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Old 06-24-2008, 04:05 PM   #1
Tom Woodward
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Carb Cycling

The IF Life recently pointed me in the direction of this article on carbohydrate cycling:

http://fitnessblackbook.com/dieting_...-plan-part-ii/ (WFS except for t-nation type pics)

It reminded me of an article on the TNT Diet I had read a while ago:

http://www.menshealth.com/cda/articl...0012281eac____ (WFS)

After reading both, I realized this is almost exactly what I've been doing for the past month unintentionally, mainly from going overboard on cheats during the weekend. It gave me kind of an A-HA moment since I've been wondering why 36 hour weekend binges haven't added an ounce of fat to my body. Apparently the glycogen stores in my muscles are all but depleted after 5 week days of all paleo low carb (50-70g per day) eating, meaning all the carbs I eat during the next day and a half fill out the muscles while the insulin levels are high, leaving few carbs to be stored as fat.

I'm considering playing around with this as it looks like a great way to add muscle while keeping body fat down. My question is, how bad is this for you? The carb up stage obviously involves jacking insulin up so glycogen can be shuttled to the heavily depleted muscle stores. Will this mess up my insulin sensitivity, among other things?

If anybody has tried carb cycling, I'd be very interested in your results/cycling tactics.
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Old 06-24-2008, 04:11 PM   #2
Nick Hanson
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Re: Carb Cycling

Have you read the Metabolic Diet? (Boz from SFCF) did this diet to gain weight.

Also you might want to check out Natural Hormonal Enhancement - Its the same idea.

-Nick

BTW how is Starting Strength going?
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Old 06-24-2008, 04:55 PM   #3
Tom Woodward
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Re: Carb Cycling

Thanks Nick. I'm sure anything Adrian tries is worth a look.

SS worked out well for me. Put on some weight and increased my lifts. Only problem was I missed gymnastics and hated eating all those cals every day. Lately, I've been doing a lot more gymnastics and climbing at Mission Cliffs in the city. Now that I'm back on more CrossFit type programming, I'll have to come into SFCF for a few WODs. Hope all is well!
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Old 06-24-2008, 07:31 PM   #4
Mike ODonnell
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Re: Carb Cycling

Tom,

Carb cycling parameters have been around for many many decades, and the people that get the best results in body composition (muscle gain, weight loss) use it in some shape or form. The key is finding what works for you and your individualistic spillover point....basically the point at which carb intake spills over into fat cells. Of course that will depend all on many factors including:
- Your insulin sensitivity
- Your workouts and how depleted your muscle glycogen is
- How often you are doing carb ups and how much

If you look at the basic ways to do carb cycling you could use on of the 3 basic formats:
- Eat lower carb and only eating higher carbs on your workout days and in the pwo window (which may only be 2-3x a week)
- Eat lower carb weekdays and carb up on weekends (Body Opus)
- Eat lower carb for 2-3 days and then add up a carb up day (NHE, Metabolic Diet)

The amount of carbs you can carb up on will depend on your insulin sensitivity. That peaks in the pwo window, hence why people suggest eating your carbs then. It also peaks after periods of low carb intake...as that is the goal, to lower resistance and increase sensitivity. Is that the only way? No. Can you replenish muscle glycogen over days? Sure. You may also you really only need your carb up after more demanding workouts that are glycolitic by nature. Best way to understand what works best for you is to just go and try it and see what happens....everyone responds differently to each protocol. Some may responds better to smaller carb pwo only and others with really good insulin sensitivity will enjoy the weekend carb ups.

I wouldn't worry about messing up your sensitivity as long as you keep working out, eat whole foods, try not to eat too much processed sugars and spread out your carb intake if you are doing it over a whole day/weekend. Carb ups are not meant to be sugar bombs to peak insulin to it's max. It takes less insulin to push glycogen into muscle than it does into fat. So slow and controlled insulin is always best unless you really have super insulin resistance and can drink marghettas and have it all go into depleted muscles. Go ahead and try that once and see what happens....if you feel yourself asleep in a few hours and feel fatter the next day...you are not fortunate to have super insulin sensitivity....that's rare anyways.

Find what works for you and once you learn how to control that you can get any results you want. Mastering carb cycling is the easiest thing to read about and the hardest thing to master.

PS. The IF Life blog ain't such a bad place....
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Last edited by Mike ODonnell : 06-24-2008 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:12 AM   #5
Tom Woodward
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Re: Carb Cycling

Mike - Many thanks for the thoughtful response. That's some great info. I'll continue with my weekend/PWO carb ups and see how it plays out.
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