Carbohydrate is an essential human nutrient but when it comes to diet plan, the carb intake is mostly restricted as people think it causes them to gain weight. But it is not the entire reality, there are two types of carbs; good and bad the ones we commonly consume in our daily life are Complex carbs (Bad Ones). The ones that we get from processed, refined, and junk food. However, there are also good carbs available which are very healthy for the human body. In this article, we will talk about the carb cycling approach.
Typical carb cycling is one of the health trends that make people curious a lot, due to the concept of consuming carbs even on a diet plan. People think that in this diet, they can eat whatever they want like fast food, desserts everything but that is not true. The carbs that are included in this diet are healthy ones like oats, quinoa, whole bread, pastes.
It is a big misguided concept in the world of nutrition that body transformation depends upon exercise more than on nutrition. Some people think that it is okay to eat junk food if you are doing proper intense workouts. There is no doubt that exercise is very crucial but having a healthy diet is very essential also.
You cannot just do one thing and neglect the other, both works in synchronization. Likewise, in carb cycling, dieting is as important as exercise. You do intense workout only on high-carb day and little physical activity on the moderate-carb day, however, on a low-carb day, there will be no physical activity.
What Does Carb Cycle Mean?
It is a process of caloric manipulation in which you introduce carbs someday and carb restriction to others. This diet plan is very flexible, as the biggest issue of people with diet plans is that they do not contain enough carbohydrates which makes them non-consistent. With carb cycling on other hand, you will more be fulfilled and you do not have to starve for days.
By doing this diet, your body acquires a state of caloric deficit which results in weight loss. The carb cycling diet is very sustainable, your weight will start losing slowly but it will be permanent even after you come back to your normal diet.
On this diet, you usually switch between a high-carb day and a Low-carbohydrate diets day with one moderate-carb day in between
Weekly Carb Cycling Plan
This diet plan has a direct relation to exercise, without it there will be no results. Here’s what your week will look like during carb cycling:
- Monday: high intake (175-275 grams) and intense workout
- Tuesday: moderate intake (100-125 grams) and light workout
- Wednesday: low intake (25 to 50 grams) and no workout
- Thursday: high intake (175-275 grams) and intense workout
- Friday: low intake (25 to 50 grams) and no workout
- Saturday: moderate intake (100-125 grams) and light workout
- Sunday: low intake (25 to 50 gram of carbs) and no workout
How Does Carb Cycle Work?
Carb cycling is a very new and different approach towards dietary health and its maintenance. The whole scientific concept behind it is carbohydrate manipulation, which is a biological mechanism. This diet plan tries to match the body’s need for glucose and calories.
It also results in insulin manipulation, which is very vital and beneficial for the human body, it maintains the insulin levels very well.
On a high-carb day, the diet plan provides the required carbs to recover from an intense workout. It also helps to retain muscle glycogen which reduces muscle breakdown and enhanced its endurance performance.
On a moderate-carb day, the carbohydrate intake is average which helps in the regulation of leptin and ghrelin which improves the appetite and weight processes in the human body.
On a low-carb day, your body switches to energy-based metabolic processes known as ketosis that burns fat as a fuel source.
This diet plan provides you with the actual benefits of carbohydrates, which optimize your body functioning and maintain a healthy body status.
Sample of Carb Cycling Food Plan
High/Extra Carbs Day:
On a high-carb day, you will consume 180-200 grams of carbohydrates. You will do weight training or any other intense workout for this day. You repeat the high-carb diet 3 times per week.
Sample diet plan for the high-carb day:
Breakfast: cooked oats with sunflower seeds and berries, and 1 bowl of yogurt
Snack: 1 fruit such as Cantaloupe
Lunch: Baked potatoes with hummus with mixed vegetables and fruit.
Snack: 3 oatcakes
Dinner: A large cod fillet with baked potatoes and steamed peas and carrots
On a moderate-carb day, you will consume 90-100 grams of carbohydrates. But you have to do aerobic exercise on this day to balance out everything. There is only 1 moderate-carb day in the whole week.
Sample diet plan of the moderate-carb day:
Breakfast: High-protein yogurt with 1 cup of berries and 1 tablespoon of mixed seeds
Snack: 2 small oatcakes
Lunch: 6 oz. o of chicken salad with vegetables
Pre-workout snack: whey protein shake with a Berries
Dinner: 6 oz. of lean beef with sweet potato chips and a serving of kidney beans with vegetables
On a low-carb day, you will consume 25-30 grams of carbohydrates. However, there will be no workout as the daily carb intake is quite low and you need to retain body energy as much as you can.
Sample diet plan for the low-carb day:
Breakfast: A salad containing citrus fruits, blueberries, yogurt, and almonds.
Snack: Some Watermellon and a natural bar
Lunch: Cooked quinoa with vegetables and hard-boiled eggs
Snack: berries and handful of walnuts
Dinner: chicken steak with quinoa and stir-fry vegetables
Relationship with Weight Loss
Studies have shown that carb cycling does help in weight loss(1). Most athletes follow this diet for better physical performance but it is very beneficial for normal people as well. Other diet plans focus on the caloric deficit for the burning of fat, which you can also achieve through variations to carb.
You can easily reduce your weight by carb cycling methods or advanced carb cycling if you maintain a caloric deficit in it.
Besides weight loss and muscle building, there are also some other health benefits of this diet plan.
It has positive effects on your hormone levels like leptin, testosterone, thyroid.
It maintains the levels of insulin in your blood which also aids in weight loss.
Better metabolic health:
It has very beneficial impacts on your metabolic processes which makes it faster and also maintained.
Healthy cholesterol levels:
When you consume healthy carbs, your blood cholesterol levels also get very healthy and regulated.
Tips and Tricks
There are some tips and tricks that you can use while carb cycling schedules, they will enhance your experience even more.
When there is a certain nutrient-focused diet, we usually neglect other nutrients a lot. It is not healthy for the proper functioning of the body. So, we must focus on other nutrients as well in the carb cycling food. Fiber is one of the crucial nutrients that is a must in our daily eating routine.
The best fiber sources that you can have are vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprout, kale, carrots. Just eat a small portion of these vegetables at every meal of the day. It regulates body weight by maintaining blood sugar levels.
Protein is a very significant nutrient, every cell in our body needs it for its maintenance and repair. So, it is ideal to consume at least 30-40 grams of protein in your carb cycling approach. It aids in weight loss by regulating blood sugar and stabilizing the muscular mass. High-protein intake restricts the loss of muscle mass, which makes it even more critical in this diet.
It is an important point to concentrate on unprocessed whole foods more than processed foods in your diet plan. As they are organic and much healthier to the body, providing the privileges of better weight loss. More overly, the whole foods group does not cause you any side effects, as it contains no artificial ingredients.
Omega-3 fatty acid:
The carb cycling diet is a calorie-restriction plan, in which the carbs are very minimal and moderate. So, it is important to consume enough fat, which will help you with energy requirements. So, add 4 to 6 grams of omega-3 fatty acid to your diet, these healthy fats will help you with regulated hormones, as an energy source.
Quality of food:
Some people think that on the high-carb day, they can eat anything from a pizza to a piece of cake. However, it is a misconception, the vital sources of carbs that you can consume on this specific day are brown rice, oats, whole-grain pasta, and bread. Just avoid eating junk food, it will not help you with the weight loss, even if you are doing 2 hours of intense workout.
Read our Overall Keto Tips and Tricks Here for more information
At the very beginning of the carbohydrate cycle, you may feel sickness which is known as ‘carb flu”, it occurs as your body is adapting to the diet plan.
The symptoms include are:
- Mood issues
- Disturbance in sleep
- Tiredness and muscle cramps
The symptoms are very minor and they do not last for a long time, usually, it is between 3-5 days. Drinking enough (8 glasses) water and electrolytes will help you to minimize the side effects.
But if the symptoms are severe, the best option is to contact your doctor rather than doing remedies on your own. Also, if you are;
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have adrenal issues
- Have digestive disorders
So, trying this diet is not a good idea for you
It is a very new approach towards a healthy lifestyle. It not only emphasizes your nutrition requirements but also on physical health with other couples of benefits. It is a very comfortable and easy diet plan, as you do not have to add anything new and exclude anything, you just have to reschedule your normal diet plan wisely.
People admire this diet plan a lot due to its convenience. You also do not get bored of it as you will have a change every other day. It will benefit you a lot.