I figured I would explain carb cycling in case anyone is interested in why I am doing it and what it’s all about. Feel free to skip this post if you couldn’t care less. 😉
Basically carb cycling takes the macronutrients which consist of protein, fat, and carbs in each meal and uses them to reduce body fat to lower levels without getting rid of all of the hard earned muscle you work for at the gym. A lot of bodybuilders use this style of dieting during competition prep to really get into the cutting phase to show their muscle separation better.
It works because carbs are the main macronutrient that your body uses for energy during the day and in your workouts. By cycling those carbs, having both low carb and high carb days, your body becomes confused on what it should use as a main energy source. This is because carbs are no longer dependable every single day. On lower carb days you replace the calories lost from them by increasing your intake of healthy fats and protein to maintain your muscle mass as you continue to push yourself and excel in your performance at the gym.
It’s not super easy to just start doing if you are used to being a carboholic. But due to the fact that I was paleo for a good portion of the summer and do not tend to eat a lot of grains due to digestive issues, it actually hasn’t been that hard for me. I’ve actually come to love it. You just need to be creative with the food you want to eat and make sure that you track your macros each day. I use MyFitnessPal to do so. I plugged in my own custom numbers versus what they generate for you to make it more customized to what I need in a day.
I figured this out by using the 40/40/20 method that most bodybuilders use. 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat on nutrient timing days. I will be going back to nutrient timing when I am done cycling and will explain what that is all about in a different post. On low carb days those percentages change and I only intake 20% of my daily calories in carbohydrate form. On high carb days that changes again to carbs making up 50% of my daily calories. In order to figure out my daily calories I took the weight I wished to weigh for now (I guessed 135 taking into account muscle mass as an arbitrary starting point) and added 200 calories to it for low carb days or days that I am not using major muscles (arms, shoulders, and abs) at the gym. You would add 500 on major muscle days such as legs, back, and chest during nutrient timing. But for cycling, you stick with the lowest number and keep that for the entire three weeks every single day. So 135 (the weight I guessed I wanted to weigh) x 10 = 1,350 calories. Take those calories and add 200 and I have a daily caloric intake of 1,550. This is what I am using to track the 40/40/20 and will pay attention to my daily macros to make sure I am nailing my cycling every day. MyFitnessPal makes it super easy to track all of these things and takes the guess work out of it once you customize your own numbers.
This carb cycle will last only 3 weeks since it is said that any longer will start to affect your muscle mass as your body will use that for fuel. In three weeks I will explain my change over to nutrient timing and what the heck that is all about.
I hope this post was helpful and made sense! I know I have been getting a lot of questions about what it is, how hard it is, and if I am seeing results.
As for results, I only have a week to go off of, but I can tell you what I noticed this past week. I was never bloated, my clothes started to be a little looser due to loss of bloat weight, and my muscles are looking more separated and defined than usual. These aren’t huge noticeable changes to anyone else other than me. My roommate sees the definition in both herself and me, but it’s only been a week so no crazy changes yet. But I can tell a difference in my body. I can tell a difference in my performance at the gym most definitely. I am fueling my body properly and basically beasting all of my workouts at the gym. I’m going longer and much heavier on my weights and I have increased all my reps to 4 sets of 15-20 reps to up the cardiovascular work in the strength training. I also have started to incorporate supersets and trisets into my workouts, which has also kept my heart rate up and aided in fatiguing my muscles.
This is during week 1 of cycling. I can see a huge difference personally! It’s super motivating to me to see that definition in my upper back and shoulders. Sorry about the split mirror making me look super wide, it’s all I had! Also, sorry if this picture offends someone I tried to keep it as PG as possible while still showing you guys the muscle separation I was talking about.
I don’t recommend people just wanting to lose weight to carb cycle. It’s not super easy nor is it sustainable. Keep in mind I am doing this because I want to do a bodybuilding bikini competition in July! So this is totally just a personal thing. But I do think that eating clean is important no matter who you are and watching your carb intake so you aren’t storing too many as body fat is also important.
If you have any questions I’ll answer all the comments, tweets, or anything I get! Happy Saturday everyone! I’ll be posting my updated workouts in the next week if you are curious what I have been doing at the gym lately.
Here are some fun shirts I found to brighten your day! And make you forget about the one I wasn’t wearing in an earlier picture. 😉