The carb cycling diet has been popular among bodybuilders, fitness models and certain types of athletes for decades. Carb cycling is eating more carbs only on certain days and less on some other days which is believed to be beneficial as one of the best diet plans to lose weight and gain muscle because it stimulates certain digestive and metabolic functions.
Carbohydrates are the source of fuel which is converted into glucose and glycogen, which feed your cells and help create ATP (energy). Your metabolism rises and falls based on your consumption of calories and different macronutrients, including carbohydrates.
What is Carb cycling?
Carb cycling means staggering the number of carbohydrates you eat, so some days you eat more of them and some days you eat less. The idea is to get the benefits of carbs on some days, and the benefits of eating low carb on other days—the best of both worlds.
There are many different carb cycling protocols, but most have you alternate between at least two of three types of days:
- High-carb days
High-carb days typically call for 2 to 2.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. They are usually your highest calorie days. These days aid in recovery, replenish glycogen and support muscle growth.
- Low-carb days
Low-carb days typically call for about 0.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. They are usually your second-highest calorie days. These days will help with weight loss and insulin sensitivity.
- No-carb days
No-carb days typically call for less than 30 grams of carbohydrate. They are usually your lowest calorie days.
How Does Carb Cycling Burn Fat?
Carb cycling can work great for weight loss. On your low carb days, you’ll lose fat. Lowering your carbohydrate intake also increases insulin sensitivity, which is associated with better body composition (i.e. lower body fat).
High carb days cause your body to burn more calories. They also increase leptin, the hormone that keeps you from being hungry. These two effects prevent the low-carb days from stalling your metabolism and leading to a binge so you can keep losing weight.
Another way to turn your weight loss back on is to go to zero carbs for three days. This is the only time to take fibrous vegetables into consideration, as no carbs whatsoever should be ingested during the three zero-carb days.
Do not stay at zero carbs for any longer than three days, and never go below 50 carbs during the rest of the diet. Any lower and your thinking becomes cloudy since the brain needs a certain amount of carbs to function optimally.
Is Carb Cycling Good for Building Muscle?
Absolutely, so long as you’re eating enough food and you know what you’re doing in the gym, you can build muscle. But, carb cycling doesn’t offer any special muscle-building benefits. In fact, it’s less suitable for building muscle than traditional dieting because of its restrictions on carbohydrate intake.
Sources Of Clean Carbs
These are the best sources of clean carbs to include in your meal plan when dieting in general, and when you carb cycle:
Baked potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Rice, Oatmeal, Cream of wheat, Grits, Squash, Apples, Peas, Corn, Bananas, Rice cakes, Beans, Quinoa, Berries.