The practice of carb cycling has been floating around in the weight lifting world for quite some time. Many fitness competitors use the method to build mass while also stripping their body of fat at the same time. The basic theory behind carb cycling is that the dieter consumes a normal amount of carbs one for a few days and then reduces the number of carbs for a few days. It is similar to the South Beach Diet and to Atkins in that it limits carbs, but only does so for a few days so dieters won’t go through the deprivation that many South Beach and Atkins followers go through.
Executing the Carb Cycling Diet
There are several ways to carb cycle. One is to eat 100 to 125 grams of carbs a day for four days and then switch to 400 or 500 grams on the fifth day. Then the dieter would return to the low-carb portion of the diet, repeating the cycle. If four days is too long a time to go without carbs, some prefer a two days on, two days off format. Reduce the carbs for two days and then up the intake for two days. If you don’t want to measure grams, a simple approach is to just cut your carb intake in half for four days and then go back to eating your normal carb intake on the fifth day or apply this same principle to the two on, two off format.
Why the Diet Works
Cycling in carbs keeps your metabolism elevated whereas depriving your body of carbs can actually lead to a significant slow down in your metabolism. This diet works because it keeps your body guessing. Your body doesn’t have time to adjust to low carbs or high carbs so it keeps working hard to keep up with your nutrition. Basically, the diet continually shocks your system into revving up your metabolism.
Advantages of Low Carb/High Carb Days
Because of days with low-carb intake, you will get the same slimming results as you’d get at the beginning of an Atkins or South Beach regiment. What you don’t get on this diet is the psychological effects of completely removing a whole food group from your food regimen. Anyone that has ever been on a high protein/no carb diet knows about the headaches and cravings that come along with not eating carbs. Carb cycling lets you have the benefits of no carb diets without the deprivation.
Disadvantages of Low Carb/High Carb Days
You may find this diet difficult to do on the low-carb days, especially if you are training hard. You may want to adjust your workout schedule so that on your low-carb days you are doing less demanding exercises. Leave the heavy weight lifting days or circuit training for the days that you are eating carbs.
Seeing Weightloss/Fitness Results
Many weight trainers and fitness competitors use this diet because it avoids plateaus. Carb cycling allows muscle growth while also leaning your physique. Not to mention, you won’t go crazy on this diet. You’ll feel satiated because you know that your low-carb cycle will last just a few short days and you’re high-carb cycle will refuel and replenish you.