Jump-Start Weight Loss with Carb-Cycling Plans

May 7th 2016

Done well, carb cycling encourages the body to burn fat while allowing it the immediate energy it needs to exercise well and build muscle. Its success depends on your willingness to calculate and plan your intake in advance, but meal plans are easy to follow thanks to reduced cravings and extra energy.

Basic Principles

The core principle behind carb cycling is that many people who follow low-carb eating plans suffer from decreased concentration and reduced exercise performance. Dieters on such plans have also reported increased cravings and hunger levels, which made following the plan difficult. Carb cycling aims to avoid these issues by introducing higher carb days into the eating plan in a controlled manner, allowing weight loss to continue while still providing the energy needed for exercise and body building.

Key Factors

The purpose of the higher carb days is to provide energy for physical activity, so it's best to plan them for the days you are exercising the most. Consecutive high-carb days are to be avoided, as a rule, as this encourages the body to store surplus energy as fat. To keep calorie levels under control, high-carb days should feature meals with lower proportions of calories from fat, as well as focusing on providing complex, slow-burn carbs with a low glycemic index.

Calorie and Carb Guidelines

For weight loss, LiveStrong.com recommends an intake of around 1,150 calories on a low-carb day with about 800 extra calories allowed on high-carb days, which are limited to two or three times a week. These figures are for a female weighing around 160 pounds, so they can be adjusted upward for larger, heavier individuals. Men generally require more calories than women, and highly physically active people require more than sedentary people. Dieters who weigh less than the 160-pound baseline need to reduce food intake to below the posted guidelines to lose weight.

Food to Include

High-carb days need to meet your need for energy and to combat any cravings without derailing your weight-loss progress. Adding healthy carb options such as oatmeal, wholemeal bread, brown rice and sweet potato to your high-protein meals lets you do this without causing blood sugar crashes or harsh cravings. These are also the days to schedule a carb-based treat, if desired.


Weight-loss programs are often the preserve of big business, but some of the most popular modern eating plans for weight loss are highly achievable on your own. One example of these is carb cycling, which can be suitable for dieters who enjoy working out and building muscle, which can help to rapidly reduce weight. As always, when beginning a new weight-loss program, check with a nutritionist or your doctor before starting.

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