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The low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet - known in SA as 'Banting' - is a low carbohydrate diet that focuses on higher fat intake while limiting carbs and cutting out sugar completely. Wikipedia says that it doesn't have anything that exactly matches "category:low-carb_diets". Van Wyk said his research shows strict low carb diets may not be attainable because even the most dietiers taking part in a study who who visited a dietician 18 times over six months did not stick to it for six months. The main verdict was that there was no difference in weight loss between low-fat and high-fat diets.
Low-carb diets attempt to take advantage of the carbs-first, fat-second, protein-last order of digestive operation on the theory that if it doesn't have carbs to burn, your body will turn to fat as fuel. If you have been following this column, then you will notice that I place great emphasis on the importance of building good habit patterns and boosting your metabolism with exercise.
While no macronutrient is categorically bad, carb intake is something that should be tailored to the individual (4). Carb cycling is a dietary approach in which you alternate carb intake on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
It is commonly used to lose fat, maintain physical performance while dieting, or overcome a weight loss plateau.
Some people adjust their carb intake day-to-day, while others may do longer periods of low, moderate and high-carb diets. In short, carb cycling aims to time carbohydrate intake to when it provides maximum benefit and exclude carbs when they’re not needed (5, 6). Body Composition Goals: Some will reduce carbs during a diet, then add them back during a “muscle building” or performance phase. Training and Rest Days: One popular approach is a higher carb intake on training days and a lower carb intake on rest days.
Scheduled Refeeds: Another popular approach is to do 1 or several days at a very high-carb intake to act as a “refeed” during a prolonged diet. Special Events or Competitions: Athletes will often “carb load” prior to an event, and many physique competitors will do the same before a bodybuilding show or photoshoot. Body Fat Levels: Many individuals will cycle their carbohydrates based on their level of body fat. A typical weekly carb cycling diet may include two high-carb days, two moderate-carb days and three low-carb days. Protein intake is usually similar between days, whereas fat intake varies based on the carb intake. Carb cycling is an advanced diet strategy requiring more manipulation and programming than a typical diet. Bottom Line: Carb cycling is a dietary approach in which you manipulate carb intake depending on a variety of factors. The science is primarily based on the biological mechanisms behind carbohydrate manipulation. The high-carb days are also in place to refuel muscle glycogen, which may improve performance and reduce muscle breakdown (9, 10).
Strategic high-carb periods may also improve the function of the weight- and appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin (11, 12).
The low-carb days are reported to switch the body over to a predominantly fat-based energy system, which may improve metabolic flexibility and the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel in the long-term (8, 13).


The low-carb days and targeting of carbs around the workout may improve insulin sensitivity, a vital marker of health (15).
Although the mechanisms behind carb cycling support its use, it should be interpreted with caution due to the lack of direct research on the approach. Bottom Line: The proposed mechanism of carb cycling is to maximize the benefits of carbohydrates and teach the body to burn fat as fuel.
In theory, carb cycling may help you maintain physical performance while providing some of the same benefits as a low-carb diet.
As with any diet, the main mechanism behind weight loss is a calorie deficit, as in eating less than your body burns over a prolonged period of time (16). If a carb cycling diet is implemented alongside a calorie deficit, then you will likely lose weight. Bottom Line: Carb cycling can help you lose weight as long as you maintain a calorie deficit. Many people believe that carb cycling can be beneficial for muscle gain and physical performance. Carbs around the workout may also aid with recovery, nutrient delivery and glycogen replenishment (9, 10). While these mechanisms make sense in theory, direct research comparing carb cycling to other diets is needed to provide an evidence-based answer.
Bottom Line: The mechanisms behind carb cycling suggest it can help you optimize performance. As already mentioned, carb cycling has the potential to provide some benefits that other diets cannot. By having periods of low and high-carb, you may get many of the benefits provided by both diets, without some of the negatives. Benefits of low-carb periods may include better insulin sensitivity, increased fat burning, improved cholesterol and enhanced metabolic health (8, 13, 15, 19, 20).
High-carb refeeds may also have positive effects on hormones during a diet, including thyroid hormones, testosterone and leptin (12, 21). These factors may play an important role in long-term dieting success, since hormones play a key role in hunger, metabolism and exercise performance (22).
Bottom Line: Low-carb periods may provide a number of health benefits, and high-carb refeeds can have positive effects on your hormones.
There are many variations to carb cycling, including daily alterations or longer periods of high and low-carb cycles. Even more so than a regular diet, carb cycling can take a lot of fine tuning and adjustment along the way. Experiment with the amount of high-carb days per week, as well as the amount of carbs per day.
If you prefer a low-carb diet, you can add carb cycling occasionally in the form of a refeed.
As the table suggests, you can either refeed every couple of weeks or do long periods, such as a 4 week low-carb phase, with a 1 week refeed. You will also notice the amount of carbs per day can drastically vary – this depends on activity level, muscle mass and carbohydrate tolerance.
An athlete who trains 3 hours a day or a 250 lb bodybuilder may need the upper limit (or even more), whereas a normal individual may only need to refeed on 150-200g.


Bottom Line: There are several options for carb cycling, ranging from daily changes to monthly refeeds.
Pre-Workout: 1 serving oatmeal, almond milk, 1 cup berries, 1 scoop whey protein (50 g carbs). Dinner: 1 serving wholemeal rice, 6 oz lean chicken, homemade tomato sauce, 1 serving kidney beans, mixed vegetables (70 g carbs).
Breakfast: Grass-fed high-protein yogurt, 1 cup mixed berries, stevia, 1 spoon seed mix (25 g carbs).
Dinner: 1 serving sweet potato fries, 6 oz lean beef, homemade tomato sauce, 1 serving kidney beans, mixed vegetables (40 g carbs).
Some carbohydrates should be avoided, except on special occasions or for the occasional treat. In contrast, there are plenty of healthy carb sources that are tasty and packed full of beneficial fiber, vitamins and minerals. When planning your high-carb days, do not use it as an excuse for an all-out pop-tart binge.
Whole Grains: Unmodified grains are perfectly healthy and linked with many health benefits.
Vegetables: Every vegetable has a different vitamin and mineral content, eat a variety of colors to get a good balance. Unprocessed Fruits: As with vegetables, every fruit is unique, especially berries with their high antioxidant content and low glycemic load. Legumes: A great choice of slow digesting carbohydrates, which are full of fiber and minerals.
Carb cycling may be a useful tool for those trying to optimize their diet, physical performance and health. Rather than chronic low or high-carb diets, a balance between the two may be beneficial from both a physiological and psychological perspective.
If using carb cycling for fat loss, ensure that your protein intake is adequate and you maintain a calorie deficit.
Always experiment with the protocol and amounts of carbohydrates to find the best fit for you.
He is known for his support of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, as set out in his book The Real Meal Revolution.
Low-carb diets can combat the most common brain cancer in adults by limiting nutrient supply to tumors, according to a study on mice models of glioblastoma. However, some research suggests carbs are not needed to build muscle if protein intake is sufficient (18). There is no proven formula or ratio for carb cycling and you should tailor and experiment with it yourself.



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