The first time I experimented with carb cycling was some time back in the early 90’s, largely influenced by the work of Michael Zumpano and the late Dan Duchaine. I was blown away by how incredibly well this worked so I immediately enlisted a few more test subjects to try it out on. Again, the results were awesome. My brother, our friend Todd and I all got in the best shape we’d ever been in to date. After that I had some clients try it and the results were the same.
Being like a lot of people I was in search of the next best thing so I got away from it for a while. Too long, in fact. Because the honest truth is that carb cycling HAS to be a part of your nutrition program if you are really serious about getting results. There’s simply no way around it.
I haven’t written a diet in the last six years that didn’t include carb cycling and I’m not about to start. It’s a major part of the Muscle Gaining Secrets program and just about every member of the Renegade Inner Circle follows a carb cycling diet.
The problem is some people get freaked out and think that it’s gonna be the hardest thing in the world to figure out and adhere to. Trust me, it aint. It really couldn’t be easier.
To sum it up in simple terms carb cycling means that you eat higher carbs on training days and lower amounts of carbs on off days. Now, obviously it can get more complicated than that but that’s pretty much the gist of it. I prefer that you start with baby steps and progress slowly. Unless you have plans of competing in a bodybuilding show in the next twelve weeks you don’t have to get crazy right off the bat.
The first thing you need to do is determine your bodyfat levels. If you’re above 20% there’s going to be very minimal carbs in your diet at all other than vegetables and moderate amounts of fruit. At that level I allow ONE cheat meal per week on a Saturday or Sunday where you can eat up to 100 grams of carbs or so in one sitting (depending on your bodyweight). So the majority of your weekly meals will consist of organic eggs, free range chicken, grass fed beef, wild caught fish, protein powder and a hearty serving of veggies. Raw, organic nuts and seeds are also allowed and some low glycemic fruits like apples, pears and berries can be included in moderate amounts as well.
Your weekend cheat meal might consist of a few slices of pizza and some ice cream or one of the delicious healthy desserts from the Renegade Recipe Guide. Then you’re back to low carbing it again immediately after and until you get to below 20% bodyfat. The honest truth is that for most people, not interested in high performance levels, this is the optimal way to eat.
You really don’t need starchy carbs at all if you’re not training hard or playing a sport. The average guy should really be eating nothing but lean protein, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds.
Since just about everyone reading this right now is interested in looking and performing like an All Star you guys are definitely gonna need some starchy carbs (as long as you’re below 20% bodyfat.) Fruits and veggies just won’t be enough.
Muscle growth and performance are both optimized when insulin is present. Insulin levels become elevated when you eat carbs. Insulin is a highly anabolic (muscle building) hormone so you want it around when you’re trying to get jacked. On the opposite side of the coin is the fact that insulin is also very effective at storing bodyfat when it’s around for too long, too often or at the wrong times. That’s why it’s always referred to as a double edged sword.
If you eat tons of carbs all day you’ll definitely grow pretty rapidly. You’ll also end up looking like a big fat mess, though. Most people can’t tolerate too many carbs too often. Unless you’re an ectomporphic teenager with a lightning fast metabolism, a genetic freak or a professional athlete who trains for twenty plus hours a week, the chances are very good that an unregulated approach to carb consumption will lead to massive fat gain. Therefore the only solution is carb cycling.
With carb cycling you can:
- Gain size while maintaining your bodyfat levels
- Get lean while not losing any size or…
- Build muscle and lose fat at the same time!
It’s really the ultimate diet solution.
How You Do It
As I already mentioned, you need to first determine your bodyfat levels. That will tell you how many carbs you can consume on each day. The fatter you are the fewer carbs you can have and the leaner you are the more carbs you can eat.
This is for two reasons. Firstly, when you’re fat (above 15% bodyfat) your insulin sensitivity usually sucks. That means you don’t tolerate carbs very well and eating them is very likely to make you even fatter. Secondly, if you’re fat and trying to get lean, that’s obviously going to be difficult to do while eating a lot of carbs. But that’s pretty damn obvious.
When you’re trying to gain size but are above 15% bodyfat you will gain an equal amount of fat and muscle when you eat a decent amount of carbs. That’s if you’re lucky. In the worst case scenario you will gain two pounds of fat for every pound of muscle. So it’s best to be somewhat lean before trying to gain a ton of size.
Now, when you’re lean enough to tolerate carbs you can break your carb consumption down into high, medium and low days.
There’s more to it and more variables to consider but for now, without getting overly complicated we’ll set it up like this and go with these rough figures…
High carb days- 1.5 – 1.75 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Medium Carb Days- 1 – 1.25 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Low Carb Days- .5 – 1 gram of carbs per pound of bodyweight
High carb days- 1.75 – 2 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Medium Carb Days- 1-1.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Low Carb Days- .5-1 gram of carbs per pound of bodyweight
High carb days- 2 – 2.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Medium Carb Days- 1.25- 1.75 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Low Carb Days- .75-1.25 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight
High carb days- 2.5 – 3 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Medium Carb Days- 2 – 2.25 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Low Carb Days- 1 -1.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight
Let’s leave it at that for now and in Part II we’ll get into how to set up the days and what foods you should be eating when. Proper food choices and meal timing is key so we’ll address those issues in the next installment.
For now let me know if you have any questions.
PS. In the mean time I highly recommend that all fitness pro’s looking to make more money get a copy of Shelby Starnes brand new Carb Cycling For Fitness Professionals by clicking HERE now.