The fitness world is not short on eating methods and diet plans. Of course, in time only the tried and true tend to stick around. In some cases, diets or eating methods are more of a “reformation” of previous eating methods from years past.
Carb cycling has been around for a few decades but has patterned itself after calorie cycling from further back. Calorie cycling was how it sounds, where you eat fewer calories on certain days than others. Carb cycling took this mindset and broke it down into more of a science. Instead of looking at calories as a whole, it looked at the macros which make up the calories.
By cycling carbs between high and low carb days, this cuts your body fat percentage down while still ensuring you have enough fuel for your muscles to rebuild. It also helps maintain a healthy weight.
How it works is our body loves carbs because they help out with our glycogen levels, which is pretty much the sugar stores in our muscles. By keeping carbs to a minimum on certain days we take away that source of energy. This is why protein is so valuable on a carb cycling plan. By keeping protein levels high, we help preserve the muscle and put the focus on body fat as an energy source.
On high carb days, we put the protein and carbs on par with each other and still keep fats minimal. This puts the body in more so of a state of confusion and also helps with gridlocking it into an anabolic state (growth), so you are able to actually build new muscle on technically a calorie restricted diet. Usually high carb days are fewer than the low carb days.
Other than quick fat loss, 5 other benefits to carb cycling are:
- Preventing a decline in your metabolic rate
Carb cycling is excellent at helping ensure your bodies ability to break down and utilize calories.
- Gives you more energy
Even though you are restricted on calories, carb cycling does help with insulin levels being balanced which contributes to more balanced energy.
- Preventing fatigue
Feeling depleted in carbs can make you feel cranky, but this does not necessarily mean tired. Carb cycling helps out with energy levels and prevents feeling worn out like other calorie restricted diets.
- Workout recovery
Carb cycling does not mean “no carbs”, so a majority of your carbs are taken in around your workout. When the body is depleted of carbs, it takes in everything it can after a workout, so much of your post workout nutrition goes where it needs to!
- Cheat days
On high carb days, being sensible with what you eat is important, however, if you do choose to have a cheat day, high carb days are the days to do it. By your metabolic rate being increased, your body’s ability to eat a little more junk and process what it needs, goes up. Do not go crazy now, but do not be afraid to enjoy a few meals you would usually never eat. In the long run, it will only help out!