Benefits of Carb Cycling

Carbs are your friend.
Carbs are your friend.
Carbs are your friend. 

If you want to lose weight, carb cycling is a powerful technique to learn.

But what exactly is carb cycling?

Here are the basics…Carb cycling entails eating more carbs on certain days of the week, and fewer carbs on the other days.

Complex carbohydrates are critical for supplying energy, building muscle, keeping you full, and fueling your brain.

The right carbohydrates also are necessary for successful weight loss. If you are not getting enough complex carbs, your body may use muscle as a source of energy. Even though fat can be the energy supplier in the absence of any glucose or glycogen (stored glucose), your body often finds it easier to resort to muscle instead of fat for energy. To avoid this muscle-wasting, fat-paralysis state, you need to have complex carbohydrates in your diet.

Although every carb cycling plan has differences, most plans follow a strategy of 1-3 days of moderate carb days and 4-6 days of low-carb.

Here are 5 reasons why cycling could jumpstart your health and weight loss goals…

  1. Helps Develop Lean Muscle

Resistance exercises and strength training work because they break down muscle tissue and rebuild it stronger than before. This necessary process of rebuilding and repairing muscle tissue uses lots of energy, so it’s important to fuel your body sufficiently.

The best method is to ingest the right amount of protein and carbs, your body’s primary fuel source, during a 1-hour window right after your workout. This small window is known as the post-workout anabolic window. By consuming protein and carbs in this critical time period, you’re providing your muscles with protein to help rebuild muscle, as well as glucose and glycogen to provide stores of energy for future use.

Though eating carbs often sounds like a taboo in today’s culture, by restricting carbohydrates and increasing your workouts, you can actually have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to do. Rather than getting stronger and having more energy, cutting carbohydrates when you need them most can leave you weaker, fatigued, and actually make you gain weight when you do consume those needed calories. Strategically alternating days of higher and lower carb intake to coincide with your workout routine is beneficial for increasing your muscle mass and cutting body fat. This helps you be healthier overall, and the muscle you gain now will let you keep burning calories even as you continue to age. A double win!

2. Helps You Lose Weight – and Maintain a Healthy Weight

When you consume fewer carbohydrates than your body needs, it’s called being in a “carb deficit”. This encourages weight loss because, without carbs to burn, your body turns to stored fat to fuel your muscles. While cutting carbs very low (like in the ketogenic diet or Atkins diet) works to help many people lose weight and improve certain health conditions, this isn’t the right choice for everyone. For many of us, it’s difficult to sustain these restrictive diets and over time it can actually change your hormones and slow down your metabolism.

Carb cycling is one effective way to give you the short and long term results you’re looking for. It helps shed body fat without depriving you of the energy you need. By cycling rather than eliminating carbohydrates in your diet, this strategy helps you avoid the fatigue and mood swings sometimes associated with other, more restrictive diets.

3. Helps You to Eat More Diverse Plant Foods

We’ve all heard that eating more plants is good for our bodies (and for the environment). There are many reasons for this that make carb cycling a great and healthy option. The primary macronutrient you get from eating plants is carbohydrates. However, in addition, many plants are high in fiber which has many benefits including helping to lower cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels, and aiding in weight loss by making you feel full faster.

By carb cycling, you will learn more about the nutritional value of the many plant foods out there, and which ones will work best for you at strategic moments. Many root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beets, as well as grains like corn, quinoa, brown rice, and oats, and even fruits like bananas and apples have more carbs and are good options for those higher carb days to help fuel your body to health. Other plant foods like bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli, leafy greens, zucchinis, and even mushrooms are fairly low in carbs and therefore can be eaten on the high or low carb days of your personal cycle. A healthy carb cycling diet helps you to integrate these varied plant carbs into your diet in ways are actually enjoyable.

4. Helps You Eat Healthy Long Term

Let’s face it, nearly everyone enjoys foods with carbs. Whether you’re craving a fresh bagette, a bowl of brown rice, or even an apple, cutting out carbs can be a miserable experience. By restricting your diet so much and removing foods you love, it’s unlikely you’ll stick with it for long. Worse, after quitting foods for a period of time, many people then turn around an find themselves binging on those same foods. This can not only negate any positive effects your diet had in the first place, but can actually leave you in a worse spot than where you started.

By carb cycling, you can still incorporate many of the foods you love, avoiding these feelings of deprivation and “hanger”. It also illuminates the difference between good and bad sources of carbs, making the carbs you do eat even more beneficial. Because this diet is designed to be flexible and work with your lifestyle and not as a catch-all for everyone, people also find this strategy much easier to stick to with a busy life and a family, while still being able to satisfy some of those cravings.

5. Helps Keep Your Hormones and Blood Sugar in Check

Numerous studies have demonstrated that a low-carb diet can help regulate your hormonal fluctuations and blood sugar, and may even be an effective treatment for some individuals with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, carb cycling can help lower risks for diabetes complications and related risk factors like obesity or heart disease, by helping you reduce overeating and consumption of empty calories and junk foods. Even if you don’t have diabetes, carb cycling can help regulate your blood sugar and hormone levels. Days with low carb intakes encourages improvements in healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels and better self-control of blood pressure and insulin secretion.

There are so many proven benefits to carb cycling when you design it around how you want to live your life. If you’re ready to make a change for the better – one that’s both flexible and actually enjoyable to follow – check out my simple Carb Cycling Guide with the Fat Burning Meal Plan, and get ready to delight in being healthy again!