There are so many "diets" out there but you may not know that the term diet does not pertain to a specific on, it simply means - a way of eating. Now many people associate diet and calorie restriction which is the most common form of a diet. Eat less food than your body requires and you will lose weight. If you are looking for a quality form of weight loss, diets that are full of nturitious foods regardless of the deficit are better for long term health.
Diets that cycle carbohydrates are common among fitness athletes for very good reason. Carb cycling can not only help maintain and build muscle, but it can also help you efficiently burn off fat. If you have ever wondered what exactly a carb cycle is, how to perform one and how it can benefit you, I have the answers below.
What is carb cycling? It is a type of nutritional approach that alternates in some from of high carb and lower carb days. The primary goal of a carb cycling is to deplete and refill muscle glycogen. It can also help increase your body's fat burning and muscle building hormones, increase thyroid activity and even support one’s psychological state by not requiring hard to endure, long periods of low carbohydrates. You all know what "hangry" is, it is not fun and many people don't want to be around you!
Why should you do high and low days? Use high days for your most intense training sessions.Higher carbohydrate consumption BEFORE your heaviest lift day will benefit you the most, not the day of intense training unless you get two high days in a row. Low carbohydrate days promote fat metabolism by causing your body to switch from carbohydrates to fat as its fuel source. Your body will burn through the glycogen you have stored from your high carb days and then dip into fat stores for energy thus promoting fat loss.
How to set up your carb cycling plan depends on your training sessions. You want to have about 3-4 high / low carb days a week. If you are doing a light training day or just cardio, those will be low days, except before a leg day! You want to have fuel to move heavy weight.
How much carbohydrates should you have on low and high days? On low carbohydrate days, aim for a minimum intake of 50 grams to a maximum of 1 gram per pound of body weight. This will allow the body to efficiently use up existing glycogen stores and switch over to using up fat as fuel. At 50 grams, you can also ensure you are sparing lean muscle protein from being used as fuel.
On a high carbohydrate day, you can eat up to 2x's your body weight. Keep in mind that you should have some type of numbers in terms of macros to hit in order to maintain or lose weight. If you don't know theses numbers, how can you manipulate your diet?
Keep in mind you should be consuming healthy doses of complex carbohydrates. You want to eat faster digesting carbs around training times. Examples would be fruit, rice, and even sugary foods that your body can utilize. Then for the remainder of your carbohydrate have complex slower digesting ones like oatmeal and sweet potatoes.
Carb cycling is made that you don't have to stop doing it because you are replenishing your glycogen stores every time you have a higher carb day. You don't have to worry about "cheat" days either. Because you are alternating higher and low days, utilize the higher days for foods you enjoy ! Always remember that you need to also adapt a training program to see the best results from your nutrition and training !