(Updated April 2017, 04-01-2017)
Carb cycling is a great way to shred belly fat and involves the strategic manipulation of your carbs.
By optimizing your carb intake, you can increase weight loss, muscle growth, health, energy, sports performance and of course, shred dangerous belly fat.
Carb cycling can either take place on a weekly basis or over a more prolonged period such as several weeks of high carbs followed by several weeks of lower carbs.
There are several key mechanisms that make the use of carb cycling a unique dietary approach for weight loss in particular, all of which are discussed below.
In this article I’ll teach you the benefits and mechanisms behind a carb cycling diet, as well as show you how to efficiently implement carb cycling for your own success!
What is Carb Cycling?
As the name suggests, carb cycling is a technique whereby carb intake is manipulated on either a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
The idea is to strategically plan and place your carb intake around their usage. For example, a weekly carb cycling diet may have a higher carb intake on high intensity training days, such as legs or a full body workout.
In contrast, a lower carb or possibly even a zero carb approach may implemented on rest days or days only involving light exercise, as there will be a lower requirement for carbs.
By tailoring your carb intake, you can still reap all of the benefits carbs offer without any of the negatives that are associated with a chronic low or high carb diet.
As you may know, there are several key health issues associated with a chronic high carb diet. These issues are further exacerbated when exercise levels do not meet the carb intake or when calorie or fat intake is too high.
The obvious health issue arising from chronic high carb intake is obesity. However, these health issues also include type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, it is important to tailor and control your carb intake around your body’s requirement, especially if you want to shred belly fat or optimize your physique.
Contrary to what many people believe, there are in fact several benefits of optimal carb intake including aiding sports performance, positive hormonal adaptations, improved recovery and more.
The Benefits of Carb Cycling to Shred Belly Fat
As mentioned above, the main benefit of cycling your carb is you get to reap the benefits of optimal carb intake, whilst avoiding the issues associated with a sub-optimal intake.
If you have a basic understanding of physiology and metabolism, this approach will make a lot of theoretical sense.
For example, does it make sense to have the same amount of carb when you are performing 90 minutes of weight training as you would when you are sitting watching T.V all day? It doesn’t take an expert to answer this…
By strategically tailoring your carb and calorie intake to your training sessions, you can still perform to the same level whilst shredding belly fat and dieting efficiently. Some of the big issues associated with dieting relate to reduced gym performance, general fatigue and tiredness.
This is in part caused by a long-term or chronically low calorie intake but also a long-term or chronic low-carb intake. With carb cycling you can effectively avoid these problems and possibly even enhance your weight loss as you’ll be more motivated, stronger in the gym and be able to complete more volume at a higher intensity (a key mechanisms behind shredding belly fat and adding muscle).
There are also many long-term benefits of carb cycling. Research into the effects of low calorie and low-carb diets has highlighted many issues that may affect your long-term weight loss success and possibly even health.
These issues relate to negative hormone adaptations and for low carb diets, particular issues with a down regulation in enzymes that digest carb as they’ve been eliminated from the body.
While this isn’t the case for all low carb dieters, many suffer with fatigue and decreased exercise performance which can lead to frustration, missed gym sessions and then ultimately quitting the diet altogether.
How to Implement Carb Cycling to Shred Belly Fat
There is no one fixed or set approach when it comes to carb cycling. Ultimately, it depends on several factors such as your goal, workout regime or carb tolerance.
One of the simplest ways to implement this is by tailoring your carb around your training intensity and muscle group. For example, you may choose to do 3 high carb and 4 low carb periods per week.
These 3 high carb periods should be on your most intense training days with the greatest volume using the largest muscle group. Depending on your split, this could be a leg day, a back day or a push day (i.e. chest, shoulders, and triceps day).
Your lower carb days would then fall inline on rest days, cardio or arm days. Based on this example, you can see that the higher carb days will support the highly demanding training sessions and then you’ll intake less carbs on the less demanding training sessions or days when you’re completely resting and there is an overall lower requirement.
How to Tailor your Carb Intake To Shred Belly Fat
I highly recommend you tailor your carb cycling program with consideration to your goals, metabolism and body composition.
What I mean by this is, if, for example, you’re about 30% body fat with the main goal being fat loss then you may only have only one high carb day every few weeks. In contrast, if you’re already at 9% body fat and just trying to shred a small amount of belly fat, then you would do the opposite and have 5-6 high carb days per week with only 1 or 2 low carb days per week.
In summary, if you are overweight and your main goal is fat loss, do more low-carb days and less high-carb days. In contrast, if you are a lean bodybuilder / athlete, do more high-carb days and less low-carb days.
Furthermore, I recommend you tailor your carb cycling approach based on how you perceive your own carb metabolism and insulin sensitivity to be.
I have spoken about these indicators in many of my blog posts and it’s something I teach in depth in my 90 day Bikini Transformation Plan. Learning how to tailor your carb intake, based on the indicators your own metabolism provides, is a key aspect in improving your physique
Research has already highlighted great variance in individuals’ tolerance to carb. This is why taking an individualistic approach is so important; for example those people who handle carbs well and are more insulin sensitive, will have far greater success on a high carb approach, than if they opted for low carb.
If you know you function well on carb, have minimal body fat and have used them successfully to lose weight in the past then you’d be looking at more regular high- carb days.
If this doesn’t sound like you, and you have many signs and symptoms of a poor carb tolerance including a high body fat percentage, I would recommend only 1-3 high carb days per week to begin with.
Use Long-term Carb Cycling To Shred Belly Fat
One aspect that many people ignore when it comes to carb cycling is the long-term approach.
This isn’t widely known or emphasized within the fitness industry, but I use it with great success with my one-to-one clients and in the 90 day Bikini Transformation Plan. This approach addresses a more long-term overview of your carb placement.
For example, following a prolonged period of low carb you’ll switch to a high carb period as part of a dieting break and refeed. These high carb refeeds are really important when you are dieting hard, in order to perverse hormonal balance, metabolism and aid with long-term success.
(NOTE: More information on the importance of refeeds / calorie cycling can be found in THIS article.)
Like anything in life, nothing chronic is good. Your body was designed to adapt, much like with training, if you do the exact same workout with the same weight everyday you’ll reach a plateau and fail to progress further.
Similarly, your body was designed to adapt to your diet, providing it with the exact same macros for a prolonged time will not cause the adaptations you were hoping for.
Whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose fat, having a strategic, long-term carb cycling regime based around your current goals and training block will really help you optimise your performance and achieve your physique goals.
The Best Sources of Carbs to Shred Belly Fat
As always, you want to base the majority of your carb intake around healthy, nutrient dense, whole food sources, which offer additional nutrient benefits too.
Some of the best sources to include are:
- Sweet Potatoes,
- White Potatoes,
- 7 Seed Bread (Such as Ezekiel),
- Chickpeas, Lentils, Beans etc,
- Brown or White Rice,
- Berries (Strawberries etc),
- Other Fruits,
- All Vegetables,
- Healthy Sugar Free Granola
This doesn’t mean your diet has to be completely restrictive all the time -now again treat yourself. However this should be only on odd occasions and shouldn’t make up the majority of your carb intake for that day.
Implement Carb Cycling Today and Shred Belly Fat
There’s no reason to wait, you can start shredding belly fat today with these advanced carb cycling methods.
Remember, both short-term and long-term carb cycling is key. You should cycle carbs within the week around your lifestyle, exercise and activity, but, also cycle your carbs over weekly or monthly periods.
If you want a done-for-you and highly advanced carb cycling plan, that has already been tested on 100s of people, join 90 day Bikini Transformation Plan today, that has several advanced carb cycling meal plans ready for you to implement from tomorrow.
To help you get started, I’ve heavily discounted the 90 day Bikini Transformation Plan by a whopping 80%!