How to Lose Body Fat: Carb Cycling


In this blog post, you're going to learn what I believe is the single most effective way to burn body fat fast!

A strict diet of low calories or low carbohydrates can be hard on the body and the spirit, especially over the long haul. (NO THANK YOU!)

For high-level nutrition programs, one solution to this dilemma is carb cycling. However, I will show you a beginner and an advanced way to utilize carb cycling for fast fat loss!

What is Carb Cycling?

Carb cycling is a planned rotation of carbohydrate intake in order to prevent a fat loss plateau + maintain a revved metabolism along with maintaining workout performance. (sounds too good to be true, huh?)

Carb cycling is considered an advanced high-level nutrition strategy, that's extremely effective. It does require a nutritional approach that involves tracking, weighing and measuring your food, and using an app like MyFitnessPal.

Carb cycling is designed for short-term use. I recommend 12-16 weeks as your max. Long-term use for reducing body fat can have negative effects.

Short Term Versus Long Term Restriction

Carb cycling is designed for short-term use. I recommend 12-16 weeks as your max. Long-term use for reducing body fat can have negative effects.

Before diving in, I think it's important to understand the difference in short term and long term effects of carbohydrate and calorie restriction.

Our bodies handle short-term restriction and even deprivation relatively well, and there are even studies that show massive cardiovascular benefit to short term restriction. However, a long term strict nutritional regimen of low calories or low carbohydrates will have a negative impact on the body.

Our endocrine system, like the HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) is an interconnected web of communicating systems that decide what modifications are needed to keep you alive and functioning healthfully.

Long term restriction is shown to have these key negative effects:

  • reduce metabolic rate, (hello, your body doesn't want to die)
  • downregulated thyroid hormone output (yup your body doesn't want you to die)
  • negative sympathetic nervous system activity
  • Leptin resistance begins (your body holds fat)
  • Reduction in hormone output (reproduction isn't ideal when you're nutrient deprived)

Not only can long term deprivation have consequences for overall health, but it will also bring body composition gains (leanness or muscle mass) to a standstill.

Since you can't just "out diet" your bodies control center, that's where the role of carb cycling performs its magic.

How Carbs Cycling Works + Benefits

  • Planning a higher carbohydrate intake at regular intervals, your body will never get too close to starvation mode (slowing your metabolism)
  • However, fat loss happens by the overall caloric intake being lower than what is expended.
  • Higher carbohydrate intake days increase thyroid output and control hunger.
  • Manipulating carbohydrate intake can also allow athletes the take advantage of certain anabolic hormones, mainly insulin.
  • Insulin regulates amino acid and glucose intake entry into the muscle cells. If insulin is rarely elevated, dieters will not reap its anabolic benefits.

Beginner Version of Carb Cycling

If you're new to tracking macros, but are interested in cycling your carbs for the fat loss benefit then start by implementing the 2 pm cut-off time. What this means is at 2 pm stop eating complex carbs. For the remainder of the day let your only carb source be vegetables.

Prior to 2 pm, have a small portion of complex carbs with each meal. Some of my favorites are rolled oats, grits, sweet potato, quinoa, and brown rice.

Advanced Carb Cycling: What you should know

The common theme behind all methods of carb cycling is that protein and fat intake stay constant while carbohydrate intake is manipulated.

Naturally, carb cycling also involves calorie cycling. Since carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, adjusting carbohydrate intake while keeping fat and protein more or less the same can greatly alter calorie intake.

Your higher carb days are typically referred to as a re-feed day. This is your planned increase in calorie intake that lasts 8 - 12 hours and usually consists of a large increase in carbohydrates.

Re-feeds usually occur when dieting and are scheduled in order to provide a brief day of psychological relief as well as a number of physiological benefits.

An example of a re-feed is following a strict diet of 1500 calories 5 days per week and consuming 2500 calories of clean, nutrient-dense foods on the other 2 days.

The same principles of good nutrition apply equally to "everyday" eating and carb cycling phases, including proper meal frequency, omega-3 fat intake, adequate protein and fiber intake, plenty of vegetables, etc.

What a SAMPLE week looks like:

this is JUST an example so that you can see the difference... this is not the items that have to be included in your plan

My favorite carb cycling method looks like this:


This is a picture of what a carb rotation would look like. In my opinion, Carb rotation is one of the fastest most effective strategies to implement if you're trying to lose body fat. I personally love it and feel great on it. With utilizing this 3 low 1 high 2 low 1 high rotation I never feel hungry and have good energy levels.

As always, if you're on a mission to make a change, and unsure where to start, I would love to link arms with you and get you going. If I'm booked, I will get you in the hands of a trusted coach.

You're just one decision away from a whole new YOU!