atimbers742 Posts: 1 Member
edited March 2017 in Food and Nutrition
When it comes to going on a fitness journey, arguably the most important thing to have in line is your nutrition plan. Today, I am going to briefly share with you what I believe to be one of the hidden gems of nutrition that I actually implement myself: Carb Cycling.

Some of you may have heard of carb cycling while others may have not. When it comes to starting a diet, you need to plan how you will progress as time goes on. You must do this because fat loss plateaus can and will happen if your diet and routine remains the same. Typically people do what is called "linear dieting" where they choose an amount of protein, carbs, and fats that they will consume on a daily basis. As time goes on and weight/fat loss stops for a week or so, they either drop calories or they add more cardio. When you get deep into these kinds of diets, your morale and energy levels tend to be pretty low. This approach, however, does work greatly but is definitely not for everyone.

Carb cycling, however, goes about things a little differently. It can be customized to the individual's wants and needs, but typically has three different days of nutrition that cycle throughout the week: Low carb day, medium carb day, and high carb day. Each of these days play a particular role. Medium/Low carb days are meant to be the days where you are depleting your body's stored glycogen levels so that you may begin to burn more fat for fuel. The medium day, however, is meant to provide a little more energy than the low carb days so that you can still go out and have optimal workouts (some people have low energy on low carb days) as well as keeping metabolism up. The high carb days are meant to replenish your body with energy and ramp up your metabolism after a certain amount of lower-carb days.

So how do you go about carb cycling? Typically you have total control over it! Most people plan their higher carb days on harder workout days (legs for example) and the lower carb days on easier workout days (arms, cardio, or rest days) due to a decreased amount of energy. This kind of diet allows you to eat more flexible all throughout the week. You get to enjoy a lot more carbs 12 weeks into this diet vs 12 weeks into a linear diet. This diet does wonders for fat loss due to the constant "refeeding" of carbs due to the medium/high carb days. This ramps up metabolism and gets slowed down fat-burning, sped up! It is a truly a very enjoyable diet that WILL get you amazing results!

[Edited by MFP Mods]


  • SLLRunner
    SLLRunner Posts: 12,943 Member

    Carb cycling works well for some, not so well for others. There is certainly no magic to it. Just find the program that is right for you because you can stick with it.

    Remember this: no weight management program is right or wrong, it's all about the program that is right for you to reach your goals. :)
  • psuLemon
    psuLemon Posts: 38,112 MFP Moderator
    I personally love carb/calorie cycling. I only do a high and low days, I do not incorporate keto days... at least not yet. But it is by no means a magic bullet, improve fat loss or muscle gains over a convention standard split of macros. On the low carb days, it's true, that fat oxidation may go up, but so does fat storage. It's really only a difference of substrate utilization. Eat more fat, use more fat.... eat more carbs, use more carbs.

    I find it's been beneficial mainly for compliance/adherence reasons. I love the high carb days as it allows me to eat a ton of volume to support my lifts. I hate the low carb days because it's very little food.

    If people want to know the actual science around carb cycling, I would recommend reading the below. Mike Matthews puts it in perspective very well.
  • StealthHealth
    StealthHealth Posts: 2,417 Member
    it's not really a secret though, is it?
  • jessef593
    jessef593 Posts: 2,280 Member
    edited December 2017
    I’d rather just have a flexible diet. I don’t believe in restricting ones self. If I want to eat a carton of strawberries. Then That’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’ve made considerable progress by purely counting my calories, both in regards to building muscle and cutting fat.