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Busy Man’s Carb Cycling: The Uber Convenient Way to Shred Fat and Build Muscle.


Far and away, this is one of the most popular articles on Bach Performance.
If you’re looking to maximize fat loss, Carb Cycling is an important strategy.
And while you’re burning fat, here’s a Free workout to maximize fat loss and retain lean muscle. Thanks for being here.

Hook me up with the Free Fat Loss Program, Eric!


If you’re looking shred fat, build muscle, and improve your overall health, then carb cycling is your answer. Carb cycling is a fairly advanced nutritional strategy and can be extremely time-consuming. Building separate menus, calculating nutritional requirements and prepping all of your own food can be tedious work.

When time is one of your biggest barriers to healthy eating the best options aren’t always feasible.

 Fortunately, as easy as I’m about to make it, carb cycling will help you consistently eat healthy without having to measure and track your calories. Boom!

Picture This: It’s early fall and Saturday around noon. College football season has arrived. You’re at your local alumni sports bar with your buddies. Everyone’s ordering, microbrews, nachos, chicken wings, and fries..food galore, a gluttonous paradise.

*Note: I’m probably there with you.



*Note: I’m not condoning the food options above, but I’m a realist.

The waitress makes her way to you, what do you do?

The decision shouldn’t be whether you can crush a few nachos and beer with your friends, it should be “ did you earn your carbs?”

Depending on the day, carb cycling allows you the freedom to enjoy some of your delicious, higher carb, and sometimes less healthy options with less damage to your diet.

Carb cycling is a highly effective dietary strategy that maximizes your body’s ability to build pounds of muscle and burn slabs of fat simultaneously.

What is Carb Cycling?

Carb cycling is as easy as it sounds and is as simple as cycling carbohydrates on weight training days (high carb) and non-workout/cardio days (low carb).

High Carb: Due to the repeated muscle contractions of resistance training your body will have an increased insulin sensitivity. With this increased response to carbs your body will drive nutrients into your muscle cells, aiding them in repair, growing them, and providing you with more energy.

Low Carb: On the non-lifting days you keep carbohydrates low because there isn’t the same increase in insulin sensitivity. Without carbs flowing through the bloodstream the body is forced to burn stored fuel, or body fat. By minimizing carbs a few days per week the body becomes more receptive to insulin, so when you do indulge on the sugary goodness your anabolic response will be maximized.


To rehash, Lifting? Carb up and support your muscle-building workouts.

Intervals or taking the day off? Avoid carbs and maximize your fat burning.

Sample Workout Schedule and Carb Intake

Monday: Lower Body Focus /High Carb

Tuesday: Upper Body Focus/High Carb

Wednesday: Off Or Sprint Work

Thursday: Upper Body Focus/High Carb

Friday: Lower Body Focus/High Carb

Saturday: Upper Body Focus/High Carb

Sunday: Off Or Sprint Work

Low Carb Day

Breakfast: 4 egg scramble, 1/2 tomato, 1/4 avocado

Snack (Optional): Handful nuts and carrots

Lunch: Mediterranean salad w/cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, chicken, feta cheese w/balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Snack (optional): Supershake, omit fruit and grains

Dinner: Sirloin steak, broccoli, and small salad

High Carb Day

Breakfast: 3 egg scramble with spinach, 1/2 cup oatmeal with blueberries

Snack (Optional): Shake with 1 scoop vanilla protein, 1 cup berries, 1/2 cup cottage cheese

Lunch: Sandwich loaded with lean meat and veggies

Dinner: Sweet potato, barbecue rubbed chicken thighs and cauliflower

Snack (Optional): Shake with 1 scoop chocolate protein, 1 orange, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup cottage cheese


Common Issues and Questions

How Low is Low Carb?

On low carb days shoot for under 100 grams of carbs. A simple trick is to replace the grains/starches you eat with leafy, fibrous greens.

I’m not looking to build muscle, only lose fat. Is Carb Cycling still for me?

Yes! Carb cycling is great for a fat loss diet. When you’re consistently low on calories and carbohydrates you may see reductions in metabolic rate, thyroid hormones, sympathetic nervous system activity, energy levels, and sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen (Berardi and Andrews 368).

This leads to a plateau that stops your fat loss in it’s tracks, yikes!

When you cycle carbohydrates back into your diet you raise leptin levels, a powerful fat burning hormone that down-regulates when calories are low. Essentially, you trick your body into burning more fat.

Can I pig out on High Carb Days? You did use examples of fries, beer, and wings….

Although carb cycling does afford my flexibility in your food choices I wouldn’t advise crushing junk. As tasty as it is, the combination of high fat, high carb, high alcohol containing meals is a perfect recipe for gaining weight. Adipose weight. I wouldn’t recommend it.

I’m very sensitive to carbs. I look at bread and put on a spare tire, how can I carb cycle to add muscle, but not additional fat?

If you find your adding body fat ditch carbs until after your workout. By keeping carbs until you workout you will utilize stored fuel up until and during your workouts, increasing your fat burning. Then, carb up after the workout to take advantage of your insulin sensitivity.


That’s a Wrap

Carb cycling is the most effective way to maximize the benefits of carbohydrates in your diet.

It doesn’t need to be complicated, just focus on healthy food options and staying true to your carb cycling schedule to reap the rewards of proper nutrient timing.

Hittin’ the weights? Boom, carbs baby!
Hook me up with the Free Fat Loss Program, Eric!

Day off or intervals? Replace grains with greens, no problem.


Berardi, Jon, and Ryan Andrews. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Second. Precision Nutrition Inc., 2012. 368. Print.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/santos/162994388/”>chotda</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/83096974@N00/1091167314/”>In Praise of Sardines</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Fat Deposits and Hormone Correlations

getting back into shape, Fat Deposits and Hormone Correlations

Here are some common issues and questions that my clients bring up when coming in for body composition testing, typically done as skinfold measurements and body circumference measurements.

“My arms and chest are toned and lean, but I just can’t seem to shake this stubborn lower belly flab, why am I lean everywhere but my stomach?”

“I can’t get rid of this stupid fat around my hips, it looks like a muffin top!”

“ Why am I developing man boobs  fat on my chest muscles?”

I’ve heard every combination of slang terminology for fatty deposits around the body. As funny as some of them may be they represent real, common problems that can wreak havoc on both physique and confidence.

Having body fat tested is a great way to get a reliable, quantifiable idea of your current body composition and is recommended for everyone. If this is not an immediate option (make it a priority!) Check out this post on how to estimate your body fat percentage based on what you see in the mirror.

Skinfold measurements will provide vital information to track body composition with changes in activity level and diet. These numbers from a skinfold also provide important data that can signify correlations between important body altering hormones in the body and skinfold measures.

Here are the most common trouble spots along with necessary interventions and strategies to correct the issue:

High abdominal Skinfold

  • Physiological Correlation: High Stress, High Cortisol
  • Intervention: Cortisol Suppression, Stress Control
  • Potential Strategies: Frequent protein meals, improved sleep, BCAA’s, stress reducing techniques such as meditation

High Suprailliac Skinfold (hip region)

  • Physiological Correlation: Large Insulin Release w/meals (Too many carbs!)
  • Intervention: Control Carb intake and greatly reduce processed foods
  • Potential Strategies: Decrease Carb intake (start going carb-less until workouts!), Improved Nutrient Timing (carbs post workout window)

High Subscapular Skinfold

  • Physiological Correlation:Poor Insulin Sensitivity
  • Intervention:Boost Insulin Sensitivity
  • Potential Strategy: Add Fish Oils, R-ALA Supplementation, Low Carb Diet, potentially Intermittent fasting protocols

High Chest Skinfold

  • Physiological Correlation: Low Testosterone
  • Intervention: Support Healthy Testosterone Levels
  • Potential Strategy:Adequate caloric intake, adequate dietary fat intake, possible medical referral

High Triceps and Thigh Skinfold

  • Physiological Correlation: High Estrogen
  • Intervention:Reduce estrogen levels
  • Potential Strategy: Increase exercise volume, add cruciferous veggies (always a good idea), discuss prescription estrogens with doctor

As you can see there is a pretty consistent consensus that high carbohydrate and consistent carbohydrate intake has the potential to increase fat stores in many common trouble spots.

Body composition is very diet specific and using the potential strategies to attack trouble spots can yield significant changes in body composition.

It is important to note that if body fat is high universally on all body composition measurements then correlations are relatively meaningless. This indicates a poor diet, lack of exercise, and energy imbalance that need to be attacked on all fronts.

Replace grains with greens, eat 1-2 fists of protein per meal, and keep carbs to post-workout meals. If looking to lose weight do whatever is necessary to increase your activity level, but studies show 5+ hours per week is what is needed to optimally lose weight.

And if you’re looking for a workout program to maximize your fat loss, here’s a free program to get building your dream body.

Hook me up with the Free Fat Loss Program, Eric!


Andrews, Ryan, MS,MA,RD. Berardi, John, PhD,”Chapter 12 Interpreting Client Information.” The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. 2nd ed. N.p.: Precision Nutrition, n.d. 316-18. Print.

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