Carb Cycling, a way to lose fat while gaining/maintaining muscle mass

One of my favorite things and biggest passions in life is ”FOOD”. I like eating food; I like to think and talk about food and I like to hear other people talk about the foods that they enjoy. I love foods that might not be the best thing for our body, but I am also passionate about the foods that will help and support the body throughout our life. I honestly think that without food and being able to enjoy it this world it would be a much darker place and definitely not as enjoyable. But luckily for us we do get to enjoy all the foods that this world has to offer and we all know that the amount of different foods you try is up to your taste and your willingness to experiment.

However much I like to talk about all the foods in life, I am writing this blog because I have found a ”new” way of eating. For years I have been eating like a lot of other people who train almost every single day, I eat my protein, some necessary fats but mostly carbs. (Let me just say right here that carbs are still not the enemy when eaten in the right amounts and at the right time). This blog is all about using food to your advantage and making it fit in to your lifestyle while being able to enjoy it. Like I have talked about before, everyone and every body is different, but I think this approach can help out a lot of people on a daily basis even if you don’t workout regularly.

I want to give you some insight into something that I have found pretty recently, how I use this on a regular basis, how it’s working for me and most importantly how this can benefit you as well. This something that I found pretty recently is called ”carb cycling”. So, what is carb cycling you may ask? Let me tell you.

What is Carb Cycling?

Carb cycling is based on timing your carbohydrates intake throughout the day so your body burns more fat. This is not to be confused with the keto lifestyle where carbs are almostcompletely cut out of your nutrition. This nutrition protocol is called carb cyclingfor a reason, the intention here is to strategically cycle your carbs throughout the day so we allow our body to tap into our fat storage for energy rather than carbs. Carb cycling exists because it’s a way for people to gain muscle mass while losing fat (sometimes weight) at the same time. The general carb cycling protocol uses ”high carb days”, low carb days” and normal days. On normal days you fuel your body as needed, for me this means that I refuel my carbohydrate storage right after my workouts, that’s about a 60/80 grams of carbs in one meal. On the low carb days, you give your body an even bigger opportunity to tap into your fat storage. You should still take in carbohydrates on that day, to keep muscles in a ready state and benefit our recovery between workouts. Carbs are a quick energy source and helps your body build muscle while it let’s your body recover better and faster. This why we still want to take in carbs on a regular basis and this also why high carbdays exist. On high carb days you take in more carbs because we want to restore our glycogen* levels in the muscles, let our muscles recover better and speed up our metabolism.

*glycogen: Carbohydrates when broken down in the body are stored as glycogen

How and why I am using Carb Cycling

We all know that feeling of being drowsy, tired and yawning after a meal that involved a decent amount of carbs. This is one of the reasons why carb cycling exists and the mainreason why I am implementing this in my own life. I am using the Carb cycling protocol to restore my carbohydrates supply that was stored in my body as glycogen. When I workout the energy source that my body taps into first is the carbohydrates/ glycogen storage. On a regular day I am eating most of my carbs in one meal right after my workout, this is to keep my insulin levels from spiking all the time. All of my other meals are based around good fats and protein. Just because this protocol is more focused on fats doesn’t mean I get to eat any fatty food that I want. 90% of my food shopping consists of wholefoods (foods without labels on them), a lot fish and meat that give me the right fats and protein. The big reason why I started doing this is because I wanted to try it and see how it would affect my daily energy levels. I get about 6 to 7 hours of sleep each night, wake up between 4:30 and 5:30 each morning and I feel great during the day. There’s no sluggish feeling, crashing or yawning throughout the day or after a meal, the reason for this is that I am not consuming carbs at random times throughout the entire day. Carbohydrates make our insulin levels spike, which causes bursts of energy but when those levels crash down, we start feeling sleepy/tired and hungry again. I am honestly feeling better than ever, my training and energy levels throughout the entire day are good and are only getting better.

This is what is happens inside your body after carb/sugar consumption

The other side to Carb Cycling

With any sort of lifestyle change you experience some ”negative” parts of that lifestyle as well (no nutrition guide or diet is perfect). With this new lifestyle you’re basically guaranteed to eat less processed foods which contain a lot of salt and sugar, obviously eating less of the processed foods is good, but you need to get salt into your body to hold water so you don’t get dehydrated. Your muscles need water in order to produce energy. To solve this, I put salt into basically everything that I eat and sometimes even through the water I drink. The second point is pretty easy to fix but it takes a little bit more work to get right. A lot of products that you like to eat and buy have carbs in them for no reason at all. A lot of the times when I look at a label, I wonder why certain foods are so carb/sugar heavy for no reason. That’s just the way it is, sometimes you just have to say no or choose another brand or product that will fit your nutrition instead. This the difficult part about trying to get your carbs in during particular times throughout the day. I am not a huge macro freak but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, so I just spend a little bit more time in the grocery store reading labels and trying to make the right decisions. I eat pretty much the same thing every day so I know this is not going last long, soon I will have all my products sorted out and I can do my shopping as fast as I used to.

Try it out

I have decided to stick with the carb cycling lifestyle for now, for no better reason than feeling great throughout the day. I might go back to eating more carbs if I want to join a CrossFit competition and need to train more but for now, I am doing great. I hope you learned what this lifestyle is all about, I really do recommend this just for the sake of being energized throughout the day. Try it out, if it’s not for you than just change it up again, you’re not forced to do anything if you don’t enjoy or benefit from it. Be happy with what you do and how it makes you feel.

Here’s my progress within 60 days of doing carb cycling. Picture on the right is the start, middle picture is on day 30 and the left picture was taken on day 60 while being 2 kilos heavier.

left: 60 days in @84 kg/ middle: 30 days in @82 kg / right: start @82 ish kg

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