Carbohydrate cycling is a nutritional strategy that can be used with the goal of losing weight. It is also used in the context of sport to promote training in ketosis conditions, which can increase performance in the medium or long term.
Although it is simple to carry out, many people do not know how to execute it efficiently. For this reason, we are going to explain the details of the matter to you to make it part of the usual diet, benefiting you with all the positive repercussions that it entails.
What is carbohydrate cycling?
It is known as “carbohydrate cycling” to a dietary strategy that consists of suppressing the consumption of carbohydrates for a certain time, in order to stimulate ketosis in the body. This allows the body to oxidize a greater amount of fat.
This is one of the basic principles of ketogenic diets. They have been shown to be effective in improving body composition, although they lack good adherence.
The most practical way to implement carbohydrate cycling is to cut back on carbohydrates for more than 16 hours. It is also possible to ingest them only on alternate days.
What happens in the body?
When the body’s carbohydrate intake is reduced, the pathways for obtaining energy from circulating fats and amino acids are set in motion. In this way, the oxidation of lipids is increased, thereby stimulating the loss of adipose tissue.
Keep in mind that maintaining body fat levels in an appropriate range is associated with a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, according to a study published in Circulation Research.
In addition, it has been shown that limiting carbohydrate intake for a certain time stimulates another series of beneficial physiological mechanisms. One of them is autophagy, through which functional cells and organelles reproduce, while those that do not perform their task well are destroyed by apoptosis.
What are the benefits of carbohydrate cycling?
We are going to show you the main benefits of putting this technique in motion.
1. Improved body composition
Limiting carbohydrate intake through diet reduces inflammation and pressure on the pancreas. Therefore, it increases the metabolic flexibility or the body’s ability to use the most convenient energy substrate at all times. Thanks to this, the oxidation of lipids is stimulated, with the consequent loss of weight.
2. Increase in sports performance
It should be borne in mind that this concept of metabolic flexibility is closely related to sports performance. If an organism is very efficient in the selection of energy substrates, it will be able to save more glycogen to be used when needed. This delays the onset of fatigue.
3. Lower risk of getting sick
A large number of complex and chronic diseases that cause millions of deaths today are associated with functional inefficiencies. The autophagy is a process that reduces the likelihood that systems fail.
If there is less inflammation and fewer cells altered in the body, then the risk of getting sick should be less likely. The organs would be subjected to less pressure and less damaging effect, especially from the free radicals that arise in metabolism.
How to apply carbohydrate cycling?
To achieve optimal cycling of carbohydrates, the ideal is to go at least 14 or 16 hours without ingesting them. They can be suppressed at dinner, for example.
It is even possible to propose an intermittent fasting protocol eliminating breakfast, since this technique implies a carbohydrate cycling.
However, try not to be too strict at first, including whole days without the presence of these nutrients. This way you avoid the appearance of temporary side effects, such as constipation or the feeling of tiredness.
Tips for a diet that includes carb cycling
Keep in mind that, beyond practicing a carbohydrate cycling, it is important to ensure that the carbohydrates in the diet are low. These impact less aggressively on the pancreas, which prevents the development of early insulin resistance.
To ensure the good quality of your diet, try to avoid simple sugars and foods that contain them, such as ultra-processed and sweets.
Carbohydrate cycling is a healthy technique that not many people practice. You can get benefits by spending a few hours a day without introducing these nutrients.
Even for athletes it can be useful to train during the period in which carbohydrates are not ingested. However, when implementing this protocol in the sports context, it is important to have the supervision of a specialist.