The Truth About Carb Cycling for Weight Loss

by | Jun 6, 2016

Here’s the ish with carbs: You need them to power through muscle-building workouts, but eating too many can contribute to fat storage and excess pounds.

That’s why some experts say that carb cycling, or boosting your carb intake on some days and cutting back on others, might be the happy medium we’ve all been looking for. Here, we delve into whether this trendy way of eating can actually help you drop pounds without giving up the best food group.

 

What Carb Cycling Means

There are a lot of carb-cycling regimens out there. For example, some serious athletes, like bodybuilders, who know exactly when and how long they’ll work out each day follow a weekly pattern, says Brian Murray, a certified personal trainer and certified nutritionist. That might include a high-carb day followed by three days of eating very little carbohydrates. For these kinds of plans, dieters keep track of each gram of carbs they consume, says Murray.

The exact amount of carbohydrates they eat totally depends on their weight, muscle mass, goals, and activity levels, he says. But for the average active woman looking to lose weight, the best way to take on carb cycling is on a day-to-day basis, says Murray.  

How It Works

On days when you’re crushing it at the gym or training for a race, carbs are your BFF. Your body burns through them (along with fat) for energy instead of protein. That allows the muscle-building nutrient to focus on doing its job.

But on days when you don’t leave the couch, eating extra carbs could encourage your body to store that unused glucose in your fat cells. By eating less carbs on a rest day, your body turns to fat for energy instead of the sugary and starchy foods it usually gobbles up, says Dr Georgie Fear.

Can It Help You Lose Weight?

For those days when you’re playing desk jockey or couch potato, there are definite weight loss benefits to chowing on fewer carbs. “You don’t need to be hoarding all these extra calories if they’re not going to be used,” says Fear. “Unlike your fat and protein intake, your carb needs vary from one day to the next.” Also, when you swap carbs for protein and veggies, it becomes trickier to overeat (most of us don’t binge on broccoli and chicken), so that helps your waistline.

Should You Try It?

While there’s nothing dangerous about switching up the way you consume carbs, “measuring things down to the gram puts you in a restrictive mindset, which can leave you craving those foods you’re missing out on,” says Fear.

Carb cycling without a set of gram guidelines seems like it would be less effective (especially compared to the plans bodybuilders follow). But since everyone’s needs are different, sticking to a one-size fits all plan isn’t the best method for meeting your weight-loss goals, says Fear.

With that being said, Fear outlines how to make a carb-cycling diet work for you.

What a High-Carb Day Looks Like

On an average day, around 60 percent of your calories should come from complex carbs. That’s about 900 calories if you’re eating 1,500 calories a day. On high-carb days, when you’ve planned a high-energy workout, like metabolic conditioning, interval training, sprints, or a long-distance run, add an extra serving or two of whole grains, fruits, or legumes. “If you’re gassed 10 minutes into your workout, you should try adding another serving,” says Fear.

What a Low-Carb Day Looks Like

On days when you don’t work out at all or do something low-key, like jogging for 30 minutes or taking a hatha yoga class, try swapping a serving or two of your regular carb intake with leafy veggies, lean protein, or healthy fats. For example, if you normally have a whole-wheat turkey sandwich for lunch, try a turkey and spinach salad with cheese instead, says Fear.

The Bottom Line: It’s important to avoid a transactional mindset about food, says Fear. Thoughts like, “I ran an extra mile, so I can eat this,” are a slippery slope to an unhealthy relationship with food.

That said, “having higher carbs on some days and lower carbs on other days is how the body naturally regulates itself,” says Fear. “So there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of some of the benefits of reducing carbs.”

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Your First Look At The Tour de France Femmes 2022 Route

For decades now, cyclists and their fans have been clambering for a women’s Tour de France. While the sport offers numerous events in the realm of road to gravel racing for female cyclists, they all tend to fall short to the kind of European stage race that has continued to attract the best competitors in the men’s field and, for those watching at home, left them inspired to purchase a bike and get outdoors. It’s safe to say that for many who aren’t even familiar with cycling, the Tour de France is well known. The event is bigger than the sport itself, having produced some of the most well known names in sport, even if controversy continues to surround them and the race itself which has long been plagued by doping scandals. Even so, the fact remains that few races possess the same kind of frantic energy, prestige and wonder as the Tour and not surprisingly, the sport’s female stars have fought for years to see a lasting, prestigious women’s stage race run alongside the men’s Tour. 

Earlier this year, it was confirmed that a women’s edition of the race will go ahead in 2022 that closely follows after the men’s race. According to Tour de France organiser, Christian Prudhomme, the women’s race will begin after the men’s Tour. As Prudhomme told The Guardian, “It will take place next year, that’s certain. It would have happened this year if it had not been for the Covid-19 pandemic, obviously, and above all if the Tokyo Olympics had not been after the [men’s] Tour, so the best riders may not be available. But the decision has been taken. There will be a Tour de France femmes in 2022 following closely after the [men’s] Tour.”

Now, the sport’s female athletes have been granted their first look at the 2022 race route which was recently unveiled in the Palais des Congres in Paris by newly appointed race director Marion Rousse. Even the unveiling was significant, with the elite women sitting alongside the peloton’s elite men in the Paris auditorium for the first time. It marks a shift in the landscape of cycling, one that puts women on an equal playing field as their male counterparts and signals a long-awaited leap in the profile of women’s cycling. Rousse described the “honour” of being the director of the women’s Tour de France, adding that: “The women’s races we have now are jewels to cherish.”

As the unveiling depicts, the women will begin on the Champs-Elysees before the route then zigzags east towards the Vosges Mountains and the Haut-Rhin, taking in sprint stages, gravel tracks that wind through the vineyards of Champagne, before ascending to high-altitudes in the final weekend. It will culminate in the 24 per cent gravel climb to Super Planche des Belles Filles. 

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“We wanted to start from Paris,” Rousse said of the women’s Tour. “With only eight stages, we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.” It was also announced that the women’s Tour de France champion would pocket a staggering 50,000 euro (approximately $78,190 AUD), with a further pot of $312,760 for Tour stage winners. 

Lizzie Deignan, winner of the inaugural women’s Paris-Roubaix this month, spoke of the announcement as being “an important day for cycling, not just women’s cycling.”

“It is a key indicator that the sport is still progressing as we are now able to compete in the most well-known bike race in the world. I think the organisers have done a really good job preparing the route for this edition.”

Deignan went on to add: “It will showcase the best that women’s cycling has to offer with a stage suited to every type of rider, something I was really hoping for. The route has been designed to offer entertaining racing from start to finish, but also to reach a crescendo with the final stage finishing on the Super Planche des Belles Filles, one of the hardest climbs in professional cycling.”