Thoughts on Carb Cycling

by Chris on February 5, 2013

A friend of mine posted a question on the TBF Facebook page the other day asking my opinion of carb cycling so I thought I would address is in a blog post. For the uninitiated carb cycling refers to the method by which you manipulate your carbohydrate intake on a daily basis based on your training.

I used carb cycling extensively when I needed to drop weight for the World Championships in October 2012 and it worked great for me. I needed to drop a total of about 10lbs for the meet while maintaining as much muscle mass as possible so that I would be at my best on the platform. One of the most important things I did to accomplish that goal was cycle my carbs.

I won’t pretend to be a nutrition expert here. As a matter of fact, my personal diet is definitely not something I would normally use as an example. I do my best to eat as healthy as possible but since my problem has always been not being able to gain weight I’ve never had to worry too much about eating clean. With that said, when I needed a strategy I turned to an article by my friend and mentor, the one and only Dan Trink. Dan and I work together at Peak Performance in New York City and he is one of the smartest guys I know.

Per Dan’s article I cycled my carbs so that my highest carbohydrate intake fell on my most intense training days. For me, that meant my squat and deadlift workouts. My medium carb days coincided with upper body training and days off were low carb.

I tried to stick to Dan’s recommendations as closely as possible. I won’t copy the exact recommendations here. Dan’s excellent article is linked at the bottom of this post. Instead I’ll try to give a simple breakdown of how I tried to eat.

High Carb Days

Carbs with breakfast, pre- and post-workout and dinner.

Medium Carb Days

Carbs only post-workout and dinner.

Low Carb Days

As minimal carbs as possible. Tried to avoid any full servings of carbs.

I always focused my meals around protein and wasn’t shy about including fat in my meals. This worked well for me and ended up with me leaning up significantly while maintaining muscle mass. Judging by my performance at the meet I think it worked pretty well.

I still cycle my carbs based around my training, though I’m not as strict about it as I was when preparing for the meet. Needless to say I think it’s a great method for controlling body composition without losing muscle. Be sure to check out Dan’s article below.

T-Nation: Carb Cycling for Non Counters by Dan Trink

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