There are MANY things you can do once you’ve hit a plateau. The next couple of postings we’re going to do is going to revolve on busting through your plateau. But this one, we’re going to start with carb cycling.
Technically, carb cycling is called a cyclic ketogenic diet. It’s a low-carb diet with intermittent periods of high or moderate carbohydrate consumption. We already know that consistently low carb diets can do all sorts of bad things to your body- ie: ketoacidosis, an inability to build muscle, ditziness from low blood sugar in the brain. So before we go into how to lower your carbs, first let’s set a flat line of what your body expects with carbohydrates.
Your normal macronutrient kilocalorie intake should consist of 50-60% kcals from carbohydrates, 30-40% of kcals from proteins, and 10-15% of kcals from fats. That’s normal for the general population. If your goal is fat loss, muscle building, athleticism, or many other variations from normal, those macronutrient percentages will adjust. Specifically, if you’re looking to lose fat it’s been found effective to increase your protein, decrease your carbs, and your body will use the extra proteins you’re eating and draw from your fat cells to create a carb-like compound that it uses for energy. The more you make this adjustment to your body, the less successful it becomes. So ideally, you want to find a way to your body used to a certain level of carbohydrates, then lessen the carbs for a day or two, then go back to your normal carb intake. That’s what carb cycling is- you get your body used to a certain level of carbohydrates, then denies them those carbs, and forces it to pull from fat cells to compensate.
It’s pretty simple, and it’s pretty easy- but at the same time can become pretty complex. I’ve been messing around with carb cycling with my body for years, and I’m still learning. Things you can adjust include the timing of your carb meals, the amount of your carb meals, the type of carbs. There are all sorts of things you can do to adjust it.
Think of it this way: Let’s say your daily calorie intake is 2500 kilocaloriess. An ordinary diet with 2500 kcals should consist of 1250-1500 kcals from carbs, or 312-375 grams or carbs; 1000-1250 kcals from proteins, or 250-312 grams or proteins; and 250-375 kcals from fats, or 27-41 grams of fats. Cycling carbs with that intake would look something like:
Day 1: 300 grams of carbs.
Day 2: 200 grams of carbs.
Day 3: 100 grams of carbs.
Day 4: 50 grams of carbs.
Day 5: repeat cycle.
Again, that’s a very simple explanation of a very complex process, but it really doesn’t have to be difficult. You can cycle carbs any way that your body will respond, so you can mess around with it a little. If you go low-low-carb, you’ll want to increase your fats a little to compensate for the missing kcals, and to keep the muscle full.
I hope I haven’t created more questions than answers with this post about cycling carbs. It’s hard to describe it generally so that anyone can do it, since diets are so specialized to individuals. Have you had success overcoming a plateau with carb cycling? Comment below and help other people who are trying it out.
– The Squad