Cycling carbohydrate and caloric intake can help you to reach and maintain your fitness and nutrition goals. Many people believe that to lose weight or become fit they must adhere to a strict low-calorie, low-carb diet. Consuming a constantly restrictive low-calorie and low-carb diet can set you up for failure and cause negative health effects. Diets that cycle through various calorie and carbohydrate levels can be tailored to fit almost any lifestyle.
Easy Carb-Cycling Plan
Carbohydrate-cycling plans are based on varying your level of carb intake each day. According to Chris Powell, the trainer from ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss," the basic carb-cycling day should include five meals, including a high-carb breakfast. The easiest carb-cycling plan includes three low-carb days and four high-carb days. Each high-carb day features one reward meal where you can eat any unhealthy foods you want. In this plan, days one, three and five are low-carb days. On days two, four, six and seven, you can eat a high-carb diet with one reward meal.
Basic Carb-Cycling Plan
The basic carb-cycling plan is for people who are looking to reach their fitness goals faster than they would with the easy carb-cycling plan. The difference between this plan and the easy plan is that rather than having a reward meal on each high-carb day, you have one full reward day each week. Days one, three and five are low-carb days and days two, four and six are high-carb days on the basic plan. Day seven is the reward day where you can eat anything you want, all day long.
Moderately Active Calorie-Cycling Plan
To begin a calorie-cycling plan, determine your fitness goal and weekly calorie-intake goal. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderately active women between the ages of 19 and 30 should eat 1,500 calories each day to lose 1 pound per week. This totals 10,500 calories per week. A 10,500 calorie-cycling week could include 1,300 calories on days one, two, three, five and six. Days four and seven would be 2,000-calorie days. With a little math, you can vary your daily calorie goals to suit your needs and activity level.
Making the Plan Work
The "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" published a study in July 2007 that found a calorie-cycling diet may be easier for the average person to maintain than a less-flexible plan. Since the diet allows you to shift calories among days, use a planner to track your daily calorie intake and add the total at the end of the week. As long as your weekly total falls within your target, you'll still meet your calorie goals.
- Chris Powell: Carb Cycling 101
- Chris Powell: Carb Cycling: The Easy Cycle
- Readers Digest: Lose Weight by Dieting Every Other Day
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Alternate-Day Fasting and Chronic Disease Prevention: A Review of Human and Animal Trials
- Health.gov: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- Chris Powell: Carb Cycling: The Classic Cycle
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
- Carb Cycling Plan to Drop Body Fat
- How to Eat 6 Small Meals per Day When You Are Working
- How to Lose Large Amounts of Weight
- Reducing Calories to Lose Weight
- How to Lose Weight Consuming 1,200 Calories a Day
- Is it True That You Can Lose More Weight on an 1,800-Calorie Diet Rather Than on a 1,600-Calorie Diet?
- 1,200-Calorie DASH Diet
- Calorie Counts Based on Sizes of People