Intro to Carb Cycling
Carb cycling is one of my favourite ways to lose fat and keep muscle, or to build muscle with minimal fat gain. Basically, the whole idea of it is to eat more carbs on the days that you lift weights, and less (sometimes zero) carbs on days that you don’t lift weights. Below, I will discuss the 4 types of days to cycle through, and when to use them.
When carb cycling, there are 4 types of days you can include: Low carb/high fat (LCHF), moderate carb/moderate fat (MCMF), and high carb-low fat (HCLF), and Full Day Fasts (FDF). Protein is kept high on each of these days (BW x 1.5 for males; use 0.8 for females). For example, a 200lb male would eat 300g of protein per day, while a 125lb female would eat 100g.
This is how you will eat on non-workout days, or days that you do intervals. This day, you will not eat any starchy carbohydrates, and limit fruit consumption to just berries and/or apples. Eat a higher amount of healthy fats on this day (nut butters, olive oil, coconut oil etc).
This is how you will eat on workout days (days that you lift weights). The first meal after your workout, include 2-4 palms of starchy carbohydrates (I’m a huge fan of sweet potatoes). Eat a normal amount of healthy fats each meal (except after your workout). Limit fruit consumption to just berries and/or apples (2 servings of fruit maximum).
I only recommend including this day if you are trying to build muscle. Take this day and replace it with one of your Moderate Carb/Moderate Fat Days (once a week). This is the best day of the diet, and will work best on the day that you have your hardest workout (usually heavy lower body lifts, or full body workout). On this day, eat starchy carbohydrates (2-3 palms) with every meal after your workout (this is also known as carb backloading). Feel free to eat as much fruit as you want. Try to workout before 6:00pm. Ingest as little fat as possible this day (take your normal amount of fish oil, though).
A full day fast is pretty much exactly how it sounds. Eat nothing this day, and do not go to the gym. Sip on BCAAs (BW x 0.2g) and a greens drink throughout the day. If you have work to do, get it done this day because you will be super productive. This day should only be used once throughout the week, and is only used for Fat Loss. (If you have a history of eating disorders, do not practice full day fasts).
Carb Cycling for Fat Loss
Carb cycling is my favourite way to lose fat. You will only be using LCHF days, MCMF, and FDF days when losing fat. Fat loss is a battle, and you have to treat it like one. You will know that you are losing fat when your body starts to crave different foods more often. For example, I always know that I’m losing fat when I start to crave nut butters.
With that being said, obviously, you need to decrease the total amount of calories you eat per day. For most people, this can easily be achieved by eating no starchy carbs of fruit on LCHF days. This is also known as a ketogenic style of eating. Every meal will consist of a good amount of protein, veggies, and a serving of healthy fat.
On MCMF days, you will only eat starchy carbs your first meal postworkout. Don’t be skimpy on the amount of carbs you eat in this meal. Enjoy them. You earned them. A good starting point is BW x 0.5 grams. For example, a 200lb man would eat 100g of carbs in this postworkout meal. For more aggressive fatloss, use BW x 0.25.
If you are already moderately lean (under 15% BF for men, and under 20% BF for women), your goal is only to be losing 1 to 2 lbs per week (excluding the first week). If you continue to drop weight too fast, either replace your FDF day with a LCHF day, or slightly increase the amount of fat you are eating. This ensures safe and sustainable weight/fat loss.
Carb Cycling for Muscle Gain
I already talked about this in my article called Eating for Muscle Gain, but I will briefly summarize things here.
- You will use all three days mentioned at the beginning of this article.
- Eat more of everything (protein, carbs, fat).
- On MCMF days, a good starting point for carbs is BW x 1 (a 200lb male would eat 200g of carbs).
- On HCLF days, a good starting point for carbs is anything above BW x 1.5.
- If you are gaining too much fat, lower your amount of carbs by 50g and stay there until you are not gaining.
- Lift heavy ass weights in different rep ranges. Always try to lift one more rep, or 5 more pounds. Like fat loss, muscle gain is also a battle, but a different kind of one. As Paul Carter says, “you need to lift until you bleed from the ears”.
- If you’re not gaining weight for more than 3 weeks, then you need to eat more.
Earn Your Carbs
When it comes to controlling body composition, carb cycling is the way to go. Combine this with daily intermittent fasting, and you are sure to be lean, compliant, and an overall badass. Reward yourself for lifting weights by eating carbs. You have to earn your carbs, though. Most people diddle-daddle in the gym by only training their arms, abs, and chest, then they go home and eat a ton of carbs. No one ever improved their physique by doing this routine (except the juicers on Jersey Shore). Do you honestly think a guy as dumb as The Situation has solid advice on anything? Maybe you should teach him a thing or two about carb cycling.
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