Carb Cycling Q & A

Here you will find what will hopefully be the 'be-all end-all Q & A' on Carbohydrate Cycling. From all of the questions I have received from my previous articles it seems to make sense to post this information.

Since the first article came out, and even more so the second, I have received a bountiful number of questions via email, personal message, or publicly on various boards.

Be sure to read the first parts;

Carbohydrate Cycling: What You Need To Know!

Part 1 | Part 2

I did intend the articles to be all-inclusive, but apparently that is a trick David Copperfield couldn't pull off. So here you will find what will hopefully be the "be-all end-all Q&A" on Carbohydrate Cycling. I should note, however, that this would never have seen the light of day without the significant help of Jodi. Thank you.

Now, I should also mention that this Q&A covers actual questions posed, many of which range from the vastly complex to the excruciatingly simple, and from the highly thoughtful and thought provoking to the purely asinine. Here, I answer them all. But please remember one thing; there is no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid people.

And on that note, on with the show.

[ Q ] I was wondering if the keto test strips are useful while on the TP Carb Cycling plan. My current cycle is:

Mon: No
Tue: No
Wen: High
Thur: Low
Fri: High
Sat: Low
Sun: Low

I would like to use the keto strips before my High-Carb day on Wednesdays.


      A few things:

  • First, the abbreviation for Wednesday is "Wed."

  • Second, to steal a line from Simon, that "plan" is horrific. It's one of the worst I have ever seen. Why don't you actually try "cycling" the days some, if you want to "Carb Cycle." I know the plan I offer has a great deal of flexibility, but come on man.

  • Third, if memory serves the very first paragraph of the first article clearly states that this is not a ketogenic diet. I have to ask, did you read it? This diet has far too many carbs and not enough fats to be ketogenic unless you mutate it into something ludicrous, as you have done.

  • Fourth, let's say we go with your "plan." You may actually enter into ketosis for a fleeting moment before you eat any carbs on Wednesday. But I have to ask, why in god's name do you give a rat's ass if you do? Do you have any clue what, in fact, ketosis is? And why it "might" be beneficial to a dieter?

    Actually, I Don't Have A Clue... What Is Ketosis?
    is a stage in metabolism occurring when the liver has been depleted of stored glycogen and switches to a fasting mode such as occurs during sleep, during dieting, and during the body's response to starvation. Energy from fat is mobilized to the liver and used to synthesize glucose (a process called gluconeogenesis) from lactic acid, glucogenic amino acids, and glycerol carbon substrates.

  • Fifth, let's assume for shits and giggles that you actually enter ketosis and it matters (for what, I have no idea). What the hell are you doing buying keto test strips for on this diet?

    Here is my advice to you. Go read the articles. Then go buy Lyle McDonald's book 'The Ketogenic Diet'. Then read it (I know that might have seemed obvious but...). Then figure out what it is you want to do to lose the blubbering fat that has insulated your brain for so many years.

[ Q ] I read the article about Carb Cycling and I'm planning to start it today but in the article [Twin Peak] is not clear about how much fat one should take in. On my No Carb day I have to take in about 130 grams of fat. Is that acceptable?


      Actually, the first installation does discuss it, and makes recommendations, but you are correct, I don't give exact numbers. Instead, it provides guidelines about how you should consume dietary fat in conjunction with EFA's (essential fatty acids - like fish oil).

Thus, when you add up:

      • Fat from lean protein.
      • Fat from (low-fat) carb sources.
      • Fat from the two higher fat protein meals .
      • Supplemental EFA's.

You should be in the range of 40-60 grams of fat, depending on your bodyweight (as this will determine how much protein and carbs you are consuming). This is each and every day. Fat intake does not increase on No and Low Carb days - and that is intentional.

Due to the title of these articles most people seem to overlook the fact that a significant part of this diet is calorie cycling as well as carbohydrate cycling. So to answer the question, no, 130 grams of fat is not acceptable. It is neither necessary, nor desirable.

[ Q ] Is the fat from fish oil taken at 10-20g/day, counted as part of the Carb Cycling diet? i.e., using the Basic Plan (4 meals of lean protein, 2 of a higher fat protein), does taking 10g of fish oil substitute for other fat sources that you would otherwise take (PB, flax, mayo, etc)?


      No. This diet allows for a small amount of dietary fat (derived from either the two fatty protein sources allowed daily, or from an added source like flax oil, olive oil, natural peanut butter, mayonnaise, etc.) and supplemental EFA's, and again, with a strong preference for fish oil.

I am changing my current recommendation of fish oil, however, as follows:

      • Endomorph: 10+ grams of oil per day.
      • Mesomorph: 6 grams of oil per day.
      • Ectomorph: 2 grams of oil per day.

Further, this dosage would be halved, if supplementing with SesaThin, as everyone should. Lastly, as my dosage recommendations have gone down some for Mesomorphs and Ectomorphs, both should add one extra higher fat protein meal daily.

[ Q ] What is the difference between Carb Cycling and the Atkins diet? Basically on Atkins you eliminate your carbs, is that what you do with Carb Cycling? Does Carb Cycling burn fat?


    What is the difference between heavy metal and Jazz? They are nothing alike. Period. And no, it does not "burn fat." I am not even certain what does burn fat, but a blowtorch might be a good start.

[ Q ] What are good refeed foods when Carb Cycling?


    You don't refeed per se when you follow this form of Carb Cycling. Or rather, there are built-in higher calorie days. In addition, these higher calorie days are higher because of increased carbohydrate consumption. As well, the types of carbs you are permitted to eat are limited and are fully outlined in my first installment - so shame on you for asking.

[ Q ] With Carb Cycling what do you mean by carb meals?


    I'd answer this question, but I am too busy banging my head against the wall. Go read the articles.

[ Q ] Do you supplement with fish oil with your carb meals or do you take it with your protein only meals on Low and High Carb days?


    I don't believe that there is an appreciable difference either way so long as you take it daily.

[ Q ] Can you get most of your carb sources from veggies, other than pre and post workout (when I eat oatmeal or oat bran)?


      I wouldn't rely solely on veggies for carbs, unless you are eating high carb vegetable sources such as corn, peas, spinach, squash, etc.

However, if you are consuming sufficient quantities of these types of vegetable and eating plenty of oats pre- and post-workout, I don't see why this should not work. My only concern would be whether you were packing away enough calories on your High Carb days.

[ Q ] I noticed avocados are on the carb list, but they're also pretty high in fat. Should they be counted as a fat source as well?


      Yes, avocados are fat sources too. I believe I stated this in the first installment, if memory serves.

If not, shame on me; if so, shame on you.

[ Q ] Is the high protein content in every meal a necessary aspect? Right now, my protein content for each meal (in grams) is about 20/65/10/10/10/65. Is the primary purpose of the high protein in each meal to limit appetite, at least to some degree?


    To a certain degree yes, though it is not the sole concern. You have to remember that this diet is written as a whole, to make it easy to follow in the short and the long term. As well, it is intended to be (relatively) simple to follow. I'd certainly recommend trying to get in the minimum protein at each meal, and at a minimum would suggest doubling the three smallest quantities.

[ Q ] Regarding fat consumption - I don't really eat meat, though 2-3 times a week I may have chicken, fish, or tuna. But on a daily basis I have protein shakes and whole eggs. So, I need to know how much dietary fat to add to my shakes.

I am currently adding a tablespoon of Udo's Choice in each shake which is 100 or so calories, but I'm doing a ketogenic diet now, so I would assume that amount would be less when I switch to this diet. Also is this amount consistent across all types of days.


      First, if you don't eat meat, and are following a ketogenic diet, you will find this much easier. Second, you can easily follow this diet with what you have outlined. Four of your six daily meals can come from chicken, fish, tuna, protein shakes, egg whites, and any other lean protein sources you will eat.

Add to that two higher fat protein meals, such as whole eggs, or a fatty cut of fish, a protein shake with a tablespoon of Udos, or even a tablespoon of peanut butter. On top of that take your fish oil, and sesamin as outlined and you'll be all set. And yes, the amount of fat consumed is consistent across all days.

[ Q ] Regarding a post-workout meal, under the "High Carb Day" section, you state "The meal preceding and following your workouts must be a carbohydrate meal."

This is reiterated in the "Low Carb Day" section. Fast forward to your "Post Workout Nutrition" and you mention having a protein only meal after working out, as one of the options (followed by a carb meal, on carb days).

Is it optional to have carbs after you workout if your goal is to lose fat?


      Yes... and no. Which I suppose is why I seemingly contradicted myself. Ectos and Mesos should have carbs immediately following the workout. Endos however, can have a whey only shake, immediately after that last rep- so long as

    1. The next meal is a carb meal.

    2. That meal is no more than 90 minutes after the workout.

[ Q ] I may get chewed out, but I really do think that I am a carb sensitive person, because I've noticed that when I do eat carbs, I get very bad headaches and generally feel like crap - almost like a carb hangover.

I'm not sure if this will be the case with a clean carb up. But I was thinking I should probably ease my way into the three-day cycle. So, in the meantime how is the following Cycle: Low, No, Hi, No, Low, No, Low.


      Well, there is a good shot that you will f*ck up your metabolism like this. However, it also sounds like your metabolism is already f*cked. I am speculating that your reaction to carbs is because you have been eating no carbs for too long, and/or when you do splurge, it is on higher GI carbs, and you aren't responding well to those.

I'd recommend that you begin with the Basic Plan and try to acclimate. I'd wager that after two weeks, you start shedding the fat. If after four weeks you see no results, then cut back.

[ Q ] How do you account for high cortisol levels in the morning, especially on No Carb days? From my understanding, quality carbs in the morning suppress cortisol levels. On a No Carb day, could this not be detrimental in terms of maintaining muscle?


      Cortisol schmortisol. No, seriously, the flip-side of the coin is that you are not secreting insulin and so are burning quite a bit of fat at this time.

However, you can consume some whey or BCAA's (like ICE as soon as you wake up, which should protect you from (significant) muscle catabolism.

[ Q ] Your carb-cycling program leaves out dairy - pretty much entirely (I hardly even count cottage cheese since I can't stand the stuff).

I know most dairy products are insulin potentiators (although cottage cheese is too, come to think of it), but could you replace 1 or 2 of your fruit servings with a fat-free dairy source (i.e. skim milk or unsweetened yogurt) and use galactose in lieu of fructose [to induce the Fed State(TM)]?


      Yes you can, if you have had success cutting with diary in the past. Many people have "food allergies" that are mostly unknowable/undetectable. Such people will find it difficult to lose fat while consuming foods to which one is allergic (absent an extreme caloric deficit).

Milk is one such food item that many people have such "allergies" to. I am one. I find it very difficult to drop fat when consuming milk. I know many others with similar experiences- cut the milk, and the fat comes off.

So in sum, I recommend leaving dairy out (mostly) when cutting. It's great for maintenance or bulking, though. But if you can handle milk well, go for it. If progress halts, look here first. Also, keep in mind that fruit should not be replaced completely for dairy, but once a day would be fine.

[ Q ] As far as the carb choices go I would say that I would choose oatmeal/oat bran 95% of the time but how are things such as Cheerios or a Bran Flake type cereal?


    Read the box, those tend to have added sugar and are not recommended. Could you use them on occasion with success, sure? But I'd start without them, and ad them in once you know how you are proceeding without them.

[ Q ] I eat far more than 6 times a day, more towards 8-10. Would I simply keep the number of carb meals the same on the given days and eat less protein at each meal?


    Yes. We want to limit the number of times you cause an insulin spike. By the way, do you actually have time to do things other than eat?

[ Q ] I was wondering if you can you do two Low Carb days in a row? Or two No Carb days back-to-back? Lastly, should I be doing Carb Cycling non stop until I lose how much weight I want?


      Yes, two Low Carb days in a row are very doable. However, you are still better off rotating the days. Two No Carb days back-to-back are not a great idea, generally.

In other words, do not devise a plan that includes this. However, doing this can be a great tweak down the road, every so often if one has been dieting for an extended period, or as a contest approaches.

To answer your final question - absolutely. Indeed, you can make Carb Cycling a lifestyle if it works for you. My second installment outlines how one can manipulate the diet for maintenance or bulking, or even during a vacation or "off-period."

Of course, these diets are not as strict all the time with regard to food choices - it would be impossible (for most) to live forever on the restricted lists I provide.

[ Q ] On High Carb days is it wise to consume any additional fat beyond fish oil?


    Wise? You could probably consume a bit less than other days, and be fine with it, but fat is relatively low to begin with so it's not necessary to reduce it further. Also, recall that there is benefit to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

[ Q ] Is it worth using an ergogenic aid such as Kreatine Ultra or Swole2 if your main goal is fat loss? Of course any muscle gained is gravy, which is why I ask.


      Worthwhile? That is an interesting choice of words. Well, as with any supplement one must weigh the cost (relative to ones disposable income) against the benefit.

So whether it is "worthwhile" is an individual question. I will say that such products may help you maintain an anabolic environment and certainly will help with muscle maintenance.

Further, many have reported significant muscle gain while Carb Cycling. So yes, such products would be very beneficial.

[ Q ] Regarding the small serving of fruit that one is to consume with the carb meals, specifically on the Low Carb day, would it count towards that meal's total carbohydrate grams?

Like if one was shooting for 75 grams/meal and the fruit contained 15, should only 60 grams of the other sources be consumed?


    Do you really think 30 grams of fruit carbs every three days is going to make that much of a difference? Probably not. I'd suggest not counting it toward your carb meals, and down the road, if you need to tweak things a tad (hopefully you won't) this could be one way.

[ Q ] Even though dextrose isn't on your approved list, would it be beneficial to consume say 30 grams of it during a workout, and then subtract 15 grams of carbs from two of my meals.


      Well, I really don't like to see simple sugars on this plan when cutting, unless you are an ectomorph. That said, if you are a dextrose lover, you can do this; but I'd rather not see you create an "extra" carb meal.

Instead, consume one meal's worth during the workout and consider that a carb meal.

[ Q ] I realize this is a rather general question, but how would you modify the basic plan if one had a goal of steady recomposition in mind?


      This is addressed more fully in my

second installment

      , but you need to keep in mind that it would very much depend on the individual.

Generally, I would start with 3 High Carb, 2 Low, and 2 No Carb days weekly, and adjust from there. A better way to personalize this would be to vary it weekly, assuming your workout program varies.

Indeed, I am putting together a comprehensive training and diet plan (that will be tailored to body-types) in the near future. I have been working with Derek (Beast) on this very thing, and it is going extremely well.

[ Q ] Is it best to precede a High Carb day with a No Carb day when possible?


      Physiologically, I don't think it much matters. Do what works best for you psychologically. For example, I prefer following my No Carb days with a High Carb day. Why?

It is easier to get through a No Carb day knowing that tomorrow I get to eat up. Others find that the carry over fullness of a High Carb day helps them get through the No Carb day. See what works best for you.

[ Q ] Is there anything wrong with splitting up the protein intake for a single meal over a pre and post workout drink (and thus considering it to be one meal)? Same would apply to carbs on carb days.


    As to protein, feel free to split it up; for carbs I would not (for reasons that should be obvious if you read the articles, and the preceding Q & A's).

[ Q ] For purposes of fueling the day's activities, it would seem best to place the High Carb days on the days I do the higher rep "hypertrophy" workouts, the Low Carb days on the strength workout days and the No Carbs on rest days.

I could however also see an argument made to place the High Carbs on strength days, allowing the hypertrophy workouts to deplete glycogen to some degree, increasing fat burning. Any suggestions on this?


    Surely debatable, but I like your first suggestion best. By far.

[ Q ] The article was a little unclear. In the High-carb section you say "your other two meals should be protein only".

I've been continuing to have my two meals with higher-fat protein on high-carb days; did you intend for the high-carb days to be 6 meals of lean protein (because of high insulin levels and general overfeeding) or the normal four meals lean and two meals higher fat protein?


    T'wasn't unclear-at least to me. I do state that fat doesn't change from day-to-day - so to answer your question, the latter.

[ Q ] Would popcorn (I'm thinking the "97% Fat Free" kind that's basically plain popcorn + a few chemicals) count as corn and thus a starchy veggie for High Carb days? It obviously has a decent amount of fiber, but I'm wondering since I haven't been able to find a good online listing of its GI.


      I have seen conflicting reports, but I am pretty sure that it is a high GI food.

So I'd stay away from it when cutting, save as a rare treat on the occasional High Carb days.

Learn The GI Of Popcorn Here...

[ Q ] If I include Salmon in my diet can I not consume fish oil?



      You should be having 1-2 meals that are higher in fat regardless of the fish oil.

Red meat, eggs, salmon, shark, swordfish plus include the fish oil caps throughout the day.

However, as mentioned above, you can halve the dosing if you are supplementing with sesamin oil.

[ Q ] Can someone recommend which brand or type of protein would be best on this diet? I heard straight whey was bad because it processes [is digested] too fast, although I do add fat to it occasionally.

I currently use Ultimate Whey protein. It also needs to be low in carbs.


      Whey is generally fine, and indeed preferable post workout. Since this plan has you eating frequently, there is no concern to be had that the whey will get absorbed too quickly - it won't since your next meal can't be far away.

The only exception is that if your last meal of the day will be a shake use casein based protein.

[ Q ] When bulking is it necessary to include the small piece of fruit with the carb meals on high and low carb days in order to enhance the Fed signal?

I am wondering, since the individual is already in a mild state of caloric excess, if the fructose in this case is going to be more likely to spill over into adipose stores in this instance?

I have greatly enjoyed including fruit while on a cutting diet, as I have never done so previously, and would certainly welcome the opportunity to keep it in the diet while on a bulk.


    The fruit is not as important when bulking as it is when cutting. However, you can and should keep it in, particularly on low carb days. Remember, we are talking about relatively low amounts of fruit to begin with, and the fiber and vitamins more than offset any (minimal) fat gain.

[ Q ] What is the benefit to have Low Carbs and No carbs days? Do you think it is useful to burn more fat? Or is to deplete glycogen and get a better refeeding?


      My thoughts on this are pretty well outlined in my first installment; in sum, there are psychological benefits to having High Carb days, as well as physiological benefits (lepton stimulation, etc) and the No Carb days offset those, and still keep you in a weekly calorie deficit.

As well, those days lipolysis will be high because calories will be low, and insulin will be non-existent.

So no, the point is most definitely not depletion for the sake of supra-compensation, though regular depletion in and of itself is very useful (if not necessary) to optimize fat burning.

[ Q ] I was wondering how you would set up a Carb Cycle for an athlete, in particular a football player in-season. I was thinking of using High Carb days around game day, while having Low Carb days around the training during the week.


    If you are looking to drop a few pounds during the season, I would have your High Carb day the day before the game, and a Low Carb day the day of the game. You'd want either a high or low carb day the day after for recovery, and then you could throw in a No Carb day the day after.

[ Q ] If I'm taking an E/C stack while Carb Cycling, should I avoid taking it on the High Carb day due to the increased insulin resistance, or is it a non-issue?


      Its partitioning effects would be a plus, so it's a non-issue, as far as I am concerned.

That said, what the hell are you doing with an old E/C stack when you can be using Avant's new H.E.A.T. Stack?

[ Q ] Sometimes I'm hungry between meals. Should I just eat a piece of protein and then continue with my planned meal later?


    Don't eat between meals. Instead, if you are still hungry once you eat your planned meal, then just eat a little bit more protein but do not eat in between.

[ Q ] What if I am so f*cking anal retentive that I can't do this plan without exact numbers?




Well folks, I hope that was helpful and at least moderately enjoyable. I am sure that you will still have many questions, so feel free to continue to post them on the forum, or email them to me at -- maybe they will make their way into a follow-up Q & A.

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