Carbs don’t have to be your enemy. In fact carbs are responsible for providing you with the required energy to hit those hard workouts and are partly responsible for effective recovery & growth. Carbs are often dropped from diets when the goal is fat loss. The truth is that low carb diets over a long period of time may help you lose weight, but you’ll lose that weight all over, including your hard earned muscle gains. Your workouts will lack energy and you won’t be able to recover as well or as quickly. Carbs becoming fat, is mostly down to timing and excessive amounts.
Carb Cycling is a process for changing your carb in take each day, switching between low and high carb intake on nominated days. Some will manipulate this as a basic schedule eg. Three days of low carbs followed by one day of high carbs and then simply repeat it. This can work, but it’s aimed more at less active individuals who are just looking for general weight loss.
To use Carb Cycling most affectively, try matching it up with your training routine. In a very basic sense, carbs are energy, if you consume high carbs on a day which you have not consumed a lot of energy or been to the gym for example, then it’s logical to assume your body won’t be putting all those carbs and energy to use that day, instead electing to store it as fat.
So, try matching a carb cycling up with your training schedule. Look at your training routine and split your training schedule in to 3 different days. Rest Days, Medium Intensity and High Intensity. You know your own body best, but for most, Legs training days tend to be their standout highest intensity day, which makes sense given it’s such a big muscle group and you would expect energy consumption to be very high on days including this workout. A 30minute bicep blast for example, would classify as a medium intensity workout.
Now, take your highest carb intake day. If you’ve used your macro calculator you’ll have a good idea of this. Your highest carb intake is now your carb intake for intense workout days. You can then calculate your medium and low carbs days from this. Everyone is different and it’s a personal discovery process to figure out how low carb you can go before it starts to affect your physical energy too much or deteriorates your mood. A good starting point to test would be to use 60% of your highest carb day for medium carb days and 30% for low days. Following this you plan could look something like this:
Remember that carb cycling is a tool to help burn fat. So if this is your goal you should already be eating cleanly. Meaning your carb sources come from oats, whole-grains, potatoes, quinoa etc not refined carbs or those with added sugar content. If you’re serious about burning fat then you’ll appreciate that high carb days doesn’t mean fast food day!