When it comes to weight loss and changing eating habits, the main area of focus is carbohydrate intake. Most dietitians, fitness instructors, ketogenic diet plans, etc., suggest not consuming carbs to reduce body weight.
In fact, the very basis of the ketogenic diet is to stop all carb intake. This is done so that the body can enter a state of ketosis and burn fat instead of losing weight.
However, more medical experts suggest that permanently stopping a carb-intake-based diet is not only bad for you but also not sustainable in the long run. A good alternative to this is to eat fewer carbohydrates or go on a carb-cycling diet.
Therefore, if you are looking for a carb cycling plan, there are a few things to consider, such as benefits, drawbacks, and conditions under which it is not recommended.
Today, we have a detailed look at everything you need about carb cycling.
What is Carb Cycling?
Essentially, it is a way to regulate your hormone system, maximize fat loss, and lose body weight without extreme dieting.
Carbs are of two main types- simple and complex. Simple carbs contain two sugar molecules. Complex carbs, on the other hand, have three or more. Complex carbs include starches, like potatoes, cereals, and legumes.
Carb cycling requires a meal plan with high-fat content, low carb alternated with moderate or high-carb, and low-fat days. Therefore, the carb cycle allows for a lot of flexibility.
Low-carb intake days switch your digestive system to burn the fat stores to generate energy. This helps to improve the overall metabolic flexibility and manipulates your system to burn fat as energy fuel in the long term.
On the other hand, the high-carb days allow your body to regain its glucose levels, helps your system feel full, prevent muscle breakdown, and not crash due to low energy.
What Does Carb Cycling Do?
Carb cycling works by making your body turn to the fat reserves in your body while you need energy (for things such as lifting, exercise performance, etc.).
Consequently, during low-carb days, your body burns fat, leading to fat loss.
However, in the end, all of the weight loss is a calorific deficit. Therefore, if you go for a carb cycling diet with a calorie deficit, then you will lose weight.
Example of a Carb Cycling Diet
The best and simplest example of a carb cycling plan is alternative high-carb days followed by low-carb days.
Therefore, if you are carb-loading on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, you can opt for mostly protein-based food on the other days.
However, it must be mentioned that high-carb days do not mean you can gorge on junk food, sugary drinks, or other things that cause your blood sugar to spike.
Instead, you should opt for complex, refined carbs such as whole grains, whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, brown rice, oats, and quinoa. These are slow-digesting carbohydrates rich in nutrients and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
The Benefits of Carb Cycling
High-carb days may be beneficial for regulating your hormones. For instance, it is suggested that thyroid hormones, testosterone, and leptin levels may be brought into equilibrium.
High-carb days could also help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation and promote faster iron absorption by the body.
Improve Insulin sensitivity
Carb cycling, like keto, has been known to reduce insulin resistance. This means that your body becomes more sensitive to insulin and allows the body’s cells to use blood glucose more effectively. Insulin sensitivity, in turn, helps in reducing body fat.
It has been suggested that elite athletes can improve their performance with carb cycling. High carbohydrate intake before performances gives them a boost of energy to perform at their peak.
When a low-carb post-workout meal follows this, it helps to maintain energy, reduce muscle breakdown, and promote muscle mass.
No restrictive dieting
Compared to other kinds of diets, carb cycling is not as restrictive. Therefore, whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant, or have any such issues, you can alter your diet to fit foods that appeal to you.
The Drawbacks of Carb Cycling
Like any diet, carb cycling also has its own set of limitations, which include the following:
Like any other diet, carb cycling moderates your fat intake. Consequently, you may end up craving high-carb foods and certain nutrients that you would have been used to consuming before going on a low-carb diet.
For some people, a low-carb diet can lead to low blood sugar levels, which may manifest in several physical symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, lethargy, and altered sleeping patterns.
Lack of fiber
Because you are supposed to eat low-carb foods, often essential complex fiber ends up missing from the diet. This can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as bloating and constipation.
Should You Try It?
Unless your doctor has specifically advised you due to any underlying health issues, you are pregnant, or you suffer from an eating disorder, carb cycling is relatively safe to try.
Carb cycling is very useful for people who are usually used to high-carb diets and are, therefore, looking to shed body fat by limiting the grams of carbs they consume regularly.
It is very useful if you have hit a weight loss plateau. How many carbs you consume in a day affects fat gain, muscle glycogen levels, and the distribution of each pound of body weight. Switching your diet prevents your digestive system from reaching homeostasis.
Carb Cycling Programs / Guides
Statistically, the wellness and weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar phenomenon that continues to churn out products and fad programs yearly.
Unfortunately, with the rise of false advertising, it has become quite clear that the collective consumer conscience is compromised.
In light of this, our experts have taken a thorough look at some of the most popular carb cycling guides that are selling like hotcakes in the market right now and tried to see how they hold up to such scrutiny.
For this evaluation, our experts have taken a look at features such as cost-effectiveness, adaptability of the program, whether it caters to specific groups such as endurance athletes, the quality of meals suggested daily, overall market performance, and customer reviews.
With so many different kinds of diets in the market aimed at fat loss, it is easy to get confused. Consequently, people end up putting their health at risk with non-sustainable crash diets.
Not everyone has the willpower and determination to undergo a rigorous dieting system. Some young and healthy individuals may be able to do it in 1-2 weeks.
But, when they slack, they could easily go back to their old eating habits and even put on more weight than before. This can lead to a yo-yo effect, causing health problems.
Carb cycling for weight loss is an all-man approach that simplifies this diet and makes it accessible to individuals from all spheres of life.
Apart from a seven-day sample diet plan, with a full breakdown of grams of carbs, essential micro-nutrients, and macro-nutrients, this plan exposes the skeletal structure of a good meal.
Participants are also provided with very interesting and useful tips that help them stay on track to lose all that stored fat, enhance muscle gain, increase protein intake, and fight off cravings on a low-carb day.
Every piece of information and science is broken down into chunks, molded into practical pieces of advice, and implemented through a “Checklist” of steps to ensure the best results for the participants of the carb cycling programs.
From the creative minds of Shaun and Karen Hadsall, the 7-Day Keto Carb Cycling Blueprint is unique because it is currently the only cycle that is specifically aimed at people who are over the age of forty.
This is revolutionary because, with age, the metabolism slows down significantly, the hormonal system goes haywire, and the skeletal system becomes more fragile.
Consequently, weight maintenance becomes harder. This is also why older people, particularly older women, have a harder time shedding body fat.
Keto Carb-Cycling is very useful and beneficial for middle-aged and older folks. It is because it works in tandem with aging and the dramatic “hormonal shift” that your body goes through when you’re past your thirties.
Dieting at such an age can put serious stress on your body and cause heart conditions, and in menopausal women, it can lead to malnutrition and bone degeneration.
That is why the Keto Carb Cycling program does not significantly alter your fat intake or daily grams of carbs, even on low-carb days, because it does not believe that a high-carb diet is an enemy.
Instead, this carb cycling guide breaks down the number of carbs consumed drastically over rest days to give you faster and more effective results.
As if that wasn’t enough, this carb cycling phenomenon assures weight loss, or you get your entire money back.
The 4 Cycle Solution, as the name suggests, follows a model with 4 basic but highly effective ways to prevent the body from crashing on low-carb days, eat enough grams of carbs to sustain itself, and perform at its peak during a high-carb day, all while maintaining an equilibrium in the total amount of carbs consumed during the week.
The “Carb Depletion” cycle aims to adapt your body fat. It reprograms and fixes your broken metabolism to teach where fat stores are available for immediate and long-term energy needs. It shuts off your body’s dependence on burning sugars, further accelerating the breakdown of ugly fat.
The “Macro Pattering” cycle is aimed at fat loss. By strategically increasing back in a reasonable amount of carbs, you’ll halt metabolic slowdown as well as avoid entering a catabolic condition.
You can gorge on your favorite lean beef and brown rice dishes with zero guilt. Thus, even a high-carb day will help prevent valuable muscle tissue loss.
The “Accelerated Fat Loss” stage manipulates your metabolism. This is followed by the “Diet Break” cycle. This is the time when it gets intense. Its unique structuring makes the 4 Cycle Solution the ultimate speedy fat loss system.
During the Cycle 4 Diet Break, you will intentionally add more carbs and calories to create a new metabolic set point. This will keep your metabolism healthy and burning fat even on low-carb days.
With all of the above being said and done, the only issue when it comes to carb cycling is that there haven’t been enough studies or controlled scientific trials that have specifically looked at the effects of such a diet.
Additionally, it has been suggested that carb cycling may work differently in women than men based on their total carb intake.
Therefore, in conclusion, does carb cycling work? If you are losing more calories than you are eating, then definitely.
Of all the reviewed products in our list, Carb Cycling for Weight Loss comes as the most recommended with hundreds of positive reviews.
It has helped stay-at-home people’s weight loss without dedicating hours at the gym, regulates blood sugar levels for people with a binge eating style, people who have hit a weight loss plateau struggling with body composition problems, and so on.
Additionally, it comes with a visual guide to help people who do not have long hours to dedicate to reading the complete book.
Most importantly, it is not just a carb cycling diet aimed at an instant and short-term results. Instead, it aims to transform the way individuals eat carbs completely.
>>Related Article: 3 Key Differences You Should Know: Low Carb Vs. Keto
Carb Cycling FAQs
How long should you do a carb cycle?
Ideally, you will need to do a carb-cycling diet for at least twelve weeks to see visible results. But given that this is a safe method to lose fat, you can do it indefinitely.
This is particularly recommended for endurance athletes.
Can pregnant women go on low-carb diets?
Unfortunately, low-carb diets or carb cycling is not advisable for women who are pregnant or suspect that they might be.
This is because when pregnant, the body requires healthy fats and a high-carb intake to sustain both the baby and the mother.
If the mother is not eating carbs, she may not get her daily calories and nutrients, which may lead to a complicated pregnancy.
Can you reach ketosis through carb cycling?
Carb cycling is essentially a low-carb diet. Therefore, such a low-carb diet doesn’t reduce overall carb intake drastically enough to reach ketosis.
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Author: Vanessa Richards
Vanessa is a mom of 3 lovely children and a software geek. Outside of her career as a health and wellness instructor. She enjoys writing and researching on topics such as finance, software, health and culinary.