Carb cycling isn’t ideal for everyone. However, it can prove to be a useful solution in the right circumstances. There are two main groups of people who can benefit from trying out this eating regime: Those who need to lose weight, and those who want to increase their muscle mass while boosting their sporting performance.
Do I Need to Lose Weight?
Some experts suggest that carb cycling is especially beneficial for anyone who needs to lose weight. In theory, this way of eating can help you to maintain your physical performance. It also provides many of the identical benefits offered by low-carb diets such as the Atkins regime. These kinds of diets can leave dieters feeling lethargic and weak. Therefore, carb cycling offers a clear advantage.
Like any other diet, the primary mechanism behind losing weight is to maintain a deficit of calories. You need to eat less
food than the body can burn over an extended period. When you adopt carb cycling along with a deficit in calorie intake, you’ll almost certainly lose weight.
Carbohydrates aren’t bad for you. However, the role of carbs is to supply an energy source for your body to burn through when you’re active. If you aren’t carrying out enough physical activity and are still eating a lot of carbohydrates, problems arise. Your body ends up storing the excess as fat.
Carbs are a great choice when you’re working out hard in the gym. Your body will burn rapidly through them to produce energy. It burns carbs rather than protein, so this nutrient can boost muscle-growth.
If you aren’t training hard, those extra carbs aren’t being burned up quickly. Therefore, the body stores all the unused glucose in the fat cells. This results in you becoming overweight or even obese.
On the other hand, if you restrict carb intake, your body cannot store the excess glucose. Instead, it turns to fats to produce energy rather than starchy or sugary foods. As a result, your body can shed fat, helping you lose weight.
Hoarding additional calories is all well and good if you have a very active lifestyle. Yet, if you aren’t moving around much, you cannot use all those calories. This leads to obesity. You therefore need to vary your carb intake from day to day. If you’re going to be hitting the gym, you can eat more carbs. If you’re going to be watching TV for most of the day, you should restrict your intake.
Another reason why carb cycling is so good for weight loss is because it makes it hard to overeat. Foods with a high carb count are usually more indulgent. We all know how hard it is to resist the urge to eat another cookie or a delicious, sugary donut. It’s a lot harder to binge eat on vegetables and proteins. Very few people will over-indulge on chicken or broccoli! Therefore, you’ll be consuming fewer calories and helping your waistline.
As carb cycling is a flexible way to diet, it can be more appealing to dieters. Knowing that you can indulge in carbs occasionally can be attractive. One of the reasons why so many people fail with other diets is because of their restrictive nature. Knowing you can never eat pasta or bread can be off-putting from the start. This leads to dieters giving up after a short while. Carb cycling’s flexibility can encourage these people to adhere to the program. As a result, they’ll lose more weight overall and maintain a healthier bodyweight.
There is also a key link between levels of insulin in the blood and carb intake. If there is a high level of insulin in the blood, fat storage becomes more likely. In turn, this hinders effective weight loss. You should take care about changing your carb intake if you’re taking insulin for diabetes. Therefore, talking to a doctor is key.
Healthy eating must also lie at the heart of any carb cycling plan. It isn’t an excuse to restrict eating to excess or over-indulge on unhealthy food. Meticulous tracking is required to be successful at carb cycling. This can promote an unhealthy attitude towards eating. Therefore, you need to take care to stay in perspective when adopting this regime. If you find it’s negatively affecting
your life in this way, you should stop and choose a different eating plan.
Am I a Bodybuilder?
Carb cycling remains a popular strategy for nutrition for athletes and bodybuilders. Those who are physique competitors are especially keen on this way of eating. They depend heavily on no or low carb days in their competition preparation cutting phase. Since glycogen is primarily water, manipulating your carb intake changes the appearance of muscles onstage. Meanwhile, creating a surplus of energy by consuming more carbs promotes better muscle gain.
Many athletes use their way of eating to minimize their fat gain and maximize their muscle gain during training. They must strictly adhere to a daily menu which is based on their body composition and energy expenditure. Also, a carb cycling program will regulate the amount of fat and protein being consumed.
A higher protein intake is necessary to promote muscle growth during carb cycling. Protein must therefore be around 30 percent
to 35 percent of daily calorie intake. Carbs in a low phase should be around 10 percent to 15 percent of total intake. These should primarily be composed of fresh vegetables.
High carb days should fall on days of intense training. This will ensure muscle recovery is faster and essential nutrients are provided. By having targeted carb intakes and regular periods of high carbs, your performance can improve.
For athletes participating in endurance sports such as swimming, cycling and running, this is good news. Varying carb intake through the year helps to increase stores of muscle glycogen.
Carb cycling optimizes the carb load so there’s enough fuel to burn when working out intensively. Nevertheless, excess carbs won’t be stored as far when you’re having a non-workout day.
Elite athletes have been eating this way for some time. They believe it helps them to boost their workout performance. At the same time, they can build muscle while maintaining a healthy bodyweight.
Bodybuilders and athletes who carb cycle also have shorter recovery times. Their glycogen replenishment gets a boost and
nutrients are delivered more effectively. As a result, they can enjoy better gains in the gym.
Is Carb Cycling Suitable for Everyone? Unfortunately, carb cycling isn’t the answer for everyone. In theory, it should be a suitable way of eating for anyone. However, some people fail to carry it out properly. This could cause health problems and ongoing issues. When you follow any restrictive diet, you need to be aware of when it’s time to stop. If you constantly crave foods which are “off limits” and feel guilty if you indulge, this is a red flag. Also, if you find that carb cycling is negatively affecting your attitude and mood, this could be a problem. It’s a sign that this way of eating isn’t for you. Also, if you’re unusually fatigued when carb cycling, this is a sign to stop. Anyone who has a history of eating disorders should avoid carb cycling. Restriction and adherence together with measuring, tracking and counting are key elements of this diet. Constantly being aware of carb and calorie intake reinforces disordered
eating patterns. This can worsen eating disorders and cause new issues to develop. People who have certain medical conditions should avoid carb cycling. People who have mood disorders like depression and anxiety may be adversely affected. Changing eating patterns can lead to worse mood swings which worsen mental health problems. People suffering from other medical conditions like heart disease and metabolic syndrome should also be wary. This also applies to those suffering from diabetes. Although carb cycling can be good for regulating insulin levels, it can be problematic for those on medication. If you’re taking insulin for diabetes already, you must talk to your doctor before trying this diet. Failing to do this could lead to damaging results for your overall health and well-being. Some other people should also avoid carb cycling. Women who are pregnant, for example, should avoid any diet of this type. They need to have a steady ongoing supply of carbohydrates that are rich in fiber to remain healthy. For the same reason, breastfeeding mothers should also steer clear of this dietary regime.
However, when carb cycling is followed properly, it should be a suitable way of eating for everyone. Many dieters find the flexibility of this regime suits their preferences. They can still enjoy carbs occasionally and this makes them feel less restricted. They also often find that the monotony of a regular diet is reduced. It’s therefore often recommended that you consult your doctor before trying carb cycling. A medical professional will be able to suggest whether it’s a good choice for you.