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Carb cycling isn’t super complicated, but it does take some trial and error to find the sweet spot for your energy needs and activity level. If you want to increase your energy, and avoid gaining body fat, there’s some important rules you’ll need to follow. Here’s a quick list of the most important carb cycling do’s and don’ts.
DO – Match Carbs With Activity
Trying to exercise on a low carb diet is incredibly frustrating. If you’re into CrossFit, HIIT, or a runner it’s nearly impossible. This, in part, is the origin of carb cycling. You want to match high energy foods with high expenditure days.
You’ll want to tailor your carbs to match your activity level. If you only have a light workout, you don’t need to load up o two plates of pasta to do that. If you’re going on a ten mile run, however, you’ll want to carb load to get you through a long distance run.
DON’T – Increase Carbs On Off Days
A nightmare scenario, that nearly everyone will encounter, is when you’re carbing up and have to cancel your workout. You’ve just increased your carbs by up to 300% and end up spending most of the day sitting in a chair. Sticking to your gym schedule is going to be just as important as what you’re eating.
If you can’t utilize all the high energy foods you’re eating, it’s likely to be stored for later use.
DO – Eat Slow Digesting Carbohydrates
Some carbs are going to be better then others, when it comes to carb cycling. Ideally, you’d want to eat lots of slow digesting carbs to provide a steady energy supply. Fast digesting carbs, like sugary foods, will taste better but can cause energy spikes and crashes.
Here’s some good carbs to cycle:
DON’T – Load Up On Sugar
Carb cycling seems like the perfect opportunity to make up for all the goodies you’ve been avoiding. Most can get away with a small treat, but if your goal is to stay lean you’ll want to limit sugary foods as much as possible.
Carbs to avoid:
DO – Stay In A Weekly Calorie Deficit
One of your goals while carb cycling is to diligently manage your calories. You don’t need to maintain a steady and consistent calorie level everyday. On high carb days, you should expect your total calories to increase. One thing to keep an eye on, to prevent unwanted weight gain, is to track your weekly calories.
So, you don’t need to worry about maintaining a calorie deficit for every single day while carb cycling. But you will want to maintain a calorie deficit on a weekly basis.
DON’T – Guesstimate Or Lose Track Of Your Carbs
Let’s be honest, eating carbs is fun. Very few diets will encourage you to eat lots and lots of carbs. So when you see a high carb day on the schedule, it’s easy to overindulge. Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time, to avoid eating every carb source within arms reach.
If there’s a donut hanging from your mouth, and you utter the words “I’m carb cycling” you’re in trouble.
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