Macronutrient periodization (a fancy word for changing things over time), has been a topic of discussion for decades. There are various forms of this, including fasting, nutrient timing, diet breaks, refeed periods, etc. In this NutriWiki article, we are going to discuss a type of macronutrient periodization known as carb cycling, which simply focuses on changing carbohydrate intake over a period of time.
Carb cycling is a technique in which carbohydrates are increased and decreased on different days for various reasons. Unless you’re an endurance athlete or a physique athlete prepping for a show carb cycling is not necessary (even then, it’s not necessary, but it may improve performance). It can be used as a tool but is not necessary for most people.
Carb cycling means to have days with a higher carb intake and days with a lower carb intake. Pitcure it like an undulating curve where intake increases and decreases.
Carb cycling is a tool and can be used for certain people in certain situations. However, doing it just to do it really just makes things much more complicated than they need to be.
As far as we know, there have been no studies to date that directly compare the effect of carb cycling to other forms of dieting on weight loss. That being said, based on all of the current research available, there is no evidence that carb cycling would produce greater weight loss vs a non-carb cycling diet. It is possible that there may have a physiological benefit; however, this may simply be accomplished with a refeed day or just having some form of calorie undulation as well.
It is important to note that for an endurance athlete, carb cycling may have a performance benefit . However, outside of that population, there is limited evidence of any benefit.
You may choose to use this approach to fit your lifestyle or if you have training days that are much harder than others and want to have more carbohydrates available on certain days compared to others. However, you do not have to use this approach.