There are a lot of really great articles on carb-cycling and if you decide to try this way of eating out for yourself, I highly recommend you check out these articles:
This story is simply what I have been doing. This is a learning process for me. I can read all of the articles in the world, but until I experience it for myself, I am not going to consider myself the guru.
But Iíve gotten a lot of questions on how I got these results in 3 weeks while Iíve also been able to enjoy my adult beverages on Saturdays (sorry mom!) and some cinnamon toast crunch on a somewhat regular basis.
In laymanís terms, carb cycling manipulates your body so that it uses fat (your own body fat, hopefully) as fuel. If you use up all your muscle glycogen in your workouts, then your body must draw from somewhere to get fuel, and optimally, it will draw from fatty tissue as itís resource. Then, after a few days, you re-fill your muscles with glycogen to be depleted again.
Bodybuilders, bikini and figure competitors and general fat loss enthusiasts use carb cycling. It has a really great track record of fat loss while maintaining muscle and strength. But I will say, itís truly only recommended for people who are already lean, for men 15% body fat or under, women 20% body fat or under.
Now, before I get into MY take on carb cycling, keep in mind that this is my take Ė itís what works for ME. If you want to try this for yourself, I recommend hiring a coach (me.. haha.. you laugh, but Iím not kidding though) who is experienced in carb cycling to help you put together a personalized plan to meet your needs.
So for me, it is necessary to be able to eat and drink freely on Saturdays. I train on Saturday mornings which means I donít go out/ drink on Friday nights. Saturdays are also big football watching days for me in the fall, and I donít like to misbehave on Sundays because I train on Mondays. So Saturdays are MY day. If you are like me and have a serious investment in your social life, then choose a day where you want to be able to have more carbs (i.e. Bud Light.)
One thing that is cool about carb cycling is that you can really base it off of your lifeís needs. So if you know you have a date or a work function you can make that a high carb day so you can indulge a bit more.
But you donít have to always have one particular day of the week to be high carb either. It can totally fluctuate, but your high carb day should really be a day you workout because you are going to try to base your carbs around your workouts. Try being the optimal word.
Then what you are going to do is you are going to take two or three low carb days after that, before your next high carb day. So if I didnít need Saturdays as a high carb day I would probably start on a Monday with low carb through Wednesday, then on Thursday I would be high carb, then go low carb through Sunday, and Monday would be high. So it would be 3 low, 1 high, 3 low, 1 high, etc.
But because I base mine around my social calendar, I do Saturday high, then Sunday, Monday, Tuesday low then Wednesday high, followed by Thursday and Friday low.
Now, there are all these different macronutrient percentages that say a high carb day should be 55% of your calories should come from carbs and 40% from protein and 5% or less from fat. Then a low carb day should be 55% calories from protein, 35% from fat and 10% from carbs. And then some say that carbs from fiber donít count, or that you donít need to count your veggies.
Well, let me tell you, I went on a calorie counter one day and planned out a ďperfectĒ day and it was a giant pain in the ass. Also, I eat a lot of healthy fats. I have done the low carb and low fat thing before and I was miserable and stupid. Seriously, your brain does not function well without fat or carbs. Truly, Iíve found my brain only functions well when I eat a higher fat diet (hence why I love Paleo) but if you have me just eating chicken or turkey with effing asparagus all day I will be mean to you. I need avocados and coconut oil in my life on a regular basis.
So here I will tell you that you need to figure out what is right for YOU. And like I said, I will help you out with it because counting calories, macros and figuring out percentages is a PITA. (That means pain in the you know what.)
Also, this is all based on how many calories YOU need to eat as an individual. Whatís your BMR? What is your workout routine? What are your goals? All of those things need to be taken into consideration.
What I did was stuck with my typical 4 ounces of protein 6 times a day. I also eat whatever vegetables I want, whenever I want. Because you know what? NO ONE ever got fat from eating broccoli. On low carb days I eat fat with every meal but aside from my veggies, I donít touch carbs. Not fruit, not sweet potatoes, nothing. Then on high carb days I stay away from fat as much as possible. I will still have my fish oil, and there will be fat in certain things like beef and my egg yolk, but I donít add oil to anything. I wonít even use almond milk for my PWO shake.
Then this is where things get a little tricky. I base my carbs around my workouts. So I eat breakfast before I train, so at breakfast Iíll have some sweet potato or some cherries (because itís summer) then after my workout I come home and chow down on some Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Thatís only some days though, I honestly donít want to make a habit of it because I am easily addicted to sugar. A better choice would be sweet potato and more fruit. Because I freaking love fruit Ė and mostly the good stuff like mangoes and pineapple, you know, the really sugary stuff! Oh, and I should also mention that this works better if you are high carb on a training day because your muscles need to be refilled with glycogen after a workout, so itís less likely to be store as fat.
You can do two high carb days in a row, but it isnít suggested. The only times that can truly be beneficial is if you need to confuse your metabolism because you hit a plateau. And it also isnít recommended to go low carb more than three days.
So thatís pretty much it. To outline it hereís what you need to know:
Pick a day you need to be high carb that given week and work around that day if necessary
Go three low carb days, then have a high carb day
Donít make a huge fuss over percentages, find something that works for YOUR body
Donít add fat or eat high fat foods on high carb day
Eat as much fat as YOU need on low carb day
Keep your protein consistent Ė you should be eating it at every single meal, at least 1g pound of body weight
Eat your carbs around your workouts
No more than 3 low carb days in a row
Do you need help with carb cycling, setting up a meal plan or overall body composition change?
The Get In Shape Girl