NOTE: This is part two, click here for part one!
Editor's Note: This is the second installment in a multipart series on carbohydrate cycling. For those that may have missed the initial installment, it can be found in here.
Many people find a random three-day cycle as outlined in my first installment to be difficult, lifestyle-wise. If this is you, we can resolve this problem relatively easily. Here is one way:
- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday - No carb days
- Tuesday and Saturday - High carb days
- Thursday and Sunday - Low carb days
This schedule assumes a "normal" life. Should your schedule vary, and for the gravediggers and college kids out there, you may want a different plan, but my hope is that this will appeal to the masses, while simultaneous teaching the rest of you how to properly manipulate the diet to match your lifestyle.
Just keep the following concepts in mind:
- Try not to put two no carb days back-to-back
- Certainly do not put two high carb days back-to-back
- Maintain what amounts to (roughly) a weekly ratio of 1:1:1 of the three types of days; and error towards the lower calorie side rather than the high calorie side
The Life-Style Cycle
The Lifestyle Cycle is aptly named. It is designed for those who wish to "live life", enjoy the pleasures of food (and drink), friends, and social gatherings. It is a plan designed for maintenance, not body-fat loss, so you need to be "satisfied" with you current level of fitness. It can be used to get through an extended vacation or a long stretch of holidays (say from Thanksgiving until New Year) while you are otherwise cutting, or a period in your life when improvement is not a priority.
Yes, unlike most authors on the topic of diet I am conceding that (1) there are times when it is acceptable (hell even desirable) to eat for the sake of enjoyment alone, and (2) it is okay to be satisfied and not always seeking to achieve an improved physical state (which is obviously doomed to failure and self-loathing). This Lifestyle Cycle is based on the "ordinary" lifestyle of an "average" individual.
If you have a peculiar way of life or just specific plans on specific days of a specific week, feel free to adjust accordingly so long as you understand the principles at work, and keep the weekly ratios the same. Likewise, if you gain fat easily you may need to cut back some on the gluttony, and the converse is true if you don't.
Here is a weekly cycle that should work nicely for most:
- Monday = No Carb
- Tuesday = Low Carb
- Wednesday = High Carb
- Thursday = No Carb
- Friday = Low carb
- Saturday = High Carb+
- Sunday = Low Carb
Now, if you are paying attention, you are saying to yourself "WTF is high carb+?" And you are probably also thinking, "sounds interesting," as you lick your lips.
Well, it is interesting, and I think you'll like it. It is like a regular high carb day except:
- Any carbs are acceptable for your carb meals
- You may drink alcohol during one of your carb meals
- You must keep fats as low as possible (except continue with fish oil supplementation)
In addition, once every other week, your middle of the week high carb day can have one "high carb+" meal. Implicit in this statement is the fact that this middle of the week high carb day can also be moved.
Wednesday is optimal, but if the big dinner you have planned, or the office party, or hot date, falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, fell free to swap days. I would only warn that if you moved it to Thursday, Friday should become a no carb day, as you'd want to buffer two high carb days with a small period of depletion. So, for example, let's say the hot date fell on a Thursday. I'd recommend switching it up as follows:
- Monday = Low Carb
- Tuesday = No Carb
- Wednesday = Low Carb
- Thursday = High Carb
- Friday = No carb
- Saturday = High Carb+
- Sunday = Low Carb
The Bulk Cycle
Can one bulk while cycling carbs? Of course. Why would one want to? Now that is a more complex question. Essentially, it is a method of bulking while keeping fat gain minimal. The diet is designed to keep your body in a Fed State much of the week, thereby keeping you (mostly) anabolic. Can anyone bulk while cycling carbohydrates? Yes, albeit differently depending on body-type.
First, I am going to discuss how one would bulk if he or she has any endomorphic tendencies. For such an individual, which I expect will be most of us, I recommend three high carb days, three low carb days, and one no carb day. For a pure endomorph, or someone with extreme endomorphic tendencies (i.e. you add body-fat easier than a hypothyroid hippo) you'll want to add an extra no carb day, and eliminate a low carb day, at the very least.
Tweaking for body-type, a pure mesomorph would (typically) be better served doing three high carb days and four low carb days, whereas a pure ectomorph would be best off with the converse: four high carb days and three low carb days. Understand that these are general guidelines and recommended starting places. Few of us are purely any one body-type but rather a blend of the two. So you are best off if you monitor, and tweak, as you go along.
When setting up such a plan for any body type, keep in mind the following principles:
- Try not to stack more than two high carb days back-to-back (save for the endomorph)
- Do not put no carb days back-to-back
- Put your high carb days on days with your most difficult, highest volume workouts
- Put your no carb days on your off days, to the extent possible
- Allow one cheat meal weekly, where you can eat and drink what you like-after all, this is a bulk
Cyclical Diet & Training
Most readers are not just dieting, thankfully. So it's high time we discussed optimizing your cycle with your training. One can tailor a cycle to training, or vice versa. Assuming that time constraints are not an issue, I recommend tailoring the diet cycle to your training when you are bulking, and your training to your diet when cutting. Why? Which takes precedent should vary depending on your (current) goal. When additional muscle is the driving force, training is of paramount importance. But when fat loss is the primary goal, diet drives the cart.
Because of the numerous factors that must be considered when optimizing the two and the innumerable permutations that could result, I am not going to give specific programs. Instead, I will give general guidelines, and offer a single example, based on the standard three-day cutting cycle.
When setting up your total program, use the following guideposts:
- Put your heaviest, hardest, and highest volume workouts on your high carb days.
- Where possible, put your heaviest, hardest, and highest volume workouts after a low carb day. This works well on a maintenance or bulk program, but not so much on a cut (where high carb days generally follow no carb days)
- Put your off days on your no carb days. Or, use these days for cardio work (if you insist on cardio) or you lightest low volume days. For example, active recovery workouts would be ideal here
- When cutting, keep the frequency of workouts, and/or the total volume lower than - you would when bulking
- Now, let's put this to practice. Assume one is cutting, and using the standard three-day cycle: no carb, high carb, low carb, repeat.
I would recommend setting up a four-day or six-day split that is spread out over six days. So, for example, you could do the following:
- Chest and Triceps
- Back and Biceps
- Quads, Hams, and Calves
- Shoulders, Traps, and Forearms
Learn all your proper exercise form, here.
You'd then play this routine as follows:
Good luck, and have fun. And remember, variation and experimentation are the keys to winning the long-term battle of health and self-improvement.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is the point where I pimp some products. However, it is not pimping for the sake of pimping, but rather a discussion on products that can help optimize one variation of this diet or another. So, I will not outline the virtues of Avant products generally, or even discuss, for example, Lipoderm-Y or Ab-Solved (despite the fact that they can be used with this diet effectively). Rather, I will mention but very few products:
- LeptiGen - I am sure all the readers of this article are quite familiar with LeptiGen-its benefits use. Carb cycling will generally allow you to maintain a more aggressive cycle without killing your leptin levels as a Ketogenic diet might, for instance. So, even with moderate LeptiGen dosing one could increase the speed of fat-loss by doing a four day cycle such as: high carb, no carb, low carb, no carb. A higher dose would be necessary to offset anything more extreme. I would not even recommend a cycle akin to the one previously listed unless you are consuming at least two servings of LeptiGen per day.
- LeptiGen Mass - This will be hitting the market in the next few months, and will be beneficial to the bulker. You will be able to alter your cycle by performing less high carb days while still remaining as (or more) anabolic as you would had you kept them in your schedule. LeptiGen Mass will be particularly excellent for the endomorph on no carb days, and for all users on the low carb days.
- ICE - This premier BCAA formula by Xtreme Formulations gets top reviews and is an excellent addition to any carb cycle. I would highly recommend its use before or during training on no carb and low carb days.
- Now Foods Super EPA - This is a terrific product that allows a lower dosing of fish oil given its high EPA/DHA content.
Again, many products can work nicely with this program, but it is beyond the scope of this article to address each and every one of them.
What is the point of all of this? Basically, it is what I initially stated in my first installment. This is a malleable diet than can be tailored to meet specific goals and specific body types. Do I know exactly how you the reader can optimize a cycle? No. But hopefully the above guidelines have empowered you to experiment based on past diet experience. I hope that this has empowered you to explore and understand what is working for you, and what is not, and how to adapt and optimize along the way.
And as a bonus for reading this article, I am offering not one but two orange-juice juicers, as well as a handy-dandy convenient list of fibrous Veggies for your consumption. Corny pun intended.
- Alfalfa Sprouts
- Artichoke Hearts
- Bamboo Shoots
- Bean Sprouts
- Beet Greens
- Bock Choy
- Brussels Sprouts
- Celery Root
- Collard Greens
- Dandelion Greens
- Hearts of Palm
- Millie lettuce
- Snow Pea Pods
- Spaghetti Squash
- String beans
- Summer Squash
- Water Chestnuts
- Wax beans
NOTE: This is part two, click here for part one!
This article appears courtesy of www.mindandmuscle.net