A lot of people have asked me about what my thoughts are on nutrition/diets, etc. I have had a lot of recent success with Carbohydrate cycling. What is carb cycling? Well, let me post this article I have written to better explain it. This is part of some new content that will be going up on my new website that is launching in a few weeks…
The Benefits of Carbohydrate Cycling (Part 1)
Chances are if you take working out seriously or if you are an athlete that you have heard of carbohydrate cycling. What does this mean? It is a method in which you fluctuate your level of carbohydrate intake on a daily basis. It might be something like 4 days of low carbs, 1 day of moderate carbs, and 2 days of high carbs in a week. So what are the benefits? What is considered low carbs? How much junk food is allowed on high carb days? These are all questions we are going to answer in this article.
What gave me the motivation to write this article was that I have been having tremendous success with carb cycling. I have done some low carb diets before, but, I remember feeling like I had zero energy. My workouts were suffering, and, I was getting light headed a lot. I just remember feeling miserable and wasn’t seeing any tremendous results. So, I switched to a form of carb cycling about a month and a half ago and have fallen in love. I went from 224lbs to 211lbs in those 6 weeks, and my bodyfat has dropped considerably. My performance has actually improved throughout that entire time as well. I just wanted to share why people use it, how they use it, and how you can structure your own plan.
Why do people use it?
Most people use a form of carb cycling to enhance their performance on their most intense training days. They want to make sure that they have enough fuel to train hard and to recover properly. Think of it like a gas tank. On days where you’re going pedal to the medal you want a full gas tank. On days where you are just cruising around town at 25mph it might be ok to cruise on a quarter tank of gas.
We all wish we could eat more carbs, don’t we? I mean, isn’t that what 99% of people say their problem is? Carbs just taste too good! They are the easiest type of nutrient to get in all foods, and, the western diet is loaded with them! Fast food, canned food, pasta, pizza, bread, cereal, and many other common foods have super high carbohydrate content. I am not saying that when you carb cycling it is ok to eat junk. However, what I am saying is that by doing carb cycling it allows you to eat pretty high carbs on 2-3 days per week at least! This not only will give you a lot of great energy on those days, but, your perception of your diet will be better. You might not get so tired of eating so clean so to speak.
Taste is Key
A lot of high protein foods don’t taste as good as high carb foods, it’s just the way it is. Pizza, cereal, and pasta all taste better than eggs, tuna, and a chicken breast. This would all be so much easier if it was the other way around, wouldn’t it? The wear and tear of low carb diets can be very big, so, this allows a break a few times a week to let up on the gas pedal. Something like this can truly help adherence to the diet plan, and, result in long term success. We are human beings after all, so, ensuring that we enjoy what we eat a few days a week is a great thing on our overall attitude towards our diet.
Basic Carb Cycling Template
An easy way to structure your carb cycling is to go something like this: High Carb, Medium Carb, Low Carb, High Carb, Medium Carb, Low Carb, Low Carb. That will get you through the 7 days of the week, and, it is easy to remember. There are many different layouts out there, but, this is something that I have had a lot of success with). Depending on your training schedule you may even replace a medium carb day with a low carb day.
Depletion of glycogen stores before your next high carb day
The key to this set up is that you will be able to almost full deplete your glycogen stores before your next high carb day. Why is that crucial? That is crucial so you can really dig into that stored fat and start burning it! It is crucial to have those high carb days so you can still perform well and function properly. I still do believe carbohydrates have a place in everybody’s diet. The key here is just to slowly ramp your carbohydrate down so you can continue to deplete your glycogen stores.
Eat most of your carbs on your high carb day near your workout
The other key is that eat most of your carbs on your high carb day around your workout. This nutrient timing is extremely important in ensuring that you continue to master step #1 above. They go hand in hand. The whole basis of carb cycling is based on the idea that you only pour gas into the gas tank when you need it. So, you plan your carb intake very carefully and make sure you burn most of it when you work out (so you can begin burning fat). Try to place most of your carbs in your post workout meals to ensure this process takes place.
In Part 2 we are going to start breaking down the exact amount of carbs, fats, and proteins you should be eating each day (according to your bodyweight). I wanted to give a huge introduction to carb cycling so you will have a better understanding of the how and the why before I get into the exact formulas and numbers. Cycle your carbs so you begin with high, medium, then low carb days. Place most of your carbs around your workout, and, make sure not to eat ALL the carbs you want on high carb days. Stay tuned for Part 2 so you can truly begin to see benefits of what a program like this can do for you.
Darrell, N. Effects of carbohydrate feedings on muscle glycogen use and performance during intense exercise. http://cardinalscholar.bsu.edu/handle/handle/183335
Rivera, Hugo. (February, 2011). Carbohydrate Cycling for Fat Loss And Why You Should Not Eliminate Carbs. http://www.labrada.com/blog/lean-body-challenge-transformation-contest/carbohydrate-cycling/
Hawley, John. Fat Adaptation Science: Low-Carbohydrate, High Fat Diets to Alter Fuel Utilization and Promote Training Adaptation. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=XqRLwfJNOrsC&oi=fnd&pg=PA59&dq=carbohydrate+cycling+diets&ots=g5tLSqrnaL&sig=g-ozrNqSN9FsOrI8PZSQONAFB2s#v=onepage&q=carbohydrate%20cycling%20diets&f=false