It’s almost spring, which means summer is just around the corner, and fitness is back on everyone’s minds now that we’ve sufficiently recovered from the holidays (including Valentine’s Day chocolates). From pool parties to bodybuilding competitions, the warm months are all about getting cut.
If you want a way to lose fat quickly, you’re probably looking to watch your carbohydrates, but if you also love your workouts and are looking to put on muscle mass, you know that consistently low-carb diets may not be the best for you. Enter: carb cycling.
Losing weight is a simple equation that almost every person is familiar with: burn more calories than you consume. You can do this any way you want to - there was even a guy who lost weight eating only Twinkies - but there are some ways that are better than others.
If you’re looking to lose fat, you’ll want to watch your macros, and plan your workouts to support your goals. Much of this still comes down to calories in, calories out, but that can be intensely difficult if you’re hungry from hard workouts.
Carb cycling takes the best of low carb and high carb dieting, and gets rid of some of the worst parts. You get the hunger and craving control (for many of the days of your cycle) that comes from ultra-low carb intake, and the burst of energy and intensity that comes from spiking your blood sugar before intense workouts.
Most of us eat the same way every day, which means our muscles get the same fuel every day. You may have a post workout shake after leg day, or indulge in some junk food on the weekend, but your intake is probably fairly steady.
Carb cycling throws that out the window. Instead, you plan your food - specifically your carbohydrate intake - around your workouts. For most, you schedule your highest carb days around the workouts that are the most intense to ensure full energy levels. You counteract these high carb days with minimizing carb intake on your rest days, allowing your body to slide into ketosis for a short amount of time to burn body fat while your muscles recover.
There are several eating and workout plans available around the internet - and by several, I mean hundreds. At BlackMarket, we don’t tell you what to eat or how to work out, but we will always share great resources when we find them.
Your goals and workouts will determine which plan will work best for you. Always consider customizing your meal plan to suit your needs and fitness objectives.
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
TKD is the best plan for those who primarily engage in cardio workouts, such as runners, cyclists, and swimmers, as well as beginner weight trainers. This diet is essentially a standard ketogenic diet, but you allow yourself to consumer carbohydrates the hour before a workout, as well as through the workout if it’s quite lengthy, to prevent yourself from “hitting the wall.” By controlling the amount of carbs you consume, you enable your body to sustain an intense workout, while also insuring you go back into ketosis (and burning fat) soon after your workout is completed. Because you consume a minimum amount of carbohydrates directly before the workout, and don’t allow any build up over time, this diet is not suitable for advanced weight lifters or other anabolic trainers (like sprinters).
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
This plan is much better suited for advanced weight lifters, sprinters, or other athletes who expend explosive force in their workouts. In this plan, you’ll cycle your carb intake so that you have a day or two of high carb eating a week, with the remaining days eating minimal (under 60 grams) of carbs a day. You’ll synchronize your workouts to these days to match - and you’ll also be able to be a bit more social, especially if you choose Friday and Saturday as your carb up days.
The high carb days will restore your glycogen levels and spike your insulin, which stops your muscles from breaking down. The day after your high carb days, you’ll do your most intense workout, and taper down throughout the week - this means your least intense workout will be the day before your high-carb day. Your low carb days will throw your body into ketosis, which will burn fat most efficiently. You’ll have the least amount of energy on your low-carb days, but will burn the most fat.
You may not actually hit ketosis while practicing CKD, but if you make sure to keep your workouts intense, you’ll see amazing results.
Make sure to be honest with yourself about the level of workout you’re at, and pick the diet plan that matches your abilities. If you want to speed up your cut, try out our AdreNOlyn CUTS Pre-workout formula, which will give you a boost of energy that will cut down on the amount of carbs your body needs to be consistently intense and explosive throughout every workout.