T Nation

Opinions on Carb Cycling


#1

I've been thinking of experimenting with a carb cycled diet, since I'm trying to get back to my old strength and also lose about 10-15lbs of fat.
Does anyone currently use this type of diet? What kind of meals do you have?

This is what im thinking of implementing; I train heavy on mon/wed/fri, short intense conditioning on tues/thurs. Weekends I rest or hike.
Mon- Only vegetable carbs until 3pm, train at 8pm.
Tue- Only vegetable carbs today.
Wed- Only vegetable carbs until 3pm, train at 8pm.
Thu- Only vegetable carbs today.
Fri- Only vegetable carbs until 3pm, train at 8pm.

I also would like suggestions for low-carb breakfasts!


#2

The easiest low-carb breakfast ever: scrambled eggs.

Carb cycling can work but it means you have to be very organised and knowledgeable with your diet. If you’re not, stick to something that’S easier and will give you 95% of the results.


#3

Books, it looks like you’re on the right track! Carb cycling definitely works, and there are of course many ways to go about it, finding what works best for you. The key will be sticking to your plan strictly and consistently. I’ve been doing something similar to your plan, I train Mon/Wed/Fri, two low calorie days on Thursday/Sunday. Here’s the breakdown, complete with meals and everything:

Mostly protein/fat/veggie meals except for the workout window. I do have 2 slices of ezekiel bread on Tuesday/Saturday non training days, low glycemic index, very healthy and helps me not feel as though I’m giving up too much.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday - Training day (full body program currently)
Tuesday, Saturday - No training, nutrition is the same except no workout carbs
Thursday, Sunday - low day, fasted walk mid-day

Training Day Nutrition
8am breakfast - 1 egg, 3 or 4 egg whites, 3oz turkey, grass fed cheddar, veggies and organic salad greens OR a MD shake with nut butter
11:00 - MAG-10 pulse
1:00 - 6oz turkey sandwich w/ ezekiel bread, grass fed cheddar or 1oz organic cashews/almonds, organic salad greens
2:30 - Micro-PA
3:00 - Indigo
3:15 - Start sipping Plazma (2 scoops)
3:30 - 5:00 - training
5:30 - MAG-10
6:30 - Dinner, 6oz chicken or grass fed beef, grass fed cheddar, 2 cups veggies, organic salad greens
9:00 - 1 scoop MD protein and unsweetened almond milk if hungry

Tuesday-Saturday - Non Training Nutrition
8am breakfast - 1 egg, 3 or 4 egg whites, 3oz turkey, grass fed cheddar, veggies and organic salad greens OR a MD shake with nut butter
11:00 - MAG-10 pulse
1:00 - 6oz turkey sandwich w/ ezekiel bread, grass fed cheddar or 1oz organic cashews/almonds, organic salad greens
4:00 - 2 scoops MD protein w/ unsweetened almond milk, 1oz organic cashews/almonds
6:30 - Dinner, 6oz chicken or grass fed beef, grass fed cheddar, 2 cups veggies, organic salad greens
9:00 - 1 scoop MD protein and unsweetened almond milk if hungry

Thursday/Sunday - Non training low days. Hunger is definitely there but manageable, be sure to drink LOTS of water on these days!
8am breakfast - 4 egg whites, 1 cup veggies, 2 strips bacon (local farm raised)
Throughout the day I’ll drink coffee and Zevia sodas (naturally sweetened, 0 calorie soda) to stave hunger, and one or two MAG-10 pulses as needed. Fasted 1 hour walk (slow and steady pace) around 4pm.
6:30/7pm dinner - 4oz chicken breast, 1 cup veggies, half serving organic grass fed cheddar, organic salad greens

Also, some training days if I’m feeling depleted or really low energy in the morning, I’ll have carbs with breakfast instead of fat. So, sub out eggs and cheese for oats and protein powder, etc.

I hope this helps, again it’s been very manageable and effective, and also allows me to not have to do too much cardio, except for the fasted walks. I’ve been doing this for 3 full weeks and have lost about 7 pounds of scale weight, and I can definitely see good results from it. I plan on continuing with this nutrition plan for another 3-4 weeks, as I’m thinking that’s how long it will take to finish the summer cut, and then will increase carbs slightly on training days, and add some more carbs on non training days.

Good luck!


#4

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
The easiest low-carb breakfast ever: scrambled eggs.

Carb cycling can work but it means you have to be very organised and knowledgeable with your diet. If you’re not, stick to something that’S easier and will give you 95% of the results.[/quote]

Carb cycling does not have to be difficult or incredibly organized. On days you lift, have a pre-workout shake or meal that is carb heavy. On days you don’t, don’t have one. Magically, you now have some days you take in 80-100 carbs extra then the days you don’t workout.

You can get way more complicated, but that’s a really easy solution to carb cycle without putting much thought into it.


#5

Suggestions for low carb breakfast: eggs, steak and eggs, ground meat and eggs, omelet with ham and cheese, omelet with whatever in it are all ones I’ve used.


#6

Thank you guys for your input and encouragement!

I’ve figured out some meass that will help me with the plan I posted, I’m also going to go for about 90-100 grams of protein per day.

Thanks for your breakfast suggestions!

What should I do at the weekends? Just continue with only vegetable carbs?
Also, how does everybody feel about eating carbs the morning after a training session? Since I train at 8pm I don’t really get a big meal afterwords and find myself aching the next morning, is it a good idea to get some carbs down in the morning to aid recovery?


#7

Books, what are your macros for each day? How many p/f/c on your training and non training days? First and foremost, you must know your numbers, without them, you’re flying blind and may not get to where you want to go. Just based off of your last post, unless you weigh like 70 pounds, 90-100g protein per day won’t be enough. Generally, 1.5g per pound of bodyweight is what you should aim for to ensure you can still optimally retain, and even grow muscle during this phase.

Here’s a basic guideline for effective carb cycling: https://www.T-Nation.com/diet-fat-loss/carb-cycling-codex

You wrote you’re trying to get your strength back, WHILE losing 10-15 lbs of fat, so generally those goals are contradicting. You still can certainly lose fat while gaining strength, and vice versa, but realize that ultimately you’ll need to pick one goal as your priority. So, if fat loss is your main goal, strength and size can still improve, but they’ll take a back seat to fat loss. My personal recommendation would be to focus for fat loss, it’ll be MUCH EASIER to put on strength and size at a lower body fat level. Lose all the fat you need to, and then make adjustments in your nutrition and training to start gaining more lbm.

So, figure out your RMR (resting metabolic rate, how many calories you burn on your own without doing anything), take 1.5g protein per pound of bodyweight, then you know how many calories you’ll have left to split between carbs and protein each day. You’ll want to create a caloric deficit every day, non-training days more than others (assuming your #1 goal is fat loss, which it should be.)

Regarding your “weekends” question with morning carbs, that would depend entirely on your macros for a non training day, and how you feel. For example, if you train on Wednesday, and are not training on Thursday, if Thursday allows you let’s say 50g carbs, then you have 50g carbs to eat throughout the day how you like. If eating them in the morning helps you, go for it.

Also, timing your carbs on a training day around your workout is typically helpful for performance and recovery. If a training day allows you 150g carbs, timing them with the meal before your workout, and before/during your workout, would likely help performance and recovery (if you’re not already doing this.) Additionally, it sounds like you’re not getting nearly enough protein, which would absolutely hinder your recovery.

If you’re training 3 days a week, you could have 2 “high” carb days on the days you train the muscles you want to focus on the most, 1 “normal” carb day on the other training day, and 4 “low” carb days. You could even toss one or two low calorie days in, like in the 5/2 diet: https://www.T-Nation.com/diet-fat-loss/5-2-fat-loss-diet-for-lifters. That’s a really easy way to lose extra fat without going crazy with cardio.

Hope this helps!


#8

[quote]Books wrote:
Since I train at 8pm I don’t really get a big meal afterwords and find myself aching the next morning, is it a good idea to get some carbs down in the morning to aid recovery?[/quote]

One more thought - you don’t necessarily need a big meal after your workout. If you time your macros/meals before your workout, have a good pre-workout meal and proper nutrition for a productive workout, you can have a small meal afterwards. The most important thing is that you stick to your numbers for the day. If you get home late from the gym and don’t feel comfortable eating a big meal afterwards, eat most of your food for day before your workout, and finish the remaining macros after the workout.


#9

[quote]robstein wrote:
Books, what are your macros for each day?

My personal recommendation would be to focus for fat loss, it’ll be MUCH EASIER to put on strength and size at a lower body fat level.
[/quote]

Here’s my meal plan…

Training days (High Carb)
Meal-1. Smoothie (carrot, apple, blueberries, flaxseed)
Meal-2. Mackerel fillet, Beetroot, Spinach, Olive Oil
Meal-3. Chicken, Leek, Onion, Rice
Meal-4. Mackerel fillet, Rice

Calories - 1700
Carbohydrate - 150g
Protein - 90g
Fat - 80g

Rest Days (low carb)
Meal-1. Avocado, Eggs
Meal-2. Mackerel fillet, Beetroot, Spinach, Olive Oil
Meal-3. Mackerel fillet, Beetroot, Spinach, Olive Oil
Meal-4. Chicken, Leek, Onion

Calories - 1900
Carbohydrate - 70g
Protein - 100g
Fat - 130g

In the past week I decided to focus more on fat loss since I’m seeing good progress with that. I’m sticking to high volume, medium weight during training, very short rest periods.
Then, like you say, I’ll focus on size and strength.


#10

[quote]Books wrote:

Here’s my meal plan…

Training days (High Carb)

Calories - 1700

Rest Days (low carb)

Calories - 1900
[/quote]

I’m no expert here but those seem like some awfully low calories. If you have 10-15lbs of fat to lose I’d up those numbers a bit or you will definitely be sacrificing size and strength. It has already been posted but this link: https://www.T-Nation.com/diet-fat-loss/carb-cycling-codex, you can calculate how many calories you should be consuming.

I’m 5’9" and 195lbs and it calculates to 2210cals if I want to cut.

Someone else may be able to provide more insight. Good luck with your goals!


#11

Books, you should definitely read the carb cycling codex and adjust your numbers. It looks like your numbers on a training day are LOWER than your numbers on a rest day, which is not conducive to any goals you have. Training day calories should absolutely be higher than rest day calories, because you need more fuel on a training day. If you want to lose fat, gain strength, ANYTHING, you’ve got to have a nutrition plan that will support your goals. Read the carb cycling codex thoroughly and adjust those numbers, then you’ll be set!


#12

Sorry guys, I’ve been at a wedding so I’ve not had time to read this article yet. Sounds like I need to.

What I can tell you for now is that in the past 10ish days I lost 2lbs in weight, gained strength on all lifts including 20kgs on my deadlift (just getting my old strength back).
I feel energetic and full all the time apart from just before each meal.

As for my calorie deficit; I was maintaining my weight at around 2100 calories a day (im not sure but i think i have quite a slow metabolism) so I thought that a 400-500 deficit would be acceptable for a steady weightloss.
I also think that im probably eating more calories than i estimated as i snack liberally on bananas and nuts between meals.