Benefits of Carb Cycling
Carb cycling is believed to be beneficial as one of the best diet plans to lose weight.
But what exactly is carb cycling? Here are the basics…It entails eating more carbs on certain days of the week, and fewer carbs on the other days. Carbohydrates are critical for supplying energy, building muscle, keeping you full, and fueling your brain. The right starches also are necessary for successful weight loss. The fact is that if you are not getting enough carbs, your body will turn to muscle for energy, breaking it down and converting its protein molecules to glucose for much-needed fuel. While it can use fat for energy in the absence of any glucose or glycogen (stored glucose), it is easier for the body to resort to muscle. This pushes you in the wrong direction. To avoid this muscle-wasting, fat-paralysis state, you need to have 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. Some of the advantages of carb cycling are shocking! Here are 5 reasons why Dr. Josh Axe says that carb cycling could jumpstart your health and weight loss goals…(you can read his entire article about carb cycling here)
1. Helps Build and Preserve Lean Muscle Mass
Strength training and other forms of resistance exercise actually break down muscle tissue, only to make it grow back stronger. The process of rebuilding and repairing muscle tissue takes a lot of energy, and once again your body requires some of its primary fuel source (carbs) to do this. This is known as the post-workout anabolic window. (4) Carbs help restore your energy and provide muscles with glucose for rebuilding or glycogen to be stored for future energy.
If you don’t consume enough calories and carbohydrates following resistance training, it’s likely you’ll starve your muscles of the fuel they need to grow back bigger and stronger. For this reason, many people focused on building muscle choose to have higher carb days after tough workouts.
Simply restricting calories and working out more can take a toll on your metabolism and even have the opposite effect of what you’d like — leaving you weaker, fatigued and unable to consume as many calories without gaining weight. Alternating days of higher vs. lower carb intake, especially when timed around workouts, is beneficial for cutting your body fat percentage down while still not sacrificing your muscle mass. And keep in mind you want to hold on to all the muscle mass you can, since this is what keeps you burning calories at a healthy rate even into older age.
2. Encourages Weight Loss (or Maintenance of a Healthy Weight)
When you enter into a “carb deficit,” meaning you take in less carbs than your body needs, you encourage weight loss because your body begins to burn stored fat for fuel.
Cutting carbs very low, and following plans like the ketogenic diet or Atkins, works for many people to improve certain health conditions and help them reach a healthy weight. But for others it’s difficult to sustain and actually can slow down the metabolism when followed long term due to hormonal changes. Carb cycling is one way to prevent weight regain and reduced motivation — plus it’s effective both the short term (giving you quick results and energy) and long term
3. Encourages You to Eat More Plant Foods
Carbohydrates are the primary type of macronutrient found in most plant foods, although exactly how many carbs a plant food has depends on the specific type. Whole foods that are higher in carbs, such as sweet potatoes and other root veggies, beans/legumes, and fruit, are often encouraged on higher carb days. Some of the healthiest foods in the world — such as leafy green veggies, cruciferous veggies, artichokes, asparagus, sea veggies, herbs and spices, for example — are actually pretty low in carbohydrates and therefore suitable for both high-carb and low-carb days.
A bonus of eating these foods is that they contain plenty of dietary fiber and antioxidants. Fiber has many benefits, including helping make you feel full and reach satiety, while antioxidants fight free radical damage and slow the effects of aging. A healthy carb cycle diet plan does more than boost protein intake and vary carbs — it also teaches you how to incorporate essential foods into your meals in ways you actually enjoy.
4. Helps You Stick with Healthy Eating Long Term
While it’s possible to lose weight following other diet plans that restrict overall calories, many find that carb cycling works faster and involves fewer feelings of deprivation. Because things like grains, fruit and legumes are included at least one to three times per week while carb cycling (sometimes also along with a “cheat meal”), there’s more flexibility with a carb cycling diet compared to other diets, which can encourage people to stick with it.
5. Can Help Reduce Hormonal Fluctuations and Blood Sugar Swings
Many studies have shown that a low-carb diet is a natural diabetes treatment and effective tool for patients with type 2 diabetes. (5) Because it can reduce overeating, especially of empty calories and junk foods, lower-carb diet approaches can also help lower risks for diabetes complications and related risk factors like obesity or heart disease.
Why does cutting carbs on certain days improve blood sugar and hormone levels? Low-carbohydrate diets encourage improvements in dyslipidemia, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, as well as control of blood pressure, postprandial glycemia and insulin secretion.”
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Your cells will function better, your body will run better, and you’ll look and feel better!
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