Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Carb cycling seems to be the buzz word in weight loss and lots of people have been asking me about what i think and should they consider doing it. So after dozens of people asking me this question, i thought it would be best to share carb cycling with all of you here. it is pretty similar to zig zagging of you ask me, but many may disagree. people have also asked me to design a weight loss program using carb cycling, but honestly, its real easy to design your own program, once you understand the principles behind carb cycling.
What is carb cycling?
Carb cycling is a method of cycling / changing the amount of carbs you take, to ensure that you don't always consume to same amount of carbs all the time. Most of us have a certain routine when it comes to eating and carb cycling helps to break up this routine. so instead of eating a steady amount of carbohydrates every day, the idea is to vary it and confuse your body.
What are the benefits of carb cycling?
oh boy... i could go on and on about why this is beneficial, but below are just some of the main benefits of carb cycling
Its not boring - most people quit their diets because they just get bored with the limited food they are allowed to eat. With carb cycling, it allows you to lose weight while indulging in carbs every once in a while. So you don't feel deprived and you are able to continue your diet program for a longer period of time
It prevents muscle loss - too many diets out there focus on just reducing your caloric intake drastically to see weight loss results. The problem is, if you cut down your calories too much and maintain that for a pro longed period, you end up losing healthy muscle mass. Every weight loss program should be focused on losing fat... and nothing else.
Your metabolism won't go down - With most diets, it works well for a while, but eventually your body will get used to it and your metabolic rate will drop as it adjusts itself to the amount of food that is coming in. Ideally, you should try to keep your metabolic rate up, so you burn fat even when you are resting.
OK, those are just some of the many benefits of carb cycling so you can see, it is a really good weight loss plan. But how exactly does it work? Well there is no hard and fast rule about how exactly you should do carb cycling, but in general, you are going to divide your days in Low carb days and high carb days. During low carb days, you are going to drop your carb intake to about 150 to 200 grams of carbs per day and on high carb days, you will be allowed to consume between 300 to 400 grams of carbohydrates a day. Of course this is just a recommendation and will vary from person to to person based on age, gender, physical activity etc. Some carb cycling diets even include a zero carb day... which means you only consume 25g of carbs or less on that day. So this again really depends on how serious you are with it. It is extremely important to note that regardless of whether its a high carb or low carb day, you must ensure you get enough protein at all times. How much?
For the average joe who doesn't do any exercise, the minimum protein you will need is 0.37g of protein per pound of body weight. so if you weigh 150 pounds, then you are looking at about
0.37 x 150 = 55g of protein. this is the minimum recommendation.
For more serious workout-holics and fitness junkies, it is usually recommended that you take about 0.5 to 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight. if you are lifting heavy and want to gain muscle mass, lean toward 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So if you are 200 pound heavy lifting superman, you are looking at about 160g of protein a day.
The most basic plan of carb cycling i can think of is doing low carb days for 3 or 4 days and then switching to a high carb day for 1 or 2 days and then just repeating after that. So lets just say Monday - Thursday is your low carb day... then friday and saturday will be your high carb day. Through out this period, you are going to maintain the amount of protein you take... regardless of what day it is. The only thing that changes is the amount of carbs you take.
Ideally, you want to keep your high carb days on days that you do workout. The reason is, you are going to use up that energy, so its best to have high carb days on workout days and low carb days on non workout days. So now that you understand the basic concept of carb cycling, you can play around with it and find something that works for you.
Some plans do zero carb for 2 days, low carb for 2 days and 2 days of high carb days and then repeat. Some do 5 days of low carb and 2 days of high carbs. So you really can mix this around anyway you want. ideally if your aim is weight loss, you want to ensure that you have more low carb days per week compared to high carb days. This is just a general rule of thumb.
So should you try carb cycling? Why not. It may be tiring at first to figure out how many grams of carbs you are allowed in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, its pretty easy. I honestly think its an excellent weight loss technique and its easy enough for anyone to do. You can adjust the difficulty based on your own preferences and seriousness so it really is flexible. Best part is, its not a starvation diet that denies you from any guilty pleasures for long periods of times. So that is a definite thumbs up for me. Try carb cycling and see. Mix it around, start slow and see what kind of results you get. As you get used to it, increase your number of low carb days and cut down the amount of carbs you take on both high carb and low carb days. You will be amazed with the results. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.