Carb what? Now you've got me really confused. First calorie counting, then macros, now carb cycling? Seriously?
Hear me out. What if there was a way to have a “diet” that worked with a hectic life schedule? Is it really possible? YES. If you put together calorie counting and macro counting, carb cycling will be a breeze!
So, what is it? Varying total carbohydrate intake daily. Plain and simple. What does that look like?
Monday-Low Carb day (50g)
Tuesday-Medium Carb day (150g)
Wednesday-High Carb day (300g)
Sounds simple enough, right? Remember what a carb looks like-
15g=1 slice of bread or ½ c. fruit.
Let's look at an example of what carb cycling would look like carried out:
Monday (Low Carb day)
Eat ½ c. fruit (15g) and a sandwich (15gx2=30g) for carbs. Your total is 45g, pretty close to 50g, your target.
After that, the rest of your day consists of fat and protein. Chicken, beef, turkey, almonds, and VEGGIES, VEGGIES, VEGGIES.
Tuesday (Medium Carb day)
2 c. fruit (15gx4=60g), ½ c. cooked rice (15gx2=30g), 1 large tortilla (30g) and a full bagel (15x2=60g) Your total is 180g. A little over target, but not significantly over.
Wednesday (High Carb day)
½ c. fruit 5x throughout the day (15g x5=75g), 1 cup of pasta (15g x4=60g), 1 sandwich (15g x2=30g), large baked potato (15g x3=45g), and ¾ c. oats (15g x3=60g). Your total is 270g. A little under target, but pretty close to the target of 300 grams.
How can that work, Wednesday is like a cheat day? How can I eat that many carbs and still lose weight of get lean? Simple: stay within your calorie guidelines. Once you know what your macros look like, carb cycling is easy as pie.
How can this help me stay on track? Well, do you have a birthday party this weekend? Are you a Friday night pizza and beer person? Do you have a friend whose house is always loaded with “naughty” food?
Carb cycling can give you the freedom to manipulate your weekly schedule. How? Just choose the days you know you are planning to have excess carbs, or whatever macro it may be and adjust accordingly. For example: pizza and beer night. Obviously, this is a high carb evening. So, adjust the rest of the week to make up for the pizza and beer. Maybe add in an extra low carb day in case you tend to really go overboard.
Maybe carbs aren't an issue...sometimes at parties all they have are relish trays and some sort of meatball/BBQ meat source. Okay, well, make this your low or medium day. Focus on eating from the
veggie try, relish tray, and go for some deli meat and cheese. Be leery of the meatball/BBQ meat because it is usually loaded with sugary sauces. The main takeaway is to be mindful.
Now you got it! Plan your week accordingly to YOUR schedule. Decrease calories and adjust carb day for the week if you know there is going to be a “cheat day.” You can still lose weight and get lean using this method. It's pretty cool!
Thank you for investing in your health.
Joseph Champa, RD, CSCS