The carb cycle diet doesn’t demonize carbohydrates like many others that suggest a high-protein intake over carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are used as energy by the body. They fuel exercise and help you get through the day.

The carb cycle diet alternates between high-carb days and low-carb days, promising to help with weight loss while ensuring that your body gets the macronutrients it needs. This oscillation between low- and high-carb days maintains metabolism.

Researchers from the University Hospital in South Manchester, England, found that women who avoided food rich in carbohydrates for two days a week lost an average of nine pounds in four months. Meanwhile, women on the Mediterranean diet, which imposes a limit of 1,500 calories a day, lost an average of five pounds in four months.

Your high-carb days should coincide with the day where your workout is most intense. These days ensure your glycogen stores are replenished, fuelling your muscles. Avoid foods high in fat during high-carb days. Low-carb days are when you trick your body into burning fat instead of sugar from carbohydrates. On these days, you should ideally focus on a diet rich in fats and protein for fuel in addition to a lot of vegetables.

Here are some of the good carbohydrate sources you should consume:

  • Yams
  • Sweet potato
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta
  • Fruit
  • Brown rice

Here are some examples of bad sources of carbohydrates you should avoid:

  • Candy
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Anything with white flour

Benefits of the carb cycle diet:

  • Carb cycling can help in the building and preservation of lean muscle mass. Alternating between high and low carb days cuts your body fat percentage down while still ensuring you have enough fuel for your muscles to rebuild.
  • It helps maintain a healthy weight. On low-carb days, your body burns fat thus encouraging weight loss. In some people sticking to a long-term low-carb diet can slow down their metabolism. By alternating between high and low carbs, that problem is eliminated.
  • It eliminates bad sources of carbohydrates from your diet.
  • On high-carb days, your body releases insulin into the bloodstream, which carries carbs either to the liver where it is used as fuel or to the muscle cells for storage. When the cell is too full, the carbs are metabolized and stored as fat. The release of insulin is based on the type and amount of carbohydrates you consume. On low-carb days, the body is sensitive to insulin and pushes for fat-burning.

Potential risks of carb cycling:

  • You might gain some water weight on your high-carb days. People who are leaner are more likely to experience this weight gain.
  • Carb cycling may help in cutting excess flab but it may not stick.
  • Cutting down on carbs even if it is just every other day can increase cravings especially for sweets.
  • Carb cycling may not be plateau free. A plateau in weight loss occurs because of the consumption of too few calories.