Carbohydrate cycling is not a new model, or radical approach to diet. Conversely, this is a simple approach to diet that is physiologically and psychologically gratifying. There are three types of days in a carbohydrate cycling diet: high carb, low carb, and no carb days. Carbohydrate manipulation is the key, while protein and fat intake remain constant.
This plan is based on eating six times per day. Despite its name, protein is the foundation of the carb cycling diet. Regardless of which type of day it is, you must eat a minimum of 1/6 of your total daily minimum requirement of protein at each meal. You can eat more, but to eat too much at one meal is not justification for an incomplete amount at another. Most of your protein requirements must be satisfied from very lean protein sources.
By reducing carbs on some days and eating more on others, your body is better able to maintain muscle mass by shedding body fat. This plan lets the individual who struggles with body fat add mass while keeping body fat levels in check:
- Match protein use to body weight.
- Follow four moderate carb days
- Eat high carbs for eight days
- Make adjustments
What is it about carbs that makes them so interesting compared to proteins and fat? Carbohydrates are natural, water-soluble substances composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. They are the preferred source of nutritional energy. Americans have reduced their use of complex carbohydrates, and have increased their ingestion of simple and refined carbohydrates in recent years.
Carbohydrates are categorized into one of three groups depending on their chemical makeup:
- Monosaccharides – also known as simple sugars or the sugar molecule, this is the most basic unit of carbohydrates. The number of carbon atoms in their ring distinguishes these basic units from one another. Glucose and fructose fall into this category.
- Oligosaccharides – created when 2-10 monosaccharides are bonded together. Comprise sucrose, lactose, and maltose.
- Polysaccharides – formed when three or more monosaccharides are bonded together. Comprise starch, fiber
Carbohydrates should be the center of your diet because they give you the bulk of the energy needed to sustain exercise. Protein is the next essential macronutrient, as it will help in reloading energy stores lost during exercise and will supply the amino acids that the muscles need to rebuild. Fat is also needed in the body, to absorb some vitamins, cushion the organs, insulate the body and make sure nerve impulses are efficiently sent and received.
So the answer to best possible performance is to preserve a good balance of the three macronutrients described above. If solid foods simply do not agree with your system pre-exercise, try a liquid meal or a sports drink. During exercise, it is important to maintain blood glucose levels by ingesting 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Post exercise is also crucial for nutrition.
There's no question that a low carbohydrate diet can be helpful. However, carbohydrate cycling just might be the most effective low carbohydrate technique for losing body fat ever invented. The practice of alternating lower carb days with higher carb days instead of keeping carbohydrates steady permits you to burn fat at a faster rate during the lower carb days and then to replenish your glycogen stores on your higher days.
The constant theme you'll find when examining the diets of all bodybuilders is that they do not ever totally do away with carbs. Although most bodybuilders do not totally remove carbs from their diet, it is important to note that they DO limit carbohydrate intake. Bodybuilders are also very careful to get their carbohydrates from quality sources like brown rice, vegetables and whole grains.
Some bodybuilders view carb cycling as one of the ways to sustain a consistent competition-prep diet without the pressure of denial. By design, a carb cycling plan is intended to give you something to look forward to, although this type of diet does not mean you can treat yourself to the prohibited foods of your fantasies. Most people find themselves anticipating, if not salivating at the thought of an imminent high carb day. It is a mental incentive that makes the stricter days of your diet more tolerable.
Carb cycling enhances fat loss without sacrificing metabolism or doing harm to your body. Before implementing a carb cycling diet, it is important that you have already been observing a nutritional program in which you consume supportive meals consisting of lean protein, starchy and fibrous carbs every 3-3½ hours. The ploy is to leave out starchy carbohydrates from your diet for a period of 1-4 days, and then bring them back before any damage can be done to your metabolism or the production of your thyroid hormone.
|Fibrous Carbohydrates||Starchy Carbohydrates|
|Green beans||Lima beans|
|Brussels sprouts||Black-eyed peas|
|Red peppers||Sweet potatoes|
Carbohydrate cycling is an easy but powerful method for muscular development. Frequently, when bodybuilders enter bulking phases, they overeat to make certain they're providing their bodies with all the protein and nutrients they need for maximal growth. The outcome is storing more body fat than needed. By using carbohydrate cycling, you help manage the hormones of your body, giving yourself an anabolically advantageous situation for maximal muscle development without the useless addition of extra body fat.