Carb Cycling 101

Welcome to carb cycling 101! Carbohydrate cycling is not a new model, or radical approach to diet. It’s a simple approach to diet that is physiologically and psychologically gratifying. There are three types of days in a carbohydrate cycling diet: high carb, low carb, and no carb days. Carbohydrate manipulation is the key. Protein and fat intake remain constant.

This plan is based on eating six times per day. Despite its name, protein is the foundation of the carb cycling diet. You must eat at least 1/6 of your daily minimum protein requirement at each meal. That’s true no matter what carb day it is. Your protein requirements should mostly be satisfied from very lean protein sources.

Carb Cycling 101 – Lose Fat & Maintain Mass

Basically, you will reduce carbs on some days and eat more on others. This way, your body is better able to maintain muscle mass and shed body fat. This plan lets the individual who struggles with body fat add mass. It also allows that person to keep body fat levels in check.

Here’s a breakdown of the carb cycling approach:

  1. Match protein use to body weight – In other words, 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight.
  2. There will be four moderate carb days
  3. Eat high carbs for two days
  4. Eat zero carbs for one day
  5. Repeat
  6. Make adjustments

What’s The Deal With Carbs, Anyway?

What is it about carbs that makes them so interesting? Especially compared to proteins and fats? First,carbohydrates are natural, water-soluble substances. They are composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Second, they are the preferred source of nutritional energy. In recent years, Americans have reduced their use of complex carbohydrates. In its place, they have increased their ingestion of simple and refined carbohydrates.

Carb Cycling 101 – Types Of Carbs

Carbohydrates are categorized into one of three groups depending on their chemical makeup:


Also known as simple sugars or the sugar molecule. This is the most basic unit of carbohydrate. The number of carbon atoms in their ring distinguishes these basic units from one another. Glucose and fructose fall into this category.


Created when 2-10 monosaccharides are bonded together. Comprised of sucrose, lactose, and maltose.


Formed when three or more monosaccharides are bonded together. Comprised of starch and fiber.

Carb Cycling 101 – How Carbs Fit With Protein & Fat

First, let’s be clear. Protein is the most important macronutrient. Carbohydrates are also an important part of your diet. This is because they give you the bulk of the energy needed to exercise. But, again, let’s be clear. If you’re reading this article, you want to lose fat. Most likely, you eat a lot of carbs, both good and bad. Maybe even if you’re a bodybuilder.

The thing with carbs is, whatever your body does need use for energy will be stored as fat. This depends on how active you are. You may not be burning carbs for energy fast enough compared to your intake. The point of a carb cycling diet is to allow high carbs on your training days to help meet your energy needs.

On other days, you can eat less carbs. Controlling carbs keeps you from over-eating them. That’s why you have a zero carb day. Zero, low, and high carb days should be combined with exercise. Not only bodybuilding workouts, but cardio. Or, just being more active. These two simple principles are the real secret to fat loss.

Of course, carb cycling assumes you’re eating clean, healthy foods. That’s a given when it comes to fat loss. And, yes, you should be counting your calories. Also your grams of protein, carbs, and fats.

Carb Cycling 101 – Healthy Fats

Fat is needed in the body. It helps absorb some vitamins and cushion the organs. It also insulates the body. Finally, it’s important for testosterone production. Bottom line, eat healthy fats. This includes nuts, and fish. Use virgin olive oil in your cooking. Otherwise, watch your fat intake.

It’s About Balance

Carb cycling is more than just altering your carb intake. You still should eat a good balance of all three macronutrients. Obviously that won’t work on zero carbs days. Otherwise, it will.

So, to recap: carb cycling might be the most effective technique for losing body fat ever invented. You’re alternating lower carb days with higher carb days. That’s opposed to  keeping carbohydrates steady. This permits you to burn fat at a faster rate during the lower carb days. Then you’ll replenish your glycogen stores on your higher days.

Take A Look At The Diets Of The Pros

There’s a constant theme you’ll find when examining the diets of all bodybuilders. For the most part, you won’t find a total zero carb approach. Oh sure, some have pushed an ultra low carb diet, such as Vince Gironda. But most pros do not eat that way. Bodybuilders are careful to get their carbohydrates from quality sources. These include brown rice, vegetables and whole grains.

Carb Cycling – Consistent Contest Condition?

Some bodybuilders view carb cycling as one way to sustain a consistent competition-prep diet. Especially without the pressure of denial. By design, a carb cycling plan is intended to give you something to look forward to. Although that does not mean you can treat yourself to the foods of your fantasies. Most people find themselves anticipating, if not salivating at the thought of an imminent high carb day. It is a mental incentive that makes the stricter days of your diet more tolerable.

Fibrous & Starchy Carbs

Carb cycling enhances fat loss without sacrificing metabolism or doing harm to your body. There’s one thing before you implement a carb cycling diet. It is important that you have already been observing a nutritional program. You should already be eating meals consisting of lean protein with starchy and fibrous carbs every 3-3½ hours.

From there, the plan is to leave out starchy carbohydrates from your diet for a period of 1-4 days. Then bring them back before any damage can be done to your metabolism or the production of your thyroid hormone. Remember the list above? Four moderate carb days, two high carbs days, and one zero carb day.




Fibrous Carbohydrates

Starchy Carbohydrates

Asparagus Barley
Green beans Lima beans
Broccoli Red Beans
Brussels sprouts Black-eyed peas
Cabbage Corn
Carrots Whole-meal flour
Cauliflower Lentils
Celery Oatmeal
Cucumbers Pasta
Eggplant Peas
Lettuce Popcorn
Mushrooms Potatoes
Green peppers Rice
Red peppers Sweet potatoes
Spinach Tomatoes
Squash Shredded wheat
Zucchini Yams

Carb Cycling – You Can Also Use It To Build Muscle

Carbohydrate cycling is an easy but powerful method for muscular development. Frequently, when bodybuilders enter bulking phases, they overeat. This is to make certain their bodies are getting the protein and nutrients they need for maximal growth. The outcome of this approach is more body fat. By using carbohydrate cycling, you help manage the hormones of your body. This gives you an anabolically advantageous situation.It helps develop maximal muscle without the addition of extra body fat.


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