Carb cycling is a popular diet and nutrition strategy that involves alternating your daily carbohydrate intake to achieve specific goals such as weight loss, muscle building, or improved athletic performance. The idea is that by manipulating your carb intake, you can optimize your body’s metabolic processes and better control your energy levels and hunger.
What I love most about carb cycling is the flexibility it allows me to have throughout the week. My days are not always the same, some days I'm really busy, somedays I have more time. On the very busy days, it's nice to eat less and not stress about getting enough calories in. And then on quitter days, it's nice to take the time to enjoy larger meals.
The basic premise of carb cycling is that you eat more carbohydrates on days when you’re physically active or training, and less on days when you’re not. For example, on high-carb days, you might aim to consume 2-3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight, while on low-carb days, you might aim to consume 0.5-1 gram of carbs per pound of body weight. By doing this, you’re providing your body with the fuel it needs when you need it and limiting it when you don’t. You can also set this up to accommodate for your social outings, in which you usually eat more carb heavy meals.
If you work out everyday, have more carbs on your tougher days (like leg days) and less carbs on easier days (like shoulders or arm day).
For those who are new to carb cycling, it’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The exact amount of carbohydrates you consume on high-carb and low-carb days will depend on your individual goals, body composition, and level of physical activity. It’s important to start with a moderate approach and adjust as needed based on your results.
How I do it for myself
Here is exactly how I start off when I carb cycle.
Daily calorie intake: I aim for 3000. (Bases on my goals as of Feb 2 2023)
I highly recommend converting this to a weekly caloric goal because it'll make the next steps easier. So for me it's 3000 x 7 = 21000 calories per week.
Daily protein intake: 90kg (my current weight) x 1.8 = 162g per day. (648 calories)
Daily fat intake: 90kg x 1 = 90g per day (810 calories)
Important to note that my daily protein and fat intake will stay the same each day. Only my carbs will change.
My daily protein and fat caloric intake is 1458 already. Now all I have to do is divide up the week into high, medium and low carb days.
Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually quite busy so they will be lower carb days. Wednesday and Sunday are more quiet so they will be higher carb days. Friday is hit and miss so I'll keep it on the lower side.
Here is how it looks when I enter the carbs
Monday, low carb day: 1458 cal from protein and fats + 1000 cals from carbs (250g)
Tuesday medium carb day: 1458 cal from protein and fats + 1500 cals from carbs (375g)
Wednesday high carb day: 1458 cal from protein and fats + 2000 cals from carbs (500g)
Thursday, low carb day: 1458 cal from protein and fats + 1000 cals from carbs (250g)
Friday medium carb day: 1458 cal from protein and fats + 1500 cals from carbs (375g)
Saturday medium carb day: 1458 cal from protein and fats + 1500 cals from carbs (375g)
Sunday high carb day: 1458 cal from protein and fats + 2000 cals from carbs (500g)
This set up gives me 20706 calories which is close enough to my goal.
From here, I'll give this a go for two weeks, see the results (if any) and modify accordingly.
While carb cycling can be an effective way to achieve your nutrition and fitness goals, it’s not without its challenges. One of the biggest challenges is sticking to the regimen, as it requires discipline and planning as you just saw. Additionally, it can be difficult to know exactly how many carbohydrates you’re consuming on any given day, especially if you’re eating out or relying on processed foods.
To overcome these challenges, it’s important to plan your meals and snacks in advance and to have contingency plans when you go out. It’s also helpful to keep track of your progress and make adjustments as needed based on how your body is responding. Tracking your macros for the first few weeks will also be beneficial so you can get a good idea of how much carbs you eat each day.
In conclusion, carb cycling is a flexible and effective nutrition strategy that can help you reach your weight loss, muscle-building, and athletic performance goals. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fitness enthusiast, carb cycling can provide you with the structure and discipline you need to reach your goals as long as you take the time to plan it out!