What is Carb Cycling and How Does It Work?

– Linda Kriel & dietician Anel Kirsten

Linda Kriel:

Carbohydrate intake has long been a popular topic. For some people, a low carb, high fat eating plan works wonders to keep their weight in check, control cravings and appetite, or to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Others do not manage to follow a diet that doesn’t include carbohydrates.

I started doing carb cycling by alternating my low carb (Banting/Keto) eating plan weekly with my Low GI Low Fat . meal plan. After releasing my e-books, Mediterranean Diet, and Mediterranean Easy Diet, I did ‘carb cycling’, alternating Banting / Keto with my Mediterranean eating plans.

This is how I do it

There are many ways to do carb cycling. I’ll share two ways which I prefer:

  • I do my Low Carb, High Fat (Banting / Keto) eating plan on the LK Fitness app for one week and the next week I follow the Mediterranean eating plan on the App. Or:
  • I do the Mediterranean plan during the week, and Banting/Keto during the weekends.

I love it, because after years of banting, I felt like enjoying good carbs again, but I still sometimes wanted to eat a nice lamb chop. Now I have the best of both. Note: I never combine two eating plans in one day!

I asked LK Fitness’s dietitian – Anel Kirsten – to write a piece on carb cycling.

Anel Kirsten:

Carb cycling is a fairly new approach. Instead of constantly being on a low or high carb diet , carb cycling offers you the balance between the two types of eating plans. It has potentially psychological and physiological benefits for the individual.

Carb cycling is a dietary approach in which an individual alternates their carbohydrate intake on a daily or weekly basis.  E.g.  the one week you follow a low carbohydrate (banting/keto) diet and the week after that a diet that contains slightly more carbohydrates like the Mediterranean diet – and so the weeks are repeated cyclically.  Or you can follow a diet that contains carbohydrates for 2 days, then make the carbohydrates a little less for 2 days and then follow a low carbohydrate (banting / keto) diet for another 2 days.

This is done with the main goal of controlling weight, losing fat or overcoming a weight loss plateau, or simply preventing one from getting bored with an eating plan.

On the days when a low carbohydrate (banting/keto) plan is followed, the low carbohydrate diet improves a person’s insulin sensitivity and improves the body’s fat burning ability.  The higher carbohydrate days (when following the Mediterranean diet or Low GI Low Fat on the other hand, have a positive impact on your hormones – including thyroid hormones, testosterone and leptin.  These hormones play a very important role in the long-term success as well as sustainability of a diet as hormones affect appetite, cravings and your metabolism.

If you do carb cycling with the main focus on losing weight, you need to make sure that you remain in a negative energy balance on a daily basis and do NOT mix two eating plans in one day as you please.  LK Fitness app makes it easy to vary the eating plans, because the eating plans are kilojoule controlled and contain enough protein as well as fiber to keep you satiated for longer.  Alternate the low carb (Banting / Keto) diet with either the Mediterranean eating plan or the Low GI eating plan.

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