T Nation

Carb Cycling and AM Workouts

Assuming most people work out in the afternoon/evening, Carb cycling as described in the posts and articles here makes sense. On your high carb/calorie day, you load up on the goods, then you workout in the evening. It makes sense.

I’m struggling with that logic if you workout in the early am (like I do). I lift M/W/F and do conditioning workouts T/Thurs, so MWF are my high carb/calories/low fat days, while tues/thurs and the weekends are my low carb/lower calorie/higher fat days. I get to the gym around 5:45-6am.

I’ll use Mon and Tuesday as an example.

Sunday was a low carb day, so I feel like when I hit the weights on Monday at 6am, I’m sluggish. Then I spend the rest of the day eating high carbs, calories and low fat. Tuesday is my conditioning day, and I feel pretty good, to be honest, and I’m wondering if it’s because I loaded up on all those carbs the day before.

The the cycle begins - I spend the rest of that day eating low carb and I feel sluggish lifting on Wednesday.

It’s definately not me - never had this problem before I started cycling - so the questiion is:

Should I reverse it so that my high carb/calorie day happens the day before the hard workout? Or is carb cycling just not compatible with early am workouts?

-I

Again, I was sluggish this morning after having low carbs yesterday.

My gameplan is simple - next week I’m going to try the opposite approach. I’ll carb up the day before my heavy lifting, and carb down after I have my high-carb shake PWO. Let’s see how that goes.

Again, if anyone has any experience or has gone though this, I’d like to hear from you.

Thanks,
-I

I would do the same thing… do the high carbs the day before. I too workout in the very early AM.

Are you carb cycling?

Thanks for the response - I’m definately giving it a shot next week.

No personal experience, but what about splitting your carb up days? Eat a lot of carbs for dinner or midnight snack the night before (would probably want to avoid the sugars and keep the really low GI stuff i.e. oats). Crush some more carbs right before the workout, and eat carby food afterwards, maybe tapering of by lunch or so?

Eating a bunch of carbs before bed would violate a nutrutional wive’s tale, but it might be worth an experiment?

Yeah you might be right.

I also just re-read this article:

It has an AM workout example - maybe I’ll give that a try next week instead just to test the waters.

I’ll definately report back.

Are you preloading with carbs before your am lifting sessions? That may be a really easy solution if the answer is no…

I rarely work out in the AM, so can’t properly comment on that. I do, however, employ a targeted carb approach based on CT’s recommendations which I find excellent for strength and conditioning days.

Basically, this translates as around 100-120g CHO para-workout on strength days; and 30-40g CHO para-workout on conditioning days. Apart from these windows it is low carbs the rest of the time (aside from some cheat items on a Saturday). I also take a little fruit with breakfast. I have been able to progress on both fronts since employing this method.

By the way, I workout at 5am and also carb cycle. I preload my carbs.

Cool.
What does “I preload my carbs” mean?

What does “para workout” mean?

Pre-workout I have water with whey, bcaas, creatine and a 500mg caffeine pill. However, when I wasnt carb cycling, I had more energy all around. You are probably right - having some carbs before I hit the gym might be an easy quick fix.

[quote]IvanTheTerrible wrote:
Cool.
What does “I preload my carbs” mean?

What does “para workout” mean?

Pre-workout I have water with whey, bcaas, creatine and a 500mg caffeine pill. However, when I wasnt carb cycling, I had more energy all around. You are probably right - having some carbs before I hit the gym might be an easy quick fix.[/quote]

Hey, I wanted to log in just to comment here. I’d like to echo Davinchi’s post, and say taking carbs before hitting the gym in the morning will make all the difference.

Which format are you using to carb cycle? I thought many of them include having carbs morning/pre-workout. Morning workouts enable you to combine these. That makes morning workouts ideal for carb cycling in my opinion.

I’m not sure what your daily macros look like, feel free to share, I’d suggest blending a shake with whey, 2 servings of oats or ground oats, and 1-2 servings of fruit. You should be fine to lift within a half hour or less – you can take this in addition to your bcaas, creatine, and caffiene.

Update:

Carbs pre-wo made a huge difference. I woke up at 5:20 and popped a caffeine pill, 1/2 banana, and had my shake with juice (instead of water), whey, bcaas and creatine.

When I got back I had another shake with FF milk, whey, bcaas, creatine, 1 serving of oats, and the other 1/2 of the banana.

Showered, shit, shaved - then had 3 eggs with 1 cup of grapes, ww toast and a cup of juice.

I am having most of my carbs pre, post, breakfast and with my first snack. From lunch onwards I’m cutting the carbs. More total calories and carbs on my lifting days, and less on my cardio/off days.

Wish me luck.

[quote]IvanTheTerrible wrote:
Update:

Carbs pre-wo made a huge difference. I woke up at 5:20 and popped a caffeine pill, 1/2 banana, and had my shake with juice (instead of water), whey, bcaas and creatine.

When I got back I had another shake with FF milk, whey, bcaas, creatine, 1 serving of oats, and the other 1/2 of the banana.

Showered, shit, shaved - then had 3 eggs with 1 cup of grapes, ww toast and a cup of juice.

I am having most of my carbs pre, post, breakfast and with my first snack. From lunch onwards I’m cutting the carbs. More total calories and carbs on my lifting days, and less on my cardio/off days.

Wish me luck.[/quote]

The day you just described would be a cardio day right?

And, not to be a dick but I don’t think juice is something that is included in carb-cycling diets. Have you read CT’s carb cycling codex, or any of the other articles here on T-Nation?

No. This is a lifting day. I’m purposely keeping my calories on the low side right now. I want to shed a little more fat before I ramp up the calories again in a few months.

No offense taken. I have read that artice - I reference it above - and I used it to structure what I’m doing. I don’t think he specifically mentions juice, I didnt see where he excludes it. What’s wrong with juice?

I’m following his prescriptions to the T.

I’m eating 400 calories below maintenence.
Hi Day: 1.5 X bodyweight protein, 1.25 X carbs + 125%, the rest fat.
Low day: 1.5 X bodyweight protein, 1.25 X carbs - 75%, Same fat as above (overall less calories)

I was always pretty lean, athletic and strong, but never big. I made the mistake a year ago of increasing my calories dramatically, and while I did get stronger, I got a lot fatter. Ballooned to 198lbs, with a huge gut and man-boobs. I thought I was doing a pretty clean bulk, too. So I don’t want that to happen again. I have lost a ton of fat, but I’m still at 185lbs, which is awesome. I’ve been successfully putting on muscle and burning fat for the last few months. I’m changing things up now a little so I can get used to the carb cycling. I figure I’ll burn a little more fat, and when I’m ready, keep the structure, add calories, and grow without the huge fat gain.

That’s the gameplan, at least…
-I

Well, I am glad you have a guideline and didn’t just make up numbers. It’s been a while since I read the article, although I just don’t remember him suggesting juice. In addition, the simple carbs in juice don’t offer the same fiber as fruit would. I would imagine your body would benefit more from a low GI carb source like oatmeal or sweet potatoes, just a thought.

Thanks for the tips, bro. You look like you know what youre doing and I’ll definately keep that inmind. I eat plenty of oats and have fruit with my breakfast - maybe I should replace the juice with something. We’ll see.

Thanks again,
-I

Replace your juice with d-glucose.

Thanks - I’ll look into it.

Fructose (a large part of the sugar in fruit) has to be first metabolized by your liver, which then turns it into glucose for your muscles and brain. So it’s kind of inefficient. Plus, high fructose corn syrup might be the devil. So more effective preworkout carbs would be, well, everything else, although fast-digesting would probably be best if you’re getting up so early.

Plus, if you drink fruit juice, you don’t get the fiber of whole fruit, which is one of the benefits.

Fructose (a large part of the sugar in fruit) has to be first metabolized by your liver, which then turns it into glucose for your muscles and brain. So it’s kind of inefficient.

True, although CT still says to include 1-2 servings of fruit in your preworkout meal; for the purpose of filling your living glycogen. Now, I don’t know exactly what that means… but I’m going to take CT’s word for it. Plus fruit’s got fiber vitamins and are loaded with all types of good shit – I certainly wouldn’t remove all fruit from my diet. When I take in balanced diet over my maintenace levels I take in about 5 (gasp!) servings of fruit a day. Although, I understand why it needs to be limited to a couple servings a day for a weight-loss or carb cycling diet.