Everyone is looking for the next new thing when it comes to dieting and exercise, especially with summer right around the corner. For a method that is relatively new and challenging, carb cycling may be the next great thing in the effort to overcome a weight loss plateau.
While one’s first thought of this method may consist of riding a bike and eating a cheeseburger, it is actually a way to alternate or “cycle” through the daily intake of carbohydrates.
According to Ryan Andrews from Precision Nutrition, carb cycling is an intense and advanced level strategy for nutrition. It is used more specifically by physique athletes, body builders, who have a more particular nutritional approach.
There are a variety of factors that determine how and why you cycle carbs, according to Ruddy Mawer on HealthLine. It can be anywhere between determining the intake based on the fat levels in the body or the type of training that is planning to be performed, like for a special competition or event.
While there are more determining factors that shape an individual’s carb cycling approach, they all have one main goal: to adjust the amount of carbs eaten or not eaten based on each person’s needs, wants, and exercise goals.
According to Mawer, some people alternate their carb intake every other day, but it can also be done weekly or monthly depending on that person’s preferences. For example, one week of carb cycling may consist of three low-carb days, two moderate-carb days, and two high-carb days, Mawer said.
Between carb days, protein intake is typically the same and doesn’t fluctuate as much, according to Mawer. He also states that the intake of fat and carbs depends on which day has the dominant of the two, meaning low-carb days equals a high fat day and vice versa.
Something important to keep in mind is that this should not be in use long term. Depriving the body of carbs and calories for long periods of time will do more harm than good. And just so, Andrews said that brief periods of deprivation of certain carbs can be better for the body in the long run anyway.
There are more benefits other than the ones mentioned above that regular diets may not offer. Mawer explained that the carb cycling method can also improve insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, and metabolic health during the low-carb periods, while high-carb days can have better effects on hormones like the thyroid, testosterone, and leptin.
If done correctly, there is no reason for carb cycling to be unsuccessful. The best aspect is that it can be modified to suit different needs and goals for each person. Whether it’s daily changes to monthly, it all depends on what works for you.
Written by: Alex Dunn