One of the greatest things about carb cycling is that people can get “the best of both worlds”, meaning they can both gain muscle and lose fat. So, after a brutal workout session, you would be clever to harness the full power of insulin by consuming carbs as fast as possible. And on the days when you’re resting and you don’t want to cause spikes in your insulin levels, you will eat a small amount of carbs, or at least carbs that have a lower glycemic index which will help you maintain steady blood sugar levels.
This will also force your body to switch to burning the fat deposits as a source of energy. So, on a low carb day, for breakfast, you will eat only fats and protein, along with some veggies which have a low glycemic index and won’t cause insulin spikes and increase blood sugar levels. When you’re not consuming any carbs for breakfast after your body has been in a fasted state for the 8-9 hours you’ve been sleeping, you are priming it to use the stored fat as an energy source.
This means, even just by walking around, doing your daily chores or doing any kind of aerobic activity you’ll be burning fat. Since you’re not ingesting any carbs, you won’t experience any insulin spikes throughout the day.
Also by having lots of protein in your breakfast coming from sources such as lean meats, eggs, and good, healthy fats, like nuts, you are programming the neurotransmitters which control brain function, hunger, and overall energy levels. This type of breakfast was even recommended by the great coach Charles Poliquin.
In any case, since most diets require mental endurance more than anything, carb cycling can make dieting far easier and sustainable. It’s also a fact that most diets work pretty well, it all depends on how willing one is to adhere to it. This is one such diet where you’re much more likely to stick to it in the long term.
You can juggle with your high and low carb days, so whenever you’re feeling low on energy you can always consume more carbs which will restore the body’s glycogen levels, keep the brain working at an optimal rate, suppress your hunger, maintain peak performance in the gym and overall keep you mentally sane.
It also has the effect of preventing your body from thinking it’s starving, which in turn decreases your energy expenditure and slows down your metabolism, a process also known as adaptive thermogenesis.
So, even though the underlying mechanism behind carb cycling has proven effective for fat, it also a fact that it might not the best suited for everyone. For people who carry a considerable amount of fat, just a simple diet with restricted caloric intake, of let’s say 500 calories a day, would do the trick. This is a much more straightforward approach without having to worry about too many details and yet equally effective.
When people first start on their fat loss journey, they tend to lose fat pretty quickly and consistently, especially when they get rid of all the “garbage” in their diet, introduce a moderate caloric restriction and increase their training intensity or volume. In this phase, they may not need a more advanced approach such as carb cycling, although it may be employed in the near future when more nuanced weight loss techniques are needed in case progress stalls.
It can also be said that there are lots of people who don’t function that well when their primary energy source is carbohydrates, or they need to take additional steps to function better on this type of diet.
Insulin sensitivity is essential when it comes to effectively dealing with carbohydrate consumption and absorption. If you happen to be resistant to insulin you will have to struggle a lot more getting lean while eating more carbs.
So, for anyone who has poor insulin sensitivity, it would be a lot better if they would follow a ketogenic, paleo, or Atkins-style diet, at least initially, to achieve optimal body recomposition. Decreasing carb intake or cutting them out completely for a period will prime the body to be able to utilize or function better with them in the long them, which in turn would make cycling them much more effective.