One of the greatest challenges while dieting maintaining peak performance so you can continue with high intensity training which is one of the keys to successful fat loss. It’s a well-known fact that good muscle building stimulation from hard training while dieting is crucial to maintaining muscle mass. So it seems that we must lift heavy weight or even heaver while at the same time we have to be under our daily maintenance calorie intake.
It’s not easy I’ll tell you that, I’m currently 8 weeks into cutting and not only did I manage to keep the same weights like before I even lift heavier and do the most intense workout so far in my fitness experience. I believe this is the only thing that’s keeping my muscles from breaking apart, body won’t get try to get rid of muscle when you are using them at 120%. :D Last year when I was cutting I tried doing lesser weight, more sets and focused on low intensity cardiovascular exercise like walking. My diet was a variation of low carbohydrate meal plan with increased fat and protein intake and it was CRAP (now I know :D). I lost size, strength and of course I did lose fat (got to 10% bf) but in the end I wasn’t happy with my physique at the time.
Lowering my carb intake was the worst move ever, exercise performance suffered and the pump was horrible. Even though this diet was recommended to me by many experts well at least by people who I thought were experts at the time it was a mistake. Unfortunately for us a diet mistake like this can have a huge impact on your physique, changing a workout plan can’t be that wrong even if you “miss” a couple of exercises you’ll still get results, but with dieting this one thing alone ruined my 1 cutting period (12 weeks), well at least I learned from it and got some experience.
How to find your minimum required amount of carbohydrate necessary to keep strength and intensity?
Reason why I used word “your” is because this is a variable that changes for each individual. I personally enjoy Cycling my carbohydrates on workout days depending on muscle group and the amount of training I will do on the specific day. As a minimum I don’t recommend ever going under 150 grams of carbohydrates, there is basically no reason to go under that number. If you want to lose weight you know that your overall calorie intake needs to be under maintenance, this has nothing to do with carbs, fat and protein ratios.
These ratios should be tweaked depending on your goals. I don’t increase my carbs and lower my fat because I hate fat or love carbs it’s just something you have to find the right amount to suit your needs. Since I’m a fitness athlete higher carb intake is needed, my intakes vary from 150 to 250g. On chest day which is very important to me I will do 250g of carbs but on rest/cardio days I’ll do 150g, this approach gave the best results for so far.
Only down side of Carb cycling for weight loss I know of is that it’s quite complicated if you compare it your regular diet. You need to change intake every day and re-calculate the intake every once in a while, but from my experience the harder it is to follow through the better results you get in the end.
Steps to determine your carbohydrate intake:
- Find your ideal carbohydrate source (mine is brown rice and oats) – If you are gluten intolerant you can replace oats with gluten free oats or sweet potato, just make sure to up your Fiiber intake from other sources
- Don’t change workout and diet at the same time – It’s very important that you stick with the same routine while finding the right number of carbs, if you change too much at once you’ll never know what works.
- Don’t use new supplements and don’t stop using present ones – Same as workout, if you change a supplement for example stop taking creatine and at the same time decrease carbs weight scale will show crazy numbers and you won’t know if its water weight, actually weight etc…
- Keep the carb intake going for 2 weeks before changing – I recommend a 2 week period of testing, this will allow plenty of time to see if the ratio is working or not.
My suggestion is to use a starting point of 200g on days you workout the smaller muscle groups like arms and shoulders. Increase the intake to 250 on back, chest and legs days.
The low intakes (around 150g) are ideal for weekends, rest or Cardio fat burning days since you don’t need that much energy. I’ve also noticed that this approach allows me to stay much leaner while packing on muscle while above maintenance calories on workout days.
Will too much carbohydrate intake decrease fat loss and stop weight loss?
The answer is NO. Weight loss depends on only calorie intake, if it’s lower than you expand your body won’t have a choice but to dig in fat reserves and start using fat to compensate for “missing” energy. “So I can eat as much carbs as I want??” Not really, if your goal is to be healthy and build muscle first thing you need to ensure is high protein intake like 2-3g per kg of lean body weight and a minimum 60g of fat ( mono saturated and omega 3 rich fat sources like nuts and fish oil) to ensure proper body functions. The remaining calorie intake can be used for carbohydrates, so basically the limit of carbohydrates is only related to your goal if it’s muscle building or fat loss.
Share your opinions on carbohydrate intake in the comment section below. I would love to hear your input on this.
Stay awesome and good luck with your fitness goals.