What is Carb Cycling – Easy Way to Lose Weight, Gain Muscle, and Increase Wellbeing

What exactly is carb cycling and can it really help me increase my emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing? Absolutely.

It can be used by people who want to lose weight, maintain physical performance, or increase muscle. Basically, for anyone at all.

Various dishes on plates, some low carb, some keto, some high in carbs. Photo by Shayda Torabi on Unsplash
Carb cycling takes the restriction out of diets – source

Carbohydrate cycling even has benefits in balancing certain chemicals, like insulin. Learn how this eating method helps you achieve your fitness goals below!

What is Carb Cycling

Carb cycling is a dietary approach in which carbohydrates are consumed in a way that can alternate between high days with moderate or low carbohydrate days. These carbohydrates are used in maintaining body functions, gaining muscle mass, and supplying high amounts of energy to push yourself on training days.


Carb cycling gives you high amounts of energy on days you train, helping fuel your workout. This form of eating also helps to train the body to use fat storage, which can help increase energy and concentration, especially on rest days.

Carb cycling also helps to maintain a good balance of insulin and leptin. Insulin is responsible for balancing blood sugar and leptin is responsible for maintaining optimal body weight. These two hormones are important in fitness as they affect muscles, weight, metabolism, and energy levels.

Types of Carb Cycling

There is a great variety of ways to practice carbohydrate cycling. Below these can be considered as the most basic and effective:

Method to gain muscle mass faster (5 days high in carbs, 2 low)

When looking to reduce accumulated fat and at the same time increase muscle mass, the idea is to increase the high-carb phase to 5 days and 2 days low in carbohydrates.

The daily protein intake would be high, about 2 grams per kg of weight. 

At this point, exercise and hard workouts are essential and should be scheduled during peak days to take advantage of excess calories and maximize muscle gain, or hypertrophy.

Method to lose fat, maintaining muscle (2 high carb days, 5 low)

It consists of 5 days in a row of low-carbohydrate intake and two high-carb days.

Alternate day method

It is based on alternating a high carbohydrate day with a low carbohydrate day and so on.

It is important and advisable to schedule exercise workouts to be done on the days when you eat more carbohydrates and rest on low or moderate days, depending on your circumstance.

What to Eat on Carb Days?

On high carbohydrate days, you need to consume about 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight and enough healthy fat to complete the remaining calories, in addition to 4 to 6 grams of carbohydrates for each kg of body weight.

Try to make sure your protein comes from healthy sources, without antibiotics, preservatives, or additives. If eating animal products, make sure it is free-range and wholesome.

Try to choose sources of complex carbohydrates, which are the ones that provide a higher level of energy, and try to avoid or not abuse refined carbohydrates. Complex carbs include whole grains, legumes, and many vegetables. Rice, potatoes, and other root vegetables are other great fuel options on carb day!

What to Eat on Low-Carb Days?

On low-carb days, it is best to use a clean ketogenic approach. This means you reduce carb intake, increase protein, and eat plenty of healthy fats and vegetables.

Make sure you are eating healthy low-carb options to gain all the benefits from these low-carb days. The keto diet can be easy to start with the help of guides and lists of what to eat on a low-carb diet.

The Benefits of Cycling

Here are the benefits of switching between these two modes.

Physical benefits

The benefits of low carbohydrate periods include a better insulin response, increased fat burning, better triglyceride value, and metabolic health. Eating periods of high carbohydrates also have positive effects on hormones such as thyroid, testosterone, and leptin.

During these feeding cycles, the body switches between one fuel source and the other, efficiently adapting to different types of food and their energy load.

Mental Benefits

Carbohydrate cycling allows you to enjoy a variety of food without excessive restriction. It is aimed to increase health with the consumption of whole, natural foods on any given day of the cycle.

In this way, a state of mind is created where there are no dietary limitations or restrictions, increasing tranquility and peace of mind.

Rest assured in knowing that even following a new and healthy lifestyle, you can continue to enjoy your favorite dishes and meals with family or friends.

The Takeaway

Whatever method you decide to do or follow, it will be according to your needs and desired goals. Read nutrition labels carefully to ensure you are eating well and know what you are putting in your body. Listen to your body, feel how it reacts between one method or another, make changes if you require it, and be happy, it is the most important thing.

Remember that health comes from within, so try to eat good, nutrient-dense meals to support healthy sleep patterns, work out daily, and take care of your mental health. Habits you cultivate will become the building blocks of your emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing.

Never forget about gut health as well for even more health benefits. The gut microbiome can even determine the health of your body and mind. Learn everything you need to know about gut microbiota today for free here!

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