Carb Cycling: My Fat Loss Diet of Choice

We all know in order to lose weight we need to control our carbohydrate intake! For some that will mean a period of time where they will eat very little carbs. However a strict nutritional regimen of  low carbs can be hard on the body and the spirit, especially over the long haul. At some point carbohydrates will need to be reintroduced into the diet. The trick is knowing when and how much!

What is Carb Cycling? 

Carb cycling is a method of dieting that involves planned increases and decreases in carbohydrate intake. It emphasises the importance of manipulating your carbohydrate intake which plays a vital role in increasing your metabolism, refilling glycogen stores, increasing leptin and reducing potential muscle breakdown. I’ve used this diet with many clients and in particular, on myself – it works better than any other nutritional strategy I’ve tried.

Generally you have low, medium, and high-carb days, or possibly days with no carbs. The trouble is, this method is somewhat complicated for the average fitness-enthusiast as its means measuring out carbs from low to medium to high on different days of the week which requires significant planning and overthinking.

The simplest way to implement carb cycling is to just break it down into two days:

  • Training days
  • Cardio or rest days

By doing it this way, you’re not having to overthink the whole low-medium-high carb day thing. You just adjust your carb intake depending on what you’ve got planned that day. After all, you probably don’t need a ton of carbs for glycogen replenishment after a yoga session, but you might need a sizeable amount if you just did a two-hour workout in the weights room.

How much carbs should you eat?

Unfortunately there is no definitive answer, it varies person to person! I have found the best way is to eat 60% of your carbs in the meals before & after your workout. So lets say you plan on eating 200g of carb in a day:

  • Before you workout you would eat around 40g carbs (for example: 200g of sweet potato).
  • After you workout you would eat some fruit with about 30g carbs (for example: a banana or a small pack of blueberries).
  • An hour later you eat another portion of around 60g of carbs (for example: 300g of rice).
  • The rest are spread evenly across the other 2-3 meals.
  • On non-training days, eliminate carbs altogether.

Not surprisingly, the key to a leaner physique is nutrition. You can bust your ass day in day out, but if your diet isn’t where it needs to be, your physique won’t be either. Carb cycling lets you take advantage of the fat-burning effects of a low carb diet while still allowing the benefits of a regular refuel. The secret is always consistency!