If you’re looking for ways to improve your health, lose weight, and eat healthy, you’re hardly on a solitary quest! There are so many people looking for ways to improve their diets that the number of different eating plans available out there has grown virtually endless. If you’d like to try out a plan that offers great flexibility, wide effectiveness with a range of different fitness goals, and excellent long-term stability, give carb cycling a try!
A Basic Definition Of Carb Cycling
Carb cycling is a very popular dietary strategy that fits into a lot of effective plans for losing weight, building muscle, and reaching other fitness goals. As the name implies, it involves alternating between high-carb and low-carb eating on a relatively quick schedule. Most dieters using cycling principles switch off every day between high- and low-carb meals.
Cycling is an effective way to diet because it treats your metabolism right. The high-carb days encourage your body to burn through calories and create lots of energy. On low-carb days, your metabolism will turn to stored body fat to get the energy it needs instead of slowing down. This makes cycling great for losing weight; it also works well with tough muscle-building exercising regimens when you customized your cycles to match your workouts.
While there are a lot of different varieties of cycling diets out there, certain common features run through all of them like a consistent theme. The most important is probably the fact that you need to stick with healthy foods throughout the diet whether you are on a low-carb day or a high one. Cycling diets also commonly stress good hydration, with drinking a gallon of water a day being a common goal.
Cycling diets usually also incorporate even meal spacing. A typical day should have five small meals spaced throughout your waking hours. Breakfast is usually a high-carb meal every day (this gets your metabolism kick-started), although the remaining meals on a low-carb day will all have minimal carbohydrates.
Advantages Of Cycling Carbs
As noted above, cycling diets combine well with a wide variety of fitness goals. They’re also sustainable over the long term (unlike minimum-carb “crash” diets), making them a great choice for cultivating healthy eating habits and a permanent healthy diet. Cycling is also great because it gives you plenty of energy and doesn’t subject you to any undue strains.
Switching back and forth between high-carb days to low-carb days also gives you a great deal of flexibility. You can adjust your schedule to meet your exercise needs (see below), and a lot of dieters practice a “six on, one off” weekly schedule that leaves one day every week free to treat yourself to whatever sort of food you’d like.
Components Of A Cycling Diet
While choosing specific foods, recipes, and meals is up to you when you start a cycling diet, there are some general principles that you can use to govern your choices. Your carbohydrate selections are obviously important.Natural Sources
Stick with healthy, natural carbohydrate sources — vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fruits — rather than heavily-processed ones like bread, sugars, and junk food.Protein
You’ll need plenty of protein in your cycling diet, especially if muscle-building is one of your primary fitness goals. Protein provides you with excellent funds of slow-burning energy. Get protein from natural sources with minimal processing, including lean meat, fish, and legumes .Fat
Fat is also an important part of a cycling diet. Healthy unsaturated fats will smooth out your body’s energy supply, prevent hunger pangs, and deliver vital nutrients for a wide variety of bodily functions. Eat fats in moderation. Nuts are a particularly good source of natural fats and they’re well-suited to healthy snacking.
Adjusting Your Diet To Meet Your Needs
As noted repeatedly above, flexibility is one of the biggest advantages of a cycling diet. While the most common form of these diets would alternate high-carb days and low-carb days throughout the week with a single “cheat” day added, this schedule can easily be adjusted to suit your personal needs.
People who are exercising aggressively will often find it useful to tweak their cycling schedules. Lining up high-carb days with their highest-intensity workouts is often the most effective way to get the fuel they need for serious muscle-building. If you’re headed down this road yourself, you may even want to adjust your individual meals on heavy workout days to ensure you get the right pre- and post-exercise nutrition.
Cultivating healthy eating habits is simultaneously one of the most challenging and most important parts of changing your diet. This may be where cycling carbs is most beneficial. By putting you in control of most of your important dietary decisions, a cycling diet encourages you to cultivate your nutritional knowledge and find the healthiest ways to get the energy you need. It takes plenty of study and dedication to set up a cycling diet, but the rewards can last you all of your life!