Carb Cycling To Lose Weight – 3 Things You Should Know

Carb cycling to lose weight

Image Credit: Mariana Kurnyk / Pexels

On the surface, carb cycling seems too good to be true.  Eat large amounts of carbs a few times per week, and still lose weight?  Well, yeah. But there’s a few common mistakes that can backfire and result in weight gain.  If you’re carb cycling to lose weight here’s three things you need to know.

Good Carbs Vs Bad Carbs

Carb cycling can make the dieting process easier, both physically and mentally, by supplying high energy foods every few days.  But it isn’t a green light to load up on every guilty pleasure loaded with carbs.

You won’t be able to gorge on spaghetti and ice cream 2-3 days per week, without gaining weight.  Unfortunately, carb cycling can’t overcome overeating too many high calorie carbs.

You’ll want to limit your carb choices to slow digesting carbs as much as possible.  You don’t have to eliminate all the good stuff, but ice cream can’t be the backbone of your carb cycling plan.

Here’s a quick list of carbs that are good for carb cycling, and some that aren’t.

Good Carbs To Cycle

Brown Rice
Sweet Potatoes

Bad Carbs To Cycle

Fried Foods
Fast Food
Ice Cream

Carb Cycling Goal

While there are quite a few carb cycling benefits, there are two primary reasons why it’s become so popular and effective.


Whenever you deviate from normal behavior your body is going to adapt in predictable ways.  When you start resistance training, your body adds muscle mass. When you drink more water everyday, your body retains less.

One common problem with dieting is how your body adapts with certain hormones.  

Leptin, ghrelin and a few other hormones linked to hunger and appetite can be affected by long term dieting.  Carb cycling can help balance some of these hormones by infusing high energy foods (carbs) back into your diet once or twice per week.

Energy Matching

One of the most compelling benefits of carb cycling, and why it’s popular with athletes, is because it better matches your diet with energy needs.  Following a strict low carb diet can help you lose a few pounds, but it comes at the expense of energy and stamina.

This has a diminishing effect on your performance, and how many calories you burn during exercise.  If you have fitness and performance goals as well as weight loss goals, carb cycling may be the ideal diet to make consistent progress.

See Also: Top 10 low carb diet tips

How To Avoid Gaining Weight

Carb cycling is one of the rare diets where you’re encouraged to indulge a few times per week.  This can often translate into overeating, or simply choosing the wrong foods to cycle. Here’s a few ways to avoid gaining weight:

Only eat what you’re going to burn off.  If it’s an off day, and you’re not going to the gym, it isn’t a good day to inject large amounts of carb calories into your diet.  If you don’t burn off the extra energy, you’re more likely to store it for later use.

Count your calories.  It’s very easy to lose track of how many calories and grams of carbs you’re eating.  Try to avoid the habit of guesstimating how many carbs you’re eating. Some people find it easier to track macros each day, rather than calories.

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