Health Tips | 23/05/2021

An Actionable Plan On Carb Cycling

By Sid Mohiuddin
Copywriter, SSSPORTS.COM

If you’ve just begun your fitness and weight-loss journey, you may have heard the phrase, “carbs are the problem”. But if you’ve stayed on this journey long enough, you realize that there is more to it than meets the eye.  

Carbs aren’t necessarily bad. It’s just a matter of how they are consumed. When consumed with purpose and strategy, they actually help you in your fitness journey. Carb cycling is a method that seeks to do just that. 

What are Carbs? 

Carbohydrates are one of the 3 major macronutrients besides proteins and fats. They fuel working muscles and the nervous system with energy. Carbs are classified as simple or complex, which are differentiated based on chemical structure and how quickly the sugar is absorbed and digested.  

Carb cycling sample plan - SSS blog

Simple carbohydrates contain just one or two sugars, such as fructose (fruits) and galactose (milk products). These single sugars are called monosaccharides. Carbs with two sugars — such as sucrose (table sugar), lactose (dairy) and maltose (beer, some vegetables) — are called disaccharides.  
Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) have three or more sugars. They are often referred to as starchy foods and include beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, potatoes, corn, parsnips, whole-grain breads and cereals. Simple carbs are digested and absorbed more quickly and easily than complex carbs. 

Working Out & Carb Cycling 

Carb cycling is the strategic alteration of carbohydrates between low and high-carb days in order to prevent a fat loss plateau and improve workout performance. The plan is highly individual-specific for how many grams of carbs to eat based on body weight, age, gender, intensity of workouts, etc. It’s always recommended to consult a dietician for best results.  

Carb cycling sample plan - SSS blog

We’ve covered most of the Basics Of Carb Cycling in the previous blog on this topic. Now, we take a more actionable look at it with a sample plan. Let’s assume the below is how you workout in a week. 

Monday: Upper Body Workout / High Carb 

Tuesday: HIIT / Low Carb 

Wednesday: Rest Day/ Low Carb 

Thursday: Lower Body Workout / High Carb 

Friday: Off or 20 minutes of cardio / Low Carb 

Saturday: Full Body Workout / High Carb 

Sunday: Rest Day/ Low Carb 

Consequently, you’ll have to match the days of high intensity and days of low intensity with the corresponding carbs consumed on that day. Fitness tracking and calorie counting apps should be helpful. 

A Sample Plan

The below sample plan should provide some more clarity as to how it can be structured.

Sample High Carb Day 

  • Breakfast: 1 cup of cooked oatmeal served with milk and 1 cup of halved strawberries (51 g) 
  • Snack: 1 serving of roasted chickpeas (22 g) 
  • Lunch: 6-inch whole-meal wrap, half a cup of beans, 1 cup of raw peppers, grated cheddar cheese, and a medium apple (61 g) 
  • Snack: A medium banana and half a cup of skim milk (33.5 g) 
  • Dinner: 1 cup of brown, long grain rice, 100 g of mixed vegetables, 1 serving of chicken, served with soy sauce (58 g) 

Sample Low carb day 

  • Breakfast: 2 slices of bacon and 1 scrambled egg (1.2 g) 
  • Snack: 1 large hard-boiled egg with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise (0.7 g) 
  • Lunch: 1 cup of chopped or diced chicken, 50 g of arugula, 1 cup red peppers, 1 cup of tomatoes, 1 cup onions, with olive oil dressing (20.9 g) 
  • Dinner: 1 serving of shrimp, 1 cup of arugula salad, 1 serving of couscous, and salad dressing (25.4 g) 

As a thumb rule, be sure to include staple complex carbs like sweet or white potato, oatmeal quinoa, whole wheat, pasta or tortillas, fruit berries, rice and whole grain bread. Stay cautious of the processed stuff like doughnuts, cakes, cookies, Pizza, muffins, croissants, etc. 

Carb cycling sample plan - SSS blog

High carb days are essential as they stimulate an insulin response that shuttles nutrients in your muscle cells, causing them to grow and replenish muscle glycogen stores. Low carb days promote fat loss by burning fat for fuel instead of carbs and increases insulin receptivity, thereby improving your body’s muscle-building response. The best results are achieved when the days are alternated periodically. A cheat meal now and then won’t trash all your progress but make sure you stick to the plan for the most part of the month.  

Tag us in your workouts and meals on Instagram @sunsandsports
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