Hi everyone, it’s me again. Been a few busy days and I finally got time to write for you guys. As you probably don’t know I’ve been on a cutting diet for more than 1 week now while preparing for a photo shoot. During these couple of years I’ve tried different approaches to fat loss and it took me a while to find the ideal one. Some of the more popular diets I’ve tried and wasn’t happy with: low carb/high fat, high carb/low fat and cycling ketogenic diet.
Picking a wrong diet was very frustrating, I was shocked to see how fast my muscles go away when I was reaching single digit body fat levels. Biggest Muscle loss problems seem to come from arms and shoulders, a year of shoulder training and intense workouts and you lose most of the size in just 4 weeks with a bad diet and if you are lucky you’ll lose some of the stubborn fat on lower abs area. Stubborn fat is the hardest to lose, in the end I had a feeling that for every gram of fat I lost 1cm on my arms. The numbers didn’t look good. :) Luckily for me it didn’t take long and a lot of mistakes to find what works for me.
As you could read above my biggest challenge when dieting for fat loss was to minimize muscle loss while still burning some fat. When it comes to keeping muscles genetics aren’t my strongest point and to make this work I had to eat a lot more carbs. Realizing that my body responds well to higher carb intake raises the question why didn’t I just go with the high carb / low fat diet. Unfortunately constant carb intake kept my insulin levels high all the time thus my fat burning capacity was very bad. I was forced to search for other options and thankfully I found the right one. The diet I’m referring to is called carb cycling.
Core concept of this diet is switching between low, medium and high carbohydrate intake each day so in the end you get less muscle loss and high energy on some days and increase fat burning on other. Typical carb cycling diet consists of 3 low carb, 2 medium and 2 high carb days.
Fitness and muscle models usually choose to do 2 top priority muscle groups workouts on the days with higher carb intake to prevent muscle loss while utilizing the 3 low carb days for increased fat burn like on the picture :).
General rule of all diets is that we have to expand more energy from food than we intake, it’s not much different with carb cycling except that calorie intake may vary each day which can prevent weight loss plateaus and will help retain muscle mass.
First step – BMR
For now as an example let’s say our BMR is 2040 kcal.
Second step – Add activity level and goal
Add activity to BMR. Most of you guys who are doing 1-2h of training each day need to multiply BMR x 1.6 to get your daily expenditure. If you are inactive with a desk job use 1.2 multiplier, if you have a physical job multiply by 1.8-2.0.
BMR x 1.6 = 3264 kcal. So if you consume 3264 kcal your weight will remain the same.
For weight loss we need to consume 20% less calories. 3264 kcal – 652 = 2612 kcal.
Third step - Defining Macro nutrients on medium carb days
First we define protein intake. I generally recommend you eat 1.5g of protein per lbs of bodyweight. This amount remains the same on all days.
Example: 200 pound individual would ingest 300g of protein each day. (1200 kcal)
For fat loss on medium carb days I recommend 1.25g of carbs per lbs of bodyweight.
Example: 200 pounds individual would ingest 250g of carbs on moderate days. (1000 kcal)
1200 kcal (protein) + 1000 kcal (carbs) = 2200kcal
Since our fat loss calorie intake goal is 2612kcal we have 412 kcal left, those will be from fat.
412 kcal from fat is 45g of fat. This will be our fat intake for every day. So on medium carb day we consume:
- 300g – Protein
- 250g – Carbohydrates
- 45g -Fat
Fourth Step – Define carb intake for other days
So our base carb intake is 250g in our example. On high carb days you will consume 125% of that value and on low days it will be 75% of that value. That gives us 312g carbs on high days and 187g of carbs on low carb days. Let us recap.
High carb day:
- 300g – Protein
- 312g – Carbohydrates
- 45g – Fat
- 300g – Protein
- 187g – Carbohydrates
- 45g – Fat
Check out an example of some of my meals packed in plastic containers on the picture below. I usually bring these to work with me, and ye it tastes even better than it looks :)
Each container is packed with:
- Steamed chicken breast
- Green biza and beans
- Brown rice
Sample Carb Cycling Meal Plan and Calculator for Weight Loss
I’ve composed a Microsoft Excel file with a calculator inside to help you determine your daily calorie intake goals and make it much easier for you to plan meals. You can download it on the link below.
Crucial factor for minimizing muscle loss is training with high intensity and heavy work load which is much easier to accomplish with this diet. When I was on low carb and ketogenic diets I had problems maintaining High intensity during workout, the lack of energy was noticeable and my body was suffering. I’ll get more into Carbohydrate Cycling and Workouts in part 2 of this article.
Stay awesome and good luck with your fitness goals.
If you find this article helpful leave a comment below. Thank you :)
Part 2 is live. Check it out!