Science Behind Carb Cycling to Shed Fat

Nobody wants to refer to them as “diets” anymore.

The word carries an unpleasant connotation which many people equate with “complexity,” “frustration,” “struggle” and, because they're so difficult to sustain, often “failure.”

If you're determined to create meal plans for weight loss, a new term might play as music to your ears—and provide delight to your palate: “carb cycling.”

Carb cycling is the practice of alternating high-carb and low-carb days—with just one simple proviso: you consume more carbs on high intensity (or training) days and fewer carbs on lower intensity days.

It might help to think of carb cycling as a way to keep your body in optimal balance: You fire up your metabolism on high-carb days and burn fat and retain muscle on low-carb days.

Yes, you might need a calculator to compute your ideal carb intake (unless you're using MealPlanMagic). And you might even want to keep a journal to track and adjust your carb cycling program. But you're likely to find carb cycling so enjoyable and rewarding—and so unlike any “diet” you've ever tried to follow—that they will merely become the tools of your means to achieve meaningful and lasting weight loss.

With a fresh meal planning and prepping tool at your side, assisting you in creating the best meal plans for weight loss, you'll eat heartily, too—and bring about the weight loss success you crave most.

In defense of good carbs

Like many diets, carbs also suffer from a negative connotation; they have gotten such a bad rap that it's easy to lump them all together in the same hands-off category.

But that's an unfair association, because it's the bad carbs—the so-called “simple" carbs—that cause blood glucose levels to increase. Good carbs are “complex” carbs that cause a slower change in these levels.

Bad carbs may taste good but they're bad for you. They're abundant in bread, donuts, fries and candy. Good carbs are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

The best sources of good carbs to eat during a carb cycling regimen include baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, brown rice, grits and oatmeal—otherwise known as “the starchy carbs.” As you might guess, it's smart to consume most of these carbs earlier in the day so that you have more time to burn them off as the day progresses.

A typical carb cycling week

You don't have to do a lot of fancy footwork to establish a carb cycling program. Keep it simple, remembering to alternate low- and high-carb days and never plan two high-carb days in a row. However, to keep your metabolism hopping, you should strive for two low-carb days in a row in the course of one week. That's the ideal.

A weekly carb cycling plan might look like this:

  • Sunday: High-carb day
  • Monday: Low-carb day
  • Tuesday: High-carb day
  • Wednesday: Low-carb day
  • Thursday: Low-carb day
  • Friday: High-carb day
  • Saturday: Low-carb day

Where science and math converge

At this point, you're wise to ask, “What is a high-carb and low-carb day anyway? And just how many carbs should I consume to make this work?”

This is where the science of carb cycling converges with math, but it's rather simple math at that. On high-carb days, try to eat between 1 and 1.5 grams of carbs for every pound of your total body weight. Or make it simpler yet and set your “high-carb limit” at 200 grams on high-carb days. On low-carb days, cut this number in half. (Just remember to count only those starchy carbs; fruits and vegetables are low in carbs as well as calories and should be excluded from your “carb count.”)

Admittedly, carb cycling takes some calculating but that's where MealPlanMagic comes in to help you track your daily and per meal carb intake.  Also, as you continue to meal prep with carb cycling for weight loss and muscle gain, MealPlanMagic will always populate how many carbs are found in any food you incorporate to your meal plans.

You meal prep summary will also act as a carb cycling journal will come in doubly handy: you can keep track of what you're eating and also make minor adjustments as you lose weight—and potentially feel better and healthier than you have in years.

Add Meal Plan Magic to the cycle

If you've struggled to create meal plans for weight loss in the past, you can turn a new page by pairing your commitment to carb cycling with Meal Plan Magic. This fresh meal planning and meal prep tool can help you pinpoint the foods best suited to carb cycling and help you integrate them in nutritious snacks and meals. And when you need to make substitutions or wish to mix things up, Meal Plan Magic will be there with you “on the mat,” just like a trusted coach.  You'll never be stuck doing math in your kitchen either as it will calculate everything for you.

With carb cycling and Meal Plan Magic, you'll never think of “diets” in the same way again, because instead of "complexity" and "struggle," you'll find simplicity and success.