Introduction to Carb Cycling
When dieting, I use an arsenal of weapons to lose unsightly excess body fat. One of the dietary procedures I institute is to cycle my carbs. Carbohydrates are used as energy by the body; they fuel our workouts, as well as providing ample fuel to be used throughout the course of the day. Ingesting carbs also replenishes our glucose and glycogen stores to prevent fatigue. Carb cycling allows you to still eat carbs from clean sources, without adding body fat, and cycling enables you to better utilize fat for burning as fuel, as opposed to burning carbs and muscle tissue for fuel.
So with this being said, do you still think carbs are bad? One of the things that most people say are how many carbs do you eat, they don’t usually ask for the fat, protein, sugar breakdown in your diets. Since carbs are in everything and are a big aspect of dieting why are they so bad.
Why do carbs get a bad name?
Carbs are not the evil villain the media makes them out to be. Improper carb timing can however, cause these carbs to be stored as fat. Carbs are not essential to the body, but they make dieting, and eating in general, a lot easier and more pleasurable… as long as the carbs are from the proper sources.
Carbs get a bad rap in the news lately, due to people jumping on the proverbial bandwagon to make a buck off the latest trend in dieting…. low carbs! There are tons of low carb foods hitting the grocery stores daily, everything from bread to Potato chips and cookies can now be found with a low carb or low fat label.
A few years back it was all about bashing fats, what will it be next year…Protein?
Now I know I said carbs were not bad, but in some cases when you do not properly run a diet you can end up adding fat instead of muscle. Carbs eaten in excess, or eaten at the wrong times, can help to add fat tissue to the body, but they are not a bad thing if incorporated into a diet properly. Eat the majority of your carbs early in the day and at the post-workout meal, tapering off on them as the day goes on. Never eat carbs late at night, opt for protein instead. Sugar laden junk foods are always bad, and they are comprised mostly of carbs, and fat.
If people eliminated, or cut down on junk food alone, they would lose a lot of weight, and look and feel much better for it. Quitting junk food however, is usually too much to ask for most people.
Another problem is eating carbs too close to bedtime, when your activity and expenditure of energy is lessened. This is not a mystery, and all that’s needed by the person looking to lose body fat is a lifestyle change! Cut down on eating crap and you’ll be well on your way to better health, increased energy, and a leaner body.
Attitude is Everything
When talking to bodybuilder’s and others, that want to lose fat, or increase muscular definition for competition purposes, I often find a trend in their thinking that they can still eat things in moderate portions that are usually considered taboo, while on most diets.
Terms like “re-feed,” “cheat meal,” and “cheat day,” almost always come up.
There can be no half measures. You must get into the proper mindset and stay completely focused on achieving your goals, if you screw around and cheat once, you will repeat this cheating again and again. I know this from early attempts at getting cut-up, and from experiences learned from training my clients. Remain steadfast on your mission to getting lean, and you most definitely will.
What we do when we cycle carbs in the manner that I advise, is to have three low carb days, followed by two higher carb days, to aid in recovery, and to replenish glycogen. This gives us just the right amount of carbs to be used as fuel without becoming an excessive amount.
Always use carbs from clean foods not junk foods of course.
I might add that it is vital to keep a nutrition journal when cycling carbs to be able to chart progress and make adjustments during the diet. This takes the guesswork out of dieting, and can also be looked back upon in the future to see how the body responded to certain tactics, and is an invaluable tool. Some tweaking will of course be necessary for most, as some of us are a bit more “carb sensitive” than others. Activity level, training intensity level, age, as well as sex, will determine how much you will need to adjust things. After a time you can decide whether you want to raise them a bit, or lower them, based on your results, and your body’s feedback. It is a good practice to try this technique well in advance of your contest to sort of “learn” your body, and how it responds to this procedure.
So lets say for a 5-day diet you would do:
Day 1: 200 grams
Day 2: 200 grams
Day 3; 125 grams
Day 4: 125 grams
Day 5: 125 grams
Repeat this cycle for however long you want to be or have to stay on this type of dieting.
Eventually, you will more than likely reach a fat burning plateau, and this is the time where we can implement a “tweak” in the cycle plan. The body is resistant to change and it will eventually adapt to any stressors put upon it so after a time you may stop burning fat as fuel.
This is a good time to suddenly eat 3-4 good high carb days in a row or to simply eat a “cheat” meal or have a “cheat” day, just to trip up the metabolism, and get it jump-started so to speak, thus enabling the fat burning process to resume.
These are the best sources of clean carbs to use when dieting in general, and when cycling carbs:
- Baked Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes
- Brown Rice
- Cream Of Wheat
When you start carb cycling you should see a sudden drop in your body fat % and you should see great changes to your body after a month or possibly sooner than that. Keep in mind that exercise is a factor in carb cycling as well. Its like a process, you need both diet and exercise to completely achieve the body you want. Carb cycling is just one form of dieting there are so many other forms of dieting that you could do. There are different ones for people just starting to be in the fitness lifestyle and there are different diets for competitors. I would suggest getting a trainer or a coach to help you through the process until you think you can do it on your own successfully.