T Nation

Carb Cycling vs. Leangains


I've been doing Leangains for about 2 months now, and eating paleo for about a year. I like the idea of LG, as well as the huge PWO feasts I've stayed lean with some muscle gain since starting LG. I've also been upping my calories quite a bit since I started doing LG after I had been on diet with deficits on both WO and REST days. I'm about 170 lbs, 6'1", I haven't actually checked my bodyfat with calipers, but its somewhere between 12%-15%, im guessing (arms&shoulders very lean, not posting situation-sixpack).

I'm starting Wendler's 5/3/1 this week. I do not looking forward to gain any substantial weight. Strength gains are my main goal, and I do not mind a weight gain as long fat gain remains minimal. I've spent the last week finding out my 1RMs and getting a general feel of the assistance work.

My question, however, relates to nutrition. While Leangains probably might be fine for 5/3/1, lately I've been reading a lot about carb cycling with high, moderate and low/no carb days, with even fairly lean individuals are often suggested only 2 high-carb days, 3 moderate days and 2 low days.

I've been doing leangains with high (about 350-380 grams carbs) every workout day, which usually are 4 times a week (either 1 day workout - 1 day rest or 2 days workout - 1 day rest split), and rest days have been around 100-115 grams carbs. Cals have been 2000 on rest days and 2900-3000 on workout days. Protein always 200-250 grams, fat 40-50 grams on WO days and 85-100 on rest days.

What's your take on high/mod/low vs. leangains? While leangains is done by using intermittent fasting, carb cycling articles usually assume 5-6 meals a day (not always though). I really like the simplicity of leangains (even while eating paleo), while the high/mod/low seems that a bit more complicated (for example moderate day fat intake, as usually high carb is coupled with low fat). Onn average the weekly calories end up being the same, but I realize that when talking about any type of carb cycling, there are other issues than just consumped calorie amounts (insulin, leptin etc.). Appreciate your input!

Also, if you do LG or any other carb cycling, what's your carb and fat strategy for HIIT/cardio days? Wendler suggests 3 hill sprint sessions a week, but doesn't make any suggestions about when to do them or how to fuel pre and post sprinting (then again, he doesn't worry too much about nutrition...)


Just plain eat. Stop trying to "lean out" or "strength gain without the fat". You know less then nothing when it comes to nutrition and that is apparent by your stats. Go read the stickies in the beginner section, twice, especially the part on bulking.

You don't need LG or carb cycling, you need to eat.


LG is just a style of eating...it's a form of intermittent fasting. You can carb cycle on LG or not carb cycle on LG...you can do a ketogenic diet on LG or not do a ketogenic diet on LG...you can eat an isocaloric diet on LG or not etc etc. I think you see where I'm going with this.

It's just an eating schedule..it's not the diet itself. You already are carb cycling in a way by what you described..

None of this is needed as the above poster has stated, but that doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't do it. IF you are following LG because you feel it's the best eating window for your body and you enjoy big meals etc, then keep doing it. You can still tweak your calories/macros however you like over time.

You can get just as good results with 3 meals a day...6 meals a day...4 meals a day etc..as long as we are assuming that you'd be following the same calories/macros no matter the eating schedule.


You can eat carbs if you want to. You can avoid carbs if you want to. You can eat paleo if you want to. You can eat 3 meals or 6, depending on what you want.

BUT, if you are going to do Leangains, then just do the program that way you don't complain when it doesn't work. Same with 5/3/1 or any other program out there.

Leangains uses carb cycling. High carbs on workout days, lower carbs on rest days. 5/3/1 is usually either a 3 or 4 day training week. So just eat high carbs and high calories on training days, and lower calories and lower carbs on rest days like the Leangains guide suggests. If you want to do Leangains with the focus of losing body fat, then use the 3 day 5/3/1 template which gives you 4 days per week in a calorie deficit.


Obviously, I could just eat. I know that I can either eat a) a lot of carbs all the time b) a lot of everything all the time c) little carbs all the time d) a little of everything all the time.

I was merely looking for educated opinions about the differences, and if someone would have experience from both systems.

I'm not trying to be an a**hole, but I asked this questions on T-Nation forums, as I have the desire of optimizing my nutrition, even though I realize that there is no such thing as a 100% optimal nutrition / diet choices that would fit for every single person out there. Obviously no-one needs to log on to a forum to eat 4000-5000 calories a day and not give a shit about macros.


I think the carb/calorie cycling for LeanGains is pretty legit. That's my opinion and basically how I eat, except I have carbs even lower on non-training days because I really want glycogen depleted so I can shovel carbs in my face on training days when I do eat them.

for me: training days ~2400kcal ~250g carbs, ~200g Protein, ~45-65g fat..depending on if I ate more carbs than 250g.

Non-training: ~1600-1800kcal, ~50g carbs, 225g protein, the rest fats.

I train four days a week..so I have 4 higher days and 3 lower ones every week.


I don't think your question was all that bad. What JFG is probably trying to say is that judging by your post you are new to weight training and will therefor make impressive gains while your body adapts to lifting. During this initial phase of lifting it is important to "over feed" your body so you get the full benefit of beaning a Noob.

Here is an article I like that might benefit you:


There is only one person in this world that can tell you which "diet" is best for you and that is YOU.

Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, Anabolic, LG, Carb Cycling, IF, etc

Do one, eat, see how you react and how it fits in your lifestyle and go from there.

But asking a question before you do anything (IMO) is a waste of time.

You read LG first, do that. Don't ask, don't pass go, just do it. Today. See how it fits with 5/3/1 (excellent strength program and worth every penny).

I would love to hear your experience instead of "What do you guys think".

I also mentioned the stickies because you need them. Yes, I'm also lazy. I will not retype what someone has already said. Basic knowledge is a must. But as you are reading, you are also actually doing 5/3/1 and LG.

And lastly, you are talking about insulin and leptins, etc. You are building a foundation and have not even started yet you are worried about the color of your bed sheets?

Eat Lift Rest

Pretty easy.