Free Carb Cycling Meal Plan For Females


Here’s an easy to follow, free carb cycling meal plan for females. We do our best to keep this free carb cycling meal plan for females updated and offer a free carb cycling meal plan for males too. Carb cycling is a very flexible dieting strategy that can place a variety of restrictions on carbohydrate intake. But unlike most other methods of dieting, like low-carb or ketogenic diets, carb cycling actually does not put any restriction on calories. So how does it work and why could it be the best option for women?

Carb Cycling: A Daily Meal Plan to Get Started

You know a no-carb diet isn’t up your alley, but you don’t exactly want to fill up on a pre-race pasta feast every night either. No matter your health and fitness aspirations, carb cycling might be a good middle ground. Although its roots are in the world of bodybuilding, trainers are turning to the nutrition strategy to help clients achieve their goals — whether they’re trying to slim down or build muscle — or both.

“Eating healthy carbs on certain days keeps your metabolism revved up, and sticking to mostly protein and vegetables on days in between keeps insulin low enough that you can burn fat without losing muscle,” explains Shelby Starnes, a competitive bodybuilder and carb cycling expert. “It’s a routine that anyone can modify for their individual goals.” If you’re intrigued but don’t know how to start, read on for tips about how to put together a weekly carb cycling menu.

Find the Right Formula

The classic carb cycling schedule alternates between high- and low-carb days, six times a week, saving the seventh day for reward meals. Depending on your health and fitness objectives, however, you might want to alter your setup for the week. For instance, to lose weight, you might aim for five low-carb days interspersed with two high-carb days, suggests Starnes. On the other hand, if gaining weight and adding muscle is your goal, think about including four or even five high-carb days. “Just make sure not to put all your high-carb days back-to-back,” Starnes says. “You should space them evenly throughout the week.” No matter your plan, be prepared to closely monitor your progress and consider adjusting your schedule to see what brings the best results for you.

Choose Your Fuel

So should you just munch on meat during your low-carb days and pig out on pasta the rest of the week? Not exactly. Jessica Crandall, R.D.N, and Vital RD owner, recommends getting the majority of your calories on high-carb days from complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes and fruits (or a high-quality protein shake if you’re in a pinch). “They’ll keep you energized throughout the day while still promoting weight loss,” she says. To power through low-carb days, try to get your protein from chicken, fish, lean beef, eggs or tofu and complement it with non-starchy veggies — basically anything besides potatoes, corn and peas is fair game. As a general rule, says Starnes, do the majority of your shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store. You’ll load up on fresh staples and sidestep preservative-packed processed foods.

Snack on Track

Many trainers suggest taking a “cheat day” and allowing yourself to eat what you like, but make sure that approach isn’t setting you back. “To sustain a diet, a weekly reward day is not the best option,” says Crandall. “If you’re in the mindset to indulge after depriving yourself, you could end up eating 5,000 calories in one day when you only need 1,400 — and that will derail any progress you’ve made.” But don’t be discouraged; there is a little wiggle room for treats in a carb cycling plan. “If having an occasional bagel or bowl of sugary cereal helps you comply with your meal plan, work that into a high-carb day,” says Starnes. “Just scale back the other meals a bit that day.”

Make a Carb Cycling Meal Plan

Once you’ve stocked your fridge and pantry with healthy grains, proteins and produce, coming up with a daily menu is key for achieving the best results. As a general rule, though it will vary from person to person, Crandall says that women should take in around 1,200 calories and men around 1,500 on low-carb days, with slightly more on high-carb days. Starnes recommends calculating the correct portions of each macronutrient by getting a certain number of grams per pound of body weight.

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 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 (6).

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.

Which Foods To Eat While Carb Cycling?

When on a carb-cycling plan, you’ll have to eat “good” carbs and avoid “bad” carbs. Bad carbs are generally processed, high in sugar and additives. Good carbohydrates have these qualities:

  • High fiber content
  • Slow digestion
  • Less processed

Some foods that contain good carbs that you should make part of your carb cycles include:

Whole Grains And Legumes

Whole grains and legumes are some of the best foods to include in a carb cycling meal plan. This is mainly because they contain high amounts of fiber and are slow to digest. It makes them perfect for a carb cycling meal plan. Some examples of whole grains include oats, brown rice, whole wheat & quinoa. Legumes include all types of beans and lentils.

Higher Fiber Fruits And Vegetables

Fiber is an essential part of any carb-cycling meal plan. Your body will not absorb the carbs contained in fiber, so it passes through your body undigested. This can help you stay full longer and burn fat because it keeps you feeling full for a while . Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes all have fiber. Some examples include berries, avocadoes, cabbage, and broccoli.

Complex Carbs With Low Glycemic Index (GI)

These are normally slower digesting carbs that come from whole foods as opposed to refined or processed foods (which are high GI) . They also contain lots of nutritious fiber. Examples include pasta, beans, bulgur, and brown rice.

Low Sugar Fruits And Vegetables

Any fruit or vegetable that is low in sugar will be great for your carb cycling meal plan. The reason for this is because they won’t cause insulin spikes which lead to fat storage. Some examples include cabbage, celery, and cauliflower.

Complex Carbs With High Glycemic Index (GI)

These are foods that have a high GI. While not as good for your carb cycling meal plan (because they cause insulin spikes), you can use them at the beginning or end of a cycle when you’re getting leaner to kick start fat burning or to sustain your energy levels during workouts. You need these to replenish your glycogen stores and provide the energy needed for intense exercise or workouts. Some examples of complex carbs with high GI include white rice, sweet potatoes, and instant oatmeals.

Sample 12-Week Carb Cycling Plan

This week-long carb cycling meal plan can be part of your 12-week routine. The key is to strategically choose your high and low-carb days and keep adjusting your plan based on your results.

Day One – High Carb

  • Breakfast: 1 bowl of knock-oats – 63.5g carbs, 19.6g fat, 14g protein, and 451 calories
  • Snack: 1 tuna sandwich with 2 slices of whole wheat bread – 27.2g carbs, 3.1g fat, 10.5g protein, and 177 calories
  • Lunch: 1 serving of spinach, ham, and pear salad with 1 cup of strawberries and 8 ounces Greek yogurt – 53.2g carbs, 3.4g fat, 31.3g protein, and 341 calories
  • Dinner: 1 serving chicken diane with 2 servings of pan-roasted asparagus – 10.9 carbs, 26 g fat, 58.7g protein, and 526 calories
  • Total daily carbs: 154.8 carbs
  • Total daily calories: 1494 calories

Day Two – Low Carb

  • Breakfast: 1 serving of low carb Asiago baked eggs made with 2 large eggs – 1.2g carbs, 36.6g fat, 16.3 g protein, and 397 calories
  • Snack: 2 ounces of cheddar cheese slices – 0.8g carbs, 19.2g fat, 13.6g protein, and 230 calories
  • Lunch: 1 serving of lettuce cucumber walnut salad and 1 ounce of almonds – 7.6g carbs, 30.9g fat, 10.4g protein, and 355 calories
  • Dinner: 1 serving of bacon tuna salad with 1 serving of brown butter sautéed Brussel sprouts – 23.2g carbs, 28.2g fat, 40.4g protein, and 515 calories
  • Total daily carbs: 32.8 carbs
  • Total daily calories: 1497 calories

Day Three – High Carb

  • Breakfast: 1 serving raspberry frosty blended salad with 4 strips of bacon – 41.6g carbs, 20.8g fat, 13.9g protein, and 383 calories
  • Snack: 1 medium banana with 2 servings turkey lettuce roll-ups – 32.3g carbs, 3g fat, 19.6g protein, and 224 calories
  • Lunch: 1 simple ham sandwich with two slices of whole wheat bread and 4 slices of ham – 31.2g carbs, 14.7g fat, 23.4g protein, and 355 calories
  • Dinner: 1 almond butter chicken salad lettuce wrap with 4 easy parmesan crisps – 22.9g carbs, 20.9g fat, 65.1g protein, and 540 calories
  • Total daily carbs: 128 carbs
  • Total daily calories: 1502 calories

Day Four – Low Carb

  • Breakfast: 2 servings of spinach avocado bowl and 1 medium apple – 25.2g carbs, 26.7g fat and 4.3g protein, and 402 calories
  • Snack: 1 ounce of pecans – 1.2g carbs, 20.4g fat, 2.6g protein, and 196 calories
  • Lunch: 2 servings of deli roast beef pepper and provolone lettuce wrap – 6.8g carbs, 32.6 g fat, 32.6g protein, and 463 calories
  • Dinner: 1 philly cheesesteak stuffed pepper – 7.3g carbs, 30.2g fat, 33.7g protein, and 442 calories
  • Total daily carbs: 40.5 carbs
  • Total daily calories: 1502 calories

Day Five – High Carb

  • Breakfast: 1 blueberry almond butter protein smoothie – 39.6g carbs, 9.6g fat, 52.8g protein, and 451 calories
  • Snack: 2 stalks of celery with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter – 10.7g carbs, 16.2g fat, 8.6g protein, and 209 calories
  • Lunch: 2 servings of peanut butter stuffed dates – 74.3g carbs, 5.5g fat, 4.3g protein, and 329 calories
  • Dinner: 1 serving of crushed lentil soup with 1 serving of garlic dill new potatoes – 90.5g carbs, 8.9g fat, 21.7g protein, and 513 calories
  • Total daily carbs: 215.1 carbs
  • Total daily calories: 1502 calories

Day Six – Low Carb

  • Breakfast: 1 egg, cheese, and bacon omelet and 2 strips of bacon – 1.9g carbs, 31.2g fat, 37.2g protein, and 448 calories
  • Snack: 1 serving cinnamon flax shake – 10.5g carbs, 7.8g fat, 26.8g protein, and 238 calories
  • Lunch: 1 serving turkey lettuce cheese roll-ups with 1 cup of carrots – 16.3g carbs, 16.7g fat, 25.2g protein, and 344 calories
  • Dinner: 1 serving zucchini Alfredo with 2 cups of easy fried spinach – 8.3g carbs, 44.5g fat, 9.6g protein, and 469 calories
  • Total daily carbs: 37 carbs
  • Total daily calories: 1499 calories

Day Seven – High Carb

  • Breakfast: 2 servings of cinnamon flax shake – 29.8g carbs, 15.5g fat, 53.7g protein, and 476 calories
  • Snack: 1 cup of carrot slices or strips with 5 tablespoons of hummus – 22.4g carbs, 7.5g fat, 7.1g protein, and 175 calories
  • Lunch: 1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with 2 slices of regular multi-grain bread – 41.7g carbs, 18.4g fat, 12.4g protein, and 371 calories
  • Dinner: 1 serving of steak with tomato bean salad – 23.2g carbs, 21.8g fat, 45.1g protein, and 471 calories
  • Total daily carbs: 117.1 carbs
  • Total daily calories: 1493 calories

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The Bottom Line

If you’re struggling to stick to a low-carb diet, carb cycling may be the weight loss solution for you! It’s a low-carb diet with intermittent periods of high carb intake, which can help reduce cravings and allow you to stick to your goals long term. To successfully use this diet, it is helpful to plan and track your macros. Also, it is important to remember to time your carb intake with activity levels.

7-Day Carb-Cycling Meal Plan & Recipe Prep

Carb meal plan foods
Verywell / Amelia Manley

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and consider the whole person. Before starting a new diet plan, consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

A carb-cycling approach to diet is straightforward if you think about it. You have days that are high in carbs and those that are low in carbs in order to maximize how the body uses dietary carbs and stored glycogen. However, going back and forth between low-carb and high-carb days can be a lot to keep track of. Instead of winging it, a carb-cycling meal plan will eliminate any confusion and provide you with a blueprint for your nutrition.

Meal planning can help keep you on track, no matter what your nutrition goal is. Prepping and planning don’t have to be time-intensive and complicated. A few simple steps, including basic meal constructs, shopping lists, and food prep, are what make meal planning a helpful tool to keep you energized, meet your nutrition goals, reduce food waste, and save money.

Why Nutrition is Important for the Carb-Cycling Diet

Carb-cycling is based on the idea that on days you burn fewer calories (i.e. non-exercise days), your body needs fewer carbs—so you eat fewer carbs. Then, on training days, or days where your body requires more fuel from carbs for energy, you eat more carbs. You can alternate your days however you would like and cater them to your training routine. That means one person’s high-carb days may be different than someone else’s high-carb days, and vice versa.

Additionally, because people often report low energy or reduced strength while on a low-carb diet, carb-cycling is an excellent alternative. That’s because staggering carbs has been shown to prevent dips in performance and energy during exercise.

7-Day Sample Menu

This one-week meal plan was designed for a person who needs about 2,000 calories per day and has no dietary restrictions. Your daily calorie goal may vary. Learn what it is below, then make tweaks to the plan to fit your specific needs. Consider working with a registered dietitian or speaking with a healthcare provider to assess and plan for your dietary needs more accurately.

This meal plan is broken up into four high-carb days and three low-carb days. Note that the carbohydrates fluctuate from as low as approximately 105 grams of carbs (on low-carbohydrate days) to as high as 225 grams of carbs on high-carb days. You will find three meals and two snacks each day. Feel free to swap similar menu items, but stay mindful of carb content.

Download the 7-Day Carb-Cycling Meal Plan

Day 1 – High Carb


  • Three large eggs, cooked to your liking
  • Two slices of whole wheat toast
  • 1/2 large grapefruit

Micronutrients: 427 calories, 28 grams protein, 42 grams carbohydrates, and 17 grams fat


  • 6 ounces 1% cottage cheese
  • One large peach

Micronutrients: 190 calories, 23 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, and 2 grams fat


  • 3 ounces canned tuna, drained
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 10 high-fiber, whole-grain crackers
  • One celery stalk
  • One medium apple

Micronutrients: 500 calories, 26 grams protein, 59 grams carbohydrates, and 20 grams fat


  • Two cups of air-popped popcorn
  • One small box of seedless raisins
  • 1 ounce of chocolate chips

Micronutrients: 326 calories, 4 grams protein, 65 grams carbohydrates, and 9 grams fat


  • 8 ounces grilled chicken breast
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup of steamed broccoli

Micronutrients: 608 calories, 75 grams protein, 57 grams carbohydrates, and 10 grams fat

Daily Totals: 2,052 calories, 156 grams protein, 243 grams carbohydrates, and 58 grams fat

Note that beverages are not included in this meal plan. Individual fluid needs vary based on age, sex, activity level, and medical history. For optimal hydration, experts generally recommend drinking approximately 9 cups of water per day for women and 13 cups of water per day for men.3 When adding beverages to your meal plan, consider their calorie count. Aim to reduce or eliminate consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and opt for water when possible.

Day 2 – High-Carb


Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

  • One scoop of protein powder
  • 1 medium frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup dry oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 1 cup of water and ice

Micronutrients: 461 calories, 35 grams protein, 46 grams carbohydrates, and 18 grams fat


  • 1/2 cup of hummus
  • 1 ounce of pita chips
  • 1 cup of grapes

Micronutrients: 433 calories, 14 grams protein, 64 grams carbohydrates, and 16 grams fat


  • One 7-8″ whole wheat wrap
  • Four slices of deli turkey meat
  • One slice of provolone cheese
  • Two slices of tomato
  • Two romaine leaves

Micronutrients: 461 calories, 35 grams protein, 44 grams carbohydrates, and 15 grams fat


  • 7 ounces 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup of granola

Micronutrients: 316 calories, 24 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrates, and 11 grams fat


  • 5 ounces of baked cod or other white fish
  • 1 medium baked potato
  • 1 cup of mixed vegetables, steamed

Micronutrients: 355 calories, 39 grams protein, 46 grams carbohydrates, and 2 grams fat

Daily Totals: 2,026 calories, 147 grams protein, 230 grams carbohydrates, and 62 grams fat

Day 3 – Low-Carb


  • Two slices of tomato
  • 3 large eggs, cooked to your liking
  • 1/4 of avocado
  • 1/2 grapefruit

Micronutrients: 352 calories, 21 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrates, and 22 grams fat


  • 1 cup of salted and prepared edamame in pods
  • 1 cup of sliced carrots

Micronutrients: 175 calories, 5 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, and 4 grams fat


  • Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken (3 cups of chopped salad greens, 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast, 1 ounce of crumbled feta cheese, 1/4 cup sliced cucumber, four olives, four cherry tomatoes, 1 ounce of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil)

Micronutrients: 430 calories, 40 grams protein, 13 grams carbohydrates, and 25 grams fat


  • One scoop of whey protein powder mixed in water or coffee
  • 1 medium banana

Micronutrients: 218 calories, 26 grams protein, 29 grams carbohydrates, and 1 grams fat


  • 8 ounces of baked salmon
  • 1 medium baked sweet potato
  • 1 cup of green beans with lemon and garlic

Micronutrients: 664 calories, 56 grams protein, 45 grams carbohydrates, and 29 grams fat

Daily Totals: 1,900 calories, 147 grams protein, 155 grams carbohydrates, and 81 grams fat

Day 4 – High-Carb


  • One serving Healthy Cottage Cheese Waffles
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • One scoop of protein powder mixed in coffee or water

Micronutrients: 509 calories, 51 grams protein, 53 grams carbohydrates, and 11 grams fat


  • Two hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 cup of sliced carrots
  • 1 cup of mini pretzel twists

Micronutrients: 359 calories, 18 grams protein, 45 grams carbohydrates, and 12 grams fat


  • 2 cups of lentil soup
  • 4 tablespoons of sunflower seeds

Micronutrients: 452 calories, 25 grams protein, 45 grams carbohydrates, and 21 grams fat


  • One (7-ounce) container of 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of raspberries

Micronutrients: 162 calories, 20 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, and 4 grams fat


  • One (4-ounce) 97% lean ground beef burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion
  • One 100% whole wheat hamburger bun
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • One medium ear of corn

Micronutrients: 592 calories, 42 grams protein, 55 grams carbohydrates, and 24 grams fat

Daily Totals: 2,075 calories, 156 grams protein, 210 grams carbohydrates, and 72 grams fat

Day 5 – High-Carb


  • Two scrambled eggs
  • 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal cooked with water
  • 1/4 cup seedless raisins
  • Dash of cinnamon

Micronutrients: 405 calories, 19 grams protein, 57 grams carbohydrates, and 12 grams fat


  • 1/4 cup of roasted chickpeas
  • One part-skim mozzarella string cheese
  • 1 cup of grapes

Micronutrients: 367 calories, 17 grams protein, 57 grams carbohydrates, and 9 grams fat


  • One whole wheat pita
  • 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast
  • Two romaine leaves
  • Two slices of tomato
  • 2 tablespoons of Caesar dressing

Micronutrients: 513 calories, 41 grams protein, 40 grams carbohydrates, and 23 grams fat


  • 1 medium apple
  • 2 tablespoons of almond butter

Micronutrients: 291 calories, 7 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, and 18 grams fat


  • 6 ounces of grilled chicken breast
  • 3/4 cup of cooked whole wheat pasta noodles
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup of broccoli

Micronutrients: 580 calories, 66 grams protein, 57 grams carbohydrates, and 11 grams fat

Daily Totals: 1,978 calories, 150 grams protein, 242 grams carbohydrates, and 73 grams fat

Day 6 – Low-Carb


  • One serving Quick and Easy Egg McMuffin Style Sandwich

Micronutrients: 381 calories, 20 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, and 18 grams fat


  • 6 ounces of 1% cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup of blackberries
  • 1 ounce of cashews

Micronutrients: 300 calories, 26 grams protein, 17 grams carbohydrates, and 15 grams fat


  • 3 cups of romaine lettuce salad mix
  • 6 ounces of grilled chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup of chickpeas
  • 4 large strawberries, sliced
  • 1 ounce of chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons of lite balsamic dressing
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Micronutrients: 737 calories, 63 grams protein, 29 grams carbohydrates, and 42 grams fat


  • One scoop of whey protein powder mixed with 1 cup of low-fat (1%) milk

Micronutrients: 215 calories, 33 grams protein, 14 grams carbohydrates, and 2 grams fat


  • One serving of Low Carb Turkey Tetrazzini

Micronutrients: 235 calories, 20 grams protein, 11 grams carbohydrates, and 13 grams fat

Daily Totals: 1,869 calories, 162 grams protein, 108 grams carbohydrates, and 91 grams fat

Day 7 – Low-Carb


Green Strawberry Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 scoops of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup of low-fat milk
  • 1 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup of frozen spinach

Micronutrients: 359 calories, 54 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrates, and 5 grams fat


  • One (7-ounce) container of 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • One large peach
  • Three tablespoons of coconut milk

Micronutrients: 303 calories, 22 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, and 14 grams fat


  • One 7-8″ low-carb wrap (under 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving)
  • Six ounces deli roast beef (about 6 slices)
  • One slice of provolone cheese
  • 1 ounce of sauerkraut
  • 2 tablespoons of Thousand Island dressing

Micronutrients: 347 calories, 22 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrates, and 20 grams fat


  • 1/2 cup of guacamole
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup of pita chips

Micronutrients: 343 calories, 7 grams protein, 37 grams carbohydrates, and 21 grams fat


  • 8 ounces of baked or grilled cod or other white fish
  • Two servings of Simple Mashed Cauliflower

Micronutrients: 369 calories, 58 grams protein, 16 grams carbohydrates, and 8 grams fat

Daily Totals: 1,831 calories, 183 grams protein, 127 grams carbohydrates, and 75 grams fat

How to Meal Plan for Carb-Cycling

  • Map out a plan. Start by determining which days you will follow a low-carb menu, and which you will follow a high-carb menu. Usually, high-carb days are allotted for days in which your workout session is intense and requires more energy. Low-carb days can fall on off-days and low-intensity days, when you need less energy. Creating a plan that clearly depicts how to eat each day will help you stick with the program and be more consistent.
  • Determine how many carbs you’ll eat for low and high-carb days. Successful carb-cycling requires careful planning and calculations. You’ll need to know how many carbs to eat on both menu plans, so figuring this out first is essential.
  • Use a calorie tracking app. Because you have specific carbohydrate goals, using an app that calculates your carb intake may make meeting your daily goals easier.
  • Utilize leftovers and make carbs separately. Creating meals that are easy to add or subtract carbs from is ideal for meal prepping. That way, you’re not preparing a lot of different foods. For example, a batch of chicken breast can easily be paired with spaghetti squash and marinara sauce on a low-carb day, or rice and veggies on a high-carb day. On the other hand, if you make a noodle casserole, it might be harder to use it on low-carb days since it is higher in carbohydrates.

A Word From Verywell

Carb-cycling has been popular in the bodybuilding world for decades. But it also can be a valuable tool for improving performance levels during workouts.

Following a carb-cycling diet requires careful planning and prepping. This easy-to-follow 7-day carb-cycling meal plan can help you get started. Talk to a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian before beginning any new meal plan to help you determine what is best for you and your lifestyle.

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