Stubborn belly fat that just won’t go away? Tried everything under the sun but it’s still stuck? Looking for something to kickstart your metabolism? Have you tried carb cycling?
“Carb” is not a bad 4-leter word, though many of us have been programmed to associate them with “getting fat”. However, carbs play an important role in keeping us in an anabolic (muscle building) state as well as modulating a variety of fat-burning hormones, like leptin. In fact, even as little as 7 days of “dieting” can reduce leptin levels and make fat loss a tough prospect.
Why Carb Cycle?
- First and foremost… YOU GET TO EAT CARBS!!!! (do you really need any more reasons?)
- Improve insulin sensitivity & resets leptin levels
- Re-train your body to not crave carbs while reducing your dependency on sugar
- Enhanced performance in the gym
- Get past plateaus and sticking points
- Carbs support a metabolic process called Glycolysis, whch fuels anaerobic activity (aka very intense exercises–the kind you’ve been killing youself with but not seeing proportionate results)
At its essence, carb cycling is pretty black and white. I’ll start with the best first… on the weekend, you get a “free” day. You can even refer to it as a “cheat” day if that makes you enjoy it more. This is your carb-way-up day. Then, you alternate between “carb up” days (yay!) and “deplete days”. Your carb up days are to help reset leptin levels & replenish super low glycogen stores in your muscles & liver. And then there’s the deplete days. These are to help drain your body of stored glycogen so there’s always room left in the tank. (think of it this way–if we’re all topped off on glycogen, any extra spills over and gets stored as fat).
If your car’s gas tank can only hold 15 gallons and you put in 16… that extra gallon is going to spill out, causing a problem (in this case, a flamable mess all over your jeans… in food terms, extra fat–both can be dangerous to your health in one way or another). Even worse, what if there was already 5 gallons sitting in the tank before you added 16!? Even more will spill out! Fat is no different. If your glycogen tanks are full, excess carbs will have no choice but to spill over as fat. Simple point, you only fill up your car as much as it needs, never more. Start looking at your food intake as fuel and your body as the gas tank. A full tank of gas will definitely take you further than half a tank, but there is no advantage to shoving 20 gallons of fuel in a 15 gallon tank.
A typical Carb Cycling plan looks a little like this:
- MON – Carb Up / High Intensity Resistance Training
- TUE – Deplete / 4-Phase Cardio
- WED – Carb Up / High Intensity Resistance Training
- THU – Deplete / 4-Phase Cardio
- FRI – Carb Up / High Intensity Resistance Training
- SAT – Deplete / Steady-state Cardio
- SUN – FREE day / High Intensity Resistance Training
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