Carbs are the main culprit when it comes to eating plans and diets geared towards weight loss. Traditionally, we have always thought that restricting calorie-packed carbs is the mainstay of any weight loss program. In fact, some diets eliminate carbohydrate intake altogether.
This concept has been completely overturned with the carb cycling diet. Although the concept is fairly new to the general public, professional athletes have been practicing carb cycling for decades.
How does carb cycling work?
- Carb cycling is where you alternate your carb intake between high, moderate and low om a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
- A typical weekly plan might include two high carb days followed by two moderate carb days and three low carb days. There are other variations such as one high carb day followed by a low carb day, or three moderate carb days followed by two low carb days.
- Alternating high or moderate carb days with low carb days to fuel your metabolism in a consistent cycle
- On low carb days, your metabolism burns carbs and fat and is refueled again on high carb days. A good analogy is an old-fashioned train, where coal had to be regularly shoveled into a huge furnace to keep the train running at full speed,
- Protein intake basically remains the same on low and high carb days, with slight variations.
- Fat intake is less on high carb days whereas you consume more fats on low carb days.
By keeping your metabolism fueled and regulated in this way, your body actually burns more fat while simultaneously building lean muscle fat and maintaining energy. This is why carb cycling is very popular among athletes and people doing high resistance training.
Another benefit is that you can plan your high carb days with tomes when you are active such as exercise days…
The science behind carb cycling
Carb cycling works to match the body’s need for calories and glucose and helps maintain metabolism at an optimum level. The result is that rather than packing on the pounds from your high carb intake, you actually lose them.
Does carb cycling work?
Although research is ongoing and is still in a relatively early stage, the preliminary findings suggest that carb cycling does lead to weight loss. People who have tried carb cycling have reported that it does work. In some people, weight loss is quicker (in the first two or three weeks) while others begin to experience weight loss after about four weeks. This may be due to exercise and other lifestyle factors.
In general, most reports have been positive because carb cycling, unlike other diets, does not leave you feeling deprived, irritable and lethargic. Whereas most other diets strictly restrict or even eliminate carbs altogether, with carb cycling you actually get to eat more on high carb days. In fact, carb cyclers report that it doesn’t feel like a diet at all! They have more energy, fewer mood swings and never feel hungry or deprived. It therefore follows that with carb cycling, you are less likely to binge or fall off the wagon altogether.
Carb cycling is a relatively new approach to eating and weight loss but as you have seen, the science behind it makes a lot of sense. If you have tried different diets that you simply could not stick to, you will understand why carb cycling is so appealing to many.
In addition, carb cycling can help you lose weight while building lean muscle, which is something no other diet can claim to do.
If you are considering carb cycling, stock up on healthy carbs, fats and proteins and choose a weekly or monthly plan. Do some due diligence or consult a health professional on the calorie intake suitable for your weight and gender. You can also find dozens of sample eating plans online that offer a variety of healthy and creative suggestions. It’s that simple!