Carb cycling is a very effective nutrition strategy for losing fat fast while maintaining and building muscle. You can easily transform your body in as little as 12 weeks if you follow a good carb cycling plan to the T. The concept is pretty simple. From a high level perspective you have several low carb days (50 – 75g of carbs or less) followed by a higher carb. The amount of carbs one eats on a higher carb day will vary from person to person based on their height, weight, age, activity level and several other factors. When it comes to the amount of fat you eat it will pretty much flip on high carb days vs low carb days. On high carb days your fats will be lower and on low carb days your fats will be higher. Protein remains consistent on all days. Why this technique is so effective will be discussed in a later article but know that this technique can help you achieve rapid fat loss if followed properly. For a more in depth look at how carb cycling works be sure to check out my video on Carb Cycling for Extreme Fat Loss.
So now you know how to carb cycle from a high level perspective but I also want you to know that not all foods are created equal. This is especially true when it comes to carbohydrates. To reap the maximum possible benefits from this approach you have to be smart about your food choices. The goal is to keep out blood glucose levels consistent and avoid any unnecessary spikes.
A general rule of thumb is to use faster digesting proteins like whey following a workout.
For the remainder of the day you would want to eat slower digesting proteins that come from whole food sources like eggs, poultry, beef, and fish. This will help to keep your blood glucose levels steady.
When it comes to carbs you typically want carbs that are slower digesting and high in fiber. These carbohydrates usually have a lower glycemic index as well as a lower glycemic load value. The only time you would want a faster digesting carb, like a simple sugar, would be post workout. Carbs that have a lower glycemic load will help to prevent your blood glucose levels from spiking. The added fiber will also act as a buffer to prevent insulin spikes. The difference between the glycemic index and the glycemic load is that the glycemic load takes into consideration the fact that you’ll be eating other foods as well, which has an impact on how fast these carbohydrates will digest. This is important because this number will give you a more accurate idea as to how much a certain food will affect your blood sugar levels.
The best fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated fats, found mostly in vegetable oils, help lower both blood cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels – especially when you substitute them for saturated fats. One type of polyunsaturated fat is omega-3 fatty acids, whose potential heart-health benefits have gotten a lot of attention.
Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but solidify if refrigerated. These heart-healthy fats are typically a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, a nutrient often lacking in American diets. They can be found in olives; avocados; hazelnuts; almonds; Brazil nuts; cashews; sesame seeds; pumpkin seeds; and olive, canola, and peanut oils.
You should now have a general idea of what to look for in your protein, carbs, and fat sources. Below is a list of foods that meet our criteria and should be primarily used when carb cycling. Eating these foods will help set you up for success in your fat loss efforts.
|Legumes||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fat||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Kidney Beans (boiled)||100 g||127||9||25||0.5||29||7|
|Garbanzo Beans(boiled)||100 g||164||9||30||2.6||31||9|
|Pinto Beans(boiled)||100 g||143||9||26||0.7||33||8|
|Soy Beans(boiled)||100 g||147||13||11||7||15||1|
|Black Beans(boiled)||100 g||132||9||24||0.5||30||7|
|Vegetables||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fat||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Carrots (peeled & boiled)||80 g||33||0.7||7.7||0.2||33||2|
|Green Beans||100 g||17||0||3.3||0.8||0||0|
|Fruit||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fat||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Nuts||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fat||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Macadamia Nuts||28 g||201||2.2||3.9||21.2||0||0|
|Grains||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fat||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Pumpernickel Bread||30 g||75||2.6||14.3||0.9||56||7|
|Whole wheat Bread (varies)||30 g||77||3.5||14||1.4||77||9|
|Whole-wheat pasta||180 g||223||9.6||47.8||1||58||29|
|Oats (steel cut)||¼ cup||150||5||27||2.5||57||14|
|Rice Cakes||28 g||111||2||23||1.2||82||17|
|Brown Rice (Uncle Bens)||1 cup prepared||170||4||36||1.5||48||20|
|Sweet Potatoes||168 g||151||3.4||34.8||0.3||77||16|
|All-Bran™ breakfast cereal (high-fiber, extruded wheat bran cereal)||½ cup||80||4||23||1||30||4|
|Dairy||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fat||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Milk (reduced fat 2%)||8 oz||122||8.1||12.3||4.8||30||4|
|Almond Milk (Regular)||8 fl oz||60||1||8||2.5||Unknown||Unknown|
|Almond Milk (Unsweetened)||8 fl oz||30||1||1||2.5||Unknown||Unknown|
|Greek Yogurt Full Fat Plain||227 g||210||20||7||11||14||27|
|Greek Yogurt 2% Plain||227 g||160||23||7||4.5||27||27|
|Greek Yogurt 0% Plain||227 g||120||23||7||0||27||27|
|Whey Protein Isolate||25 g||90||22||1||0||0||0|
|Casein Protein||34 g||120||24||3||1||0||0|
|Poultry||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fat||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast||100 g||110||23.1||0||1.2||0||0|
|93% Ground Turkey||100 g||150||18.7||0||8.3||0||0|
|Whole Eggs||45 g||70||5.7||0.5||4.8||0||0|
|Egg Whites||45 g||23||4.9||0.3||0||0||0|
|Beef||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fat||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|90% Lean Ground Beef||100 g||179||19.6||0||9.8||0||0|
|93% Lean Ground Beef||100 g||152||20.9||0||7||0||0|
|96% Lean Ground Beef||100 g||116||21.4||0||3.6||0||0|
|Top Sirloin||100 g||212||19.5||0||14.2||0||0|
|Filet mignon||100 g||179||28.1||0||6.6||0||0|
|Pork||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fat||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Seafood||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fat||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Atlantic Mackerel||100 g||205||18.6||0||13.9||0||0|
|Fats||Serving Size||Calories||Protein||Carbs||Fat||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||0.5 fl oz||120||0||0||14||0||0|
|Flax Seed Oil||0.5 fl oz||120||0||0||14||0||0|
|Peanut Butter||0.6 oz||94||4||3||8.1||14||Unknown|
|Almond Butter||0.6 oz||101||2.4||3.4||9.5||0||0|
Carb cycling is a great tool if you’re looking to lose fat fast. There are plenty of foods to choose from between your high and low carb days. This is only a partial list of foods that would be a good fit while carb cycling. Using the guidelines from this article you should be able to add foods to this list that meet your needs.I hope that this list was helpful to point you in the right direction. If you’re interested in designing a meal plan based on carb cycling be sure to check out our Carb Cycling Calculator and our new Meal Plan Generator.
If you are interesting in learning more about carb cycling or how you can transform your body in as little as 12 weeks, be sure to check out my coaching page and shoot me a message. I would be thrilled to help guide you on your fat loss journey. I hope you found this article helpful and as always, happy carb cycling!