your Body Doesn’t Want To Starve Itself To Death
- Because it’s simply impossible for your body to keep burning fat at a fast pace, along with muscles, since both of those happen when you are low on calories.
What would happen if your body just continued burning fat and muscle?
Well, quite simply it would die. It would completely waste all of it’s energy sources, and melt away into thin air.
This is why the body stops burning fat, and people say that they “hit a wall”.
- Hitting a wall means that the body stopped burning fat, or any other energy source and it has become extremely tough to lose weight all of the sudden.
To understand this better, you can watch the video below to first understand what is carb cycling.
2. Gives You Motivation To Continue Your Diet
That is correct my friends.
- When people anticipate carb loading, which is basically eating a ton of carbs once every week or maybe once every 4-5 days, people know they should be healthy carbs.
Unfortunately, that does not happen.
People wait for their carb loading day, and they pig out. Destroying burgers, pizza, and whatever else is very common.
Well, I am going to tell you that I have no issue with that.
That is perfectly fine. If you are surprised why I say this, it’s because junk food you eat might not be ideal.
However, it does motivate you for the next 4-5 days or weak to eat really clean, and workout as well.
- You can’t be mentally sane dieting all of the time.
If your goal is to get shredded (really cut / aka no fat and just muscle), keep in mind that is not always the healthiest thing.
There are a lot of foods that are “healthy” but won’t get you weight loss results.
- For example, oatmeal is healthy, but eating it 3 times a day, along with apples (which are healthy), and whole grain pasta (which is healthy), will not get you the results that you need.
How To Carb Cycle EXACTLY!
- Go on a high fat protein no carb diet for 4 days in a row
- On the 5th day, eat a very high amount of carbs (junk food not recommended but ok)
- The following your carb day, go back on no carbs and medium to high fat
- Do cardio every single day / twice a day if possible
That is exactly how you should carb cycle. It will surely get you the best results.
You can dive into super detailed stuff, but there is no need for that unless you plan on competing in a bodybuilding show.
Why Is Cycling Carbs Necessary?
I said to do 4 days in a row with no carbs, and then the 5th day with carbs for a reason.
- It takes your body about 3-4 days to realize what is going on, and then it makes an adjustment.
What does that mean? It means that your metabolism will slow down significantly
“When your glycogen levels are super low as well, our body will start retaining water.”
The point is, your body gets used to anything, and you need to shock it and restart the metabolism to how it generally works.
You accomplish restarting your metabolism by giving your body sugar and carbs. It’s that simple.
- This is actually very hard to do when you are dieting and trying to lose weight.
Why? Because you don’t want to eat junk!
Trust me, you have to do this and it will actually help you.
If you think I’m wrong, just try to diet on no carbs for an entire week straight.
- You will notice after about 5-6 days, that you are eating the same food and exercising the same way, but your body is not burning fat.
That is called a fat burning plateau. In order to break that, you need to carb cycle!
Your body will not continue to burn fat at the same rate, it’s impossible!
Carb Cycling For Muscle Building!
There is a lot of research out there that proves carb cycling is great for muscle gain and performance in general..
- The regular high-carb periods and targeted carb intake may help improve performance along with physical strength of course.
Everybody knows that consuming carbs before and after your workout, significantly helps with recovery.
On top of that, it is a key factor in nutrient delivery and glycogen replenishment.
Why is that good? It’s good because it promotes muscle growth!
- On the other hand, some studies suggest carbs are not needed to build muscle if protein intake is sufficient.
To make the long story short, you need to pick one source of energy for your body, besides protein.
That source needs to be carbohydrates or fat. Your body does not need both sources, and that is exactly how you get fat.
If your body is burning fat for energy, and has a lot of carbs left over, it will simply store them as fat. It’s that simple.
- Arnold is known to take a little steroids here and there too, but just giving you a sense so you see that he ate a low carb diet as well.
That said, I feel like the best way for you to get lean, is to do 4-5 days with no carbs.
Then have a carb loading day to replenish your body with what it needs.
Make Sure To Eat High Fiber Carbs!
Fiber is very important during this carb cycling and low carb diet.
Prioritizing high-fiber carbs on low carb days is important and will help your body function properly!
“With any lower-carb eating approach, getting adequate fiber is a concern, as whole-grain carbohydrates are a rich source of this important nutrient. Fiber supports satiety, cholesterol control, and your microbiome, among other things!”
- If that is not enough, please know that fiber also helps your skin look good! Isn’t that enough?
Here are some high fiber foods that you can add to your grocery list:
- Apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries each have about 3 to 4 grams of fiber each.
- Raspberries win the fiber race at 8 grams per cup. I strongly suggest them!
- A mango has 5 grams, a persimmon has 6, and 1 cup of guava has about 9.
- Dark-colored vegetables. Broccoli, egg plant, potatoes
What Are Good And Bad Carbs?
Since all carbs are not made equally, here is quick of what you should look for when making your carb choices.
Good carbohydrates are:
- High in fiber content
- Slowly digested
- Unprocessed (meaning natural ingredients are not removed)
Foods which contain good carbs include:
- Whole grain starches
- Sweet and white potatoes
- Legumes-beans, lentils, split peas
Bad carbs are:
- Found in highly processed food
- Low in fiber
- Usually contain white flour and/or sugar
What Is An Example Of A High Carb And Low Carb Meal Plan?
If you are looking for something more detailed, here are some foods you should consider during your low and high carb days.
Low Carb Cycling Day Meal Plan
- Breakfast – Egg white omelet with vegetables and bacom
- Lunch – Tuna salad on a bed of lettuce or chicken salad
- Snack – Veggies with hummus or a portion of nuts
- Dinner – Zucchini with pesto and a grilled chicken breast
High Carb Cycling Day Meal Plan
- Breakfast – Oatmeal and berries with a veggie-filled omelet
- Lunch – Add a serving of whole grain crackers to go along with your tuna salad
- Snack – Combine fruit (all fruit is good fruit!) with nuts
- Dinner – Add a carb-based noodle (wheat, rice, and bean-based noodles are all good options) with your zucchini noodle entrée
Do I Have To Cut Carbs To Lose Weight?
You absolutely do not need to cut carbs to lose weight.
But if that is the approach you want to take, then you have to cut out the fat from your diet.
“There are many fitness competitors and bodybuilders that do not cut carbs in order to get lean.
- They eat the same exact foods during bulking, as they do for contest preparation.”
The only difference is, they lower the portions of the meals so they reduce calories.
It’s very simple. You have to decrease the portions, or simply pick one energy source.
You an eat carbs, or you can eat fat. You can’t eat both unless your portions are significantly smaller.
- There is also some evidence that low-carb diets cause weight loss in the short term, and less in the long run.
A Harvard study of 800 overweight adults found that there was no significant difference in weight loss after two years with groups eating low, medium or high carbs.
Low-carb diets seem to help some people lose weight, but high carb diets work as well when calories are decreased.
Do Not Get Into Yo-Yo Dieting!
If you don’t know what Yo-Yo dieting is, I bet you can take a good guess.
Yo-yo dieting is a cycle of short-term changes in eating and weight loss.
This is when people go on a crazy low carb diet in order to lose weight fast, and then dothe opposite shortly after to gain all of the weight back.
- For those reasons, it leads to only short-term benefits. After losing weight, appetite increases and your body hangs on to fat.
This leads to weight gain, and many dieters end up back where they started or worse.
Yes, it is exactly the opposite from what you are trying to achieve with carbs cycling.
Cycling carbs does NOT mean you should cycle your weight!
- Adding high cab days, does not mean to eat like a pig and then continue high carb days for the next 3 weeks and gain all of your weight back.
The goal is to lose the weight over a longer period of time and correctly.
Extreme dieting NEVER works, and it actually only makes things worse.
How Long Can I Go Without Eating Carbs?
Your body can get used to anything.
Technically, you can go your entire life without eating carbohydrates. It’s extremely hard to actually eat zero carbs, because they are found in many foods.
They are found in fruit, vegetables, and nuts.
- There are not large amounts of carbs in these foods, but they are there. This makes it difficult to actually eat zero carbs.
If you are wondering how long you can go without carbs, the answer is forever. There are doctors that have not eaten carbs in over 13 years.
The funny thing is, one of these doctors is overweight.
What does that tell you? It tells you that your body will change, and if your fat intake is too high, you can still gain weight.
- Cutting out carbs does not mean you will consistently look like a fitness model. Far from it.
High carbs are a fast way to gain some weight and to lose it.
But always know that your body adapts to everything, and the effect of no carbs will not be the same as it was when you first started.
What I do recommend, is to eat low carbs MOST of the time.
- We can not predict our future. We can predict and control our habits, which then tell our future.
You will not gain weight or lose weight over night, it’s what you do most of the time that makes a difference.
Consistency is key.