For some, ‘carbs’ has become a dirty word. This is because sugary treats and processed slices of bread give the macronutrient a bad name. We also know that when consumed in excess, carbs can cause gut issues, inflammation, weight gain and more. The truth is, however, that carbs do actually play an essential role in the body’s functions and that there are some nutrient-packed, healthy carb sources which contain important minerals and vitamins.
Carb cycling might be the answer, as it offers a perfect balance of not too much or too little carbs. If you’re feeling confused about what the best diet is for you to follow with all the different opinions out there, why not go to Authority Health (an online health source based on research-based reporting) – click here for more info.
More On Carbs
Carbohydrates, alongside fat and protein, are one of the three primary macronutrients. Its role is to provide energy for your brain and body. When you eat carbs, they are broken down into sugars which get absorbed into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar increases, insulin gets released to move the sugar to your cells in order to give you energy. It also gets stored in your liver and muscles in the form of glucose. Excess glucose will be stored as fat.
Are Carbs Good For Me?
There are three main types of carbohydrates: fiber, starch, and sugar. Fiber and starch take longer to break down, while sugar is taken up in the bloodstream very quickly. Processed and refined carbs contain more added sugar than fiber and starch and, therefore, carry very little nutritional value. Processed carbs are definitely worth avoiding, but whole foods which are rich in carbs are something completely different. Potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, brown rice, quinoa, lentils, beans, and even milk and fruit are excellent choices as they contain very important minerals and vitamins. Read more about the health benefits of carbohydrates here.
What Exactly Is Carb Cycling?
With carb cycling, the healthy carbs mentioned above are included for certain periods of time in order to increase fat loss. The aim is to avoid excess glucose which will be stored as fat. Basically, carb cycling means to add carbs to your diet for a short period of time and then remove them from your diet again. The glycogen storage space in your liver and muscles should be filled without having to store the excess as fat. On the no-carb days, these stores will be depleted in your liver and muscles. This means that your body burns up all the glycogen and is, therefore, forced to burn fat.
Where To Begin?
You can start out with three carb-days followed by four no-carbs-days. This might work perfectly if you put your no-carb days during the week and your carb days over the weekend. It depends greatly on the person, how much carbs they should be eating on these days as the amount of muscle mass a person has will determine the amount of glycogen they can store.
The more muscle mass a person has the more storage space. The amount of glycogen that everybody’s liver holds is quite consistent though – at about 70 grams. A good average would be around 100-150 grams of carbs per day. It is also important to not eat all of your allowed carbs in one sitting, as this will spike your blood sugar too quickly which will cause it to be stored as fat. Click here to find out how to manage your blood sugar levels.
What Should I Eat?
Have complex carbs on carb days and cut out starches and sugar on no-carb days. Make sure to have enough fat and protein on the no-carb days. Focus on healthy fats such as avocados, chia seeds, fish and olives. Also, have a lot of non-starchy vegetables, namely leafy greens and broccoli. A good quality MCT oil is also recommended on no-carb days as it stimulates neurological function.
Who Should Not Be Doing This?
Carb cycling will definitely not enhance performance. It is, therefore, not recommended for people who train most days of the week as they need carbs to fuel their training. There is no reason for them to remove carbs from their diet at all.
People who have adrenal dysfunction issues are also advised against carb cycling.
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