Carb-Cycling for Fat Loss- Good or Bad?

Did you know, the newer-most despised macronutrient, Carbohydrate; among fitness enthusiasts is not really that big a problem? To be honest, in no situation is any part of the food the bad guy, instead it all depends on how you treat your body and what you treat your body too.

For all you know, Carbs do more than just being the focus point of criticism for causing weight gain. They form the major source of the body’s energy, serve as workout fuels and keep you in a good mood too!

So how does Carbohydrate lead to weight loss?

Carbohydrates can only be a problem when taken in through the wrong source (junk!) or eaten in excess and not burned off. However, if you plan your diet in such a way that you get the necessary macronutrients from the right kind of food choices, you will only see it work wonders on your over-all health. Through a process called carb-cycling, you can control your carbohydrate consumption and maximize the muscle growth and fat loss.

What is Carb-Cycling?

Carb-cyclng is more of a concept than a diet type. It emphasizes on taking carbohydrates in varied quantities throughout. An ideal plan would be to have 3 low carb days, followed by 2 higher carb days and 2 days of no carb. This aids in muscle recovery, replenishes glycogen. This gives about enough carbs as fuel without being excess.

Suggested Read: What’s the difference between slow carbs and fast carbs?

Here’s how it works:

  • Low carb days: The goal is to not go above 75 -100 gms. The source of carbs should be coming in from complex carbs like fibrous vegetables, 1-2 servings of starch (rice, potatoes, tapioca, oats). For best results, have starchy carbs post workout.
  • High carb days: Total amount of carbs can vary from person to person depending on the activity levels. 150-200 gm. of carbs is allowed on the higher days. However, the rule remains the same- all carbs must come from healthy sources only. However, if you should prefer to have a cheat meal, it is most profitable to have it on high carb day.
  • No carb day: On these days, refrain from taking more than 50 gm. carbs in the whole day. Avoid starches and instead opt for lean protein and good quality fat along with fibrous veggies.

Why it works?

Suggested Read: The Battle of the Carbs: Simple vs. Complex, Which Is Better?

Release of insulin, which transports glucose into cells, varies on the amount and type of carbohydrate consumed.  Carb-cycling works in a way to maneuver insulin so that it minimizes fat storage (excess carb that is not used gets stored as fat) and increases muscle synthesis.  Low-carb days helps keep insulin sensitivity up and increase fat burning while high carb days help replenish the muscles for fuel.

Points to consider:

  • Know the risks of carb-cycling: If you are a diabetic or suffer from a metabolic syndrome, you need to stay away from carb-cycling as it can alter the blood sugar levels and pose as a threat to those with heart diseases.
  • Plan well according to your activity level. The whole idea is to match your carbohydrate intake with the activity level of each day rather than blindly consuming high carbs on one day and following it with no carbs on the next.
  • Get help from a professional. Reach out to your dietitian and set a proper carb intake according to your needs. Also, make it a point to avoid junk, unnecessary amount of sugar and packaged foods. Instead, have carbs coming in from healthy, complex sources that will also give fiber.
  • If you feel at a point that you have reached a plateau, you need to make slight changes to your plan. You can try and increase the carb content slightly to increase the metabolism or perhaps, have a cheat meal. Change in the metabolism will again put you back on track.

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