How Does Carb Cycling Work?

How Can You Use Carb Cycling For Weight Loss?

how carb cycling worksYou may not be a body builder, or have any interest in becoming one, but chances are if you have a few extra pounds that you want to lose, you could benefit from a diet that was developed in the body building world. That diet is called carb cycling. Not to be confused with a low-carb diet, as most people think of them, carb cycling promises similar results by alternating between high and low carb days. Here’s how it works.

How Carb Cycling Started

Carb cycling came about as a result of body builders following periods of bulking up by building muscle, with periods of carb cycling to shed those final layers of undesirable fat. The practice was very successful, and it spread like wildfire through the bodybuilding world. Very soon, personal trainers discovered the practice, and started working it into their training routines.

The Carb Cycling Process

The process works best for those who are willing, and able, to incorporate some physical workouts or training into their fitness plan. The same could be said for every diet, however. Generally, most people alternate their eating habits between two different carb cycling protocols. If you guessed high carb and low carb, you’re correct! Doing it right requires meticulous menu planning, and a commitment to follow through.

The idea is that restricting carbs a few days out of the week, combined with moderate exercise, will help to reduce fat. Low carb diets have been shown to be effective for helping you to lose weight, but not necessarily fat. The reason why is because when carbs are removed long term, the body’s metabolism slows to a crawl, resulting in more difficulty burning fat, and in some cases, fat gain.

The same is not true of carb cycling because you still intake enough carbs to prevent the metabolism from being affected. High carb days become metabolism boosting days, while low carb days become fat burning days. The way it works is as follows:

High carb days: Typically you’ll consume 2 grams per pound of body weight on high carb days. They are reserved for workout days as your body needs the extra carbs on these days. Ideally you’ll consume them with whole foods such as rice, potatoes, oats, grains, and breads, rather than from sugars. The carbs ensure that you’ll have the energy you need for your physical activities, and it provides a boost to your metabolism.

Low carb: On these days you restrict your intake of carbs to as little as you are comfortable with, but no less than 30 grams. Doing this gets the body into the optimal state for burning fat, but as it is only for a short time, it has no impact on metabolism.

Most people start to feel the results of following this pattern within the first week, and can actually see the difference in their bodies during the second week. Be aware that you’ll have water weight gain on high carb days, but you’ll lose it and more on the low carb days.