You know a no-carb diet isn’t up your alley, but you don’t exactly want to fill up on a pre-race pasta feast every night either. No matter your health and fitness aspirations, carb cycling might be a good middle ground. Although its roots are in the world of bodybuilding, trainers are turning to the nutrition strategy to help clients achieve their goals — whether they’re trying to slim down or build muscle — or both.
“Eating healthy carbs on certain days keeps your metabolism revved up, and sticking to mostly protein and vegetables on days in between keeps insulin low enough that you can burn fat without losing muscle, ” explains Shelby Starnes, a competitive bodybuilder and carb cycling expert. “It’s a routine that anyone can modify for their individual goals.” If you’re intrigued but don’t know how to start, read on for tips about how to put together a weekly carb cycling menu.
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Find the Right Formula
The classic carb cycling schedule alternates between high- and low-carb days, six times a week, saving the seventh day for reward meals. Depending on your health and fitness objectives, however, you might want to alter your setup for the week. For instance, to lose weight, you might aim for five low-carb days interspersed with two high-carb days, suggests Starnes. On the other hand, if gaining weight and adding muscle is your goal, think about including four or even five high-carb days. “Just make sure not to put all your high-carb days back-to-back, ” Starnes says. “You should space them evenly throughout the week.” No matter your plan, be prepared to closely monitor your progress and consider adjusting your schedule to see what brings the best results for you.