“Carb cycling” is a common theory in the fitness world. Why do people carb cycle and how do you even attempt to carb cycle? I am a firm believer in carb cycling and use my own formulations to not only keep my body responding but to enable me to maintain my results. I believe carb cycling is important for 2 main reasons. The first is that our bodies are amazing machines and will adapt very quickly to whatever we do. In order to be “smarter than our bodies” (if this is possible) we have to constantly change things up! If you eat the same thing, day in and day out, our bodies will quickly adapt and stop responding. The second reason is if we eat the same amount of carbs each day, we run the risk of having a surplus in glycogen (stored energy) and therefor that extra energy can be turned into fat. Imagine a balloon filled with air. The air is the “glycogen” or stored energy and as you keep blowing air into that balloon, you run the risk of having too much air and the balloon popping. In our bodies, this excess of “air” is the accumulation of unwanted body fat that gets stored. By constantly depleting and filling our glycogen stores, we can aim to avoid this over abundance of “air” or glycogen and therefore allow us to reach our ultimate fitness goals.
Many of us can recall the low carb, high protein diet we call “The Atkin’s Diet”. The idea of cutting back on carbohydrates and increasing protein intake works for a short period of time but isn’t always the best and safest way to go. Remember, our bodies are smart machines and will adapt to any type of diet or program we follow. This is why so many people experience a plateau in their fitness efforts. When your body adapts to what you are doing, it stops responding. This has other negative results too… Your get frustrated, so cortisol levels increase and this added cortisol halts your weight loss efforts even more. Then you are so frustrated and not getting results that you turn to bad food choices. These foods often are often loaded with Carbs, which your body hasn’t had in a while… so what happens, you start to store the excess calories and you start to completely reverse your results. You get even more frustrated and just throw in the towel and give up!! You see how this can be a slippery slope… All this can be avoided if you learn to manipulate your macronutrients and carb cycle. I am not a fan of a year round low carb diets and I think you can see why! They are not healthy, maintainable and realistic for life!
I’m sure that nearly everyone has tried some type of “diet” in hopes to lose weight and get into the best shape of their life! I am sure many have been unsuccessful or maybe successful but I can bet the results, have been short lived. If you are looking for that one “program” that is something you can maintain and consider a plan for life, this is what I call living the lifestyle! It is not a diet, it is not a quick fix, it is a plan you can follow for life! There is a reason the root of the word “diet” is DIE!! Our goal is to trick the body into using stored fat (adipose tissue) for energy through manipulating our carbohydrates!
By controlling our carbohydrate intake and supplementing with proper ratios of other macronutrients, we force our bodies to burn stored fat as an energy source.
I have found carb cycling to work for me and several of my clients. If you want to get started and learn how to cycle your carbs, check out my simple and effective introduction to carb cycling.
The cycle has 2-3 days of moderate carb days followed by a single high carb day then followed by a low carb day and repeated. Protein forms the foundation of each meal plan, and remains constant throughout all 3 days. Fat is lowest on high carbohydrate days and higher on lower carbohydrate days and moderate on your medium carb day. The plan looks something like this (MODERATE, MODERATE MODERATE, HIGH, LOW, MODERATE, MODERATE, LOW…)
The low-carbohydrate days is where the body will first burn through stored carbohydrates, and then burn stored body fat. The moderate and higher carb days are to preserve lean tissue and replenish your glycogen stores while tricking your body.
Following a carb cycling program AND including regular cardio and weight training you WILL see results and best part is, you will KEEP them.
Here is a basic idea of how you should begin your cycle program:
LOW: 30%
Keep in mind, these are ranges and a basic guide. Without me knowing your exact body, activity and goals, I cannot tailor this carb cycling plan to be a perfect fit for you. But I can guarantee it works as a solid foundation in learning your body and how to manipulate your macronutrients! Feel free to start out a little lower and play with the numbers depending on how your body responds. Every body and metabolism is different so you have to see what works for you! There is NO cookie cutter carb cycling plan!
A few tips for learning how to Cycle your carbs:
-You want to at least give yourself about 4 weeks on a set program before making any adjustments.
-It’s important to be sure the majority of the carbohydrates in your diet are “complex” carbohydrates only. Complex carbs come from foods that are digested slowly. Foods such as oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, whole-grain breads, yams, sweet potatoes, vegetables, beans are great examples of good sources of complex carbs.
-Avoid sugary foods. Sugary foods are absorbed much faster than complex carbohydrates. Simple sugars cause a rapid rise in blood sugar where complex carbs do not have a rapid effect blood sugar and don’t impact insulin levels as much as simple sugars do. This rapid rise in insulin is what causes the “crash” often experienced after eating a sugary food.
-Every body has a different metabolic rate with unique energy requirements based on variables such as food intake, body composition, exercise, stress, normal day to day activity and your genetic predisposition. It is impossible to create a nutritional program that will meet every individual’s dietary needs. This is why you have to play with your numbers and make adjustments accordingly.
-You should anticipate losing 1-2 lbs each week. However, use the mirror and your clothes as a guide. Every metabolism is different; it will take a few weeks to get an idea of how your body is responding. If after about 4 weeks or so, you find your body is not responding to the diet, it is time to re access your numbers and make some changes to your percentages.
-In my programs, veggies are FREE foods and I do not count them in my carb counts! I consider all veggies free except peas, carrots, corn, beets and of course your root veggies such as yams and sweet potatoes.
-Once you have designed your program and committed yourself, the hard part is over! You have just created the foundation for your lifestyle balanced plan toward lifelong success!
-Allow yourself a realistic amount of time to achieve your goals. It will take some time, energy and patience to reach your goals, but it is completely possible and you Can do it!!!
Combine your carb cycle program with a consistent exercise regimen, including both cardiovascular and resistance training and the right supplementation and you WILL get results!
For a more detailed Nutrition and Training plan that incorporates my Carb Cycling Methods check out my Ultimate Shred 365 Plans.