If you’ve ever tried to lose weight then you’ve probably heard someone talk about the evils of carbs and how they are responsible for making America obese. Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but carbs can get a pretty bad rap that I believe is totally undeserved!
While there are plenty of people out there who would like to demonize carbs in all forms, science is clear on the matter: we need carbs for our bodies to function optimally. So why all the fuss over carbs and their role in weight loss or weight gain?
Processed carbs like those found in sugary foods, white breads and sodas offer no nutritional value...so they are considered “empty calories.” To be fair, these foods certainly do play a part in America’s obesity epidemic. “Empty carbs” don’t fill you up so they make it far easier for you to overeat. They provide your body with little to no nutrition while leaving you craving more. This naturally leads to over-consumption and weight gain.
However, not all carbs are created equally. Complex carbs, like those found in fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, and rice are necessary for brain function, energy levels and good moods. So, saying no to all things carb related is probably not your best plan of action.
That’s why carb-cycling can be an effective strategy for some people to assist in weight loss without losing muscle.
What is carb-cycling?
Carb-cycling is exactly what it sounds like: a cycle of carbohydrate intake. When utilizing this strategy, you will eat a different amount of carbohydrates on certain days.
Pure and simple, by carb-cycling you will eat to support the activity of the day to allow your body to function optimally. This allows you to fuel your body appropriately, burn fat, gain lean muscle, and keep your mind and hormones happy.
When you are exercising and cut out carbs completely, your energy levels can bottom out, you will experience brain fog, and you will find yourself unable to complete challenging workouts. In addition, people who restrict carbs often don’t eat enough. This will ultimately lower your metabolic rate (by losing muscle) and make it harder for your body to burn fat effectively. Plus...we all love carbs, don’t we? Living a carb-free life can be incredibly challenging for most people. While many are able to make the change for a short period of time, they find it difficult to sustain that type of lifestyle all of the time. Let’s be honest, we deserve to enjoy delicious treats occasionally.
There are benefits to having some low-carb days during your week. When you cut back on carbs, your glycogen levels quickly become depleted. Since glycogen is the first thing your body burns for energy, it will have to reach into its fat stores (for energy) because there won’t be any glycogen available (so you burn fat). A few days per week of eating low-carb with some HIIT workouts will do wonders for your body in terms of fat burning.
But, if you have TOO many low-carb days, you could find it incredibly hard to complete a challenging strength training workout. These are important for building muscle that will rev up your metabolism. Having a few days per week where you fuel your muscles to build by eating more carbs is ideal. This also give you a mental break and allows you to eat delicious fruits and the occasional treat!
Who can benefit from carb-cycling?
Your body needs the right formula of food just like your car needs the right formula of gasoline AND enough of it, especially if you are exercising. Carb-cycling can be a great nutritional technique to optimize your workouts and give you the best bang for your effort.
We all are unique individuals and function differently. Carb-cycling may not be the best fit for everyone. It is a fairly advanced food tracking technique because you have to change the way you eat multiple times per week. This may overwhelm some people who have not previously attempted to keep track of what they eat. Also, carb-cycling should be reserved for people who’s physical activity supports this technique. It should be guided by a nutritionist to ensure that this is done correctly and safely.
Carbs are not necessarily the enemy my friend. In fact they play an important role in helping you look and feel your absolute best. They keep your body running optimally and keep you feeling alert and energized throughout the day.
If you are interested in learning more about how to implement the right nutritional strategy for YOU, check out the next round of The Refine YOU Program. The program is a 7-week online program that provides a customized nutrition plan and workouts to help you reach your health and fitness goals. It has helped countless men and women crush their goals, including me!
If carb-cycling is the right fit for you, I can help you implement this strategy and give you everything you need to burn fat and feel great, all while eating the foods you love!
Any questions? Feel free to contact me!