The Rules:Carb Cycling Is Hogwash. There's a lot of hulking about carb cycling, and many claims are being made about it that are yet to be substantiated. The idea that carb cycling bulking macros between high and low-carb days will accelerate fat loss is, well, hogwash. The truth is, any diet that causes you to expend more energy than you consume, whether it's macrros or even weekly, will result in weight loss. That said, there are some practical ways of using this method for burning fat while preserving muscle and strength.
Carb Cycling That Actually Works | T Nation
Carb Cycling Is Hogwash. There's a lot of hype about carb cycling, and many claims are being made about it that are yet to be substantiated. The idea that alternating between high and low-carb days will accelerate fat loss is, well, hogwash. The truth is, any diet that causes you to expend more energy than you consume, whether it's daily or even weekly, will result in weight loss. That said, there are some practical ways of using this method for burning fat while preserving muscle and strength.
The traditional approach has you rotate through high-carb, moderate-carb, and low-carb days while protein intake remains unchanged. Fat intake becomes low when carbs are high, and high when carbs are low. But a study conducted by Harvard University compared a low-fat, low-protein, high-carb diet; a high-fat, low-protein, moderate-carb diet; and a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet, and found no significant differences in weight loss regardless of macronutrient breakdown.
Another study found that after 8 weeks, a high-carb, low-fat, low-protein diet was just as effective as a low-carb, low-fat, high protein approach. The evidence is pretty clear that cycling your carbs has no added benefit to weight loss itself.
Despite the studies, there are a couple of strategic ways to implement carb cycling that allow you to retain more of your strength, preserve muscle mass, and keep your energy up during a fat loss phase. Pretty valuable benefits, right?
Let's first look at an example of what your macronutrient breakdown might look like and then we'll dive into how you can structure carb intake for maximum performance and muscle preservation. Maintaining muscle mass while restricting calories requires an adequate protein intake. Although the science is pretty clear that we don't need more than about 0. Their conclusion was that you need about 1 to 1. The leaner you are and the longer you've been restricting calories, the higher up on the scale you should go.
The opposite is also true — someone with more body fat who has been dieting for a shorter period of time can get away with a lower protein intake.
Now, most guys who simply use "bodyweight x 1" will land in an acceptable range. But if you want to get more detailed, see the example below. This equates to about 0. A physically active person should never avoid carbs. Carbs are our body's main source of energy and are in fact inefficiently stored as body fat, even when overfeeding.
You should consume as many carbs as your calorie intake will allow while remaining in a deficit. A good starting point is about 1 to 1. Using these examples, a pound man would start off at g of protein, 72g of dietary fat, and about g of carbs per day.
This equates to a little under kcal per day and about 16, kcal per week. And as long as we can ensure we're consuming that amount or less and are in a deficit , we'll lose fat, despite how fats and carbs are distributed throughout the week. This means we've got about g of fats and about g of carbs per week to play with. The idea is to manipulate intake while staying within these numbers to maximize performance in the gym. The better we perform in the gym, the less likely we are to sacrifice muscle tissue.
And we know from research that the best way to maximize physical performance is to consume an adequate amount of carbs. The next step is to figure out how many high-intensity sessions, how many medium-intensity sessions, and how many rest days your program prescribes. If your program is periodized in a linear fashion where you're not alternating intensity, use your high-carb days for sessions where you're performing the most strenuous lifts deadlift, squat, etc.
The way you'll distribute your carb intake is quite simple: The whole premise behind carb cycling to maintain or improve strength is to have full glycogen stores when you need them, which is during your most intense training bouts.
But what if you rested the day before and went low carb? What are the chances you'll be primed for a heavy morning session? This is why if you train in the morning, you should go high-carb the day prior to your most intensive session s. Here's how a morning lifter who follows a 4-day training split might cycle his carbs around heavy sessions, medium sessions, and rest days. A more traditional approach to carb cycling would work best here.
With your workout being later on in the day, you've got plenty of time to fill up on enough carbs to fuel your training. Here's how an evening lifter who follows a 4-day training split might cycle his carbs around heavy sessions, medium sessions, and rest days. Here you'll cycle carbs a bit differently. First, consume a moderate amount of carbs the day before your heavy training session.
And if you haven't figured it out already, those who train in the afternoon and have time to get a good amount of calories in before training won't necessarily need a high-carb day and instead may benefit from more frequent moderate carb days. However, if you train in the afternoon but are unable to fit in enough calories pre-workout, follow a similar structure to the morning lifter.
Here's how an afternoon lifter who follows a 4-day training split might cycle his carbs around heavy sessions, medium sessions, and rest days. This type of carb cycling isn't for everyone. If you're bulking up or overfeeding, alternating between low carb and high carb days isn't necessary, nor does it have any benefits over keeping your calories consistent. However, if you're someone who's been cutting for a prolonged period of time and are beginning to feel the effects of lower energy in your training, give it a shot.
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