Carb cycling can definitely become quite confusing. People often wonder how much carbs you should eat when you can, and what to eliminate when on a low carb day.
To get down to the basics, carb cycling is to eat a high, medium and low carb consumption during the week. This is dependant on how much weight you would like to lose, and how much muscle to build. Everyone’s goals are completely different, and I’m going to give you the basics of the carb cycling principle, and how I have used it throughout my life.
Carb cycling allows us to consume carbs during our training weeks still, to replenish lost glycogen stores. That means we can still train hard, not experience any cravings and keep moving forward without muscle building and fat loss goals. It’s very effective at keeping your physique in check.
You can have the option of going completely ‘Keto’ on your low carb days, as you will be consuming more fat than carbohydrates. The choice is yours, and I recommend regularly experimenting to see how you feel and what your body looks like when tweaking your nutrition.
Basic carb cycling weekly timeline
I’m basing this carb cycling strategy for someone that trains hard regularly. If you do not train, you could still use this principle, although I would ensure you monitor what’s happening with your body throughout the process. I have sourced a really great calculator that will help you determine your carb levels during each phase.
High Carb Days
These days are allocated for those super intensive training days. One day, I would recommend those who are trying to lose body fat and two days for those who are focused on muscle building. This one day, you will consume carbs with every meal, and higher levels (based on your body weight, of course). There is no real magic number, so you will have to do much personal observation and accountability during the phases.
Medium Carb Days
These days are your moderate training days. They are still relatively intense, bit the carb levels are manageable and will replenish your body glycogen. For those increasing muscle, you will have a lot more moderate days than low carb days. To lose weight, you will focus on a couple of moderate days per week.
Low Carb Days
If you are losing weight, you will need to focus on having more low carb days. Try to schedule them in when you are completing your HIIT cardio, or on rest days. I would suggest about 3 days or more of low carbs. For building muscle, 1–2 should be sufficient without depleting your energy levels. You will get your carb sources only from vegetables on this day (not including potatoes!)
This is a ballpark figure, as we all tolerate carbs in different ways., After my training sessions, I find that eating carbs is a lot more effective than cutting carbs completely on any given day. This is something I have experimented with and now use as a strategy.
If you would like more detail regarding carb cycling, I have a comprehensive cheat sheet that outlines the phases in more detail, menu option, and structure with training and fat loss. You can also find me on social if you have any questions or would like to connect.