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One of the more challenging aspects of dieting is avoiding common foods that are known to influence insulin and subsequent weight gain. Bread, rice, and many other common carbs are among the first foods crossed off your shopping list.
But you don’t have to completely avoid carbs, and you can even increase carb intake on certain days while still burning body fat.
Carb cycling is a common practice by many athletes and fitness professionals to stay lean, while still providing enough energy to power their workouts.
How Carb Cycling Works
Carb cycling is the practice of scaling your daily carb consumption based on your expected energy needs. On high energy expenditure days you would consume more carbohydrates than on days you don’t go to the gym.
The intent is to supply the needed energy for strenuous activities on days that it’s needed, and reduce your high energy foods on days it’s not.
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Why You Should Try Carb Cycling
Exercise is an important element in every weight loss plan, but most diets significantly reduce high energy foods making exercise very challenging. If you’re reducing bread, grains, and other carbohydrates you often run out of energy during your workout.
This results in a lower intensity, or shorter workout, because you don’t have enough energy to exercise with the intensity needed to burn large amounts of calories.
This is a paradox nearly all diets struggle with. You’re reducing calories to lose weight, which also reduces the energy you need to burn fat during workouts.
That’s where carb cycling becomes a very useful strategy. You provide high energy food on days you need them, and restrict high energy food when they’re not needed.
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Some Carbs Are Better Than Others
Carb cycling shouldn’t be confused with a “cheat day” where you’re allowed to enter into a large surplus of daily calories. When carb cycling you’re only trying to provide useful amounts of energy when they’re needed.
So, unfortunately, you can’t load up on donuts and barrels of ice cream and tell everyone your’e carb cycling.
You’ll want to stick to slow digesting whole grain foods. Here’s a quick list of the best foods to carb cycle and some you’ll want to scratch off the list.
Carbs To Cycle
Whole Wheat Bread
Cream Of Wheat
Carbs You Shouldn’t Cycle
High sugar foods
How Many Carbs Should You Eat?
You’ll want to scale your carbs based on your personal workout schedule. On high energy days, like when you go to the gym, you’ll want to be in the 150-200 grams per day range.
On non-workout days when you spend most of the day sitting at home or in the office you’ll want to restrict your carbs to 50 grams or less.