A lot of celebs have spruiked the benefits of cutting carbs from their diet. But, you don't have to take such drastic measures – there is a plan that lets you have your bread and eat it, too!
Carb cycling is having a major moment right now, with everyone from Kim Kardashian to Julianne Hough advocating the trend. Even Aussie stunner Lara Worthington spills that she enjoys pizza "at least twice a week."
"It's been an incredibly useful tool in effective diet planning for decades and I swear by it," explains celebrity personal trainer David Kingsbury – whose client roster has included Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal.
"Name a movie for which I've trained the leading cast, and I can guarantee I've had them all carb cycling."
In his book The Sweet Potato Diet, fitness guru Michael Morelli writes that you can lose more than 5kg in two weeks with the plan.
Read on to see whether it's right for you!
Here's the issue with carbohydrates: You need them to power through your workouts, but eating too many can contribute to fat storage and excess kilos. That's why carb cycling for weight loss might be the happy medium we've all been looking for.
Carb cycling allows you to alter your carb intake according to your plans for the week. On days when you're crushing it at the gym you can consume more carbs, allowing your body to burn through them (along with fat) for energy instead of protein. This allows the muscle-building nutrient to focus on doing its job.
But on your days off training, eating extra carbs could encourage your body to store that unused glucose in your fat cells. By eating less carbs on a rest day, your body turns to fat for energy instead of the sugary and starchy foods it usually gobbles up.
The idea is that by being strategic about when and how you eat carbs (your body's preferred fuel source for exercise), you can more efficiently power your workouts and achieve better results in terms of both performance and body composition.
For those days when you're not hitting the gym and doing a full-body workout, there are definite weight-loss benefits to munching on fewer carbs.
"You don't need to be hoarding all these extra calories if they're not going to be used," dietician Georgie Fear explains.
"Unlike your fat and protein intake, your carb needs vary from one day to the next."
Swapping carbs for protein and vegies is also great for your waistline, as it becomes harder to overeat. And that's not the only benefit! Carb cycling can also help to preserve muscle mass, assist with muscle recovery, reduce body fat, maintain a steady metabolism, boost energy levels and balance hormones.
It can be seen as flexible dieting as well, so you're not limited in how you approach each week. It means you can still go out and socialise and enjoy your favourite foods without risking the possibility of falling off track!
Unlike some more restrictive diets, there's nothing dangerous about switching up the way you consume carbs – so this method is generally a safe option for those wanting to shift some unwanted weight."Having higher carbs on some days and lower carbs on other days is how the body naturally regulates itself,' Georgie Fear explains. "So there's nothing wrong with taking advantage of some of the benefits of reducing carbs."
However, making sure you follow the basic principles, plus ensuring your diet is well-balanced in all other areas, is integral to this plan working.
Case in point: you can't use your high-carb days to load up on nothing but pizza and fries! Instead, go for whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and wholegrain bread and pasta, which are healthier choices than more refined options such as sugar, cakes, cookies and soft drinks.
On your low-carb days, try swapping a serving or two of your regular carb intake with leafy green vegies, lean protein or healthy fats. For example, if you normally have a wholemeal chicken sandwich for lunch, try a chicken and spinach salad with cheese instead.
As for your workout schedule, on high-carb days, perform high-intensity or long-duration workouts such as interval training, sprints, weights or long runs. On low-carb days, either rest or perform low-intensity workouts like yoga, barre or going for a light jog.
After each meal, you should feel satisfied, but not stuffed. If you aren't, try increasing your portion sizes or add a snack.
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