Carb cycling is a viable weight loss method, but is it superior to other diets?
We’re constantly searching for the fastest method of weight loss. Who can blame us? After all, life is hectic. Very few of us have enough time to spend hours prepping meals and working out. Unfortunately, most “lose weight quick” methods are risky and ineffective long-term. Since you’re reading this, you’re most likely wondering, “Can carb cycling help me lose weight faster?”
Before we can answer this slightly tricky question, we must first understand what carb cycling is, how it (potentially) works, and whether or not it’s actually a viable option for you.
What is Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling is essentially another form of a low-carb diet. This method of weight loss utilizes daily planned increases and decreases in carb intake. In turn, you’re also left with a caloric deficit, too. Keep in mind that even your high-carb days should have you in a caloric deficit.
Carbs Vs. Calories
Regardless of what diet you choose to participate in, one thing remains the same: in order to lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit. This means that as long as you’re consuming fewer calories than you’re burning each day, you will lose weight. Once you understand this, you can decide if carb-cycling is the best way to accomplish your goals.
Why Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling is believed to strengthen and tone muscles while reducing enough carbohydrates (and calories) to simultaneously reduce our body fat percentage. Who wouldn’t love to tone up and lose fat at the same time? The theory is that you’ll provide your body with just enough carbs on the high-carb days to maintain muscle mass and performance, while the low-carb days work to reduce the amount of stored fat in your body.
Who Should Try Carb Cycling?
Any healthy adult can get results with carb cycling if done properly. You must understand that carb cycling requires you to be extremely meticulous in your meal planning and compliance. In order to be successful on this diet, you need to track your macros (protein, carbs, fat) as well as your calorie intake. If you don’t have the patience to do this, carb cycling may not be for you.
Additionally, if you’re a carb lover (like me), you may find this diet to be difficult to adhere to. You may want to consider a more relaxed approach to weight loss, like this 14-Day Clean Eating Meal Plan. Eating clean, whole foods, gives you the option to count carbs or calories if you like, but mostly you’re focusing on eating a diet full of healthy, nutritious foods.
Can Carb Cycling Help Me Lose Weight Faster?
As stated above, the answer is a bit tricky. First and foremost, carb cycling can help you lose weight, although it’s important to realize that this weight will not be purely body fat.
Don’t get me wrong: when practiced correctly, low carb diets can help you shed body fat. But, they also produce a significant decrease in both water weight and muscle mass. This is due to the fact that water will follow carbs. If your body is carb-depleted, it will also retain less water.
You will usually notice a significant decrease in weight during the first few weeks of participating in a low-carb diet. You must understand that a large portion of this weight is from water. It is weight loss, but it’s not necessarily fat loss. This is the main reason why many people believe low carb diets (like carb cycling) provide faster weight-loss results.
While carb cycling is an effective weight-loss method, it is certainly not the only way to reach your goals. You see, no diet is “one size fits all.” When it comes down to it, the best diet is simply the one that you can stick to the longest. Every diet out there will work for some, but not others. Carb cycling is no different.
Carb Cycling Protocol
If you’re interested in trying carb cycling, go for it! You should begin with three low-carb days followed by one high-carb day. Keep in mind that even your high-carb days should have you in a caloric deficit!
Helpful Article: How Many Calories Do You Need Daily to Lose Weight?
On your low-carb days, aim for no more than 0.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should eat no more than 65 grams of carbs on these days. Remember, there are four calories in each gram of carbohydrates.
On your high-carb days, you need to aim for 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. With this in mind, a 130 pound person should eat 260 grams of carbohydrates.
Always try to consume a minimum of 1 gram of protein, per pound of body weight each day. There are four calories in each gram of protein.
The rest of your calories can come from fat. Remember, there are nine calories in each gram of fat.
Carb cycling will not necessarily help you lose weight faster than other methods, but with patience and persistence, it can get you noticeable results.
While carb cycling may not help you lose weight faster, there are other ways to increase the rate of fat loss. You can accelerate your progress by:
- Exercising often. Try the 30-Minute Crossfit Challenge for Weight Loss or our 7-Day Weight Loss Workout Challenge for Beginners.
- Increasing your protein intake to more than 1 gram per pound of body weight. On your low-carb days, you can eat up to 2.5 grams per pound of body weight if you wish!
- Consuming more fiber.
- Drinking plenty of water!