Carbohydrates are one of the most important macronutrients our body needs on a daily basis, along with fats and protein.
These macronutrients are consumed in large quantities due to their life functioning and sustaining capabilities.
That's why it is popular more than ever to use carb and carbohydrate cycling calculators.
Carbohydrate cycling is an effective way to cleanse your organism and potentially lose more weight.
Keep reading below to learn everything about carbohydrate cycling, how it works, the main benefits, side effects, and more.
- A carb cycling calculator is an online tool that helps optimize your carb intake for your body weight and personal fitness goals.
- The Carb cycling calculator is one of the most accurate ways of calculating the necessary calories or glucose you need to achieve a specific goal, and it doesn't require any effort.
- To calculate your carbs for carb cycling, you need to consume about 30% of your total calories in the form of carbs.
What Is Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling is the process of manipulating total carbohydrate intake to provide the body with sufficient fuel for activities.
In addition, it also minimizes carb intake when your body doesn't need as much of it.
The most common way to do carb cycling is daily or sometimes even monthly, depending on your personal goals.
Below you can see one of the many reasons why a particular individual may choose to do carb cycling over a period of time:
- Weight/fat loss - Depending on your general macronutrient intake, you can either gain or lose weight. However, when considering fat loss vs weight loss, carbs are usually the macronutrient type most responsible for significant shifts in body composition.
- Limit fat gain - Carbohydrates are macronutrients that fuel and support the body with energy. However, you may start storing body fat if you consume too many carbs and do not use them for energy during your daily activities. This is the primary reason why people consume more carbohydrates on active and training days and fewer calories on less active days.
- General performance- You will generally need more carbohydrates for your body the longer and more intense the physical activity is. This is because your body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, which is the primary source of anaerobic energy used in almost all types of activities.
- Competition - It is well-known that bodybuilders prefer to carb cycle and carb load before a competition because that fills their muscles and makes them look bigger. However, this method can be used by anyone to achieve the exact same results.
- Overall health - Carbohydrates are known to affect your blood sugar and insulin levels significantly. This is because insulin is used to lower the sugar level in your blood when you consume more sugar than it is supposed to be in your blood.
It is also important to mention that fats are another common macronutrient that is used to accommodate the lack of carbohydrates. This is because fats are a secondary source of energy, usually used when carbs are missing from your organism, or your body can't, for any reason, break down glucose to release energy.
However, fats are much higher in calories than carbohydrates, which is the primary reason you must know how much you consume daily not to fall off track.
In addition to fats, proteins are macronutrients primarily used as building blocks of our organisms. However, most often noted in extreme situations, our body is ready to break down proteins to release energy if carbohydrates and fats are missing.
This is when our body starts breaking down our own muscle cells, in simpler terms, starts cannibalizing to release the necessary amount of energy for normal functions of our body.
Carb Cycling Benefits
Carbohydrates are essential for many processes in our body, and there are multiple benefits to cycling between moderate to high and low carb intake for your organism. One of these benefits includes burning carbs more quickly.
Below you can find some of the most notable benefits of proper carbohydrate cycling.
It is well established that carbohydrate cycling can contribute to the hormone of hunger, which is ghrelin and leptin.
Particularly, carb cycling can contribute to regulating this hormone, making you lose more weight as a result.
In addition, the research indicates that high-protein and high-fat meals are more favorable for inducing satiety and appetite hormonal response when compared to a regular high-carb meal .
2. Glycogen Replenishment and Insulin Health
Glucose plays one of the most important parts in restoring glycogen levels in our muscles together with proteins since both act synergistically on insulin secretion.
This is a primary reason why it is favorable to consume more carbohydrates on the days you are generally more active.
However, one study on insulin found that a modest reduction in carbohydrate intake produces positive effects on the metabolism of glucose, fat distribution, and overall body composition .
3. Burn More Fat
It is also important to mention that low-carb and moderate to high-fat days allow our bodies to burn more fat as they become the more prominent source of energy.
In addition, this is popularly known as ketosis, and it is the process where our body produces ketones in the blood.
Ketones are often referred to as super fuel.
However, this is almost always only achievable when the daily carbohydrate intake is 50 grams or less. I
t is arguable, but an average American's diet is very heavy in carbs.
This is why cutting out carbs, especially the ones from delectable goodies like ones from the typical American diet, is so effective for losing a significant amount of weight.
However, this is true for the majority of macronutrients too. It is also important that insulin stores fat in our bodies, but a diet low in carbohydrates lowers insulin levels, which subsequently allows our bodies to more easily utilize fat stores.
Lastly, this is also the primary reason you tend to lose water on a low-carbohydrate diet.
It is because the whole process causes your kidneys to get rid of excess water .
Our physical performance is highly dependent on the level and quality of carbohydrate intake since they act as the primary energy source during most activities.
It is a fact that carbs play a major role in activities such as short-duration run performance and high-intensity training.
This is because carbs are one of the primary sources of anaerobic energy, which is the energy produced when our cells lack enough oxygen to release energy.
In addition, fats and protein are important for our energy levels, but carbohydrates are even more important because they can be broken down much quicker to sustain peak performance during high-intensity activities .
Example Carb Cycling Routine
There is no universal formula when it comes to anything related to diet, nutrition, and supplementation.
Furthermore, carb cycling is not an exception. However, there are various ways to implement carbohydrate cycling, but it will be dependent primarily on your goals.
Here is a weekly example routine you may try to test the carb cycling effect on your body:
- Day 1 - Some form of weight training - high carbs and low fat
- Day 2 - Active recovery day, usually some cardio - moderate carbs and fat
- Day 3 - Some weight training - high carbs and low fat
- Day 4 - Weight training - high carbs and low fat
- Day 5 - Rest day - low carbs and high fat
- Day 6 - Weight training - high carbs and low fat
- Day 7 - Rest day - low carbs and high fat
It is also important to mention that this can be manipulated based on your actual schedule.
However, you may also try doing low or high carbs for as long as you need to and then switch it up from time to time.
This should be mostly based on your lifestyle, how you feel, and how you are progressing.
A low carbohydrate diet typically consists of 50-150 grams. High-carb days usually consist of 120-400+ grams per day.
However, more than one factor determines an appropriate daily carb intake.
Good Carb Sources to Eat
Most of your carbohydrate consumption and card days should consist of healthy and nutritious sources of food that provide slow-digesting carbs in addition to only a few fast-digesting carbs, like some fruits.
It is important to know that high-quality carbohydrate sources provide long-lasting energy but also necessary minerals, vitamins, and fiber to support your digestion and bowel health.
Here are some examples of high-quality carbohydrate sources and foods:
- Vegetables such as cauliflower, leafy greens, and carrots
- Tubers such as potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Grains like rice, oats, and quinoa
- Fruits such as bananas, berries, kiwis, and apples
- Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and black beans
However, there are far more high-quality carb options, and these are just rough examples.
Also, low-carb days should consist of more non-starchy carbohydrates such as onions, greens, and tomatoes, while high-carb days should consist of starchy carbs like legumes, potatoes, corn, etc.
How to Use the Carb Cycling Calculator?
To use the carb cycling calculator, you must enter some information such as your gender, age, weight, and height. In addition, you must select your activity factor to get the most accurate results.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use the carb cycling calculator:
- Enter your gender
- Type in your weight, age, and height
- Select the level of activity from the dropdown menu
- Choose whether or not you are carb sensitive
- Choose your primary fat loss goal
After all the calculations, you will get results that include your basal metabolic rate, which is essentially calories burned while resting, and a routine for carb cycling with recommended macronutrients and calories.
These are usually based on a 7-day week program.
Why Use Carb Cycling?
You should use carb cycling to lose weight more efficiently. In addition, you can use it to match your body's needs regarding calories and glucose.
Arguably, low-carbohydrate diets are one of the most popular methods for weight loss.
However, the reason why they work isn't exactly the elimination of carbs. Instead, reducing carbs results in lower blood sugar levels, lowering insulin and promoting fat burning.
However, it isn't necessary to restrict yourself from carbohydrate intake all the time since the long approach to it may cause some side effects and even serious health problems. This is especially true for the keto diet.
Also, it is a fact that a low-carb diet usually results in a prolonged restriction of calories.
This deficit in energy helps with short-term weight loss but is also responsible for metabolic damage and hormone imbalance.
However, the bright side is that carb cycling offers enough flexibility so that you can enjoy carbs with your friends and family, meaning sneak pizza and other bad sources of carbs occasionally.
High-carb diets can help boost your metabolism when used correctly and even prevent some unwanted side effects of restrictive dieting.
How the Carb Cycling Calculator Works?
The carb cycling calculator works by asking you questions about your current situation, body composition, and lifestyle-wise. In addition, it will ask for your body weight, height, and some other factors to get the most accurate results.
To establish your metabolic rate, you should specify your body composition, weight, and body type.
The following step consists of giving the necessary details about your daily activity and exercise schedule. Following that, you can calculate your ideal calorie target and the ratio of macronutrients for each day of the week.
The last step is to choose your fitness goal, which may be on the lines of fat loss, muscle gain, or body recomposition.
After completing all the steps mentioned above, you can see personalized carb cycling macros, which include a breakdown of low, medium, and high days.
Carb Cycling Calculator Example
You may wonder what a carb cycling plan looks like. Let's walk you through one of the examples so you get a better understanding of carb cycling plans and what they look like.
Imagine a scenario where a 175-man works out three times a week, preferably on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Also, his primary goal is to burn as much fat as possible while also maintaining lean muscle mass.
To achieve this, he starts the week with a high carbohydrate day and his Monday workout.
Then he heats medium carbs next for his Wednesday and Friday workouts. On the rest days, he strictly follows a low-carb diet.
On a high-carb day, added carbs will fuel his workouts and fill glycogen stores, the main energy source for almost all activities.
Also, the slight calorie surplus from the high-card day will boost your metabolism and offset the negative effects of dieting.
In addition, it is crucial to mention that you should always aim to hit your macro targets using mostly healthy food sources.
On a medium carb day, the man does a regular workout and eats just enough carbs to replenish his glycogen energy sources.
However, your carbohydrate intake here will depend on your body composition, activity level, and personal fitness goals.
On the low carb day, the man doesn't do any workouts and rests.
This means he won't burn as many calories compared to other days. Hence the carb intake should be lower.
At the same time, you may increase your fat intake since you will burn more calories from the fat on the days you rest.
Should You Use Carb Cycling?
It depends on many factors if you should use carb cycling.
However, it is proven that carb cycling is safe for most people and is one of the most effective ways to lose fat and weight.
Also, carb cycling is more effective at helping you lose weight while training with more intensity compared to a low-carb diet. Alternating carb loading and low-carb days can give your body the exact energy level needed for a particular day and activities.
In addition, it is also good for preventing your body from adapting to low-carb levels.
The previously mentioned adaptation is likely to lead to decreased metabolism and secretion of less leptin.
However, it is also worth noting that car cycling is challenging and requires a certain amount of discipline.
You must understand the principles behind macronutrients and constantly make smart food choices.
If you fail to do that, you may end up depleting your body of essential nutrients.
If you have medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, you should discuss carb cycling with your doctors before potentially implementing it.
Exercising When You Are Carbohydrate Cycling
Carbohydrates fuel your body, and that's why you must match your carbohydrate cycling schedule with your activity level.
For example, if you are planning a strenuous workout or a long and demanding run, prepare enough carbs before and after the session to replenish your glycogen energy levels.
Similarly, you should follow a medium-carb intake if you opt for moderate-intensity activities.
It would be best if you only avoided cycling low-carb intake on days of hard and strenuous workouts.
This is because you will not have the energy to perform at your best.
The point is to match low-carb intakes with low activity levels or rest days while doing the opposite for medium and high-carb days.
Word of Caution – Are There Any Side Effects to Carb Cycling?
There are some side effects to carb cycling. One of the side effects might be decreased performance if you fail to set the carb cycling schedule correctly.
It is a fact that your body needs an adequate intake of carbohydrates to function normally or physiologically.
In addition, it is well-known that carb intake adjustments, especially when large, may cause different side effects.
One of the most noticeable side effects of a low-carb diet is decreased performance while exercising.
Some other side effects include dizziness, lack of vitality, stomach problems, irritability, and trouble sleeping.
Also, carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar levels, which is especially true if you are eating simple carbs.
This may lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, it may also promote acne.
Lastly, weight gain is one of the obvious side effects of bad carb cycling that is often tied to consuming too many carbs.
To calculate your carb cycling, you must divide any calories from carbs and protein by 4, and calories from fat by 9. This gives the most accurate results for calculating your carb cycling.
You should do carb cycling 7 days a week. This entails 2 high-carbohydrate days, 2 moderate-carbohydrate days, and 3 low-carb days.
The best schedule for carb cycling is a 5-day carb-cycling meal plan. It consists of alternating rest days-low carbs, moderate workout-moderate carbs, intense workout-high carbs, moderate workout-moderate carbs, and rest day-low carbs.
Yes, carb cycling is effective for fat loss. It has been proven that taking short breaks to cycle carbs can potentially give your body a chance to burn fat instead of muscle tissues and carbs.
Most of the time, carb cycling doesn't work without exercise. This is because you are expected to burn more energy on high and moderate-carb days, which is impossible without exercise.
Why Is Carb Cycling So Important?
Carb cycling is so important because it is one of the most effective ways to lose weight without risking serious health problems or experiencing any negative side effects.
In addition, it is very complementary to exercise and workout plans, which can even speed up the process of losing weight and fat.
Lastly, you can calculate all the things you need for carb cycling by simply using our carb cycling calculator and all its advanced features.