We have all been there.  Losing weight and then suddenly it stops.  Turns out the strategies you have been using to lose the weight over a prolonged period of time can back fire.  In addition, some people are just programed with a slower metabolism in general so traditional diet strategies of eat less, work out more just don’t work!

Carbohydrates have long been the subject of debate in the world of fitness and nutrition. On one hand, they’re a primary source of energy for our bodies, while on the other, they’re often demonized for their role in weight gain hence the foundation of low carbs in many diets like keto, carnivore diet, Atkins, etc.  While decreasing your carbs does and can make a big impact on your weight loss journey, prolonged periods of time with low carbs can actually SLOW the metabolism creating weight loss plateaus and even weight gain!!

Enter carb cycling, a dietary approach that aims to optimize carbohydrate intake to support fitness goals. Let’s dive in and demystify this popular nutrition strategy…. READ ON…

Understanding Carb Cycling

Carb cycling is a dietary approach that involves alternating between high-carb days, low-carb days, and moderate-carb days throughout the week. The idea is to strategically time carbohydrate intake to support energy levels, performance, and fat loss.

How Carb Cycling Works

  • High-Carb Days: On high-carb days, you consume a higher percentage (approx. 60%)  of your calories from carbohydrates. This is typically done on days when you have intense workouts or physical activity planned to provide your body with the fuel it needs to perform at its best.
  • Low-Carb Days: On low-carb days, you reduce your carbohydrate intake and increase your intake of protein and healthy fats. This is often done on rest days or days with lighter workouts to help your body burn fat for fuel and improve insulin sensitivity. Often low carb can be defined around 45 grams of carbs but some may need higher and others may need lower depending on your level of activity.
  • Moderate-Carb Days: Moderate-carb days fall somewhere in between high-carb and low-carb days. They provide a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats and are often used on days with moderate-intensity workouts or activities.

Benefits of Carb Cycling

  • Improved Performance: By strategically timing your carbohydrate intake, you can ensure that your body has the energy it needs to perform at its best during workouts and physical activity.
  • Fat Loss: Carb cycling can help optimize fat loss by promoting the use of fat for fuel on low-carb days and supporting muscle growth and recovery on high-carb days.
  • Better Insulin Sensitivity: Cycling carbohydrates can help improve insulin sensitivity, which is important for maintaining stable blood sugar levels and preventing insulin resistance.
  • Sustainability: Carb cycling offers flexibility in your diet, allowing you to enjoy your favorite foods while still making progress towards your fitness goals.
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How to Implement Carb Cycling

  1. Calculate Your Macros: Determine your daily calorie and macronutrient needs based on your fitness goals and activity level.
  2. Plan Your High, Low, and Moderate-Carb Days: Use your workout schedule to determine which days will be high-carb, low-carb, and moderate-carb.  How you put these together really depends on your goals and the activities you do and how frequent you do them.  Some promote alternating every other day with high carb and low carb but more detailed programs will pair the high carb days with the highest activity and low carb days with the rest days or lowest activities with on average having about 3 low carbs days in a week.
  3. Choose Healthy Carbohydrate Sources: Focus on nutrient-dense, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Keep in mind high carbs doesn’t mean junk food!  You still need quality food for this to work.
  4. Monitor Your Progress: Keep track of how your body responds to carb cycling and make adjustments as needed based on your energy levels, performance, and progress towards your goals.  You can tailor this by adjusting the amount of carbs and the timing of them during the week.

Is Carb Cycling Right for You?

Carb cycling can be an effective strategy for optimizing performance, supporting fat loss, and improving overall health and well-being. However, it’s essential to listen to your body and adjust your approach based on your individual needs and preferences. If you’re unsure whether carb cycling is right for you, consider consulting with a nutritionist who can help you develop a personalized nutrition plan based on your goals, preferences, and lifestyle.

Also, keep in mind you can also use this strategy to break plateaus in weight loss for a few weeks to bump up the metabolism.  Pairing this with a HIIT type of training to rev up fat loss is a double your effort strategy!

To your health,