Ready To Lean Up With Carb Cycling?
Looking to shed some excess body fat?
If so, one of the best diet approaches that you should be considering is the carbohydrate cycling approach.
Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in the weight loss industry and many people mistakenly believe they need to completely eliminate them from the picture.
And while you certainly can’t eat too many carbohydrates and you must be careful about the variety you consume, there’s no reason to completely abolish all carbohydrates.
Doing so would be actually hindering your progress.
Carbohydrates provide energy for intense exercise sessions and can also help keep your hormonal profile healthier, more conducive to fat burning.
As such, carbohydrates must be included for optimal results.
This said, you still need to sustain the calorie deficit for fat burning to take place, and reducing your carbohydrates (thus your energy intake) does tend to lead to a greater reliance on stored body fat for fuel.
This is why carbohydrate cycling is the best solution. Let’s go over what this and how you can go about setting up your very own carbohydrate cycling plan.
What Is Carb Cycling?
First let’s talk about what carbohydrate cycling is. With this protocol you’re going to be alternating between lower carbohydrate days and higher carbohydrate days as you go about the week. Hence the term ‘cycling’.
You cycle from high to low days based on your own personal schedule and your desired weight loss goals.
This serves a few different purposes.
First, it helps ensure that you do have the energy you need to keep up with intense workout sessions.
If you’ve ever used a very low carbohydrate diet before, you likely know that when you cut carbs too low, your workouts begin to feel torturous as your body is simply too fatigued to continue as you’d like.
Carbohydrate cycling ensures you avoid this.
The second great thing about carbohydrate cycling is that it can make sticking to your diet that much easier as well.
If you’re like many, the minute you cut carbohydrates out of the picture is the minute you start to really suffer from strong cravings – sometimes so strong it leads you to come off your diet entirely.
With carbohydrate cycling, as you can get carbohydrates on certain days of the week, this means you can take care of those cravings and get yourself sticking with the diet the rest of the time.
Finally, as mentioned above, carbohydrates have a very strong influence on your hormones.
When you take your carbohydrate intake too low, the level of leptin, a hormone that regulates your metabolic rate and fat burning rate, starts to decrease, essentially slowing down fat burning in the process.
By having some higher carbohydrate days added back into the picture, you can spike leptin once again, kick-starting fat burning.
Using a carb cycling approach is one of the best ways to avoid hitting that dreaded progress plateau that so many dieters find themselves in.
Setting Up Your Carb Cycling
So now that you know what carbohydrate cycling is, how do you go about setting it up?
First, you need to figure out your target calorie intake for the week. This means you take your maintenance calorie intake, multiply by seven, to get your weekly maintenance calorie goal.
Now, since you want to lose weight, you need to subtract some calories from that.
Remember that there’s approximately 1500 calories in one kilo of bodyweight, so if you wanted to say lose one kilo per week, you’d reduce your calorie target by this 1500 calories.
Now, you need to have a certain amount of protein each day, so this must be removed now.
Take your body weight in kilos and multiply that by four (number of calories in one gram of protein). Now, multiply that by seven (days in the week).
This is how many calories will be devoted to protein content. Remove this from your new calorie target.
Next you need to factor in fats. Your fat intake should not be lower than 0.15 grams/kg of body weight each day, so take that number, whatever it is, and then multiply by nine, which is how many calories are in one gram of fat. Now multiply this by seven to get your weekly total fat calorie target.
Now subtract this from the remaining calorie balance.
What you have left is how many total calories you have to devote to carbohydrates over the course of the week.
So now you’ll want to look at how many days per week you’ll be doing intense workouts – usually somewhere between three or four. These should be your high carbohydrate days.
The other days are low carbohydrate days and should be kept at around 50-100 grams of carbs total.
Choose how low you want to take these (say 75 grams), multiply by how many days per week you’ll be having those low carb days, and then multiply this by four calories per gram. Remove this from the total.
Now you’re left with how many total calories you can devote to carbs for your high carb days each week.
Divide this number by four as that’s the number of calories in a gram of carb and now divide that number by the total number of high carb days you plan to use.
You now have your target carbohydrate intake for your high days as well.
Write all of these numbers down and you should have your macro-nutrient and calorie targets for each day of the week to do a carbohydrate cycling approach.
A Word On Food Selection
Now, before you get started and begin using your new carb cycling plan, a word must be mentioned on food selection.
Just because you’re on a high carbohydrate day, don’t think that this means you can eat any carbohydrate you please. Remember, quality still counts.
If you eat processed carbohydrates high in simple sugars, you’ll spike insulin quickly and likely end up feeling hungrier than you were before, making you feel miserable on those high carb days.
Likewise, you won’t be getting the important nutrients that your body needs to function optimally.
Remember, with carbohydrate intake lower, you need to make sure that every carbohydrate you do eat counts.
Instead, focus on slow burning, wholesome sources. Your higher carbohydrate days can include fruit, sweet potatoes and yams, grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and barley, as well as beans and lentils.
Lower carbohydrate days should focus exclusively on vegetables with possibly a few servings of lower carb fruits such as berries added in if you have the room for them.
These will not only help you keep your total calorie and carb count down, but they’ll provide a high dose of fibre, which will ensure you stay satisfied during this day and will be less likely to indulge in foods you shouldn’t.
If you stick to these choices, you can feel confident that you’re doing a carbohydrate cycling plan properly.
Remember that like any diet, you need to have the basic foundation of proper food choices, good meal timing, and adherence down pat in order to see the results that you want to be seeing.