If you’re looking to lose those extra pounds you put up with all the holiday eating or are just looking to get back in shape to fit into those skinny jeans, you’ve probably considered different diets and lifestyle approaches, and carb cycling may be one of them. Carb cycling for fat loss has been gaining a lot of popularity in the recent years, and it could actually turn out to be a healthy way to lose weight as opposed to all those fad diets out there.
If you’re still not sure about how to carb cycle to lose weight, or if you can carb cycle and love carbs, here’s some help for you. Read on to discover everything you need to know about it!
What Exactly is Carb Cycling?
While there’s no actual definition for this one, carb cycling in general, allows you to alternate between high carb and low carb consumption days, and this is carried on for a period of days or even months. Carb cycling has historically been used by bodybuilders and athletes to lose weight, but in recent years, it has also become really popular among women over 40 as well as people all ages trying to lose weight.
A carb cycling diet plan is usually tailored around an individual’s physical activity and training schedule. For instance, the carb intake is higher on the days when there is strength training and a fair amount of physical activity involved and is lower on days your exercise is more cardio, such as a HIIT workout. In such a diet, protein remains constant while fats increase on the lower carb days.
Rest days will be your low macros days.
How to Carb Cycle to Lose Weight
If you think it could be great for you, here’s how to carb cycle to lose weight.
You’ll need to start with keeping a food journal or entering your macros details in an app such as MyFitnessPal. While the amount of carbs you need each day is personalized (it depends on your body type, weight, age, physical activity and a number of other factors), there is a general guideline you can use as a starting point.
Remember, as mentioned above, your activity level will determine which days are high and low carb days.
The carb cycling plan practiced in the It’s My Time Now Transformation Program is:
Regular Macros (Regular Carbs) – 40% carbs, 30% proteins, 30% fats
Low Carbs – No more than 50 grams of net carbs (carbs – fiber = net carbs), fat intake should be about 60%
Low Macros – Reduce all macros by 25%
For all days, your protein intake stays the same, at 30% of your daily nutrition. Make sure to choose healthy fats when meal planning.
Rest days will be the low macro days.
What are the Benefits?
Many proponents of carb cycling for fat loss claim that following this rather smart eating pattern could not just induce weight loss, but could also help build muscle mass and improve fitness levels in general.
There is little research to back up these ideas, however, certain preliminary studies did point to many of its benefits. Following a carb cycling diet plan has many other benefits, apart from the obvious- weight loss. It has been found to reduce insulin resistance as well, which in turn, could help slash the risk of breast cancer in women, reverse type 2 diabetes, among many other medical benefits.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting to carb cycle, as there are some people who this would not be good for.
Carb Cycling Meal Plan
One very important key to successful weight loss while doing carb cycling is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Having a calendar with your days marked and having your meals planned out in advance will help you meet the macro goals for each day.
Here are some examples of what the different days would look like.
High Carb Days
On high carb days, when you know you’ll be spending time in the gym and giving your body a fair amount of exercise, you’ll want to eat the most carbs.
- Breakfast burrito made with scrambled egg, cheese and salsa.
- Breakfast muffin made using whole wheat flour with nut butter and a banana.
- Greek yogurt topped with berries and nuts.
- Breakfast bowl of oats, fresh fruit, and nuts.
- Sandwich with whole wheat bread, turkey, mustard and avocado
- Hummus and veggie sticks.
- Tortilla filled with beans, onions, tomatoes, salsa, and cheese.
- Lentil soup
- Salad with tomatoes, bell peppers, apples, and a vinegarette.
- Baked potato dish with some shredded chicken, broccoli and cheese.
- Brown rice or quinoa with veggies and a lean meat choice.
- Pizza with a whole wheat base topped with loads of veggies and a side of hummus.
- Whole wheat pasta tossed in a homemade sauce with some veggies and a lean protein choice.
Low Carb Days
Here’s some help for the days when you’ve got to keep an eye on your carb intake.
- Scrambled egg whites with spinach and spices, side with some fresh berries.
- Fruit preserves and cottage cheese.
- Pancakes with protein powder topped with strawberries and almond butter.
- Salad with some spinach, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and other low carb veggies. Side with some Greek yogurt (preferably full fat).
- Veggie soup with a side of salad (spinach, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and vinegar)
- Burger (bunless) with turkey meat, lettuce leaves, avocado, and Swiss cheese.
- Grilled chicken breast with a side of veggies like butternut squash, asparagus etc.
- Fish with grilled tomatoes, broccoli, and green beans.
- Chicken cooked in cajun spice, some black beans, bell peppers, and onions.
Still not sure how to plan your food for carb cycle to lose weight? We’ve got a meal plan with over 50 recipes to get started with. Each day is already calculated for you to meet your macros, based on a 1500 calorie diet. If you need a 1200 calorie day, or 2000 calorie day, it is easy to adjust serving sizes.
I have enjoyed carb cycling much more than trying to eat a keto diet. With carb cycling, you are able to have a decent amount of carbs at least a couple of times per week. Short term or long term, this is a great way to reduce body fat and meet your health and weight loss goals.
Have you tried carb cycling or keto before? Did you find one harder than the other?