Carb Cycling for Weight Loss and Muscle Gains

by Marnie Bii | March 22nd, 2023 | Diet Plans, Healthy Eating

healthy food (400x400)Although strict low carb diets work for the majority of people who try them, weight loss or muscle gain plateaus may require the reintroduction of carbohydrates into the diet. Instead of simply reverting to a carb heavy diet, you can try cycling high carbohydrate ingredients into your meal plan at regular intervals. Carb cycling tends to gently shock the system into making the changes you are working toward. There are several ways to approach this new way of eating. Check it out.

Creating The Plan

The great thing about carb cycling is that you can choose the gram allotment that works best for your needs. Start with a low carb diet under 20 grams a day to let your body normalize to using ketones for energy. From there, try a two day carb increase by bumping up intake to 50 to 100 carbs a day. On heavy lifting days, you could even bring up your carb intake to 200 grams if your body responds well. You may also vary your carb intake on a daily basis based on the amount of exercise you fit into your schedule. Keep a notebook to track how well you adjust to the change in nutritional values.

Picking The Foods

On high carb days, resist the urge to choose junk foods, even if they fit your macros. You want to fuel your body with highly nutritious carbohydrates, which are found in whole grains, root vegetables and fruit. Turning toward junk food will not only push your calories far out of range, but it will not provide your body with the vitamin and nutrient levels it needs.

Keep your protein levels high and fat intake moderate even on high carb days. Try to eat well balanced meals consisting of starchy or sweet vegetables, like potatoes, parsnips, carrots and squash, alongside lean meat, fish and eggs. On low carb days, cut out the grains, starches and sweets, including most fruits, to stay under 20 grams a day. Remember to subtract fiber content of vegetables from the total carb content per serving to land on the total net carb amount.

Assessing Results

If you are not happy with the results, you can continue to tweak your diet and exercise plan until your body responds. Make sure to give each change several weeks to work its magic. If you cycle through the changes too quickly, you will not know which ones inspired change in your body composition.

If you’re trying to lose weight, alter the rest of your macros to maintain a caloric deficit. If you’re carb cycling for increased strength alone, you may raise your calorie intake for the day.

Keep a close watch on your daily water intake to keep dehydration at bay. As your body alternates between using ketones and glucose for fuel, you may notice increased thirst and strange weight fluctuations. You can stay on neutral ground by consuming around a gallon of fluid a day, most of which should consist of plain water.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.