The Science Behind Carb Cycling
The idea of carb cycling is not a new one; it has been around for a few years now and it has become a very popular eating technique amongst fitness gurus and novices alike. The reason? It is believed that the concept of cycling carbs is one of the most simple yet effective ways to improve fat loss and increase muscle growth. For those of you who don’t know much about this phenomenon, here’s all you need to know about carb cycling and why it works.
What is carb cycling?
Carb cycling is a method of eating that involves planned increases and deceases in your daily carb intake. While we all know that healthy carbs are a necessity for muscle growth and overall performance, studies suggest that the most important part about eating carbs is about eating the right amount at the right time. Through the process of carb cycling, you can manipulate your carb consumption to maximize muscle growth while increasing fat loss.
How does carb cycling work?
Generally, when carb cycling, your week is divided into three types of days. These include no-carb days (yes you read that right- no-carb days are a real thing); low-carb days and high-carb days.
On no-carb days you would load up high-fiber vegetables (broccoli, onions, mushrooms) along with lean protein (chicken, tuna) and a serving of good fats (avocado). Stay away from starchy foods such as rice, potatoes, oats and any other high-carb veggies such as pumpkin, gem squash and zucchini.
On low-carb days your goal is to consume roughly 75 grams of carbs in total. Here you would eat those fibrous veggies mentioned above while including two servings of clean starch i.e. sweet potatoes, brown rice or fruit. Try stay away from carbs that are hypoallergenic – i.e. carbs that contain gluten, soy or dairy. So no cous-cous or pastas on these days.
High-carb days should depend on your activity levels. But generally, you should consume about 200 – 300 grams of carbs on these days. Try stick to clean carbs while eating plenty of protein and healthy fats.
NOTE: High-carb days are not an excuse to binge and go overboard, they are designed to reset your muscle-building and fat-burning hormones.
Typical carb cycling week:
Day 1: No carb
Day 2: Low carb
Day 3: High carb
Day 4: No carb
Day 5: No carb
Day 6: Low carb
Day 7: High carb
Using these three daily eating protocols, it’s possible to alter the body’s hormones in order maximize fat loss and muscle gain by manipulating insulin. The low carb days are aimed at helping your body push fat burning while the high-carb days help maximize muscle growth and replenish carb storage.