T Nation

Carb Cycling: How Low Do You Go?


Being completely new to carb cycling iv been reading up different articles all of which seem to advocate having a medium day at 1g of carbs per pound of bodyweight. Ok seems fine and add 25% for the high day.

What about the low day iv had suggestions vary from -25% of medium day to no carbs at all!! Should I basically go as low as I can handle?

Would like to hear what results other people have had and what amounts they used.


My low days if I'm training are around 50 grams of carbs, and my low days if I'm not training are around 20 grams of carbs.

My high days top out around 150 though, just to give your some perspective.


My low days are trace carbs only (cabbage mostly). Keep in mind you don't have to go that low from the beginning. It's good to have somewhere to go when you stop losing at your desired rate. My high days hover around 150. That's training 4 days a week doing no cardio (so I have "somewhere to go").


I stay around 100 a day normally do a MAG-10 fast 2 days a week then have a high day sat or sunday around 200 and have had pretty rapid progress


It all depends on your weight, how much muscle you're carrying, your individual insulin tolerance....

When I start a carb cycle for a contest prep, my 'low' days are still about 125-150g/day at targeted points in the day. My High days are usually 350g or so. You gotta remember that if you're actually burning through some glycogen from training (even intervals or cardio work) on your low days, then an already seriously low intake (ie. <50g) will actually turn out to be much much less.

Don't go too crazy if you have any plans on retaining muscle though.



Stu, what would you recommend for somebody on a six-day split? Would a low-carb day be just on the least intense day or basically just the one off day?


It could be both. The whole rationale behind carb cycling is to balance your nutrients for the demands of the day. If you have a less intense day each week, AND an off day, then you have two opportunities to suffer a bit, which will allow you to make the other days a bit more tolerable.



^Out of curiosity, how much does your carb intake diminish near the end, or do you prefer to increase activity to elicit further progress.


I always keep some carbs in my diet. I don't care what any keto-junkies say, carbs are important if you have any goals of maximum muscle retention while cutting to single digit bodyfat. (Yes, I KNOW your body can convert excess protein into glucose, but it's not necessary, and it's certainly not training your system to preserve lean tissue by doing so).



What are your personal feelings on The Anabolic Diet for a Powerlifter or anyone for that matter . . .


First, I will say that I do believe that people can become 'fat adapted'. Both fats and carbohydrates are viable sources of energy nutrients. The specific issue with Carbs in a bodybuilders diet is not merely to serve as a fuel source, but to spare lean muscle tissue. This is the real crux of most natty-BBers arguments for not eliminating carbs.

With that being said, whatever you body's preferred choice of energy nutrient (fat or carbs), for a powerlifter, whose primary goal would typically be short, explosive bursts of power, the true "fuel" source is actually ATP, which is active at the start of all activities regardless of the intensity, or what you ate during the day. So theoretically, as I can't speak from personal experience, if your body has adapted to a lowered carbohydrate intake, and is relying on fatty acids and protein oxidation to fuel it's training, I see no real negative to following the Anabolic Diet. (Of course anecdotal evidence has been known to trump all that science-y stuff in the weight room, so keep your mind somewhat open -lol)



Don't mean to hijack but question for Stu.

I read CT's codex, and a bunch of the other articles, but still a little lost. If my goal was more geared toward muscle gain, and body recomp, rather than pure fat loss, following the recommendations I would be at:

moderate day 270g pro, 270g cho, and 115 grams fat.
high day 270grams pro, 337grams carbs, and 115 grams fat.
low day 270g pro, 213g cho, 115g fat.

Just wondering if you think I should drop low carb day to <100 or 50 to get a bigger response from the mod and high carb days and to increase fat burning on low days. also if you think there should be a bigger difference between mod and high carb day say maybe just 200g cho on mod carb and bump the high carb to 380g(2xbw). and if you would mess with the protein and fat or just keep them at the same levels daily, again I am trying to gain muscle with minimal fat gain and even trying to lose some lbs.

let me know if you have any suggestions. Thanks!