Surely you’ve heard the saying “staying in shape is 80% diet and only 20% exercise”. Is there any truth to this or is it just a bogus claim created by nutrition advocates and supplement pushers? Some believe a calorie is a calorie, while others strictly believe that different factors in foods behave differently in the body to yield desirable results. For the many athletes, models, celebrities and fitness gurus of the world, diet is directly correlated to the results and performance of each individual and is achieved only through planning, hard work, and dedication. Most of these people strive for the picture-perfect, Greek-God type of body maintaining low body fat, while encouraging lean muscle mass. It is no surprise that every nutrient has been scrutinized throughout the years to find the miracle that delivers just those results. The main nutrient today that has been a controversial subject in delivering these results to make or break a weight gain/loss goal is the carbohydrate.
From the introduction to the Atkins Diet in the early 1970s to now, a wide array of curious dieters and nutrition experts have considered the pros and cons of adapting to a low-carb diet for a number of reasons. The main reason is to promote weight-loss. While weight-loss is almost always a result of the diet, it is definitely not for everyone. As carbohydrates are introduced to the body they are broken down easily into molecules of sugar called glucose and if needed by muscle are taken up to replenish and restore any damage and increase muscle mass. If the muscles have adequate energy and are not in need of more glucose to store as glycogen, the hormone insulin takes up excess glucose and stores it as fat. Therefore, a very active person, especially one who works out frequently and with weights or some sort of resistance training will greatly benefit from an adequate intake of carbs, but even more so when a particular pattern is followed.
Carb cycling is the term used for those choosing to eat carbohydrates to benefit their physical growth/weight-loss goals. When planning a strenuous workout including weights or resistance training, one would increase their consumption of carbohydrates before and immediately after a workout to ensure muscle replenishment and gains. Throughout the rest of the day, a relatively small amount of carbohydrates would be on the menu, as they would be more likely to be stored as fat because the muscles are all set. Likewise, on a day when cardio or light exercise is on schedule, an increase in fat and protein would be consumed, while less carbohydrates are taken in (thus promoting fat gain). In the event that cardio and light exercise are performed, fat deposits are tapped into for energy and breakdown instead of muscle.
Manipulating the diet to fit specific needs is very feasible, but should only be done when taking into consideration a balanced diet and exercise regimen. Simply cutting out all carbohydrates will allow for increased fat loss, but they shouldn’t be completely omitted from the diet as they provide many valuable nutrients including fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. Carbohydrates are not the enemy to those looking to lose fat weight but rather a tool to encourage the right kind of nutrition for optimal performance and appearance. Fortunately, because not all carbohydrates are eliminated from the diet, those using the carb-cycling method tend to feel more satisfied, complete, and enjoy an active lifestyle without feeling deprived as on a complete no-carb diet. When hitting a weight-loss plateau, carb-cycling could be the make-or-break factor to really shave off the extra fat in a healthy way.