What is Carb Cycling and Does it Help With Training?

When athletes are training, they set exercise routines that include both easy days and hard days. And as they plan for these cycles, many athletes find it advantageous to adjust their diets and follow trends like carb-cycling. As sports nutrition shows us, some diet changes can help enhance our athletic performance. They can even help us lose fat and improve performance.

What is Carb-Cycling?

If you alternate your intake of carbohydrates when training, that’s called carb-cycling. Some people choose to alternate daily, weekly, and even monthly, with each cycle featuring slightly increased benefits. Some cycling includes low-carb diets, while others include moderate-carb and high-carb. 

Carb-cycling is mostly used by athletes to enhance and maintain performance levels. However, it’s also an effective strategy when losing weight (particularly fat). It’s especially helpful when battling the frustrating plateau that we often hit when trying to lose excess weight. Carb-cycling is appealing to athletes who want to regulate their carbohydrate intake and only eat them strategically — when they can help maximize performance.

Training Days and Carb Cycling

Through sports nutrition and nutritional science, we know that carbohydrates give our bodies a boost when athletic training calls for high-intensity days or sports that require more endurance. During more leisurely or rest days, carbohydrate intake is lower because energy isn’t as needed. An example of what a week of carb-cycling could like includes two days of high-intensity training (high-carb), two days of lower intensity training (moderate-carb), and three days of rest or low-impact exercise (low-carb). 

Of course, how you approach carb-cycling all depends on your body and your specific training needs. Other factors include your body fat level, your body and athletic goals, and whether you have a competition on the horizon. Many sports nutrition stores like Bindi offer different types of nutritional fuel and snacks that are both high-carb and low-carb. 

The Science

The theory sounds promising, but it’s the science of sports nutrition that makes carb-cycling and dietary changes based on training most appealing. Manipulating carb intake is a newer strategy, but it shows promising results. When applying this technique, you are anticipating your body’s needs for both carbohydrate and glucose energy. 

For athletes, when your days are full of exercise and high-intensity athletic training, you increase your carb intake and lower your fat intake. Carbs give you more energy and refuel energy faster, which enhances your power and endurance. They also help support your muscles and may even reduce muscle breakdown and soreness.

Carb-Cycling for Weight Loss

Those who use exercise and sports to lose weight or maintain body composition may also find this approach to be helpful. When you’re strategic about your carb intake, you can control your body’s release of certain hormones. These hormones regulate appetite and weight. It can also improve insulin sensitivity, which supports weight management.

Keto Diet

If this sounds a bit like the Keto Diet, you’re right! The philosophy (and science) behind Keto is to help your body enter a state called ketosis. This state tends to burn fat for energy rather than carbohydrates and sugar. This result is not only beneficial to endurance athletes or those hoping to support muscle recovery, but it also makes carb-cycling and ketosis potentially highly effective when it comes to losing fat.

Sports Nutrition Stores and Choosing the right products for performance 

All-in-all, when done correctly, carb-cycling can help enhance athletic training and performance. It can also help you to lose and maintain your weight. Sports nutrition stores can help you find the right products to support your carb-cycling endeavours. For example, Bindi Natural Sports Hydration is an electrolyte hydration powders that uses complex carbohydrates to support your body before, during, and after workouts. These electrolyte powders are an excellent product for high-intensity, high-carb days. Bindilyte is a carb-free electrolyte powder, which in turn is perfect for those low-carb days. 

Protein is also an essential nutrient that your body uses to maintain muscle mass and help your muscles to recover. But protein is also often a source of fat. When you’re carb cycling with a high-carb day, you’ll need a way to get protein to support your muscles without the fat. With Bindi, you can pair high-carb days with increased protein intake by using our low-fat, low-sugar protein powders.