Carb cycling is an advanced dieting technique that preserves muscle mass while lowering body fat. This diet is best recommended for people in the 10% – 15% (for males) body fat range who want to get as lean as possible and show off that six pack. For people above the 15% body fat level, a more basic eating healthy while exercising routine is recommended.
The main reason is that carb cycling requires strong willpower and a healthy body. Most people with greater than 15% body fat lack one of these two key ingredients. However, as people approach 10% body fat, they discover that fat loss becomes harder and harder. Luckily, bodybuilders have discovered several techniques – like carb cycling, to shed those last few pounds of fat.
Carb cycling involves alternating between high-fat/high-protein meals on non-workout days and high-carb/high-protein meals on workout days. Generally, you will have 3 – 4 workout days per week. On non-workout days, you should aim to consume 20% fewer calories than maintenance levels. On workout days, the number of calories you consume will depend on your goal.
If you are trying to achieve weight-loss, then you should aim for your maintenance level of calories. To keep a steady weight (but lose fat), aim for 20% above your maintenance level. For maximum muscle growth, aim for 40% above your maintenance level, with the majority of calories consumed after working out.
People often ask how long they need to adhere to a carb-cycling diet before they achieve success. The answer is: for as long as it takes! Keep doing the diet until you reach your goal. It should occur between the fourth and eighth week, depending on your initial body fat. If you see no progress after 3 weeks, then you are doing something wrong!
The carb-cycling diet is intended for the short-term only. No cheat meals! If you want to extend the diet longer to maintain your lean body, you most certainly can. However, people who are inclined to cheat meals should immediately switch to their normal, healthy diet after achieving their goal with carb cycling.
The quality of the foods on a carb-cycling diet is very important. Carbohydrates must come from vegetables, fruit, legumes, and unprocessed whole grains. On a restricted diet, obtaining sufficient vitamins, minerals, and fiber is crucial. Fats should come from nuts, avocados, flax seed, wild-caught fish, and grass-fed beef.
These foods are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids. Again, I cannot stress how important clean food is for this diet to work. Any deviation into junk food and this diet becomes a fat gain instead of a fat loss. But with the right diet, motivation, and exercise, anybody can use carb-cycling to get a lean, cut body.