We all remember the low-carb diet craze, which demonized carbohydrates in favor of high protein intake.
Now, carb cycling, a diet that alternates between high and low carb days, promises similar results, without depriving the body of any macronutrients. Believe it or not, the concept of carb cycling actually came from the bodybuilding industry, says personal trainer Heidi Powell, of ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss. After seeing how well it seemed to work, Powell started putting all her weight loss clients on carb cycling programs.
When a person pulls carbs from their diet for an extended period of time, they lose fat as well as a lot of water weight, explains Powell. With carb cycling, the body is never deprived of carbs long enough to slow the metabolism, and is able to get into a catabolic fat burning state on the low carb days. The “Classic Cycle,” a straightforward plan designed by Powell’s husband Chris (and featured in his book Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution), alternates between low-carb and high-carb days, with the seventh day as a reward day. On this and other cycles, individuals will feel results in about a week, and start to see them in two weeks, says Powell.
While no specific types of carbs are technically off-limits, the carbs should ideally come from unprocessed, whole foods such as rice, oats, potatoes, whole grains and breads, Lawson says. Unlike their sugary counterparts, research suggests that healthy starches (or resistant starches) like grains, beans and legumes can help with weight loss by boosting metabolism.


Another important thing to keep in mind is that carb cycling shouldn’t be a carb or junk food free-for-all, proponents advise. Women's Cycling, your trusted resource for training tips, skills, nutrition, bicycle fit, maintenance, product reviews and more . They would bulk up while building muscle, then carb cycle to reduce their final layer of fat. Essentially, the high carb days act as “boost” days, increasing metabolism, and the low carb days act as “burn” days, when the body is an optimal state to burn fat. The more intense a workout, the more carbohydrates will need to be ingested to fuel a session. She recommends a 12-week cycle for the best physical and mental results, but says the principles of carb cycling can be followed for any phase of life, including weight loss, maintenance, fitness and performance.
In one Australian study, rats that ate a diet low in resistant starch gained fat and lost muscle mass, while those that ate a diet higher in resistant starch preserved their muscle mass despite the higher carb intake. And with the most current research having been done on mice, it might be a while before carb cycling can be recommended as a science-backed weight loss technique. In Cycling For Weight Loss you’ll learn how to super-charge your fat-burning metabolism by adding training zones to your cycling routines. After falling in love with cycling, Laurel-Lea transformed herself from a couch potato into a healthy, lean cyclist.


Some research suggested lower-carb diets could increase the risk of heart disease, and dieters often gained the weight right back after reintroducing carbs.
Trainers caught on, and experimented to see if everyday people could manipulate their carb intake and get similar results.
Some research backs it too, including one British study that found that women who eliminated carbohydrate-rich foods twice a week (and ate their normal diet the rest of the time) lost an average of nine pounds over four months. Reintroducing carbs causes the body to rebound, holding onto every bit of carbs, sugar and water it can.
Psychologically speaking, Powell says including rewards is part of what makes some people so successful on the plan. But for healthy individuals willing and able to adjust their carb consumption according to fairly regimented guidelines, some experts suggest carb cycling can lead to positive body composition changes while still letting you enjoy dessert and a glass of wine from time to time. Women on a 1,500-calorie Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, lost only five pounds in that time. Because it’s fun—making it easy to do for long periods—and it burns a truckload of calories.



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