The fitness industry is always throwing around new terms and fads that supposedly help with weight loss and weight maintenance. Well, we’re going to look at one practice that has produced tangible results in those practicing it, and why you should consider this lifestyle moving forward.
What the heck is Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling is a style of eating that involves planned increases and decreases of carbohydrate ingestion on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Although you might not realize it, there are generally three different kinds of daily carb intakes:
- High-carb days: This refers to days when you are ingesting about 2.5 grams of carb per body weight.
- Low-carb days: This refers to days when you are ingesting about 0.5 grams of carb per pound of body weight.
- No-carb days: This refers to days when your total carb intake is less than 30 grams altogether.
So what’s the point in cycling between these three different carb quantities?
For starters, on your high-carb days, your body replenishes glycogen stores so you can train more effectively. It also helps in the release of hormones that help with muscle protein metabolism and your overall fat burning rate. Lastly, it spikes insulin levels to help preserve muscle tissue.
When you switch to low-carb or no-carb days, the body goes into a maximum fat burning mode, allowing us to build muscle while gaining little to no fat. This can help you lose fat, maintain physical performance, or overcome a weight loss plateau.
There’s no formal definition for carb cycling, but the basic principle is that you alter your carb intake based on your varying needs throughout the week, month, or year.
– Edwina Clark, registered dietitian
How Do I Schedule My Carb Days?
There are a variety of approaches to scheduling your carb cycling calendar, but many people approach it from a training/rest day or body composition goal perspective. Many will reduce carbs on a rest day, adding them back when they build muscle with strength or interval training.
Why You Need Carbs
Not all carbs are created equal. Complex carbs contain more nutrients, starch, and fiber versus simple carbs which are just sugar. Your body needs complex carbs for fuel, proper digestion, and blood sugar control.
The fiber in complex carbs slows down the absorption of sugar, so your body can maintain a more stable and balanced blood sugar level. Whereas the sugar in simple carbs is absorbed rapidly and causes spikes that your body must combat with increased insulin, which over time leads to insulin resistance. Also, fiber is a pre-botic that the healthy bacteria in your intestines need to feed on to survive.
As a woman, carbs are especially important as they are used for everything from energy to balancing hormones, to thyroid maintenance. Our bodies were made to burn carbs, just try to go for complex instead of simple and you will be doing your body a favor.
Fast Fit & Fab
Here at Fast, Fit & Fab, we encourage women to explore a variety of health and fitness plans that are right for them. With carb cycling, you’re using low-carb days for fat-burning, but then replenishing your glycogen stores on high-carb days so when your body needs glucose for important functions, it has quick access. Feel free to contact us to learn more about this practice.