What is Carbohydrate Cycling?
It has been well established by published peer reviewed scientific research that low carbohydrate/ketogenic diets can help people lose weight, and improve health outcomes in a number of disease processes. However, once success has been achieved using the low carbohydrate/ketogenic diet, what is the next step in maintaining the weight loss and the improvements in health? The answer would be to implement a modified version of the original successful dietary strategy. A less restrictive, more user friendly dietary plan that increases the likelihood of success in the long term. Part of the answer is a concept known as “Carbohydrate Cycling”
What is the basis of Carbohydrate Cycling?
The concept of carbohydrate cycling is based on the physiologic adaptability of a healthy metabolism. A well functioning, healthy metabolism can generally shift from burning fat for energy, to burning carbohydrate for energy, and back again, rather effortlessly. Everyone knows people like this, they stay fairly lean their entire lives, they tend to eat whatever they want, whenever they want, they generally aren’t big eaters and they are usually fairly active. Most of us would consider these people lucky, winners of a genetic lottery passed down to them by their equally lucky ancestors whose genes the share. Genetically fortunate people have highly adaptive and efficient metabolisms. They burn fat after they eat fat, they burn carbs after they eat carbs, and they burn body fat in between meals and during sleep. Obviously it would be great if everyone could have a genetically gifted metabolism like this, but unfortunately most people do not. The goal then would be for the average (non genetically gifted) person to create a more efficient, more adaptive metabolism, that would enable them to not only lose weight but to maintain their weight loss in the long term. The initial stages in this process would be the use of the low carbohydrate/ketogenic diet, and any of the other strategies mentioned in the Science Based Weight Loss section of this website. The later stages in this process would involve a Carbohydrate cycling strategy.
How do we implement Carbohydrate Cycling?
Once a persons weight loss goals have been met using the low carbohydrate/ketogenic diet and other Science Based Weight Loss strategies, we can then re-introduce higher carbohydrate foods on a cyclical basis. Once the body has become adapted to burning fat for energy and the metabolism has become more adaptable, periodic carbohydrate intake can be handled far more efficiently than before the metabolic improvements were made. For example, someone could remain on their low carbohydrate/ketogenic diet during the week and then eat some higher carbohydrate foods they enjoy such as; pasta, pizza, bread, rice, sweets, etc.. on weekends. Higher carbohydrate foods could be eaten for only one day on a weekend, or both days, depending on how efficient and adaptable a persons metabolism had become over the course of their diet. Additionally, holidays or special occasions, would provide an opportunity for people to eat higher carbohydrate foods in a periodic or carbohydrate cycling fashion. Carbohydrate cycling should not be considered “going off your diet”, it is an integral part of an effective overall Science Based Weight Loss strategy.