Carb cycling is an efficient and proven way of reducing your body fat percentage. But it takes more than eating the right foods to pull it off. This is where a carb cycling calculator – a program that analyzes your diet and exercise to maximize the efficiency of your diet – comes in. Here are the things you need to know about how a carb cycle calculator works and what it can do for you.
What Is Carb Cycling, Exactly?
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Carb cycling is a diet plan where you alternate between high carbohydrate days and low carbohydrate days. The “high” days are intended to promote muscle growth, while the “low” days work to reduce fat.
One of the most significant problems with dieting is adaptive thermogenesis, the human body’s natural inclination to conserve energy when it thinks it’s starving. This is the main reason why weight loss can slow and almost stop once you reach a certain point.
Carb cycling skirts around this mechanism by regularly reassuring the body that it is not, in fact, in a starvation scenario.
This allows for a sustained, long-term loss of weight without loss of muscle.
Rather than denying the body fuel – and make no mistake, you do need carbs, so don’t even think about doing a zero carb diet – the idea is to control when the body gets fuel so each nutrient can be used more effectively.
This is not a long-term diet. Carb cycling is intended to help you reach a specific goal. After that, you should change to a died that will help you maintain your weight.
Is Carb Cycling Good for You?
Carb cycling is not appropriate for all situations. If you’re severely obese or overweight, a standard diet of eating less food (specifically, 500 fewer kcals than your normal energy use) will be more effective until you’ve lost a lot of your current weight. In general, you shouldn’t try carb cycling until after you’ve begun exercising and started to build up some muscle.
How A Carb Cycling Calculator Works
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A standard weekly plan for carb cycling is eating a lot of starchy carbs, healthy fats, vegetables, and protein on the days you visit the gym. On days that you’re either doing cardio workouts or staying away from the gym, you should avoid starchy carbs and somewhat reduce the amount of fruit you eat. If you cannot help it and want something sweet or savory with some carbs in it, try making some Carbquik recipes, they will satisfy many of your cravings!
Carb cycling calculators work to figure out where you are, then generate a meal plan based on those results and your current fitness goals.
Step 1: The Basic Information
A useful calculator will start by asking for your gender, height, weight, and age. These are important questions for determining your current Body Mass Index (BMI) and determining a healthy goal.
If you haven’t measured these lately, be sure to get new measurements instead of guessing or relying on memory. Being just one inch off could reduce the effectiveness of the calculations.
Step 2: Your Activity Level
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The next question you should look for is your current activity level. A good carb cycling diet calculator has a wide variety of options here. They range from getting no exercise at all to having intense daily exercise sessions and a demanding physical job. If you don’t see your activity level here, find another calculator.
In general, people who exercise more have higher caloric needs and will be told to eat more than sedentary people. The main goal here is to provide a steady loss in weight regardless of how much you’re exercising. And trying to lose weight faster could backfire and trigger adaptive thermogenesis.
Important: The plan you get from your calculator assumes you remain at the same level of activity. If you start exercising more – or less – than when you first did your calculations, you’ll need to redo the entire thing. Many people make the mistake of keeping their diet the same while changing their exercise plans and end up doing more harm than good.
Step 3: Your Carb Cycle Meal Plan
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Carb cycling meal plans come in several different cycles. But we’re only going to talk about the two most popular formats.
The first format is the weekly diet plan. This often consists of high carbs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with low carbs the rest of the week. The main advantage of a weekly plan is its consistency. If you always know which days are good for exercise, you can fit things into your schedule without too much trouble.
The other format is the single cycle plan, which usually consists of 2-3 low carb days and one high carb day on a repeating cycle. This plan is better for people who get less exercise.
This is true because it only has one or two high carb days each week (and that’s when you want to be exercising). Unfortunately, the fact that the high carb days constantly rotate means it’s a little harder to have a consistent schedule.
Either way, it’s important to follow the plan you get. Do not deviate from the schedule until you’re ready to stop. Otherwise, you could lose the gains you’re working toward.
Step 4: Your Meals Per Day
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We’re accustomed to thinking of having three meals a day. However, some carb cycling calculator options out there encourage you to have additional small meals throughout the day. The main idea here is to provide a steady supply of energy and prevent you from ever feeling too full or too hungry.
As pointed out by WebMD, blood sugar starts falling once three hours have passed since your last meal. And by five hours, you’re usually looking to get anything you can. Small, regular meals can prevent you from overeating and keep you on track for a successful diet.
That said, it’s not mandatory to have six meals a day while you’re on a carb cycling low carb diet plan. Sometimes that just doesn’t work for your lifestyle. If you can’t commit to this, look for a carb cycling calculator that gives you a daily intake instead of a per-meal plan.
Step 5: Understand How The Diets Are Explained
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Most carb cycling calculators tell you how much protein, carbohydrates, and fat you should be getting each day. These are the main source of calories.
High days usually call for 50%-60% of your calories to come from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and the rest from fats.
Low days, on the other hand, typically call for 45% of your calories to come from protein, 30% to come from carbs, and the rest from fats. It’s important to remember that low carbs are not the same thing as no carbs. Low days also involve fewer calories in general. A typical result is somewhere around 400 fewer calories than a high carb day, but your plan may vary.
If this sounds strange, remember that high carb days are also exercise days where you’re using more calories. This diet aims for a steady amount of weight loss, and that includes matching your caloric intake to your exercise schedule.
Consider turning the results of your calculator into a carb cycling meal plan in PDF. It will be much easier to reference this way since the last thing you want to do is enter all of your information again just to check one detail of the plan. Be sure to save the plan somewhere you can access from any device.
Step 6: Start Finding Foods That Match Your Plan
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This is the point when carb cycling calculators really start to show their value. Some provide no information at all on foods that match your plan. They just tell you how much protein, carbs, and fats you should be consuming on a given day.
Other calculators provide a specific daily meal plan or list foods that are appropriate for the diet. The most important thing to remember here is that not all foods are equally good for this diet.
Fresh foods are better than frozen foods. Don’t forget about any refrigeration needs. And make sure you have enough containers to bring your meals everywhere you’re going.
Step 7: Drink More Water
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This isn’t called out in every calculator. Though some of the better ones have reminders about water. Unfortunately, many people don’t drink as much water as they should. And that stops them from enjoying the full benefits of their diet. You need water for most of your body’s functions, and dehydration can severely reduce your performance at the gym.
The Carb Cycling Calculator:Conclusion
Carb cycling calculators are an excellent way of managing a diet. This is especially true when they’re advanced enough to consider factors like your age, weight, and fitness level.
However, like any diet plan, carb cycling only works as long as you follow the schedule. Eating extra snacks, taking extra high carb days, or even changing your exercise schedule can throw the entire thing off.
You might also like our guide on How to Make A Good Carb Cycling Meal Plan
Personally, I recommend updating your plan (via the same calculator) every two weeks. This allows you to account for any changes and ensure that you’re always following a low carb diet plan that matches your current needs.
Do you use or have ever used a carb cycling calculator or a carb cycling meal plan? If so, tell us about your experience with it. Did it help you achieve your weight loss goals? Have you gained weight after you stopped the carb cycling program? Use the comments section to tell us other tips and tricks on how to keep up with a carb cycle calculator and become healthier and happier!