Is Carb Cycling the Right Way to Lose Weight?
Low-carb diets are nothing new. In fact, they have been around for several years, and many experts have weighed in on their effectiveness. One new type of low-carb diet becoming popular today is carb cycling, and many swear by it for losing weight quickly and keeping it off.
Before you jump onto the low carb train, you need to understand what carb cycling entails, what makes it useful, and when carb cycling is not the proper solution.
What is Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling is a term that encompasses various types of low carb methods, but at its core, it involves cycling high-carb and low-carb days. On your lower carbohydrate days, you increase fat intake, while on higher carbohydrate days you decrease your fat content for that day. Regardless of which day you are on, the protein intake stays the same.
The reasoning behind carb cycling is that when you workout, your body needs more carbohydrates for fuel. Therefore, on strength training days, you would increase your carb intake, while on cardio days, moderately increase intake, and on rest days have low carb intake.
Most individuals who try this technique use the 5-day carb plan, which consists of:
- Day 1: Low carb day with a goal of fewer than 70 grams of carbohydrates (with under 50 grams being the most ideal).
- Day 2: Now comes a high-calorie day where you must limit gluten, dairy, and soy, but eat more substantial meals and consume 50 percent more calories than you would on your “regular” day in the plan.
- Day 3: No carbs or fast entirely today. On this day you might consume nothing but liquids, such as water, coffee, tea, and lemon water. If you are not doing a fast day, then you would have a no-carb day which means consuming less than 25 grams of carbohydrates the entire day.
- Day 4: Now you have reached the regular day. Today you focus on healthy foods and portions, and keeping up with your usual caloric intake.
- Day 5: The low-calorie day which requires that you take in 25 percent fewer calories than your “regular” day amount.
These days are then cycled through. You would schedule high-intensity training on low-carb days, strength training for high-calorie days, and low endurance workouts on regular or low-calorie days with a rest day on your fast or no-carb day.
Does Carb Cycling Work?
For the most part, carb cycling works, but only when done correctly. If you cut your diet of too many carbohydrates, you will have difficulty functioning through the day. Furthermore, dropping too low in calories could be detrimental to your weight loss and overall health.
To carb cycle correctly, you need to understand the balance of nutrients you need in your diet, including macronutrients, proper calorie intake per weight loss goal, and the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay fueled for workouts.
If you are interested in losing weight and staying healthy, consider taking a course from the Edison Institute of Nutrition. Our holistic nutrition courses teach you how different foods work, and how you can adequately count macronutrients so that you can lose weight.