Note 1: Carb cycling is an advanced nutrition technique, I would not recommend using it as an entry level program. Instead check this post out.
Note 2: Carb cycling puts you in a calorie deficit, which means performance may take a hit. I recommend you keep your carb cycling relatively short, 4 months top.
What is Carb cycling
Carb cycling entails alternating days where you eat small amounts of carbohydrates with days where you eat higher amounts of carbs. This limits the total amount of carbs going in your body. but gives you enough energy to maintain a good level of physical activity.
Protein and fat intake stay constant every day.
There are many different ways to carb cycle, a few protocols being 4 days low carb with one day high carb, low carb during week days and high carb weekends. Whatever you choose, find the option that is best suitable for your lifestyle.
Why cycle your carb intake?
Remember that as long as you eat healthy foods, your hormones won't suffer, nothing bad will happen, it all comes down to how you organize you eating.
I only like carb cycling when it comes to leaning out. We all know that carbs is fuel for us, but we need to remember it's not the only fuel source. We can also derive energy from fats, and carb cycling enables you to tap into your fat sources easily.
The usual problem with using our fat stores is that our body uses carbs first. When you digest carbs, they either get used up asap for energy or get stored as fat. So limiting carb intake is a great way to reach your fats reserves.
How much carbs during each days?
In order to keep it simple, I usually recommend eating only a piece of fruit or berries in the morning during the low carb days. You can eat veggies (except tomatoes and carrots who are higher in carbs) during the rest of the day. Veggies also have carbs, so even though it's not the carbs you crave, you are still giving your body the best source of carbs.
During the high carb day you can have healthy grainy carbs such as rice or quinoa, any fruits. High carb days do not mean anything-I-want-to-eat days. The same rules of healthy nutrition apply to these days. It's not a cheat day, it's a day where you restock in healthy fuel for the days to come. Keep your grainy carb portions to the regular hand portion sizes and don't pig out.
Once you have tried this for a couple weeks, you can play around with how much carb to eat in each days. The first time I tried this I had to increase my carb intake in the low carb days because I was unable to workout properly.
Carb cycle and energy
If you work out a lot, you may feel ] more sluggish during the low carb days at first. But you do get used to it. You will not see progress in you physical performance like you usually do on a regular diet.
Day to day energy is not affected in my personal experience.
Carb cycling is an advanced nutritional strategy that offers a lot of individual customization. You can play around with the amount of carb you eat during each days until you reach something that you like.
I recommend you take the time to figure out how many grams of carbs you are eating each day. You can start with your low carb day between 50-100g and your high carb day between 150-250g. Remember every one's amounts will vary slightly according to their lifestyle, age, gender and training experience.
Remember that when you diet, you do it for the results, nothing else. So if you find carb cycling to be too challenging, I recommend going back to a way of eating that is better suited for you.
Enjoy those low carb days ;)