There are a lot of different philosophies when it comes to eating carbohydrates.
Although the typical Western diet is pretty high in refined carbohydrates, many weight loss diets rely on a low-carb component.
Then there are those who avoid carbs entirely, refusing to consume anything with more than a gram or two. Keto diet protocols are getting a lot of attention right now. Especially for women.
I believe the carbohydrate sweet spot is completely bio-individual. To pronounce there is one way that every woman should eat is irresponsible.
I teach women to create a plan that works best with their energy levels, hormones and lifestyle.
Carb Cycling 101
The idea of carb cycling is simple:
Some days high, some days low, depending on activity for the day.
This just means that varying levels of carbohydrate intake are alternated throughout the week.
Cycling carbs for fat loss is commonly practiced by those focused on muscle growth, but there are far more benefits of carb cycling.
A few other advantages:
Boosts insulin sensitivity
Encourages fat burning
Prevents leptin resistance
Promotes healthier eating habits by focusing on healthy carbohydrates
How to Carb Cycle for Fat Loss
Carb cycling is a strategic method to promote muscle growth and fat loss simultaneously, by influencing the hormones that affect body composition.
Long term restriction of carbohydrates and calories can lower the metabolic rate and negatively affect hormones. This is why women often experience frustrating weight loss plateaus.
It’s no secret that a restrictive diet will bring weight loss results, but over time it will decrease basal metabolic rate (the rate the body burns energy at rest - we want this to be high!). Once this happens, weight loss plateaus and if the diet is further restricted can cause the basal metabolic rate to decrease even more. This is super unhealthy and negatively impact many other systems of the body.
When done properly carb cycling supports hormonal health and energy levels while encouraging the body to burn fat for fuel.
How Does Carb Cycling Work?
Let’s take a look at the top four factors that explain why carb cycling is so effective.
When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose.
Insulin is then secreted into the bloodstream and is responsible for carrying the glucose to the muscle cells for storage or into the liver to be used later as energy.
After a particularly carb-heavy meal, the excess glucose that isn’t needed in the liver or muscles is broken down and stored as fat instead.
This is why so many diets focus on moderating carbohydrate intake. If you only eat as much as you need, it prevents them from being converted to fat.
This neurotransmitter serves an important role in mood stabilization, sleep, sexual desire, and appetite.
Carbohydrates can actually boost the production of serotonin, which is why consumption of high-carbohydrate foods is so common during times of stress of depression.
It also explains why low-carb diets are often unsuccessful; carbohydrate deprivation can lead to a lot of undesirable consequences and it’s partly because serotonin production is affected.
By switching up carbohydrate intake, carb cycling can effectively keep serotonin levels steady and cut out the negative side effects that accompany a low-carb diet.
Also known as the “satiety hormone,” leptin has a major influence on regulating intake. As its nickname implies, it’s responsible for blocking hunger and controlling appetite.
Eating too many calories and carbohydrates over a long period of time can cause leptin levels to skyrocket.
As a result, the body becomes resistant to leptin, which means that our brain doesn’t get the signal to stop eating when feeling full.
Carb cycling works by varying intake levels throughout the week to keep leptin in check.
Carb Cycling Plan
The next module, Fasting and Exercise, lays out the plan for eating and exercise with a goal of fat loss while supporting thyroid function, improving insulin sensitivity and energy levels.