Carb cycling, you might be picturing a plate of pasta on a bike but this is not really what it means. So what is it? And why can it be beneficial when you are trying to cut some body fat? Here is a quick explanation and some tips to get you started!
Carb cycling is changing the number of carbs that you take in based on your energy level. For example, when you have a heavy leg day, you take in a lot of carbs.
On rest days you minimize the number of carbs you eat and higher your fats. You increase your carbs on training days because your body will need more energy to do the exercises.
So, on rest days, you lower your intake of carbohydrates, you can keep this to an ultimate minimum or have a set amount of carbs. You need to increase your fat intake to make up for the loss of calories from the carbohydrates.
If you want to lose body fat, you still have to be in a caloric deficit. Just keep in mind that a gram of carbs contains 4 calories and fat 9 calories.
Carb cycling has become very popular since it is easier to create a big caloric deficit. Normally when you are in a deficit your energy levels will decrease. This can be prevented by smartly planning your carb intake.
Carb cycling is becoming very popular because it makes it easier to create a big caloric deficit. With a big caloric deficit usually, a lack of energy occur which can mess with your workouts. By cycling your carbs this can be prevented, and strength can be maintained as much as possible.
Should I start carb cycling?
As mentioned before carb cycling is mostly used by people who need more energy because they are cutting. The longer your body is in a caloric deficit the harder it gets to maintain your strength with lifting.
Eating more carbs before your workout can prevent this lack of energy during your workout. Of course, it won’t fully make up for the fact your body needs more food, but it can help you a bit.
Carb cycling is usually recommended for people who are cutting and need more energy during their workouts. It can be very beneficial for people who lead a sedentary lifestyle but have high energy requiring days.
For example, you work a desk job 5 days a week but workout and do cardio on the weekend.
What about protein?
The intake of carbohydrates and fats will differ every day according to your level of activity. But your protein should stay roughly the same every day, about 1.5-2 grams of protein per kg body weight.
It is even recommended for people in a deficit to up this a bit more, to maintain as much muscle mass as possible. Protein turns into amino acids in your body, this will help your muscles maintain and recover after a workout.
An easy guideline
If you choose to start carb cycling here are some guidelines to get you started:
Low carb days: 0.5-1 gram of carbohydrates per kg of body weight. 1.5-2 grams of protein. And 1-1.5 grams of fat.
High carb days: 4-5 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body weight. 1.5-2 grams of protein. And 0.3-0.6 grams of fat.
A short list of high carb food sources: rice, pasta, oatmeal, potatoes, and fruit.
A short list of high-fat food sources: nuts and seeds, fatty fish, dark chocolate, avocados and olive oil.