People often get confused about carbs- are they necessary to your diet? Do they make you fat? When should you eat them around your workout?
The first point i want to stress is whatever macros (carbs/fat/protein split) you eat, to loose fat you have to be in a calorie deficit. However, saying that there are tools that will help you to loose fat and carb cycling is one of them.
Carb cycling is when you cycle your carbohydrate intake around your workouts. This is a technique that i swear by and i feel is very important to fat loss.
You can either cycle carbs by having one large carb meal after your workout to refuel your muscles with the glucose you have used during the workout, or you can have a whole high carb day, consuming 3 high carb meals during the days you workout.
My trick? I tend to mix it up! I have about 2 days a week where i have a moderate carb intake- one high carb meal following my workout. I have 2-3 high carb days- all 3 meals during the day include carbs. Finally i always have 2 rest days a week- I will eat 3 low carb meals during these days and consume high fat foods to compensate for the lack of carbs. Your high carb days should be on your hard training days, so lift heavy on these days! ;)
So the benefits of Carb cycling?
Lean Muscle Growth and Muscle Retention- Low carb days increase fatty acid break down, helping fat loss and high carb days prevent muscle breakdown and increase protein synthesis helping you to build muscle. Your muscles need glucose from carbs to replenish them after a workout. Glucose is what you use to fuel your workout therefore you must replenish it with carbs!
Improved Insulin Sensitivity- by varying your carb intake you vary insulin release, this insures that you have optimum insulin sensitivity. Insulin is released when you eat carbs, it is needed to move the glucose into the cells (muscle cells) to replenish them after a workout.
If you have a consistently high carb diet your cells may become resistant to insulin and your body will have to release more for it to have the desired effect.
Endocrine Stimulation- It is well researched that long periods of low carb intake can decrease your T3 hormone levels, leading to a decrease in your Basal Metabolic Rate (amount of calories burnt at rest). This makes it more difficult to lose fat. High carb days will bump T3 production, boosting your metabolism- always a great benefit to fat loss.
If you haven’t already give Carb cycling a try. Above all the benefits i have mentioned it also changes your food intake up, allows you to eat different foods you may not always eat on a low carb or high carb diet.
Hope you find this useful!