The conversation surrounding carbohydrate intake and weight loss has been a trending topic for a long time now. Several successful diets limit carbs and some even completely omit them. Although no micronutrient is downright harmful, carb intake is an issue that should be tailored according to the individual. Some people have now opted to “cycle” their carbohydrates in order to optimize their carb intake. This is known as carb cycling.
What is it?
Carb cycling is a unique dietary approach whereby you alternate carbohydrate intake on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This approach is commonly used to lose excess body fat, overcome a weight loss plateau, or sustain physical performance. Some individuals regulate their carb intake on a daily basis, while others may opt for longer periods of low, moderate and high-carb diets. In a nutshell, the purpose of carb cycling is to time carb intake to when it offers maximum benefits and eliminates carbs when they are not required by your body.
You can adjust your carbohydrate intake based on several factors including:
- Rest and training days: this approach usually involves a low carb intake on rest days and higher carb intake on training days.
- Body composition goals: this involves reducing carbs during a diet, then adding them back during a physical performance or muscle building phase.
- Levels of body fat: some people will carb cycle based on their body fat levels. The leaner the person becomes, the more high-carb blocks or days they include.
- Scheduled refeed: this involves adding one or several days of very high carb intake to serve as refeed during a prolonged diet.
- Form of training: People will tailor their carb intake based on the intensity and duration of a specific training session. The more intense or longer the training is, the greater amount of carbs they will take and vice versa.
How Carb Cycling Can Help with Weight Loss
The key mechanism with carb cycling suggests that it can help with weight loss. Theoretically, carb cycling can be beneficial when it comes to maintaining physical performance and providing the benefits associated with a low-carb diet. Just like any other diet, the principle behind weight loss is a calorie deficit. That means consuming less than the body burns over a prolonged period. If you implement a carb cycling diet alongside a calorie deficit, you are likely to lose weight.
However, the more complex nature of carb cycling may result in adherence challenges and confusion for most beginners. That is why it is always advisable to use a carb cycling calculator as it will help you to not only enjoy the flexibility of carb cycling, but also help to improve adherence as well as long term success.
The calculator allows you to set your age, weight height, and gender. You can also select your activity factor from a list, choose whether or not you are sensitive to carbs, and choose your fat loss goal. The calculator will then generate results such as your basal metabolic rate or calories burned while at rest and a carb cycling routine with recommended micronutrients and calories that you can use based on a 7-day week.