Image by Vasyl Dolmatov
Carb cycling isn’t a new fad or infomercial miracle someone just discovered. It’s a proven strategy that’s been used by athletes and fitness professionals for decades.
The goal of carb cycling isn’t very complicated. You’re trying to provide the needed energy (carbs) for high expenditure days (exercise). Carbs are restricted on days you aren’t very active.
Workout days = High carbs
Non-workout days = low carbs
This will help fuel intense workouts, ensuring you have ample energy without reaching premature fatigue. Restricting carbs on non-workout days can help prevent gaining excess body fat by switching to a high protein/low carb day.
Here’s the most important carb cycling tips you’ll want to follow.
Use The Right Carb Amount
You’re trying to match energy with training. It may take some trial and error to find what’s best for your body and energy needs but here’s a simple starting formula.
Eat 1-1.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight on heavy training days. If, for example, you weigh 150 pounds your carb range would be 150-225 grams.
On super intense training days, you might want to utilize the full 225 grams. For lighter training days you’d stay at the lower end of the carb range.
On days off, with little physical activity, try to keep your total daily carbs between 20-50 grams.
It Isn’t A Cheat Day
Although carb cycling isn’t complicated, the goal and focus can become a little “blurred”. This often takes the form of using carb cycling as a cheat day. The biggest difference between a cheat day and carb cycling is how you manage calories.
A cheat, or refeed day, is a temporary spike in total calories to help influence some of your weight loss hormones. Carb cycling increases the calories from carbs, but doesn’t dramatically change your total weekly calories.
Managing the types of carbs you’re eating, and the amount of total weekly calories are primary keys to successful carb cycling.
When you’re trying to decide which foods to cycle, here’s a simple tip to weed out the carbs that are more likely to increase body fat while carb cycling.
Good = Complex carbohydrates
Bad = Food with high-fructose corn syrup
Good Carbs To Cycle
Cream Of Wheat
Bad Carbs To Cycle
How To Avoid Weight Gain
As previously mentioned, carb cycling isn’t intended to dramatically increase your total calories for the week. You’re just trying to increase calories from carbs on specific days to boost your energy levels.
The easiest way to manage calories while carb cycling is on a weekly basis. As long as you’re staying within your total weekly calorie range you’re less likely to gain body fat.
If your normal calorie range, without gaining weight, is 2,000 per day you would have 14,000 calories to work with for the week.
Here’s how your calories for the week might look.
Monday: 1,800 (60% Protein/20% Carbs/20% Fat)
Tuesday: 1,800 (60% Protein/20% Carbs/20% Fat)
Wednesday: 2,500 (20% Protein/70% Carbs/10% Fat)
Thursday: 1,800 (60% Protein/20% Carbs/20% Fat)
Friday: 2,500 (20% Protein/70% Carbs/10% Fat)
Saturday: 1,800 (70% Protein/10% Carbs/20% Fat)
Sunday: 1,800 (70% Protein/10% Carbs/20% Fat)
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