Carb cycling is exactly what it sounds like - cycling your carbs. Whether you’ve hit a weight loss plateau or want to build more muscle, increasing your carbohydrates can actually improve your body’s ability to burn body fat and achieve your goals. Sounds crazy right? Stick with me. Studies show that short term increases in carbohydrate intake can increase leptin levels, a hormone that plays a pivotal role in weight regulation and energy expenditure. Constantly putting your body in a caloric deficit can drastically slow down your metabolism over time. Carb cycling could be exactly what you need to enhance your weight loss results and get back to dropping those lbs.
What Is Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling is a rotation between having low and high carbohydrate days. Although eating more carbohydrates may sound like a perfect opportunity for a cheat day, I assure you it is not.
The purpose of carb cycling is to increase leptin levels after a long period of caloric restriction. When you’re in a caloric deficit over a long period of time you need to boost your metabolism, to get things moving again. The purpose of a carb cycling is exactly that. Carb cycling increases your caloric intake to refuel your body after being in a depleted state. A study conducted at the Institute of Physiology, in Switzerland found that during a 3-day carbohydrate refeeding window lean female study participants were able to increase basal metabolic rate by 7%, along with leptin concentration by 28% [R].
Compared to carb cycling, cheat days are an all-out assault to your diet, with no restrictions or limitations. Carb cycling days are still tracked and controlled to be above your normal caloric restriction without going into a food coma.
When you’re consuming a low-carbohydrate diet, fasting, or you’re in a constant caloric deficit leptin levels significantly decrease. Leptin is fundamental in weight regulation, specifically satiation, or your body’s response to fullness. Higher leptin concentration can aid in appetite suppression and make it easier to lose weight.
Carb Cycling To Lose Weight
When you’re trying to lose weight, you are constantly in a caloric deficit which means you’re ingesting fewer calories. When you eat less calories, you’re also consuming fewer carbohydrates. Glycogen which is derived from carbohydrates provides your body with the optimal energy it needs to perform everyday activities and power your performance in the gym. Finding yourself in a caloric deficit for a prolonged period of time can wreak havoc on your mood, energy, and weight loss results slowing your metabolism. Carb cycling can help increase your metabolism to get you back on track.
How Does Carb Cycling Work?
The amount of carbohydrates depends on several factors such as weight, height, age, and activity level, goals, and muscle mass. However, for the average active individual looking to lose a few lbs. the best way to carb cycle is to base it on activity levels and goals.
The classic carb cycling schedule alternates between high and low days six times per week. Depending on your exact health and fitness goals, this can be modified. To lose weight for instance, you could aim for five low carb days and two high carb days per week. Alternatively, if gaining muscle mass is your goal, you could modify your carb cycling schedule and eat higher carb days four days per week and low carb three days. It’s also important to space out your high carb days, dependent upon activity levels.
What’s not measured, is not managed. Tracking and monitoring tour food and macro intake when you’re trying to achieve a specific goal such as weight loss is everything. Especially when you’re carb cycling. On days when you’ve filled your activity rings on your apple watch, walked 10,000 steps or crushed it in the gym, you need to cycle and eat more carbs to fuel and refuel your body. But on the days, you’re at home binge watching Netflix and eating pizza, those extra carbs encourage your body to increase blood sugar and produce more body fat. By eating less carbs on your rest days your body will depend more on using body fat for energy instead of the glycogen from the carbohydrates.
Carb Cycling Macros
When you eat more carbohydrates, you’re eating more calories. Therefore, your macros need to be adjusted in order to account for the extra carbs. Protein levels should remain moderate while your fat intake should be lowered by 20-25% for an increase in carbohydrates. Increasing your carbs after you’ve been in a caloric deficit can be challenging, especially when you’re trying to eat clean carbohydrate sources and get an extra 50-70g. Swolverine’s Clean carbs are an easy and convenient way to get an extra 24g of clean carbohydrates into your high cycle days before and after your workouts. Clean Carbs are made with real whole-foods, sweet potatoes, yams, oats, and blueberries, to help you meet your macros, increase fullness, improve your performance and weight loss results. Did I mention, it's also gluten-free.
Carb Cycling: Takeaway
If you’re experiencing a weight-loss plateau or need to dd more muscle mass, carb cycling day could be exactly what you need to increase your basal metabolic rate, and accelerate your results. Structured carb cycling is very beneficial to help keep balance and control of eating foods you enjoy in moderation, in addition to achieving your body composition goals. However it is important to note, that no carb cycle is the same. There is no cookie-cutter method to carb cycling and magic macro ratio. Be prepared to closely monitor and adjusting your schedule based upon your results. If you really want the desired results you’re looking for and don’t know exactly how to get them, then work closely with a nutrition coach. They’ll help you measure, manage, and monitor your results to identify what carb cycling method is best and how many carbs you need to enhance your weight loss.
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