What is Carb Cycling?
You may have heard of Carb Cycling recently is it one of those buzzy weight loss and fitness words flying about but the truth is that has been around for a while and it’s a pretty simple concept to explain… it takes a little more self-discipline to implement. Carb cycling is a nutritional strategy that involves eating more carbs on some days and fewer carbs on other days. Why does it work? It works because you typically get results fast, it allows you to get lean and build muscle. It’s flexible, simple and sustainable.
So what actually happening in your body?
High carbs days are replenishing glucose levels, and energy and thus boosting training intensity & influencing various hormones related to metabolism. Temporarily elevating insulin levels to help preserve muscle tissue and boost muscle growth.
And then, you use lower-calorie low- and no-carb days to maximize fat burning.
Plan Plan Plan
I can not stress enough how important meal planning is when your carb cycling. You need to plan out your meals for at least a week in advance. Plan your shopping trips, your recipes, and your daily meals each week in the beginning then once your start to see results you can plan a whole month. In order to plan out all this your need to know your MACROS…
- High-carb days 50-40% of calories from carbs
- Low-carb days 30-20% of calories from carbs
- No-carb days 20-10% of calories from carbs
Macro short for macronutrients is the break down of the calories you eat. Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats each have different amounts of calories per serving: fats yield 9 calories per gram, while protein and carbs yield 4 calories per gram.
So take a seat we’re gonna do some MATH!
We are going to go over how to calculate your starting macros. You will need to give these 2 weeks of consistently hitting them to understand and evaluate how your body is reacting. After you have a baseline, you can start to adjust to dial in closer to your goals. This is where the art, but mostly patience and consistency on your part come in. Results are not just weight loss if you’re sleeping well, experience better digestion, regular bowel movements and having a general feeling of alertness, you’ll know you are on the right path. Everyone is different though, you will have to be consistent, listen to your body and give it some time.
Let’s Get Started
Take your current body weight.
Multiply by 11 – if you are sedentary
12 – if you are work out 2 -3 x per week
13 – if you are more active or do work outside your under
14 – if you are training for an event, between 25 – 35 have a physically demanding job
Subtract between 150-200 calories. This is the number you are going to work with for the rest of the steps.
Ready? Now we need to figure out how much of each macro you will be eating.
Grams to Calories
One gram of protein has 4 calories
One gram of carbohydrate has 4 calorie
One gram of fat has 9 calories
Get Your Calculators Ready!
Multiply your weight, by your activity level to give you your baseline calories per day.
Let’s use me as an example!! I do high intensity interval weight training 3 times a week and do yoga twice a week. I’m 42 and shuffle my 3 kids around. So I’ll say Im a 12.
At 147lbs x 12 = 1,764 calories a day to maintain weight
Minus 150 to 300 to lose weight, this is individual, ask yourself how much do I want to lose, how fast…
1,764- 150=1,614 cals per day for weight loss.
Adjusting is JUST fine.
Let’s break this down in specific macros, here is where you can play with percentages, depending on your high or low carb days. First get a baseline. The recommended daily percentage is protein 40% Carbs 40% Fat 20%, to lose fat and build muscle you need to adjust to something more like this.
Protein 50% Carbs 30% Fat 20% One gram of protein has 4 calories One gram of carbohydrate has 4 calorie One gram of fat has 9 calories
Protein 50% .50 x 1,614 = 807 cals from protein divided by 4= 201 grams
Carbs 30% .30 x 1,614= 484 cals from carbs divided by 4 = 121 grams
Fat 20% .20 x 1,614=322 cals from fat divided by 9 =35 grams
So my macros for moderate carb day is 201 g of protein, 121 g for carbs and 35 g of fat. Percentage goes up for high carb days, and down for low carbs days. Then adjust your protein and fat % accordingly.Your are going to be sticking to these numbers for a few weeks, looking for trends and then making small adjustments as you go.Typically your protein will stay the same and the tweaks will happen with your carbs and fat.
High Carb, Moderate Carb, Low Carb
On high-carb days, focus on eating starchy veggies at every meal.Focus on filling each of your meals with a serving or two of starchy roots and tubers like sweet potatoes, carrots, plantains, and fruits, rounded out with proteins and greens. High-carb days should also be your most intense workout days. Think resistance training, high-intensity interval training, or sprint workouts!
On moderate-carb days, include a starchy vegetable with your breakfast and keep the rest of the day low-carb. Do a moderate hike or go for a light jog.
On low-carb days, stick mostly to higher-fat foods like avocado, green veggies, and a protein at each meal. Eat protein at every meal grass-fed meats, fish, beans and nuts and lots of non-starchy veggies.
- Fish and seafood
- Milk and dairy products
- Grain products
- Soy products ( always choose organic)
- Cereals and grains
- (Sweet) potatoes
- Whole-grain products
- Brown rice
- Raw nuts such as almonds, macadamias, and pecans
- Raw seeds such as chia, hemp, and flax
- Skip the vegetable oils and go for olive, coconut, and avocado oil (one tablespoon of oil is one serving).
Carb Cycling Schedule
- Day One: Low-Carb Day
- Day Two: High-Carb Day
- Day Three: Low-Carb Day
- Day Four: Moderate-Carb Day
- Day Five: High-Carb Day
- Day Six: Moderate-Carb Day
- Day Seven: No-Carb Day (Rest Day)