What would you like to know?
Share this Story

How carb cycling can help you get your best body

Blogger, runner and passionate foodie. Never lets a day go by without trying a new recipe, collects running shoes and nail polish.

Everything you need to know about carb cycling

Is ab flab concealing the sexy curves you've always wanted to rock at the beach? With spring approaching quickly, this is the perfect moment to muster your willpower, sign up for the gym and start dieting. Be careful when picking new eating habits, though — some diet fads are definitely not worth the effort.

More: These foods will help you live a longer and healthier life

Fortunately, there's a new eating regime on the block that can help you achieve your ideal body with minimal sacrifices and 100 percent success: All hail carb cycling, the mother of all sexy bodies out there! Carb cycling is adaptable to even the most demanding of women, and it can produce remarkable results within weeks if followed consistently. So, how does it work?

The fundamentals

In essence, carb cycling is a dietary pattern centered on alternating high-, low- and no-carb days. The difference in carb intake also impacts your daily calorie count: high-carb days (during which you should eat 2–2.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight) are also high-calorie days, while low-carb days (with 0.5 grams of carbs per pound) require lower-calorie intake. On no-carb days, your total carbohydrate intake should not exceed 30 grams.

In practice

Your dietary agenda will boil down to rotating high-, low- and (if possible) no-carb days. As a general rule, no-carb days can be substituted by low-carb days to prevent cravings, loss of motivation and mood swings in the long run.

On those low-carb days, your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) should be 25 percent higher than your calorie intake, and on high-carb days, your TDEE should be 10 percent higher than your total calorie count. After establishing your TDEE, calculate the total number of calories you should be eating and break down the figures to establish calorie intake per high- and low-carb day.

In other words, on high-carb days, carbohydrates should account for 50 percent of your total calorie intake, whereas the energy you get from carbs on low-carb days should amount to 20 percent. Your protein intake should remain unchanged (1 gram of protein per pound of body weight), while the remaining energy should come from fat.

More: Why Whole 30's restrictive diet did not work for me

Carb cycling for different purposes

This program can be used to boost muscle mass or lose weight, depending on your ultimate fitness goal. If you want to lose fat, make the first three days of the week low carb, followed by a high-carb day and ending in three more low-carb days. This will prevent extra carbs from being stored as fat, and you'll burn existing fat more easily.

If your aim is to build muscle, however, the high- and low-carb pattern will be different, as you need more carbohydrates to ensure optimal workout performance, post-gym recovery and steady muscle growth. In this case, the first three days of the week should be low carb, followed by two high-carb days and then two more low-carb days. Such a dietary program will create an anabolic environment in the body, which is best suited to muscle building.

What makes this better than other diets?

Losing weight gets much easier and faster if you don't compensate for burned calories through your daily meals. And that is precisely what carb cycling is all about. With this dietary regime, you'll always know how much energy you're expending and how many calories you are eating. As the body gets less energy than is necessary to keep up activity intensity, it will start burning fat to compensate for the calories missing from your plate.

Of course, do not write off exercises and rely on dieting alone to achieve the desired effects: As fat melts, skin will lose its elasticity, leading to belly pouching and stretch marks, and only proper hydration and regular workouts will help you restore a sexy look with no flab in sight.

In many respects, carb cycling resembles intermittent fasting, only with no skipped meals or an unwarranted energy drain in the mix. By reducing carb intake, you hit two birds with one stone, preventing fat buildup and burning existing fat while maintaining a balanced diet. This makes carb cycling more sustainable over the long term, and we all know the best diets are those that can be maintained for years without extensive nutritional sacrifices.

Ready to lose fat fast? With carb cycling, dieting is as easy as one, two, three — and as scrumptious as it can get!

More: 4 myths about intermittent fasting that need to be debunked

Follow Us

SheKnows Media ‐ Beauty and Style

New in Health & Wellness

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!