Carb Cycling For Fat Loss For Beginners

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Carb cycling vs. low carb diet: beginners guide to carb cycling for fat loss

On today’s episode, I’m comparing a low carb diet vs. carb cycling and sharing a beginners guide to carb cycling for fat loss.

In particular, I’ll be sharing how carb cycling can help maintain your metabolism to get faster fat loss results when in a calorie deficit.

So first…

Low carb diet vs. Carb cycling:

When it comes to weight loss, one of the best ways to lose fat is limiting the amount of carbohydrates you consume.

If you haven’t yet heard about the benefits of carb cycling, it’s a simple nutrition protocol that fluctuates your daily carbohydrate consumption.

This fluctuation can help prevent your metabolism from slowing to a halt, while still getting the fat loss benefits from following a lower carb diet, and being in a calorie deficit at the end of the week.

Carb Cycling For Fat Loss For Beginners

How many carbohydrates for fat loss?

The best macronutrient percentage for carbohydrates depends on many factors including your current:

  • body composition
  • activity level
  • level of insulin resistance

However, typically between 350-1,050 grams of carbohydrates per week is best for fat loss.

Note: that is per week, not per day.

I shared the per week number because there are two different ways to calculate the amount of carbohydrates to eat per day for fat loss.

Option #1: spread your carbohydrate consumption evenly per day

This is the traditional strict low carb diet approach where you’d eat the same amount of carbohydrates every day.

To accomplish this, you’d simply divide the weekly number of grams of carbohydrates by 7 to get your daily amount.

For example:

Lower end: 350g of carbs / 7 days = 50g of carbs per day

This lower end of carbohydrate consumption would be for people with a higher body fat percentage, less active, thus having a higher level of insulin resistance.

Higher end: 1,050g of carbs / 7 days = 150g of carbs per day

This higher end of carbohydrate consumption would be for people with a lower body fat percentage, actively working out, thus having a lower level of insulin resistance.

Key takeaway:

As a beginner to fat loss, following a strict low carb diet every day is not easy, both physically and mentally.

Since it takes the body a few days to adapt, the first few days of following a low carb diet will typically have you feeling:

  • low energy
  • constantly hungry
  • moody and cranky
  • a little foggy in the brain

Also from a mental perspective, it’s tough to stay focused on a low carb diet when you have nothing to look forward to, ie. cheat days or higher carb days.

This leads me to the carb cycling option.

Option #2: What is carb cycling?

Carb cycling for fat loss is an approach that strategically schedules your carbohydrate consumption amounts through the week to maintain your metabolism and avoid fat loss plateaus.

As you know, if you’re in a calorie deficit that is too much or for too long, your metabolism can slow down.

Carb cycling is an excellent nutrition protocol to help maintain your metabolism while in a calorie deficit.

It is also known to help improve your body’s sensitivity to the fat storing hormone, insulin, as well as your hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin.

Carb cycling is based on:

  • low carb days (50 grams or less)
  • medium carb days (50-100 grams)
  • high carb days (100-150 grams)

Of course, if you’re already lean pretty lean, and are very active, but just have a few pounds of stubborn body fat to burn off, you could increase your high carb day up to 300 grams of carbs.

Again, the amount of carbs all comes down to earning them.

The leaner you are, and the more active you are, meaning you’re probably less insulin resistant, thus your body can burn carbohydrates better for fuel, rather than storing them as body fat.

Not only do the high carbohydrate days help maintain your metabolism while you’re in a calorie deficit, they’ll also help mentally as they can act as a much needed “re-feed” or cheat meal where the carbohydrate consumption is increased.

To be clear, this re-feed and/or cheat meal is NOT an all out binge.

If it turns into binge, it can put you in a calorie surplus, meaning fat gain, not fat loss.

How to calculate protein and fat macros while carb cycling

As the name implies, when carb cycling, the carbohydrate macronutrient goes up and down based on the day, while the protein and fat macronutrients stay fairly constant.

Based on protein and fat staying consistent, this means your total calories will also fluctuate on different days.

These high carb days act as your re-feed and/or cheat meal day as they will also be higher in calories.

To ensure you’re still in a calorie deficit at the end of the week, you may have to slightly lower the intake of your protein and fat consumption.

How to calculate carbohydate macros while carb cycling

There are various carb cycling approaches that you can follow.

Carb cycling option #1: one weekly very high carbohydrate re-feed day

This would be your typical one cheat meal a week approach.

For example, 6 days a lower carb, clean eating, followed by 1 day of foods higher in carbohydrates.

This would look as follows:

Day 1: low carb day

Day 2: low carb day

Day 3: medium carb day

Day 4: low carb day

Day 5: low carb day

Day 6: high carb day

Day 7: low carb day

 

Carb cycling option #2: Low carb – medium carb – high carb cycle split

Essentially a moderately higher carb day every 3-4 days, spread between low carb and medium carb days.

This would look as follows:

Day 1: low carb day

Day 2: medium carb day

Day 3: low carb day

Day 4: higher carb day

Day 5: low carb day

Day 6: medium carb day

Day 7: higher carb day

Bottom line on carb cycling for fat loss

To lose weight while carb cycling, you still need to be in a calorie deficit.

This calorie deficit can be created by burning more calories, via your activity level than you consume, via food.

Be strategic with your high carb days.

Typically higher carb days should be planned for the weekend so it helps you stay focused during the week and gives you something to look forward to.

Also the weekends are usually the time to enjoy social outings with friends, therefore you can go out and enjoy yourself, without feeling too deprived.

High carb days should also be planned for days when your workout program has you completing higher intensity workouts, so you can properly fuel and recover.

So schedule your intense workout before you have your re-feed and/or cheat meal.

Lastly, even on low carb days, ensure you focus your carbohydrates on foods higher in fiber.

This high fiber foods include: leafy greens, berries, nuts, seeds, and even dark chocolate.

We have a carb cycling fat loss program, called the 14 Day Rapid Shred on our Team Live Lean group coaching site.

If you haven’t yet joined out team, now is the time!

Thanks for watching and keep Living Lean.


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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.

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