What Does The Fitness Look Like?
While carb cycling by nature focuses mostly on the diet and nutrition side, most people who follow this plan also adjust their workouts and activity levels to get the most fat-burning effects from their food intake.
Rest, recovery, and efforts to relieve stress are crucial for making this plan a true body-mind reset.
What do The Experts Say?
It’s mixed! An Arizona State University study found that a low-carb diet offered no weight loss advantages when compared to a more traditional diet that features a calorie deficit but no specific rules on nutrient ratios (the study did not look specifically at cycling, with a mix of high- and low-carb days). But it’s important to note that carb cycling is not a low-carb diet, and even if it helps a person lose weight, it may not result in more rapid fat loss.
Others warn that any type of diet that restricts a certain type of food, nutrient, or other dietary behavior is a slippery slope, and that even if it’s successful for a short period of time, lifestyle changes are more effective than diets.
Many of the reviews of carb cycling are anecdotal. With any diet or nutritional plan, it’s smart to set wellness goals rather than physical appearance goals. I’m a big believer in non-scale victories, which have nothing to do with a specific weight or clothing size – things like “I can run further than I could before,” or “I was able to sit more comfortably in an airplane seat.”
I myself took part in a six-week carb cycling program, broken down into the five-day cycle listed above. There were highs and lows, and some surprising positive side effects. For example, by cutting out gluten and dairy, my infant daughter’s eczema significantly improved (I was breast-feeding her at the time), which helped me isolate foods that I might want to avoid moving forward. Also, after some rough days of cutting most sources of sugar out of my diet, I found that foods tasted better without a lot of added sweeteners. And I lost eight pounds over the six weeks.
Although of course, please consult with a medical professional before starting – that is so important, and I am not a registered dietitian myself.