T Nation

Carb Cycling, Lower Carb Days?

I get terrible headaches and hunger pangs on my low carb (170g) days (non-training days). I know this type of feeling goes away on prolonged low(er) carb diets, but for the cycle approach, are there some tips to get through without feeling uber anemic?

My profile for addtl info
-set up carb cycling based on Thib’s “The Carb Cycling Codex”
-started bulk at 170 AFTER cutting 15. Now 175 and started to look pudgy, but once I started with the lower carb days 3 days a week, looking much better
-4x/week Upper/Lower Split
-Moderate carb days (250g) are not an issue

[quote]giograves wrote:
I get terrible headaches[/quote]
Pretty normal.

Make sure you’re bumping up the protein and/or fats to keep the total daily calories sufficient.

Caffeine can help the brain fog/headaches, but the best bet is to focus on plenty of protein and fats on the low carb days, just soldier on until you adapt, and enjoy the higher carb days as much as possible.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]giograves wrote:
I get terrible headaches[/quote]
Pretty normal.

Make sure you’re bumping up the protein and/or fats to keep the total daily calories sufficient.

Caffeine can help the brain fog/headaches, but the best bet is to focus on plenty of protein and fats on the low carb days, just soldier on until you adapt, and enjoy the higher carb days as much as possible.[/quote]

I would echo everything that Chris said here. Caffeine definitely makes the difference and if I could one-up that, I would suggest that you try Brain Candy on your lower carb days. It’s like jacked up coffee and eliminates any kind of brain fog feeling and it gives you that energy boost that you find missing with lower carbs when you’re not used to that. If not, caffeine is fine but Brain Candy is pure awesome.

up your fats

Caffeine really does the trick, thanks gents.

But those lower carb days when I’m out on the town with the homies, still brutal.

It’s unlikely to be true hunger (physical) and more likely to be appetite/habit (mental). It will pass. Just need to develop the discipline to power through.

[quote]giograves wrote:
I get terrible headaches and hunger pangs on my low carb (170g) days (non-training days). I know this type of feeling goes away on prolonged low(er) carb diets, but for the cycle approach, are there some tips to get through without feeling uber anemic?

My profile for addtl info
-set up carb cycling based on Thib’s “The Carb Cycling Codex”
-started bulk at 170 AFTER cutting 15. Now 175 and started to look pudgy, but once I started with the lower carb days 3 days a week, looking much better
-4x/week Upper/Lower Split
-Moderate carb days (250g) are not an issue[/quote]

You might need more salt.

170 grams of carbs per day is not low. It’s pretty moderate considering the human liver can process only about 5 grams of glucose into fat per hour.

Anything that is not immediately absorbed into tissues floats around and messes with brain function. At this level of consumption when insulin is high and blood sugar is on the downswing you cannot enter lipolysis and make ketone bodies so your brain struggles to keep up (bonking/hitting the wall).

You body might be in a state of confusion - between having too much insulin but not enough energy substrate for the brain - which could lead to fogginess of mind and headaches.

Solution: either eat more carbs or eat WAY less carbs.

[quote]will-of-iron wrote:
It’s unlikely to be true hunger (physical) and more likely to be appetite/habit (mental). It will pass. Just need to develop the discipline to power through.[/quote]

This brings up a point of discussion. From a bodybuilding perspective hunger pangs even though you might have just downed 50g carbs, 50g protein, 20g Fat just 3 hours earlier seems against quo to ignore. Yeah, your not REALLY starving, but is your nitrogen balance affected by ignoring the belly calling???

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

Solution: either eat more carbs or eat WAY less carbs.[/quote]

This actually does make alot of sense. I was just following Thibs calculator and I wonder if going lower would inhibit growth, though I’ll be going under 100g for a cut cycle soon.