The carb cycling for men meal plan is a variation of carb cycling for weight loss which is a meal plan focused on the little and often principle. The carb cycling diet is a specialized diet designed to control your insulin levels, which in turn controls your hormones, allowing you to efficiently lose weight over time.
Carb Cycling for Weight Loss – A Step by Step Guide.
Athletes and bodybuilders who want to lose weight and build muscle mass have a strict exercise routine. They have to spend hours training to improve their stamina and overall health. Since they exercise for a longer time, their energy levels should not deplete, so their carbohydrate intake should be sufficient.
Carbohydrates provide glucose to the body, converted to energy to support multiple body functions. The carb cycling meal plan is a strict diet plan with varying carbohydrates. The diet is quite common in athletes and bodybuilders to perform their exercises without any drop of energy.
Carb cycling has a different approach when it comes to losing weight. Unlike other diet plans, carb cycling emphasizes having alternating periods of low carb and high carb diet. It does not eliminate the carbohydrates from the diet and is primarily designed for athletes. The main goal here is to reserve enough energy in the body so that metabolism keeps on working at a steady rate.
Many people prefer to follow this meal plan to regulate their carbohydrate intake while following other diets. The article will help you understand carb cycling basics, the conditions you need to follow, and a detailed meal plan for your assistance.
Carb Cycling – a Brief Overview
Different diets, such as keto, or Atkins, do not include enough carbs. While such diets may work well for people who are not into exercise, the rest who work out for more than three days a week need an alternate solution. If they do not eat enough carbohydrates, their energy levels will decline, and they will face a problem in performing exercises.
So, there is an alternate meal plan for such people, carb cycling. In this meal plan, there are days in which they have to eat more carbs, whereas, the rest of the days, their diet has lesser carbs. It allows them to maintain energy levels and monitor their carb intake. Usually, the carbohydrate intake guidelines are 45-65% of total calories.
You typically have two high-carbohydrate intakes and two moderate-carbohydrate intake days in carbohydrate cycling. For the next three days, the carb intake is usually low. Protein intake remains normal these days, whereas fat is also adjusted depending on the carb intake.
The carb cycle helps fulfill these needs and maintains energy in the body. You feel more energized and focused on your workouts if you have an accurate amount of glucose. Doing this also helps you lose weight easily. Besides, it also improves your metabolism and aids important metabolic functions in the body. You can also overcome your weight loss plateaus with carb cycling.
The alternating days you have to eat high-carb meals and low-carb meals restore your energy. On your high-carb days, you have to focus on eating nutritious foods and have more carbs. For instance, for dinner, you should have one serving of brown rice, with a grilled chicken fillet, and a side of vegetables that makes one serving. After that, you can have a fruit-like banana for your dessert.
On your low-carb days, you get to eat foods that are low in carbs. But, here, you need to make sure that you include healthy options in your breakfast so that you can start your day in a better way. While you are following a low-carb day, you should focus more on eating proteins and healthy fats to make you full.
Carb Cycling and Weight Loss
Low carb diets have gained immense popularity among those aiming to lose weight and build muscle mass. These diets show promising results, but they also pose a serious health risk. According to research, a low carbohydrate diet combined with a high protein food can pose serious risks to cardiovascular health.
In many cases, it has been seen that as soon as the person stops following no-carb diets, they gain all the weight they have lost. So, the best approach is to have moderation in diet, in which you get to eat all your favorite foods without any problem, and carb cycling is perfect for you.
Carb cycling does not deprive your body of major macronutrients and provides sufficient energy to do well on your days. The carbohydrates fuel your brain, liver, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system. The body also stores enough carbs in the liver and provides muscle fuel when low on carbs. The fiber content of carbohydrates improves gut health and aids in losing weight.
When you want to lose weight, it is best to follow a proper exercise routine and carb cycling. Besides, you should also adjust your caloric intake to see the best results. The best approach is to include whole grains and healthy carbs options even on high-carb days.
Other weight-loss diets demand to stay on track for a longer time. You do not get any cheat days, so you often get demotivated. But with a carb cycling meal plan, you have a chance to eat your favorite food in moderation. You do not deprive yourself of any food, so you stay more focused and motivated to achieve your goals.
“High carb intake secretes insulin which packs a lot of fat on most people,” says Shelby Starnes, a bodybuilder and carb cycling expert. “Keeping carbs high in all your meal plans will make you fat. So, it is better to have low carb periods too, to keep your insulin sensitivity high.”
Best Approach for Carb Cycling
The way you follow a carb cycling meal plan depends on several factors written below:
The goal you want to achieve: When your goal is to lose weight, you need to fuel your body with energy. So, you should aim for lower carb days. Whereas for muscle building, and to improve your performance, you should eat more healthy carbs for at least three days a week. You will not lose muscle mass when you follow the carb cycle.
Training days: The best approach to eat carbohydrates in a moderate or high amount is to have them when you have to spend prolonged hours training. But, when you are on rest, you should eat a low-carb diet, as you do need much energy during those days.
Type of exercise: The type of exercise that you do also has a role in adjusting your carb intake. For instance, if you aim to work out for more than 1 hour, you need to fuel your body with good carbs. Besides, you will also need a mid-workout snack to keep your energy level optimal.
Body fat composition: Many people need to adjust their carb intake based on their body fat. The leaner someone is, the more carbohydrate they will need. Besides, you need to adjust your carb intake while planning your weight loss diet, depending on the goals.
Availability of foods: Carb cycling also depends on the availability of specific foods. If you do not have access to certain foods, you cannot implement the diet. So, you need to have healthy food choices to carry on with your plan.
An intra workout can help increase energy output and decrease fatigue to push you harder and…
Carb Cycling Meal Plan
Carb Cycling: Low-Carb Day Meal Plan
Three eggs with two slices of bran bread and mixed vegetables (10 g carbs).
6 oz. salmon salad (including vegetables like broccoli, kale, cauliflower) with one teaspoon olive oil (10 g carbs).
1 tablespoon mixed nuts with 1 serving turkey slices (10 g carbs).
6 oz. chicken steak, half avocado, mixed vegetables salad (16 g carbs).
Carb Cycling: High-Carb Day Meal Plan
Three boiled eggs, three slices (seed/grain) bread, tomatoes, mushrooms
and a side bowl of mixed fruit (berries, bananas) (60 g carbs).
6 oz. sweet potato, 6 oz. fish, mixed vegetables salad (45 g carbs).
One cup of oatmeal, almond milk, 1 cup berries, one scoop of whey protein (50 g
1 serving whole meal rice, 6 oz. lean chicken, homemade tomato sauce, one cup
kidney beans, mixed vegetables (70 g carbs).
Carb Cycling: Moderate-Carb Day Meal Plan
Greek yogurt, 1 cup mixed berries, one spoon seed mix (flaxseeds, sesame)
(25 g carbs).
6 oz. chicken salad with 2 boiled potatoes (25 g carbs).
One banana with a whey protein shake (30 g carbs).
1 serving sweet potato fries, 6 oz. lean beef, homemade tomato sauce, one cup
kidney beans, mixed vegetables (40 g carbs).
Carb Cycling Meal Plan for Men & Women
- 2–3 grams of carbs (x your body weight)
- 1–1.25 grams of protein (x your body weight)
- As little fat as possible
- 0.5–1.5 grams of carbs (x your bodyweight)
- 1.25–1.5 grams of protein (x your bodyweight)
- 0.15–0.35 grams of fat (x your bodyweight)
- About 1 gram of carbs (x your bodyweight)
- 0.75 grams of protein (x your bodyweight)
- As little fat as possible
- 0.2–0.5 grams of carbs (x your bodyweight)
- About 1 gram of protein (x your bodyweight)
- 0.1–0.2 grams of fat (x your bodyweight)
x= multiply by your body weight (in pounds)
Post-workout supplements are a must for any serious athlete. If you haven’t been using these…
Carb cycling can be a good option for losing weight and building muscle mass. Normally, people who excessively train or spend hours in the gym prefer to follow this meal plan. However, anyone who wants to lose weight and get in the best shape can go for it.
It is best to work on a training plan while following this meal plan to help optimize the gains. The number of carbohydrates you need greatly depends on your type of physical activity, your caloric needs, and the goal you are trying to achieve.
If you feel any problems and concerns while following a carb cycling meal plan, then it is best to consult a dietician for a better direction. Also, it is necessary to include healthy and low glycemic index foods in your diet to gain maximum benefits.
How to Do Carb Cycling for Weight Loss, According to a Dietitian
Nutrition trends come and go in waves. First, everyone was terrified of eating too much fat. Then the conversation started to shift, and the masses begin to demonizing carbohydrates.
And, in a way, a fear of carbs kind of makes sense.
Carbohydrates make up a large portion of your daily calories, and eating too many of the not-so-great kind of carbs (sugary drinks, white bread, cookies) can be problematic if you’re looking to lose weight or, honestly, just get healthier. Those carbs are empty carbs, largely devoid of the protein and fiber you need to stay full.
So diet programs argue that you should cut out all carbs in order to avoid empty carbs—except that this is sort of saying that you should never listen to Bruce Springsteen because of “Queen of the Supermarket.”
That type of restriction isn’t entirely necessary.
There are good carbs out there, carbs like oats and brown rice, which your body with the fuel you need to not only get through your workouts—but also your day in general.
That’s why some people opt for a strategy called “carb cycling.” That means that they alternate between high carb days and low carb days.
“Carb cycling is a way to help dieters periodically feel like they’re not dieting and in some cases actually indulging,” says nutrition expert Alan Aragon, M.S.
Carb cycling doesn’t mean you’ll get a special fat-burning effect by going low carb, but it might help you stick with your diet in the long run, he adds.
But does this approach do anything for your weight for the long haul? Even more importantly, is it any better than simply cutting calories overall? Here’s your beginner’s guide to carb cycling and how to figure out if it’s a fit for you.
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What Is Carb Cycling?
The term basically means that you’re eat a higher amount of carbs one day, followed by a lower amount of carbs the next. You continue to alternate between the two throughout your week, depending on your activity levels on each day.
The rationale behind it is pretty solid: You get the perks of going high-carb during the days you work out, and the perks of going low-carb when you’re not as active.
When you exercise, your body dips into your carb stores for energy, so naturally your high carb days would align with training days, when your body can best utilize that fuel. That can be a great thing, because an extra push during your workout means you can go harder for longer, burning more calories overall
By comparison, on your rest days, you can scale your carbs back as a way to reduce empty calories without feeling too restricted for the rest of the week.
So let’s say you’re 175 pounds and aiming for 2 grams of carbs (g) per pound of body weight on your high-carb days. If you’re training on a Monday, that’s 350 g. On your following rest day, or low carb day, you might cut back to just 1 or 1.5 grams per pound of body weight, ranging anywhere from 175 to 263 g.
That said, there’s no set amount for how many carbs you’re allowed on higher or lower carb days. It depends largely on the types of workouts you’re doing, and how often you do them. As with most diets, there are a variety of carb cycling “prescriptions” available on the internet, but your carb intake should ultimately be tailored to you and your needs.
How Do You Start Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling requires a bit more planning than most people prefer, because you need to weigh, measure, and count grams. Using an app like My Fitness Pal can help make that easier, but if you appreciate flexibility in your diet, carb cycling might be too strict for you.
That said, if you love having guidelines or “rules” to follow, carb cycling can be worth a shot for you.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you give it a whirl.
1. Know how many calories you need
Establish a daily calorie goal you’ll aim for on all days. A general approach: If you want to lose weight, multiply your bodyweight times 10. That’s how many calories you’re aiming for each day. Weight maintenance? Multiply by 12. And if you want to gain, multiply by 15.
2. Balance out the macros
Divide those calories among your main macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fat. Carbs and protein both provide 4 calories per gram, while fat provide 9 calories per gram.
In addition to your carb cycling, aim for about 1 g of protein per pound of body weight. Make up the rest with healthy fats. (For a more detailed plan, here’s how to count your macros for weight loss.)
So on high carb days, you’ll up the carbs and your calories, keeping protein and fat the same. On the flip side, the lower carb days will slash your calories, again while keeping your protein and fat the same. Remember, it’s about eating less calories but not really “feeling” like you are.
3. Don’t nix the fiber
When you eat fewer carbohydrates, make sure you keep the fiber. Low carb days aren’t an excuse to dump the broccoli and apples. Focus primarily on removing added sugar and other refined carbs, like muffins and bagels, from your diet. Load up on fiber and nutrient-rich vegetables, fruit, beans, oats, quinoa, and other quality grains.
4. Eat enough, even on low-carb days
Your brain runs on carbs, or more specifically, on the sugar glucose. And when there’s none around, your body has to make it using other sources, like protein, which can be bad news if you’re looking to build and maintain lean muscle. That’s why it’s so important to eat more than 130 g of carbs on your “low carb” days. Feed your brain so you’re not in a fog the entire day at work.
What Does Carb Cycling Look Like, Food Wise?
Well, that depends on the day.
On a high-carb day, for a 175-pound guy aiming for 350 grams of carbs, might include 1 cup of oats in the morning made with milk, a small handful of raisins and a bit of brown sugar; a piece of fruit and yogurt for a snack; a basic sandwich (with 2 slices of bread and some protein); a banana and peanut butter for an afternoon snack; 2 to 2.5ish cups of cooked pasta with veggies for dinner; then maybe some popcorn for an evening snack.
This is just looking at carb intake and doesn’t include all the protein-rich foods you’d be eating along with them. It’s also a loose recommendation, so it’s not exact in terms of total carbs, but should give you a feel for the amount of carbs you’d be looking at on a high-carb day.
On a low-carb day, half that amount of carb –175 g or so–would simply mean cutting some of the given portions above in half, so maybe just ½ cup oats; 1 to 1.5 cups cooked pasta; more vegetables and some lower carb fruits, like berries.
12-Week Carb Cycling Meal Plan: Boost Your Fat Loss With This Diet
Unpopular opinion: “Low-carb diets are so hard to stick to!” Yes, you want to go full keto and get your dream body in a few months. But you hate the idea of giving up carbs entirely. Even worse, your cravings get out of control every once in a while. So you need a moderate diet, one that lets you eat some carbs every so often. Carb cycling does exactly that! It might be the happy medium between going carb-free and letting your carb cravings rule you. So, is carb cycling good for weight loss? How does it work? Here are the answers to your most pressing carb cycling questions, along with a sample 12-week carb cycling meal plan.
What Is Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling is a diet tactic where you eat different amounts of carbohydrates on alternate days depending on your activity.
Unlike intense dieting, which can lead to weight loss then the yo-yo effect once the diet is over, this method helps maintain steady body weight by regulating hormonal stress caused by calorie restriction.
The idea behind carb cycling is that people can’t stick to the same low-carb diet indefinitely without craving something—usually, carbs. When this happens, they either go back to their old eating habits or quit altogether. Carb cycling aims to make it easier to adhere to and lose weight with a zero-, very low-, or low-carb diet.
In some cases, carb cycling can help combat fatigue and decline in energy levels that often occur when following a low-carb diet over a long period.
- High-Carb Days. You eat more carbs than usual and fill up on things like whole grains, legumes, fruit, and starchy vegetables. Research suggests that these types of carbs will not only give you energy but also help keep you full
- Low-Carb Days. Your carb intake is much lower than usual. You may still be in a calorie deficit (eating fewer calories than you burn), but the calories from carbs are drastically reduced. This may lead to greater fat loss and less muscle loss compared to steady-state diets.
Benefits Of Carb Cycling
There are not many studies of how carb-cycling affects a person’s physique. However, we can get some insight from what we know about macronutrients and how they should be consumed to help encourage weight loss.
Fueling Tough Workouts
Insufficient carbohydrates can compromise athletic performance, especially endurance activities or high-intensity training; it may also make sustaining workouts difficult since the body won’t have enough readily available fuel to keep muscles fueled with ATP.
Carbohydrates are used by muscles for high-intensity activity . Therefore, it is best to consume larger amounts of carbohydrates around a workout because this will give your muscles enough energy without negatively affecting fat loss efforts.
By consuming a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, you can also help prevent muscle fatigue. In an endurance sport, you want to keep your body fueled with glycogen so that your muscles do not start using gluconeogenesis (a process in which the liver converts protein into glucose) as fuel
The timing of carbohydrate consumption may also influence how well carb cycling works for weight loss purposes in certain situations. In one study, participants who consumed a high amount of carbohydrates two hours before exercising lost more weight than the other groups
Reducing Hunger And Cravings
In addition to helping decrease body fat levels by fueling intense workouts, another benefit of carb-cycling is that it does not lead to high-level hunger pangs. People who are trying to cut back on calories often complain about how hungry they get. Giving up carbs altogether comes with intense cravings that might make it harder to stick to the diet.
Carb cycling helps with this because you can eat a higher amount of carbohydrates around periods where your energy requirements are at their highest (during and right after a workout) or when you need extra energy in general (for example, if you have a busy day ahead). You also get to indulge your cravings with a moderate amount of carbs every other day.
This may be helpful for some people who find that they do not want to stick to an extremely low-calorie diet plan because they feel hungry all the time even though they have given up soda, candy bars, chips, etc.
Controlling Blood Sugar
The benefits of carb cycling for blood sugar control are massive. It could be an excellent tool for pre-diabetics or those with high blood sugars. By manipulating insulin levels, it may help stabilize and even reduce them naturally. When you cycle your carbs according to the plan, your body’s insulin sensitivity could potentially increase. It means that less insulin is needed to process carbohydrates and sugar. This will also result in lower fasting cortisol levels, as well as lowering cholesterol (including LDL or “bad” cholesterol) and raising HDL or “good” cholesterol levels
Carb cycling may be a good option if you have insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when the body’s cells do not react to normal levels of insulin. Insulin plays an important role in how glucose, or blood sugar, gets into and out of the cell . If you are overweight or obese, your body might overproduce insulin, and this can cause you to become resistant to it.
Carb cycling remedies this by allowing you to eat some carbohydrates on certain days of the week and very little carbohydrates on other days. Then your body might be more efficient at using insulin because it is not overproducing it due to overeating all the time
If you do have insulin resistance or any other health condition, always speak to your doctor before making any major dietary changes, including carb cycling.
How To Carb Cycle?
Carb cycling can get quite complicated for a beginner.
Here is a simplified process that you can use to get started :
Step 1: Learn Your Daily Carb Needs
The first step in any carbohydrate-cutting program is figuring out exactly how many grams of carbs you should be eating to support your lifestyle and body weight goals.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. So, if you get 2000 calories a day, between 900 and 1300 calories should be from carbohydrates. That translates to between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day.
However, the exact amount you need for low-carb and high-carb days is based on the calories you are taking to create a deficit and lose weight. The most reliable method of calculating how many calories you should eat each day is by using an accurate calorie needs calculator, and there are several available online.
Step 2: Plan Your Weekly Activities
Do you plan to work out? How often, and how intense will your workout sessions be? Categorize your days based on when you are more active and when you plan to rest.
Step 3: Adjust Your Daily Carb Intake Accordingly
Having a weekly plan is important to schedule a high-carb intake for days when you need more energy. This ensures the extra calories are used up and that you don’t frustrate your weight loss efforts.
Use this for guidance:
- Eat fewer carbs on rest days or on days you are restricting calorie intake for weight loss.
- Eat more carbs on heavy training days, strength training days, and any time you need or use the extra calories.
You should also decide the types of carbs you’re eating based on your weekly activities. Generally, whole/complex carb sources are preferred as they are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar. However, simple carbs are acceptable after a workout.
Use this for guidance:
- Eat more simple carbs before and after a workout session for quick fuel and optimal recovery.
- Eat more starchy and high fiber carbs throughout the day to promote fullness and better blood sugar control.
Step 4: Track Your Macros
It can be tempting to “eye-ball” your meals and hope you’re getting the figures right. This is even more likely when you’re busy and can’t make time to track everything you eat.
However, tracking macros is extremely important for the success of any carb-cycling or weight loss plan. Using a health tracker to keep on top of your macros is a more efficient and practical method than tracking your daily energy expenditure and adjusting for weight loss or muscle gain.
Step 5: Adjust And Repeat
You might not get it right the first time. During your first few weeks on the carb-cycling plan, you’ll notice some aspects that work and others that need tweaking. Pay attention to your hunger and energy levels and how your workouts are going. Then add more carbs or scale back as needed.