When your goal is to build a worthy physique it must be done correctly or the final results will be underwhelming.
Average people do average things and the average person does the same old dance when they are trying to lose fat. They eat dramatically less and exercise dramatically more.
Sounds good on the surface right?The problem with this tremendously flawed game plan is that you essentially end up sacrificing your total physique just to see the scale move down.
I have seen many a bodybuilder drop down for a contest only to sacrifice precious muscle and size. When they show up on stage they look depleted and flat.
While there is nothing wrong with losing excess weight to get cut up, it all comes down to how you do it.
Consuming a low-calorie diet and exercising excessively leads to a smaller, weaker, and less muscular version of yourself.
Yes, you will have lost weight but now you look like Francisco Flaccid and it just doesn’t have to be that way.
With everything in life, there is a solution. Whether you are an athlete, a bodybuilder, or an office worker the best way to lose fat, protect your performance, and retain your hard-earned muscle is to cycle your carbohydrate amounts based on your activity for the day.
What in the Blue Sky is Carb Cycling?
Carb cycling for a leaner physique is not complex.
Carb cycling and its many variations have been around for a very long time.
The carb cycle is so dangerously simple and effective that you wonder why anyone looking to gain muscle and lose fat is not implementing it.
The basic premise behind carb cycling is that you rotate your carbohydrate amounts each day.
A smart plan would have changes in the amounts of carbs throughout the process but you would typically follow this rotation until you reach your end goal. On the days where your carbs are higher your fats will be lower and vice-versa.
Carbs and fats are both energy sources and overloading on both will not allow you to get ripped. Constantly consuming high carbs and high fats will allow you remain smooth and unhappy with your progress.
Protein will stay pretty much the same give or take some grams throughout the entire process.
Carb cycling also requires you to be accountable.
One major issue in the game is that people overestimate how hard they are training and then start wondering why they are not dropping body fat even when carb cycling.
Let me tell you right now that if your training session involves no fatigue, no challenge, no progression, no plan, no sweat, no difficult reps, no compound moves, no passion, and no doubt creeping in before that seemingly impossible final set then it is a total waste of time.
Turn Weaknesses into Strengths
Carb cycling can also be used when trying to bring up lagging muscles.
Let’s say you have absolute pipe cleaners for legs.
The Scarecrow from Batman has more leg thickness than you. Your legs have wasted away due to a lack of use.
Your last attempted squat occurred during the series finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
It took time, but you have finally seen the light and have decided to commit to the big moves. Since your legs are behind in muscle development you can plan to eat more carbs on your lower body days to help with the muscle growth.
Another factor that will make your carb cycle effective is to cycle your total daily calories. Even though it is not the basis of this article I also like to implement calorie cycling to go along with your carb cycling.
The 3 most effective ways to use carb cycling to build your best physique are:
1) The Gironda Method
If you have read my work then you know I am very fond of the principals of the late, great Iron Guru Vince Gironda. Not only was he eons ahead of his time as far as training techniques and principles are concerned, but he was also equally as far ahead of his time nutrition wise too.
Not only was he eons ahead of his time as far as training techniques and ideas are concerned, but he was also equally as far ahead of his time nutrition wise too.
In his time most of the physiques on the stage were muscular but smooth. Gironda was the pioneer in bringing the ripped physique to the stage.
At the time when he competed, he was even penalized for being “too ripped.” This was the major reason why he was not able to place higher in bodybuilding competitions.
But his famous method to get someone lean and shredded was a guaranteed win like Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals. His Maximum Definition Diet is extreme carb cycling to the T.
With the Maximum Definition Diet, a trainee would eat protein and fat (meat and eggs) at every meal for 3 days straight. On the 4th day, one of the days’ meals would be a high carbohydrate meal. The process starts over again the next day.
The Maximum Definition Diet is designed for short-term physique goals. You could compare it to the final piece of a puzzle.
Typically this is at the most a 4-6 week nutrition protocol for a bodybuilder in the final stages of contest preparation.
By removing the carbohydrates from your diet you are allowing your body to use more fat for energy instead of carbohydrate. This is a supremely effective fat loss plan designed by the greatest physique trainer in history.
In the same breath, we are all so very individual.
If you are a natural ectomorph than this type of dieting may not work for you due to the fact that ectomorphs do not carry enough muscle size and fullness, to begin with.
I have used the Maximum Definition Diet and I was able to get very lean and ripped. But due to my ectomorph genetics, I was not able to maintain muscular size due to the lack of carbohydrates. I was on stage looking like Tom Flatz.
The Maximum Definition Diet requires tremendous focus and discipline. By no means is this a balanced way to eat, and I would only recommend it for bodybuilders and trainees who are looking to get absolutely ripped.
2) The Standard Method
The Standard Method of carb cycling borrows from the Gironda split but allows you to eat carbohydrates daily.
You will not be living in Carb City but each day you will rotate your carbohydrate amounts. This is exactly what I mentioned when I talked about the basic premise behind carb cycling.
In the Maximum Definition Diet, you had 3 days of no carbs followed by 1 day where you had 1 carbohydrate-rich meal. With the Standard Method, you will have either a high, medium or low carbohydrate intake day.
For example, Monday may be a high day at 300 grams. Tuesday may be a medium day at 200 grams and Wednesday may be a low day at 100 grams. You would restart the process on Thursday.
You would have to be smart with this plan and adjust it to your training schedule so that everything matched up. Broken down the basic Standard Method would look like this based on the example:
Monday- 300 grams
Tuesday- 200 grams
Wednesday- 100 grams
Thursday- 300 grams
Friday- 200 grams
Saturday- 100 grams
Sunday- 300 grams
The Standard Method is something that can be used long-term because it is not as mentally taxing as the Maximum Definition Diet.
In fact, most people would benefit eating in this fashion because it still allows them to have carbs and at the same time lose body fat.
The Standard Method should be adjusted to how well you handle carbs, your somatotype, and how fast your metabolic rate is.
Although the Standard Method is great for fat loss without losing muscle, I feel like there is a way to improve upon it with the Daily Rotational Method.
3) The Daily Rotational Method
The Daily Rotational Method is my preferred way to cycle my carbs when I’m prepping for a competition, athletic event, or a photo shoot.
I started using this method in 2012 and have been constantly evolving it since then. When I used it this year the results were astounding.
If you look at the main picture you will see that I literally lost zero muscle during the 12-week process and I was more ripped and fuller than I ever was. My bodyweight went from 170lbs to 164lbs.
This method of carb cycling involves you cycling your carbs daily to match that day’s activity level.
This is the way I prefer by far and I personally feel this will allow you to retain muscle fullness and your performance in the weight room or on the track.
You do not have specific set amounts of carbs or even specific high/medium/low days. You have specific carb ranges based on how you feel and look and how demanding your training session was.
You are basing the amounts of carbs on your activity level for the day. Your calories will also have ranges as you will change your caloric intakes daily too.
The harder and more demanding your training session is, the more food you are allowing yourself to eat to recover.
You may set a range of 300-400g of carbs for a lower body session followed by hard conditioning.
In that session, if you added an extra set or reps and you are completely folded at the end then you will probably aim to eat closer to 400 grams for that day.
If you simply followed the plan and the session was tough, but not a knockout punch you would probably eat closer to 300 grams for that day.
Do you really need to take a trip to deepest parts of Carb City when all you did was perform the bench press and pull-ups? The demands for that day were not as high as the previous day.
Therefore the carbs that you eat for that day can be lower. You would be better off in the 175-225g range.
This method requires a tremendous amount of self-awareness. You cannot just eat carbs because you think you need them.
Let the reflection in the mirror and your performance in the gym or track tell you about exactly what you need.
Are your lifts fading? Then you need to increase your carbs.
Do you have a watery look and just not showing your definition as well as you should? Then you should reduce your carbs.
The great thing about the Daily Rotational Method is that as you get closer to your peak levels of leanness you will have earned the right to eat more carbs and still get leaner since your metabolism will be faster.
It is important to also note that regardless of the carb cycling plan that you use that you consume the majority of your daily carbs around your workout. This ensures that will be used for energy and recovery and not being stored as that gelatinous substance known as fat.
Note: If you are interested in a carb cycling nutrition plan, please contact me at Fitman@FitmanPerformance.com.
Carb cycling is the best way to eat for fat loss while building/retaining muscle simultaneously.
By cycling your carbs you are only giving your body the energy it needs to perform the training. This will allow more fat to be used as energy throughout the day.
Commit to a true carb cycle for 6-12 weeks and you will be pleased with your much leaner physique and the retention of your hard earned muscle mass.
It ain’t easy but nothing in life worth anything is.