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What is Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling is a dietary approach, commonly used to lose fat and maintain muscle mass and performance. It is also used to maintain metabolism and prevent a fat loss plateau. The key to carb cycling is to alternate the intake of carbohydrates on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule. The goal of carb cycling is to time your carb consumption to when you are looking for maximum benefit. While also excluding carbs when you’re not looking to perform in anything.
A practiced example of carb cycling would perhaps include: a higher intake of carbohydrates on weight training days, and of course very little carb consumption on days of light cardio and/or rest days.
As a diet, carb cycling is an aggressive strategy and is only recommended to those whose nutritional commitment is strong. This mostly suggests physique athletes; they should also be sure to take a careful and precise approach. Be sure to note that carb cycling is devised to be of short-term use. It is not encouraged to be a long-term solution for weight management.
Why should I Carb Cycle?
When you’re working out, the glucose in the carbs that you have previously ingested is used for energy. When more carbs are used, it is less likely that the protein in your body will be burned. This, in turn, promotes the generation of muscle in the body. To simply put it, the more carbohydrates consumed pre-workout, equals less degradation of muscle mass.
To improve endurance and performance, it is insisted that a higher amount of carbs is eaten pre and post workout. This will also enhance and kick-start the recovery process. Lesser intake of carbs on non-training days helps avoid it being stored for fat. It will also improve insulin sensitivity and allow your body to instead burn body fat for energy.
How to Carb Cycle:
- First, you will need to work out how many days you are going to carb cycle for.
A classic diet usually leaves around 2-3 days of high carb intake. This allows 2-3 days of low carb intake while having 1-2 days of moderate carb intake.
You need to find out what works best for you personally, as well as what fits into your lifestyle and schedule. Note* ensure that the diet is still balanced. For example, five high carb days and two low carb days is not an effective method. Instead, you could try three high carb days with two moderate and two low card days.
- Find out how many calories you need.
Just because you are carb cycling does not mean you need to disregard the other macros, such as healthy fats and protein. Find out how many calories you need daily by using tracking apps or online calculators.
- Ensure you eat enough food on low carb days
Make sure to eat enough fats and proteins when you limit your carb intake on these days. Eat lots of vegetables so your body has enough fibre – this will also regulate your bowel movements and blood sugar.
- Plan your meals ahead
To ensure you successfully complete a carb cycling diet, make sure to plan your meals ahead of time. Meal prep will ensure you measure your macros properly and keep you on track.
NOTE: High Carb days
On these days you will more than double your usual carb intake by 200-300 grams. This should be evenly distributed throughout all of your meals.
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