There is a variety of diet plans that people look out for to manage their weight. Some may have proven effective while others may have not. There are a lot of options to choose from and, sometimes, you just don’t know which one fits best for your body.
Carb cycling diet has recently gained popularity among athletes and other fitness professionals and may be a healthy start to your weight loss program. Let’s take a closer look at what this diet is all about.
What Is The Carb Cycling Diet?
Carbohydrates are the main sources of fuel for your body. This diet involves altering your carbohydrate intake in the right way. In a nutshell, this diet requires you to have lots of carbohydrates on certain days and fewer carbohydrates on other days. There are many ways you can use this diet plan, mainly involving changes in carbohydrate, fat, and protein intake.
The days you have lower carbs, your fat intake is increased while the days you have higher carbs, your fat intake is reduced. On both these days, protein intake will remain consistent.
Carb cycling diet is not just about what you eat but also how you make use of the energy. In other words, exercising is also equally important with the type of food you choose to eat. Your daily meals will be split into five or six medium-sized ones instead of three large meals.
High-carb days are ideal when you have intense workout like strength training days; low-carb days are recommended on the medium workout days, for instance, on the days you do cardio workouts.
The body’s metabolism is dependent on the carbs present in the body. The metabolism rate tends to slow down if your body senses a reduction in the carbohydrates, which is not good for the body. By altering your carbohydrate intake every other day, you make sure your body is not short of carbs, improving metabolism that will help burn fat and thereby, reduce weight.
There is another good thing about this diet plan – you can also afford to “cheat” on one of the days you want to reward yourself with your favorite “unhealthy” snack!
This diet has other benefits apart from weight loss. Let’s examine these benefits in detail.
5 Health Benefits Of The Carb Cycling Diet
1. Builds Lean Muscle Mass
The days you have high-carb foods like fruits, vegetables, brown rice, oats, quinoa, and other whole-wheat products, you are required to be more active. This means you will have to involve yourself with more intense workout.
Intense workout like strength training or other forms of resistance exercises break down muscle tissues, eventually growing back stronger. The rebuilding and repairing of muscles take a lot of energy, which is why it is important to carry out intense workout on the high-carb days.
On low-carb days – the days you stick to foods like fish, nuts, vegetables, and meat – you can limit your exercises to cardio exercises like running, jogging, cycling, etc.
This alternate high-carb low-carb diet plan can help rebuild your muscles at the same time cut down on your fats. Muscle mass is important because it helps you burn calories at a healthy rate.
2. Maintains A Healthy Weight
When you eat a lot of carbs, your insulin levels increase and this will break down the carbs and the intake of glucose in your body and distribute it to the cells. If the glucose is in the body is not utilized, it is stored as glycogen in the body for later use. Eventually, when the glycogen storage is full, it will result in the formation of fats.
However, in carb cycling, you are not giving your body a chance to store fats because of the workout accompanied with it. This will help you maintain your weight the right way.
3. Adds More Plant Foods To Your Diet
Carbohydrates in plant foods are the safest carbohydrates. Some plants have high carbs while others have low carbs. For this reason, plants are an ideal source of food to add to your carb cycling diet plan.
Here is a list of plant foods you can include in your carb cycling diet:
High-Carb Plant Foods
- Sweet Potatoes
Low-Carb Plant Foods
4. Encourages Long-Term Healthy Eating
Most diets may fail because they end up being too restrictive. However, the best aspect of a carb cycling diet is that it does not deprive you of anything that your body would crave for. This means that you will stick to the diet for a longer duration than you would with other diets. This, in turn, means that you will be able to lead a healthier lifestyle for a longer period of time.
On those low-carb days, if you feel like you have not had enough, you know that the high-carb days are just around the corner. Carb cycling diet makes it even better for you because you are allowed to have a “cheat” day where you can reward yourself with one of your favorite snacks like an ice cream or a chocolate brownie. This does not mean you can sit all day munching on them, but something is any day better than nothing!
5. May Regulate Blood Sugars
Some studies have shown that a low-carb diet may help diabetic patients.1 However, more evidence is required to substantiate it. Since carb cycling involves both high- and low-carb days, it may help in controlling the blood sugars in the body.
Exercises are equally important when you start a carb cycling diet. Certain kinds of exercises are good for high-carb days while other forms are better suited for low-carb days. Here are a few exercises that will help you in your carb cycling diet.
Exercises That Support The Carb Cycling Diet Plan
Here is a list of a few exercises that will work best for the high-carb days of your carb cycling diet plan.2
- Crossfit workouts: This involves basic exercises like running on treadmills, performing air squat shoulder press, and barbell snatch
- Sprinting drills: These include exercises like climbing up the ladder, running for short intervals with breaks in between, performing hammer downhill, etc.
- Marathons: Marathons require a lot of energy and are ideal when you take in lots of carbohydrates.
- Weight training: This helps you gain muscle strength and burn fats at the same time.
This list of exercises will work best for the low-carb days of your carb cycling diet plan.3
- Jogging: Jogging increases your metabolism and can keep you active.
- Swimming: Swimming increases the strength and flexibility in your muscles.
- Cycling: A 30-minute cycling in the morning can help you utilize the carbs that you have consumed.
|↑1||Morrison, Katharine. “Low carbohydrate diets for diabetes control.” Br J Gen Pract 55, no. 520 (2005): 884-884.|
|↑2||Massey, Deanna. Carb Cycling: Get Shredded, Improve Your Health and Regain Your Life with Carb Cycling. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.|
|↑3||Massey, Deanna. Carb Cycling: Get Shredded, Improve Your Health and Regain Your Life with Carb Cycling. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.|