Carbohydrate Cycling is a technique used to lose weight. The so called ketogenic diet. Dietry carbohydrates are gradually reduced to achieve a calorie deficit so that body weight and water loss occurs resulting in increased muscle tone and definition. This involves a process of eating less carbohydrates but increasing protein consumption to retain muscule. Fats are also moderately increased to supply energy and protect skin and hair when carbohydrates are low. If we take an average week carbohydrates would be reduced for a consequtive three days followed by an increase of one day, then followed by a decrease of two days which is followed by an increase of one day. The cycle is repeated until you reach your desired goal which is probably to increase muscular definition and or to lose weight overall.
Day 1 - Lower Carbohydrate Day - Begin by reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat in a meal by half. Increase protein and good fats slightly. Have a slow digesting protein only meal, low-fat cottage cheese or casein powder as the last meal of the day, and eat mostly wholefood carbohydrates.
Day 2 - Lower Carb Day
Day 3 - Lower Carb Day
Day 4 - Higher Carb Day. Increase carbohydrate levels back to where they were before you started reducing but don't raise them significantly. Eat carbohydrates with every meal execept the last one. Keep protein and fat levels the same.
Day 5 - Lower Carb Day
Day 6 - Lower Carb Day
Day 7 - Higher Carb Day
Applying Carb Cycling to training
The body's main energy source is supplied from glycogen so purposefully reducing carbohydrates will probably result in lowered output while in the gym. For me this usually means I will have less energy to workout for the same length of time as I have previously, and as strength levels will drop I will have to reduce the volume and poundage used. So I need to devise a plan that enables me to get through the training sessions while I am at this stage.
I don't count calories or weigh food but I do apply some basic concepts. I start with a strategy that I am going to be reducing overall carbohydrates and then through a process of trial and error I work out how long it is before my energy levels drop. I would then slightly increase mainly slowly digesting carbohydrates with each meal for about a day before lowering them again. Occasionally I will keep my metabolism guessing by reducing carbohydrates drastically for one day then increasing them substantially the next. You may not fit into the three days off, one day on, two days off, one day on plan completely so if you feel drained of energy and unable to face your workout you have probably reached your limit and it is now time to start increasing your carbohydrate level back up. Overall though I reduce all simple sugars, fruit, white bread, white rice, potatoes and avoid useless carbohydrates such as those from alcohol, desserts etc. My final meal of the day is always mostly protein - low fat cottage cheese or a casein and whey isolate drink to supply slowly digesting protein while I sleep. Ingesting any carbohydrates at this time will mean that they won't be used as energy but will be stored as bodyfat.
I would make an exception around training time. I always find it neccessary to have some carbohydrates the day before a training day otherwise I will really struggle to get through the workout. Also I think that it's important to have simple sugars in the Postworkout drink or meal to raise insulin levels in order to quickly replenish expended glycogen and drive protein into my system.
You might want to consider cell volumisation supplements such as creatine and glutamine during this time to help maintain lean body mass. To this end drink lots of liquids as they work by drawing water into the muscles.
After Carbohydrate Cycling for some time a point may be reached when the so called starvation reflex takes effect, due to carbohydrate depletion the body begins to store carbohydrates and you might see some stomach bloat. To counteract this effect I immediatley begin to increase carbohydrates and this usually means I return back to normal when I begin reducing again.
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