T Nation

How to Carb Cycle


#1

Hi guys,

Rather than babble, Ill get to the point, I'd really appreciate help with a few questions.

Im thinking, weekly cycle
3 days no carb
3 days moderate carb (200g)
1 day high carb (300g)

Is this sensible?
Im 1.8m and 175lbs

Moderate and high carb days i was planning on 175p and 60f - how do I change this for no carb days, or dont i?

really appreciate your time.

thanks

C


#2

Lots of good info is available:







#3

What goal are you trying to achieve via carb cycling?


#4

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
What goal are you trying to achieve via carb cycling?[/quote]

lowering body fat to 8% is the primary and uncompromising goal. id guess, (and i no people underestimate it so take it with a pinch of salt) im around 15-18%. and ive been like that for a couple of years.

ive tried clean eating and iifym - and i know they are solid diets, but i struggle with the slower progress, thus i go off the wagon, stop eating, then binge. repeat - yoyo dieting.

i couldnt do 7 days of no carbs. but, i think i could do 3/4 a week and stick to a iifym for the others. and im hoping carb cycling will provide the progress im looking for.

anything i can explain beter just let me know.

appreciate all in put.


#5

If you can’t control your diet pretty much any plan is going to be futile. How fast of progress do you need to ensure compliance?


#6

[quote]blue9steel wrote:
If you can’t control your diet pretty much any plan is going to be futile. How fast of progress do you need to ensure compliance?[/quote]

definitely a fair comment. i get what your saying. erm…i can see how when i say i want results fast it comes across like an impatient kid.

if i can explain better why carb cycling interests me.

i can do no carb days - i dont struggle for energy, or not in the short term. and i enjoy the hunger pains/no carb headaches etc. you know, when you feel like your really grinding on no carbs.

but come the weekend, come a few days of no carbs, i struggle and overload. this is why iifym isnt working. i can hit the macros easily mon-thursday - and some of those days it feels like too much. and then i hit the wall, and over do it.

i understand carb cycling doesnt mean having high carb days when you just eat crap. 100%. but i do need higher carb days, when i do more exercise. and i like the idea of no carbs days for 3 or 4 days when i can maximise fat loss.

“How fast of progress do you need to ensure compliance?” - i guess, like christian thib once said, “we all want the killer body, and we want it yesterday”.

ive tried the fastest approach (flat out no carb) and i end up yoyo dieting.

im very interested in carb cycling because i really think its something i could adhere to.

appreciate and welcome all comments.


#7

Sounds like you need something conceptually simple and reasonably easy to implement. In that case I suggest you go old school:

Starches: Bread, Rice, Potatoes, Pasta, Oats, etc.

Off Days: No starches, veggies are fine
Weight Training Days: Starches are ok, veggies are still fine


#8

I see no reason this couldn’t work fine.

It would really come down to whether the program suited you personally, so far as keeping you motivated to follow it, making it easy for you to stick to it, and fitting in with your training.

The no-carb days I’ll assume will be something like 30 g because it’s hard to be actually zero carb. Let’s say 2000 cal is a good figure as an estimate. In that case you’ve got 1880 calories left. I’d move the protein to between 200 and 250 g with fat of course taking up the rest. So at 200 g protein, that would be 120 g fat; at 250 g protein, 98 g fat. I’d prefer the second of those choices.

The 200 g carb days, let’s look at it from the standpoint of putting fat at at least 30% of calories. So, at least 600 calories, at least 67 grams (bare minimum.) The 200 g carbs gives 800 calories, so 600 left over, making 150 g protein. No way around it, if you want 200 g carbs then for your calories to come out here, then that’s what it is. Perhaps if you train enough you can cut well with more calories than this, and in that case, increase both the fat and the protein.

Your one high carb day, I’d keep the same as the 200 gram days – if those days are as above then I wouldn’t want to cut either protein or fat – and just take the 400 added calories.


#9

The primary cause of weight loss on a carb-cycling diet is the caloric deficit incurred on the low-carb days. So the rate at which you will lose weight is a function of the average caloric deficit you’re running.

Say you want to lose a pound a week. To do so, you’ll have to average ~500 cal deficit/day. On the schedule you’ve laid out, you could do that as follows:

3 low-carb days/week: Eat 1000 cals below maintenance (total deficit 3000 cals)
3 medium-carb days/week: Eat 500 cals below maintenance (total deficit 1500 cals)
1 high-carb day/week: Eat 1000 cals over maintenance (The High day acts as a refeed, serving to maintain both your leptin levels and your sanity.)

Assuming you exercise hard for an hour/day and are otherwise fairly sedentary (ie, you don’t do hard manual labor), your maintenance cals are probably on the order of 15/lb/d, so ~2600/d. This means you’d shoot for 1600 on Low days, 2100 on Medium days, and 3600 on High days. Keep protein at 1 g/lb every day. Given protein @175 g/d and the caloric goals as stated:

–On low-carb days, avoid all intentional carbs, and adjust fat intake as needed to hit your caloric goal (1000 below maintenance). So 1600 (target) - 700 (cals in 175 g protein) = 900 fat cals.
–On medium-carb days, set carbs at 1 g/lb + 50 g/hr of weightlifting. Again, adjust fat intake to hit your caloric goal for the day (= 500 below maintenance). So 2100 (target) - 700 (pro) - 900 (cals in 225 g carbs–175 for BW, plus 50 for lifting for an hour) = 500 fat cals.
–On the high-carb day, keep fat intake as low as possible (ie, stick to clean carbs), and eat carbs as needed to hit your caloric goal for the day. So 3600 (target) - 700 (pro) = carb heaven.


#10

That’s another totally valid way to approach it.

Total calories per week, rather than per day, can be a better way of organizing, depending on the individual. By “depending” I don’t really mean on individual biochemistry, but individually what works in terms of compliance to the program and finding it easy to do and productive for training.

Totally okay for calories to vary day to day towards a weekly planned total.

Where I would have a concern with the above is that it has 3 days per week at only about 25% calories from fat (if assuming that maintenance is 2500, which I don’t know) and that’s a little low, especially with a 4th day where the above program is calling for as low as possible. It’s certainly okay to have a day or two below 30% but having half the week below it, I would have a little concern about.There may be some extent of “total fat for the week” working out but personally I don’t know and prefer for at least most of the days of the week to be at least 30%.


#11

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
That’s another totally valid way to approach it.

Total calories per week, rather than per day, can be a better way of organizing, depending on the individual. By “depending” I don’t really mean on individual biochemistry, but individually what works in terms of compliance to the program and finding it easy to do and productive for training.

Totally okay for calories to vary day to day towards a weekly planned total.

Where I would have a concern with the above is that it has 3 days per week at only about 25% calories from fat (if assuming that maintenance is 2500, which I don’t know) and that’s a little low, especially with a 4th day where the above program is calling for as low as possible. It’s certainly okay to have a day or two below 30% but having half the week below it, I would have a little concern about.There may be some extent of “total fat for the week” working out but personally I don’t know and prefer for at least most of the days of the week to be at least 30%.[/quote]

I didn’t specify (probably should have), but in my envisioning of the above plan, the days are staggered such that carbs go low (and therefore fats go high) every other day. I have no data to back this up, but my hunch is that going low on fats every other day would not be deleterious to hormonal status (which I assume is your primary concern), so long as intake on the low-carb days–or should I call them ‘high fat days’?–is adequate.


#12

Yes exactly, that was my concern.


#13

Obviously some great tips and plans have been offered above, but when life gets hectic for me or if I feel like I’m not following my diet to a tee I start up the prescribed 5/2 diet. There is a good variation found here, for lifters.

I have found this to be a great way to lose fat and seemingly jump start my metabolism. Others may have more on this fact, as I’m simply recapping experience not expertise.

You are able to eat your usual (clean) foods for 5 days per week then for 2 days (non consecutive) you put yourself into an extreme calorie deficit. Well, no use explaining much more…the article does it quite well.

Anyways, good luck!


#14

It would depend on how low you go and the mix of fats. For example, optimal Testosterone production requires a minimum of roughly 31g of Saturated+Monounsaturated fats plus extra to compensate for any polyunsaturated fats you’re eating. Low fat diets also tend to increase production of SHBG. Here’s a study you might want to check out “Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise.” http://jap.physiology.org/content/82/1/49


#15

great info. really appreach the help guys.


#16

Hi guys,

sorry just 1 final question. can I do the below? or do the days need to be alternated?

sun - moderate carbs (200)
mon - no carb
tue - no carb
wed - no carb
thu - moderate carb (200)
fri - moderate carb (200)
sat - high carb (300-350)


#17

[quote]CarltonJ wrote:
Hi guys,

sorry just 1 final question. can I do the below? or do the days need to be alternated?

sun - moderate carbs (200)
mon - no carb
tue - no carb
wed - no carb
thu - moderate carb (200)
fri - moderate carb (200)
sat - high carb (300-350)[/quote]

Depends on what you mean by ‘can.’ I mean, sure, you can do this if you want. I don’t think it qualifies as carb-cycling, however. And I suspect some of the benefits that accrue to carb-cycling may not occur in this set-up.


#18

Fair enough. If that isn?t optimal then I wont do it.

Im new to this so just drafted that list because it seemed easy. if I could trouble you for how it should be implemented. that would be superb? is it literally one day none, then one day with carbs?

my schedule/training is flexible so I can adapt that to fit the diet

many thanks


#19

The low math version looks like this:

Non Weight lifting days: No Starches, veggies ok
Weight lifting days: Starches ok, veggies still ok