What is carb cycling and who is it for
Carb cycling or a ‘planned alteration of carbohydrate intake’ is a fancy-sounding diet ‘protocol’ that many trainers, nutritionists and alike prescribe to their clients and readers to achieve better fat loss, performance and muscle retention while under calorie deficit.
For professional athletes this makes perfect sense.
For my audience – normal people seeking to get leaner – carb cycling is much ado about nothing.
Look. Why is carb cycling advised by personal trainers? 3 reasons here.
Carbs for fuel on training days –
But for training you normally will use muscle glycogen rather than glucose in blood. Muscle glycogen replenishes anyway as you eat. (You still eat every day, right?:)) Eating more carbs on training days although will not harm you, but very unnecessary.
To trick body and boost metabolism –
As some nutritionists argue, our metabolism improves due to ‘refeeds’ or ‘diet breaks’. Both mean eating maintenance calories. Refeeds are short-term (1-3 days) and diet breaks are longer-term (from 1 week and longer). Anyway this does not necessarily involve planned alteration of carbohydrate intake. (Read this article if you very few calories and still not losing weight)
OK both are reasonable hypothesis. But totally unnecessary! My clients live normal life and lose fat. They do not have to carry containers around and feel deprived in social gatherings and look funny saying.
There is another reason carb-cycling trainers prescribe carb-cycling for non-athletes.
to increase their value as a nutrition adviser
Showing that you know fancy stuff and do fancy stuff. This sells. This is sexy. Moreover this works! Works, but for different reasons.
Non-athletes (aka normal people) should eat according to their taste preferences, lifestyle, comfort and happiness.
If acrobatics around meal preps and sexy diet rules makes you happy, well, okay go do carb cycling. It will not harm you 🙂
Fat loss expert, elite group fitness instructor and personal trainer based in Sheffield.