March 25, 2019 6 min read

Carbohydrates is one of the things that is most often omitted from most diet trends and yet a new diet trend suggests that instead of omitting carbs from your diet, alternate between high carb and low carb days to maximize the benefits that it can offer. What’s this diet? It’s called Carb Cycling.

What Is Carb Cycling?

Carb cycling is the inclusion of carbohydrates in your diet but with the condition that you alternate between high levels of carbohydrates on days when you are more physically active and a decreased level of carbohydrate intake on days when you are relatively doing less physical work.

The purpose for changing the levels of carbohydrates in the diet is to allow the body to use glycogen to help performance during highly physical days which also helps in repairing muscle tissues that may have been broken during the course of the workout. It also gives the body an opportunity to improve the hunger regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin. On days when there are fewer activities that would require high levels of carbohydrates as a source for energy, it is advised to reduce carbohydrate intake to induce the body to use more of the fat stored in the body as a source of energy.

Changing up your diet every now and then can help you in your weight loss journey

Benefits of Carb Cycling

While carbohydrates are often considered as a deficiency in a person’s quest for better health and physique in other diet plans, this is not the case for carb cycling. It highlights the importance and the benefits of carbohydrates in the diet and why having days with high levels of carbohydrates is good for your health goals.

Improved Muscle Performance- carbohydrates are used as fuel for the body when doing strenuous physical activities. When you consume an increased number of carbohydrates on days where you do high intensity workout routines, you help improve your body’s performance in doing the workout routine and it also helps in providing your body with the energy to repair your muscles after the workout.

Carbohydrates can be used by your body for improved muscle performance during high intensity workouts

Eating high amounts of carbohydrates on days that are physcially demanding can help improve your performance

Helps With Weight Loss- contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not necessarily the reason why a person gains so much weight. Carbohydrates are meant to serve as a ready-fuel for the body as you move throughout the day. It is when you eat too much carbohydrates that it is then turned into fat by the body in the form of glucose. The excess carbohydrates that have been turned into glycogen is then stored in the muscles to be used when the body is in need of reserve energy. By controlling the amount of carbohydrates that you eat such that you only eat enough for your energy needs, it can still lead to a calorie deficit. Weight loss is all about the reduction of the calories that you take in and controlling your carbohydrate intake will help you not only build muscles, it will also mean that you can do more high-performance activities which can burn more calories leading to a higher calorie deficit.

Aids In Insulin Sensitivity- when your body has an increased number of carbohydrates through the food that you eat, insulin sends out signals to the different parts of the body - such as the liver and the muscles - to grab the glucose in the bloodstream and store them for later use. Carbohydrates that have turned into glucose that’s stored in the muscles turn into fat when the cells become too full of it. On low-carb days, your body becomes more attuned to the insulin signals of your body and therefore, it heightens your body’s sensitivity to these signals which makes your body more efficient sending the proper signals to the body on whether to store glucose or to release these stored energy to be used as fuel. This then leads to an increase in your body’s fat burning capacity even on days when you may not be doing a lot of physical activity.

Improves Hunger Cues- one of the most important things in creating a healthy eating habit is to have the ability to recognize hunger cues of true hunger. When you do carb cycling, it helps the body to recognize the signs of true hunger through the hunger regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the body’s satiety hormone which tells you when you’ve had enough food and therefore, decreases your appetite. On the other hand, ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when your body is truly hungry and sends signals that you need to consume food, thereby increasing your appetite. When you follow an eating habit that enables you to eat food that is enough for your body’s nutritional requirements for the activities that it will be doing throughout the day, then you effectively train yourself to recognize your body’s cues and to act on these accordingly.

Going on carb cycling can help your body become more attuned to insulin signals

Knowing when you're truly hungry can help curb carb cravings

What You Need To Know

As with any diet regimen, the highlight is in keeping the body healthy and in providing it the nutrition that it needs to keep all bodily functions running smoothly. This being said, there are things that you need to do to make sure that you are still doing the right things for your body no matter if you’re doing a low carb or high carb day.

Be Consistent With Fiber- one of the things that you get from most carbohydrate-rich food is fiber. The number one thing that you should consider when following this diet is that you should have a decent amount of fiber in your diet which not only helps in weight loss, it can also help in keeping your immune system healthy through the insoluble fiber that feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. Making sure that you remove added sugar from your diet and sticking to fibrous food and food that offers complex carbohydrates is one of the best ways to making the most out of this diet plan.

It's not an excuse to take in unnecessary added sugar even on high carbohydrate days

Keeping your calorie count in check is important to any weightloss plan

Know Your Needs- since weight loss requires calorie deficit, it is important to take note ofhow much calories you need throughout the day in order for you to plan your meals accordingly. Set a calorie goal for yourself that you can follow so that you know just how much calories you need to lose weight, if that is your goal. If your goal is to bulk up on muscle, then it would also mean adjusting your caloric intake to attend to your body’s needs. In any case, knowing how much you need is very important in making sure that you are able to prepare your meals and your activities in order for you to reach or maintain the goal that you have set for yourself.

Should You Do Carb Cycling?

Carbohydrates isn’t the enemy when it comes to general fitness and your desire to gain and maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is the fuel that gives your body the energy it needs to get things done and it also helps in keeping your brain energized to attend to the things that you need for it to do. The thing about carbohydrates is that you need to know how much of it you need on your day-to-day activities in order to maximize the benefits that it can give you and to minimize the chances of it being stored in your body and turning into unnecessary fat.

If you’re wondering if you should do carb cycling, the answer is, it’s worth a shot. It promotes an awareness of how much food you eat as much as it highlights the quality of food that you eat. It also makes you more aware of how you plan your days so that you are able to reach your goals without having to feel deprived of things that you may need as a prerequisite for the activities that you have decided to do. It also gives you some added control on the food you eat as well as some sense of responsibility for the decisions that you make when it comes to your nutrition because it was you who designed them yourself to fit the lifestyle that you want.

Considering carb cycling? Why not give it a try and see how it can work for you?

The important thing to take away from this is that your health is your number one priority and making the most out of the things that can benefit your body and your wellness is always, always a good thing. Re-evaluate the role of carbohydrates in your diet and you may just be surprised that just as fat was once considered as a terrible thing to have in your diet, carbohydrates may not be the evil that it is often touted to be.