Carb cycling: Fat burning tool
Carb cycling is one of the tools that people use while cutting. However, it can also be used to maintain your weight as well as to add lean muscle mass to your frame.
In order to get the most from it, you should familiarize yourself with high, moderate, low and no carbs days. Also, there is something called re-feed days which is very similar.
This simple technique can help you achieve desired weight, without torturing the thyroid or slowing down your metabolism. Carb cycling helps prevent the yo-yo effect, associated with weight loss.
CARBS AND METABOLISM CONNECTION
Total calorie intake and daily amount of carbohydrates we consume are correlated with our metabolism. Metabolism is regulated by the thyroid gland. If you are on low or no carbs diet for longer period of time, you can screw-up the thyroid.
Triiodothyronine or T3 is thyroid hormone which helps metabolise glucose and fatty acids. If your total caloric and carbohydrate intake is low, the body will decrease production of TSH, T4 and T3, accordingly. Same thing happens with hormone leptin.
When there is no food for days or week, the body will slow down metabolism, by reducing production of leptin and thyroid hormones. It is one of its survival mechanisms that helps save enough fuel for brain function and essential body systems.
AVOID YO-YO EFFECT WITH CARB CYCLING
This explains why some people experience the yo-yo efect, while trying to lose weight. During the diet and being in caloric deficit, the body decreases output of leptin as well as thyroid hormones via the hypothalamic pituitary thyroid axis.
After reaching desired weight, people bump up calories and carbs up to maintenance level or higher. However, the body needs few days to return to its previous state until T3 and leptin levels come back to the normal, as they were before the cut.
People that do this to quickly or the ones that lost weight by starving their-self, usually get very familiar with the yo-yo effect. However, carb cycling is the smart solution which can help avoid this kind of problems.
HIGH CARBS DAYS
High carb days are best suited for training days, especially if you are working out intense or preforming high volume training.
Good example of these type of workouts are sprinting drills or weight training as well as HIIT and crossfit workouts. Having high carb meal along with protein and some fats, following these workouts, can help in recovery, by replenishing depleted glycogen stores.
LOW TO MODERATE CARBS
This type of carb cycling is best suited for low to moderate intensity activities. Good example of this type of workouts are burpees and slow paced cardio exercises such as jogging, cycling and swimming.
However, marathons which are by definiton slow paced activites are actually high intensity activities, due to their duration. For them high carb days as well as carb loading are much better choice.
NO CARBS OR LOW CARBS
You can drastically lower your carbs or restrict them completely, during rest days. Since your total energy expenditure is lower, the body will work just fine on protein and fats.
However, you can also use this technique in combination with slow paced cardio exercises, too. This combination can be very helpful, when it comes to weight loss.
Refeed days are a tool of their own. However, they can work extremely well in combination with carb cycling. They are best suited for people that are trying to lose weight and are on low carbs diet.
After being in calorie deficit and on low carb diet for few days, weight loss and your metabolism can slow down. By shocking the body with refeed day, we can bump up metabolism, improve leptin sensitivity as well as raise T3 and leptin levels, just by raising total calories and especially carbs to restore glycogen levels in the muscles.
This way, you can continue losing weight, while keeping your metabolism and the hormones which regulate it, at normal levels. The point is, refeed days and carb cycling can significantly reduce the risk of yo-yo effect, while trying to burn excess body fat.
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