Carb Cycling Diet for Weight Loss

carbcycling

Cycling Carbohydrates: An Introduction

One of the dietary strategies you may have heard about about from bodybuilders, fitness competitors, or those just wanting to lose weight is called carb cycling.   This is a term for scheduling days of high carbohydrate consumption followed by days of successively lower carbohydrate consumption.  This approach seems to be a very effective way to maximize fat loss while maintaining training intensity.  I’ll explain the basics of why this works.

Why Lowering Carbs Works

Restricting carbohydrates (aka low carb or ketogenic diets) can be very effective for helping people lose weight.  Going several days with low carbohydrate intake (lets say 50 grams or less) eventually causes glycogen levels (glucose in the liver and muscles) to get so low that the body has to switch to another fuel source.  This metabolic shift is called ketosis, meaning the body is primarily using fat as its source of calories/fuel.   I discovered ketogenic/low carb dieting years ago and have used it with good success.

Some have adopted adopted a low carbohydrate lifestyle and credit it with saving their health (if not their very lives).  These individuals follow this diet year-around in order to stay at a healthy weight.  More power to you if you are able to do this.

The Drawbacks of Restricting Carbohydrates

But eating this way all the time is not very practical for athletes or those who engage in intense exercise like weight training.  Those of us who have trained while in ketosis can testify how sluggish the workouts are.  Eating carbohydrates refills the before-mentioned glycogen so muscles can perform optimally.

Thus the dilemma: low carb eating is great for fat loss, but not so great for exercise performance.

Carb Cycling: Lose Fat, Maintain Training Intensely

One solution to this is carb cycling, which may be able to give you the best of both worlds.  It really isn’t that complicated: you simply lower your carbohydrate over the course of a few days.  The first day, for example, you can eat 200 grams of carbs, followed by 125 on the second and only 50 on the third.  You could then repeat the cycle or just reverse it over the next two days (125 grams of carbs on day 4 and 200 again on day 5).

You may want to do your most intensive training on high carbohydrate days and try to consume most of your carbs after you work out.  This will encourage the glucose to go to your muscles and liver instead of being stored as body fat.

Most of the plans I’ve seen also incorporate a “cheat day” where you just eat what you want.  This shouldn’t hurt your fat loss in the long-term as long as you are consistent the rest of the time.

Just keep this in mind: all successful diets are based on a negative calorie balance–using more calories than you are consuming.  Carb cycling is not a “secret formula” to get around this–it is simply one dietary strategy that you may find useful.

I would encourage you to check out the 4 Cycle Solution if you’d like a step-by-step guide to this approach to fat loss.  It goes into a lot more detail than what I have written here and it is not very expensive.

4 Cycle Fat Loss Solution Review (Shaun Hadsall)

4-cycle-fat-loss-solution-review

I have had an opportunity to look over a new product called the 4 Cycle Solution diet.  I will start this review with a description of the manuals/components you get when you order this program:

4 Cycle Fat Loss Solution Program Components

Cycle 1:  7 Day Carb Depletion Diet: This phase is more of a low carbohydrate approach, designed to deplete the liver and muscles of glycogen (glucose stored within the body).  This causes a switch in your body, causing it to burn fat (ketones) instead of carbohydrates for fuel.  This will cause some fairly quick (albeit temporary) weight loss, which will hopefully motivate you to follow through with the next cycles.  More importantly, depleting your glycogen will set you up for the next phases of the diet.

Note: These first 7 days will probably be the most difficult part of the diet.  I would encourage you to stick with it because things get easier after this first week.

Cycle 2: Macro Patterning: The author begins this manual with an explanation of the pro’s and con’s of consuming carbohydrates.  He then explains how to optimize the timing of carbohydrate consumption so you keep (or build) muscle while continuing to lose fat.  The idea is to take in carbs when they are more likely to go into the muscles/liver and less likely to be stored as fat.  This keeps you from experiencing the lethargy associated with low carb diets while experiencing some of the benefits.

This phase will take you from week 2-4.

Cycle 3: Accelerated Fat Loss: This phase of the diet is similar to Cycle 2, but it is a little more intense.   You will be required to eat zero carbs on some days, but be allowed to eat a relatively high amount on others.  The idea here is to maximize your fat loss by manipulating your carbohydrates and glycogen levels in a strategic way.

This phase takes you from weeks 5-6.  It is not recommended to do this for over 14 days (the author explains this in much greater detail in the manual).

Cycle 4: The Diet Break: This phase gives you a physiological and psychological break from the strict dieting of previous weeks.  The manual explains how to increase your calories again without re-gaining the fat you lost in previous weeks.

This phase is for week 7-8 of the diet.

Success Guide and Food Journal:  This is a printable meal log so you can track what you eat on any given day.

Supplement Guide:  This is a description of the author’s recommended supplements.  The brands he recommends are a bit pricy so I would encourage you to stick to the basics (multivitamin, whey protein, fish oil, etc.) and shop around.

Bonuses:

The Fat Burning Shortcut Solution:  These are some specific exercise strategies designed to burn calories in minimal time.  You can do the diet without these, but you may want to use them as a way of making it more effective (especially if you want to add some variety to your routine).

Food Timing Tricks for Rapid Fat Loss:  This manual has more tweaks and suggestions for getting the most out of the diet.  The author goes into a little more detail regarding some of the concepts/strategies mentioned in earlier manuals.

Review:

The 4 Cycle Fat Loss Solution is built on the concept of carb cycling.  This is a popular strategy among bodybuilders and fitness competitors for good reason: it work.  I’ve seen some impressive transformations from those who use these kinds of diets to get lean.  I think this program would be good for the following type of person:

*People who have tried more traditional diet strategies and have failed to see results.

*Trainees who desire to lose fat while preserving muscle mass.

*Those who are willing to plan their meals and follow a regimented plan for eight weeks.

If this describes you then I believe the 4 Cycle Solution is worth a try.  The basic package is only 20 dollars, making it an excellent value.  Please CLICK HERE if you’d like to order or learn more.

3 Week Diet Review (Brian Flatt)

I’ve had an opportunity to review the 3 Week Diet by Brian Flatt.  Let me first by telling you what you get if you choose to order this program (note: these are all in digital formats–they are not “hard copy” books).

Program Components

Introduction Manual:  This book explains the “how” and “why” of the diet.  The author presents the scientific rationale behind the 3 Week Diet and shows you how to implement it for maximum success.  The manual also includes information on supplements that may be able to help target “stubborn” fat.  He mentions yohimbine, for example, which is one of the only supplements I recommend for fat loss.

Diet Manual:  This book is designed to help you set up your eating plan (daily calories) based on your estimated body fat percentage (you can calculate it with a formula provided in this book).  Flatt also provides a list of foods that will help you maximize your fat loss along with a list of foods to be avoided at all costs.

3weekdietreviewWorkout Manual:  This illustrated exercise guide shows you how to burn the maximum number of calories in minimal time.  One nice thing about the training component is you don’t have to commit to lengthy gym sessions.  You can in fact, do this program at home if you have some basic equipment (dumbbells and a bench).  You’ll notice the exercise component is not very elaborate for good reason–you shouldn’t over-do your training when you are keeping your calories and carbohydrates low.  Just some walking to burn calories and a little resistance training to preserve muscle (and burn some extra calories is enough).

Mindset & Motivational Manual:  One of the most overlooked aspects of weight loss is the psychological element.  This manual provides tips and tricks that will help you get (or stay) motivated and change your mindset.

REVIEW:

Needless to say, this program is a “crash diet” approach to weight loss.   This term has a bad reputation since slow and steady weight loss is considered a more ideal way to do things.  But losing weight quickly does have a few advantages:

Time: You may need (or just want) to lose weight withing a limited time frame.  Certain athletes, for example, may need to drop the pounds in time to qualify for their weight class.  It may be a simple as wanting to get ready for some social event.  There are reasons/situations for which a slower fat loss strategy is not practical.

Motivation: There’s something to be said for the motivation that comes with seeing the numbers on the scale move quickly from one day to the next. Dropping a lot of weight quickly can also be a good way to get started on a much longer journey.  You may want to do this plan, for example, then follow up with a more “balanced” approach to fitness with the momentum you have created.

Focus:  Most of us go to the gym or start a training program with more than one goal–we want to look leaner and more muscular (most female trainees would say they want to get “toned”).  But there’s something to be said for focusing all your effort on a singular goal for a short period of time (that goal being fat loss in this case).

Do you fall into one of these categories or have your own reason for desiring rapid weight loss?  Keep reading while I explain the diet in a little more detail.

The 3 Week Diet is a modified version of a protein sparing modified fast.  Unlike a complete fast, you will be eating.  But your calories will be very low and mostly come from protein and fat.  This, combined with resistance training, will help you lose the most amount of fat possible while preserving as much lean mass as possible.  This isn’t an “easy” way to lose fat, but it is very effective (I’ve personally used this strategy with good results).

Keep something in mind if you decided to try this diet:  some of the weight you lose will be temporary because it is water and glycogen (glucose in the muscles/liver).  But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for three reasons:

1.  If you need to make weight for a sport (or some other reason) it doesn’t really matter what kind of weight you have lost.

2. As I’ve mentioned, there is something very motivational about seeing the numbers move down quickly on the scale.

3.  Low glycogen levels are an important component of fat loss, which is ultimately what most of us are after (you’ll see this explained in more detail in the program material).

SUMMARY:

No one diet/exercise program can meet everyone’s needs.  The 3 Week Diet is designed for those who desire to focus on losing weight quickly to the exclusion of other goals.  If this describes you then I believe this program is a worthwhile investment that will deliver good results.  Just remember it will require you to adhere to a strict diet.  Click here if you’d like order or to learn more about the 3 Week Diet

Feel free to check out my list of Recommended Programs if you think something else may better suit your goals.