Carb Cycling 101

by | Feb 26, 2024 | Nutrition

Let’s Talk About Your Cycle (And I DON’T Mean Period)

But do you know what this cycle and your period have in common? 

CARBS 🍓🍞🍕🧁

Far too often women look to SLASH carbs when they’re desperate to lose weight only to gain back all the weight they lost as soon as they snack on carbs again.  

Yet time and time again they get stuck in this nasty cycle (NO not the one we’re focusing on today) without stopping to wonder why they fall for the same lousy diet strategy time and time again.  

No Fuel = MORE Cravings – Carbs are fuel and cutting them out only makes your body SCREAM for them. I know I’m not one to mess with when I’m itching with a craving, are you?? 🥴

Most Can’t REALISTICALLY Give Up Carbs – Sure, you can give up anything for a period of time, but can you really imagine life without fruit? Breads? Pizzas? Chips? Sweets? OREOS! 

Restriction Never REALLY Works – Tell yourself you can’t have something and what’s the only thing you think about or see?? CARBS! 

What if there was a better way? One that didn’t require you to choose between carbs and fat loss? 

(Because there totally is) 

It involves Carb Cycling ♻️

What Is Carb Cycling? 

Carb cycling is a dietary approach that involves alternating the amount of carbohydrates consumed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. The idea behind carb cycling is to manipulate carb intake to achieve specific health or fitness goals, such as weight loss, muscle gain, or improved athletic performance.

Typically, carb cycling involves days of higher carbohydrate intake, known as “high-carb” days, followed by days of lower carbohydrate intake, referred to as “low-carb” or “no-carb” days. The cycle may vary depending on individual preferences, fitness goals, and metabolic responses.

Some potential benefits of carb cycling include:

1.Weight Loss:   By cycling carbohydrate intake, the body may enter a state of ketosis on low-carb days, promoting fat burning.

2. Muscle Gain: High-carb days can provide the energy needed for intense workouts, supporting muscle growth and recovery.

3. Hormonal Regulation: Carb cycling may influence insulin sensitivity and hormone levels, potentially benefiting metabolic health.

4. Adaptation: The body may become more adaptable to different fuel sources, enhancing overall metabolic flexibility.

It’s important to note that carb cycling may NOT be suitable for everyone, and individual responses can vary. As with any major dietary or physical activity change, we recommend our #CPTeam consult with a trained coach, registered dietitian or doctor before starting! 

Who Benefits from Carb Cycling? 

Carb cycling can be beneficial for certain individuals, depending on their specific fitness goals, lifestyle, and metabolic responses. Here are some groups of people who may benefit from carb cycling:

  1. Athletes and Fitness Enthusiasts:

  • Endurance Athletes: Those involved in endurance sports may benefit from higher carbohydrate intake on training days to fuel their performance.
  • Bodybuilders and Strength Athletes: Carb cycling can be used to support muscle gain during high-intensity training while promoting fat loss during low-carb phases.
  1. Weight Management:

  • Weight Loss: Individuals aiming to lose weight may find carb cycling helpful, especially if it involves incorporating low-carb or no-carb days to promote fat burning.
  • Weight Maintenance: Carb cycling can also be utilized for weight maintenance by adjusting carbohydrate intake based on activity levels.  It can be an EXCELLENT lifestyle approach for many who have reached their fat loss goal and are hoping to maintain it with aspects from their previous lifestyle! 
  1. Metabolic Flexibility:

  • Insulin Sensitivity: Those looking to improve insulin sensitivity may find carb cycling beneficial, as it can help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance.
  1. Health Conditions:

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Some women with PCOS may benefit from carb cycling to manage insulin levels and support hormonal balance.
  • Metabolic Syndrome: Individuals with metabolic syndrome may find carb cycling helpful in improving markers of metabolic health.
  1. Adaptation and Variety:

  • Metabolic Flexibility: Carb cycling can enhance the body’s ability to switch between different fuel sources, improving overall metabolic flexibility.
  • Dietary Variety: Carb cycling provides variety in the diet, which can be psychologically beneficial and help prevent monotony.

It’s important to note that while carb cycling may offer benefits to certain individuals, it may not be suitable for everyone. Factors such as individual responses, underlying health conditions, and personal preferences should be considered. 

Want to check out some of the Cons of Carb Cycling? 

CLICK HERE for more info! 

How Do You Set Up Carb Cycling? 

Setting up carb cycling involves planning and adjusting carbohydrate intake based on specific goals and preferences. Here’s a general guide on how to set up carb cycling:

STEP 1: Determine Your Goals:

STEP 2: Calculate Total Daily Caloric Intake:

  • Determine your total daily caloric intake based on your goals, activity level, and metabolic rate.

STEP 3: Establish Macronutrient Ratios:

  • Decide on the macronutrient ratios for your high-carb, moderate-carb, and low-carb days. These ratios will determine the percentage of calories coming from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
  • While there ARE ranges, this is highly individualized, so if you need help to accurately set up your macronutrient ratios, CLICK HERE for more!  

STEP 4: Designate High-Carb and Low-Carb Days:

  • Designate specific days as high-carb, moderate-carb, or low-carb. The cycle can vary based on personal preferences and goals, such as having higher carb intake on workout days.

STEP 5: Adjust Carbohydrate Intake:

  • On high-carb days, increase your carbohydrate intake to meet the designated ratio. This may involve consuming complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • On low-carb days, reduce carbohydrate intake, focusing more on proteins and healthy fats. This may include foods like lean meats, fish, nuts, and seeds.

STEP 6: Monitor Portion Sizes:

  • Pay attention to portion sizes to ensure that you are meeting your macronutrient goals for each day.

STEP 7: Stay Hydrated: 

  • Adequate hydration is crucial during carb cycling. Drink enough water to support overall health and help with digestion.
  • In order to digest, process and effectively use carbs, your body NEEDS water! With our #CPTeam, we NEVER implement carb cycling until water goals are CONSISTENTLY met! 

STEP 8: Evaluate and Adjust:

  • Regularly assess your progress and make adjustments to your carb cycling plan as needed. This may involve tweaking macronutrient ratios, adjusting cycling frequency, or making changes based on how your body responds.
  • This is where a coach or professional comes in handy! Allow them to explain the bodily response to each carb cycling day and make adjustments within your ratios and overall caloric intake to determine the best path for success for you! 

STEP 9: Consider Refeed Days:

  • Some carb cycling plans include periodic “refeed” days, where you temporarily increase carbohydrate intake to boost energy levels and support metabolic function.

STEP 10: Consult with Professionals:

  • Again, carb cycling is a serious dietary process that should not be implemented without consultation of a professional! Seek the guidance of a coach trained in carb cycling, registered dietitian or medical professional before making any changes.  They can provide personalized guidance based on your health status and individual needs.
  • Not sure where to start in finding the right professional for you? CLICK HERE to find out more about the Complete Performance staff and their experience with carb cycling.  

It’s important to note that carb cycling is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and individual responses can vary. The key is to tailor the plan to your specific goals, preferences, and how your body reacts to different levels of carbohydrate intake!

Looking for some additional information on Carb Cycling?

Check out the Twin Cities Female Fitness Group HERE for a 5-Day Mini Series on Carb Cycling!


Looking for MORE tips & tricks on training and nutrition?

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

Looking for more tips & tricks?

Check Out Our FREE Resources!

Why Your Metabolism is Holding You Back From Losing Weight!

5 Effective Exercises to Make You Faster!

Run Faster & Jump Higher!

Need a Quick Workout to Do Anytime, Anywhere?

Try our very own 3x3 Program!

Burn Belly Fat & Build a Stronger, Flatter Core

with The Core Training Hierarchy!

Interested in Training with Complete Performance?

Get Started by Booking a