• Joshua Li

How carb cycling can help bust through your plateau


Carb cycling is one of the most common and effective tools to pushing through those fat loss plateaus when you’re deep into a diet, but it is often executed incorrectly.

When should you carb cycle?

  • - Your weight/fat loss has stalled for over 2 weeks

  • - You are already relatively lean and have good insulin sensitivity (below 14% body fat)

  • - You are not able to stick to a constant low carb diet day in day (carb cycling may also help with motivation; being able to look forward to higher carb days)

What exactly is a carb cycle?

This technique of dieting, as the name suggests, predominantly involves the manipulation of carbohydrates whilst keeping calories relatively the same. It will usually involve 1 day of LOW CARB, followed by 1 day of MEDIUM CARBS, and 1 day of HIGH CARB. Then this cycle will be repeated throughout the ongoing weeks. In some cases, the number of days in each carb level may be more, dependent on one’s physique and body type. For example, if you want to burn more fat, you may do 3 low carb days and only 1 high carb day. But if your body type/metabolism allows you to burn through glycogen more quickly, then you may have to drop down your low carb days, and increase the number of high carb days.

Now lets break down the individual macros in a carb cycle.

Protein will remain relatively constant throughout the entire carb cycle, staying around 1-1.5g per pound of bodyweight. You may decrease protein by a small amount on some high carb days.

Fats will move with carbohydrates, where they will increase on low carb days and decrease on high carb days. It's important to note that you always keep your fats above a certain level even on high carb days so as not to impair any hormone functions.

Carbohydrates will obviously vary the most and should work with your training regime. Set your low carb days on a rest day or a lighter day such as when you train arms. Set your high carb days for when you work a bigger muscle or have a longer workout planned, such as a leg day.

LOW CARB DAY (example)

Meal 1

  • 3 whole eggs

  • 4 egg whites

  • ½ cup oatmeal

  • 1bsp peanut butter

Meal 2

  • 300g of fat free greek yogurt

Meal 3

  • 8oz of lean meat (chicken breast/tuna/turkey/flank steak)

  • 120g of green veggies (asparagus/broccoli/Brussel sprouts)

Meal 4

  • 1 scoop of whey protein

  • 200g of berries (strawberries/blueberries/raspberries)

Meal 5

  • 8oz of lean meat (chicken breast/tuna/turkey/flank steak)

  • 1 bowl of plain salad

  • ½ an avocado

Meal 6

  • 1 scoop of whey protein

  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk

MEDIUM CARB DAY (example)

Meal 1

  • 3 whole eggs

  • 4 egg whites

  • 1 cup oatmeal

  • 1bsp peanut butter

Meal 2

  • 300g of fat free greek yogurt

  • 1oz of nuts (almonds/peanuts/cashews)

Meal 3

  • 8oz of lean meat (chicken breast/tuna/turkey/flank steak)

  • 120g of green veggies (asparagus/broccoli/Brussel sprouts)

Meal 4

  • 1 scoop of whey protein

  • 1 banana / 1 cup of grapes / 1 cup of mangoes

Meal 5

  • 8oz of lean meat (chicken breast/tuna/turkey/flank steak)

  • 1 cup of white rice

Meal 6

  • 1 scoop of whey protein

  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk

  • 60g of cereal

HIGH CARB DAY (example)

Meal 1

  • 3 whole eggs

  • 4 egg whites

  • 1.5 cups oatmeal

  • 1bsp peanut butter

Meal 2

  • 300g of fat free greek yogurt

  • 1oz of nuts (almonds/peanuts/cashews)

  • 1 apple/orange/pear

Meal 3

  • 8oz of lean meat (chicken breast/tuna/turkey/flank steak)

  • 120g of green veggies (asparagus/broccoli/Brussel sprouts)

  • 1 cup of white rice

Meal 4

  • 1 scoop of whey protein

  • 1 banana / 1 cup of grapes / 1 cup of mangoes

Meal 5

  • 8oz of lean meat (chicken breast/tuna/turkey/flank steak)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes

Meal 6

  • 1 scoop of whey protein

  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk

  • 60g of cereal

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