Carb Cycling Plan for Bodybuilding

Carb Cycling Plan for Bodybuilding

“Carb cycling” is a term that describes the dietary approach in which a person alternates your carb consumption. This approach is used for losing fat, maintaining physical performance, or encountering a weight loss plateau. A lot of people tend to adjust their daily carb intake, while others do for long periods. Carb cycling times your carbohydrate intake when it can provide you maximum benefit & exclude carbohydrates when you don’t need them as such. Carb intake depends upon various factors, that includes: 

  • Body Composition Goal: People tend to adjust their carbs intake especially when they are following a particular diet plan i.e weight loss or bodybuilding. 
  • Training & Rest Days: A popular carb cycling plan is increasing your carb consumption on your training days & cutting them down on your recovery days.
  • Scheduled Refeeds: This is another approach is doing one or a few days with high-carbohydrate intake for “refeeding” the prolonged diet approach.
  • Competitions or special events: Athletes go for “carb loading” before the event day. 
  • Training Type: Athletes tailor their carb consumption depending on their training intensity & duration for a particular session; intense or longer the training session is, more carbs consumption will be required. 
  • Fat Levels of your body: Individuals tend to cycle their carbs consumption based upon the body fat level. The leaner they get, high-carbs or blocks they will include.

Typical carb-cycling diet includes 2 high-carb days, 2 moderate-carb consuming days & 3 low-carb consumption days.

Science Behind Carb Cycling

Carb cycling is a comparatively new dietary approach. Carbs are known as double-edged swords — we essentially need them for fueling our workouts & for growing our muscles, but they are conducive to fat storage. Which is no way or fitness goal. The science behind carb cycling is primarily based on biological mechanisms and their manipulation. Carbs create an anabolic environment in the body. But their consumption spikes insulin levels also rise, which makes the body store fat. 

Being a bodybuilder, you will probably be aware of the importance of carb consumption, insulin is essentially important for developing a muscular physique. But, it also has an ugly side. Chronically raised insulin levels to boost your body’s ability to store body fat while preventing the release of glucagon, therefore reducing fat mobilization & usage.

Carb cycling matches your body’s need for glucose or calories. For example, carb consumption increases on your intense training days. The Carb cycling diet approach incorporates high carb days, moderate and lower ones. High carb days influence your hormones that are related to protein synthesis & metabolism. High-carb days refuel your muscle glycogen, which improves your performance & reduces muscle breakdown. Lower calorie & low carb days maximizes your body’s fat burning mechanism. Carb cycling enables you to build muscles with very little, or no fat. Strategic high-carb periods improve your weight functioning & appetite-regulating hormones leptin & ghrelin. Low-carb days switch the body to a predominantly fat-based energy system, which improves your metabolic flexibility & the body’s ability to burn fat. Make sure you get yourself premium quality bodybuilding clothes.

Carb Cycling for Building Muscle: 

Absolutely. As long as you are eating enough food & you are conscious of what you are doing in the gym, you are totally up for building muscle. A lot of people have this false assumption that carb cycling only has merit when it comes to shedding fat. Which isn’t true. Anyone can stand to benefit from carb cycling no matter what their calorie intake is. If you are looking to add muscle without adding too much fat this approach is for you. Carb cycling allows efficient muscle growth while preventing unnecessary fat gains. Carb cycling is beneficial for muscle building in following ways” 

  • First is the relation it has with glycogen, stored in the muscles & liver. More glycine your body will have, the more strength & energy you will have for the workouts, which leads to muscle growth.
  • Insulin offers powerful anti-catabolic properties, meaning it decreases the rate at which muscle breaks down its proteins, it creates an internal environment that is more conducive to muscle growth. Low muscle glycogen levels impair cell signaling that is related to muscle growth. Also, it lowers glycogen levels, raises cortisol concentration, and reduces testosterone. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone while testosterone is an anabolic one, it’s the exact opposite of what you need for muscle building. 

Carb cycling- The three Days

Carb cycling isn’t a fad diet or a flexible diet. It’s not a diet plan with strict food regimes that you should follow for putting on lean muscle without gaining weight. As mentioned earlier carb cycling incorporates planned days of carb consumption throughout the dietary week. There are three types of days that you alter depending upon your needs. 

  • High Carb Days

The days during which you typically consume 2-2.5g of carbs for each pound of your body weight or 50% of your daily calories come from carbs are referred to as high carb days. These will be the highest caloric days. High carb days typically refuel your muscle glycogen & improve your overall performance besides reducing muscle breakdown.

  • Moderate Carb Days

Days on which approximately 20% of your calorie intake comes from carbs or you consume 0.5g of carbohydrates for each pound of your body weight. These will be the second highest level of calories. Switching from low to moderate days will make your body use mainly a fat-based energy system that improves your body’s fat-burning ability. 

  •  Low Carb Days

Low or plain no carb days are those on which you consume 50g of carbs, in total less than 10% percent of the daily calories come from carbs. Low carb day will be your lowest calorie day & will target carbs around the workouts. It will help in improving insulin sensitivity. 

Prime aim of carb cycling is adjusting your carbohydrate intake to when your body can benefit from it the most & cutting them when you do not require them as such. It allows the incorporation of efficient fat-burning days while maximising muscle accumulation. 

Sample carb cycling plan Goal: Muscle gain

H=Higher-carb day

L=Lower-carb day,

N=No-carb day, 

No-carb Days: once a week

Lower-carb Days— thrice a week

Higher-carb Days— thrice a week

Sample Rotation (Starting from Monday)—L,H,N,H,L,L,H

If you are insulin sensitive

  • No-carb Days— null 
  • Lower-carb Days— four times a week
  • High-carb Days—thrice a week

Sample Rotation (Starting from Monday)—H,L,H,L,L,H,L