Want to learn more about carb cycling for women? Wondering how this fits into a low carb diet? If you are left wondering what is carb cycling, what are high carb days, what are low carb days and how to carb cycle for fat loss, you need to continue reading.
I’ve got a fantastic 28-day carb cycling meal plan pdf, as well as a free carb cycling chart to help you easily set up a schedule!
Carb Cycling For Weight Loss
Carb cycling is a healthy diet plan that can help you lose weight and feel great. Who doesn’t want that? I’m a woman who loves carbs, but I can’t just eat pasta every day! That’s why carb cycling is perfect for me because it still lets me indulge in my favorite foods while also helping me reach my goals.
Prior to 2013, my normal daily diet was carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Problem was, after 40, that also meant pounds, pounds and more pounds.
That was when I decided enough was enough. It was time to stop binge eating at night, take control of my diet, and get some healthy results.
The carb cycling diet plan turned out to be a great way for me to lose over 35 lbs and get over my weight loss plateau. Eating salads every day is great, but who wants to only eat salads? Carb cycling for women works because we aren’t constantly depriving ourselves of our beloved carbs.
I love carb cycling (sounds like a bumper sticker) for the flexibility it provides while giving the results we want. Anyone can do low carb a day or two at a time if you know higher carb days are right around the corner, right?
Do you love carbs too? Then you need to know how carb cycling works and how it can be beneficial to you. These carb cycling meal ideas are a good place to start!
28 Day Carb Cycling Meal Plan: 1200-1500 Calories
28 Days of on Target, Easy to Follow Meals so you can:
Create Healthy Habits
There’s evidence that low-carb diets and carb cycling can help women, when done right, especially those in perimenopause or menopause, to achieve weight loss goals, improved blood sugar control, better quality sleep and reduced menopause symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats.
Jumpstart your metabolism with carb cycling! This 4 week meal plan is what every person starting carb cycling needs for success. Put together by a licensed dietician and approved by me! Carb cycling is one of the methods that helped me shed over 30 lbs in just a few months AND keep it off! See what’s included…
Carb Cycling 101
Carb cycling has been around for decades. It is the process of lowering your carb consumption for a short period of time before gradually increasing it.
Carb cycling women use their body’s natural processes and reactions to food to get a metabolism boost while burning fat cells rather than muscle tissue.
Without getting into too much science, we want our fat cells to burn rather than muscle tissue. That may sound very logical, however, there are many women (including me, years ago) who are starving themselves to lose fat, only they are losing muscle mass.
When we shed pounds through starving our body, we lose muscle tone. We weigh less, but we are not fit, healthy or slim. Which is exactly why we struggle with the scale not moving after 40.
Example. Many years ago, I would lose weight through diets and starvation with major caloric deficit only. No exercise. Yeah, the weight was dropped, my clothing size even dropped a little. I would end up weighing about 140lbs and wear a size 8/10.
However, I never could get below an 8 and thought it just wasn’t possible for me.
Once I started eating healthy and exercising (like this 15 min no equipment beginner workout), the fat was burned and I am now a size 0/2 without a day or hour of starving.
Did I mention I still weigh about 140 lbs? You can see the difference in how eating right and exercising can be beneficial for results. Metabolism is kicked up through what we eat and the amount of muscle tone we have.
How To Carb Cycle For Women
A carb cycling diet is alternating carb macro amounts on different days of the week. That means changing the number of grams of carbs eaten.
You may have 3 low carb days and 4 high carb days per week. Or maybe it changes from week to week. There are many different combinations of carb cycling to lose weight.
Knowing my goal was to be healthy, I have been trying to eat clean, moderate carbs for a few years. Like you, I have had my weak days or even gladly ate a cheat meal here and there. When that happens, I then make sure to eat clean, healthy, low-carb meals for at least a few days to make up for it.
In simple terms, that is what carb cycling is.
What Should Your Carb Cycling Macros Be?
There are different carb cycling menu plans with different macro numbers to follow depending on your goals and individual needs. Each eating plan is a rotation of high and low carb days.
In the FFM Weight Loss Plan, high carb days are a 40-40-20 (carbs-protein-fats) macros split, while low carb days are a 20-40-40 split, rotating the carbs and healthy fats. We suggest 2-3 high carb days per week.
If you are wondering what to eat on a high carb day, you’re not alone. There are so many choices of carbs. Although the carb cycle meal plan has some flexibility, every high carb day can’t be full of breads, pastas and sugars. Those carbs will wreck your diet if you eat them often, so try to focus your higher carb days on healthy carbs such as quinoa, oats, potatoes and plenty of fruits and veggies!
How Many Carbs Should I Eat When Carb Cycling?
On our plan, we believe 40% carbs is a good number for high carb days. On the lower or moderate carb cycle days, 20% carbs is the goal.
Learning about macros for women can be an important step to educating yourself for weight loss and better health. Tracking macros for fat loss is vital to get a clear and honest view of how your body uses the food you’re eating. As women over 40, simply cutting back calories just doesn’t work like it used to.
If you need help learning how to calculate your macros, visit my post on Nutrition for the details.
Benefits of Carb Cycling
Carb cycling can be an incredibly powerful tool for consistently losing weight. This is because it allows you to eat the foods that you love (and crave) while still attaining your desired results.
It’s also extremely versatile, allowing you to pair it with any type of fitness regimen or even modify its rules to better fit your lifestyle.
Carb cycling results include:
A high-carb day, like lighting a fire, satisfies your metabolism. As a result, you keep your lean muscle and burn more calories. You will also feel more energized which helps you push your workouts to the max.
Burn Fat More Efficiently
It’s no secret that reducing carbohydrate consumption helps you lose weight. When carbohydrates are unavailable, your body uses fat as its fuel source for energy. As a result, low-carb days help your body burn fat.
On the high carb days, carbohydrates are stored in your muscles as glycogen. Your workouts deplete the glycogen stores, which builds up your muscles while burning fat. When you eat carbohydrates, they refill your glycogen stores to prepare you for the next workout.
This means more carbs on high carb days are beneficial for building muscle and increasing strength. More muscle means more fat burning. More muscle also creates a more toned appearance.
Build Lean Muscle Faster
Carbohydrates aren’t necessary for muscle building, according to keto enthusiasts. While this is technically true, there’s no doubting that carbs help the process move along more quickly.
By increasing your carbohydrate intake, you’re giving your muscles the energy they need to repair following a workout. This means more muscles faster, with less effort.
Carb cycling has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels, which can fix many issues such as mood swings, cravings, and fatigue.
Other carb cycling benefits include:
- Improved focus (serotonin)
- Reduced muscle loss while dieting (growth hormone)
- Decreased insulin resistance
- Decrease in hunger following a low-carb day
- Higher energy levels on high-carb days
- Improved triglyceride levels (good cholesterol)
- and more!
Enjoy Carbs Guilt Free
With a smart carb cycling menu, you can enjoy the carbs you love without the guilt that comes with breaking your diet. When you know you can have something you love in a day or two, it is much easier to stick to those low-carb days.
Carb cycling women don’t have the monotony of restrictive dieting. And there is no guilt over eating carbs on special occasions because it is all part of the plan.
Reasons to Consider Carb Cycling
There are other reasons to consider carb cycling besides weight loss.
- If your thyroid levels have declined since you have started a ketogenic diet, carb cycling can help bring them back up.
- If you are trying to add muscle mass , carb cycling can add a little bit of carbs back into your diet, since it is designed to prevent muscle breakdown.
- You are always hungry and never feel satisfied. Carb cycling can help you better manage your appetite without worrying about calorie intake.
- You get heart palpitations.
- You get dizzy or have headaches. Both of these symptoms are signs that your electrolytes aren’t where they need to be for you to function normally. Carb cycling can help replenish those and balance them out so you feel much better.
- Your periods are irregular or your PMS symptoms are getting worse. Your hormones could be out of whack due to low carbs, so carb cycling has been known to help with that as well.
With all of these possible benefits, there is no doubt that carb cycling can be a useful tool for many women.
What does the menstrual cycle have to do with carbs?
Love it or hate it, for most women, their menstrual cycle shows up on a monthly basis and our bodies work hard during that time preparing for a baby.
That means that a woman’s body is sensitive to the changes that happen over the course of a cycle, including changes in energy and carb intake. If you have inadequate energy and carb intake, your body can signal that it is not time for a baby because it senses hormonal dysregulation.
This is why many women choose to use carb cycling throughout their menstrual cycle. This can prevent the body from going into survival mode. Estrogen can drive the changes in insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate tolerance.
As estrogen spikes, which happens twice during a cycle, women can use this to increase their healthy carbs. This can optimize building muscles. Increased carbs during this time can also help reduce inflammation that can come during high intensity physical activity.
On the other side of this, when estrogen is low, this is the perfect time for your low carb days. This is when a woman’s body is likely to store carbs. This can cause weight gain and an increase in body fat.
Menopause and Carb Cycling
For the reasons above, following a carb cycling meal plan can be extremely successful for weight loss for women over 40 and who are peri-menopausal or in menopause.
Carb Cycling for Weight Loss
Carb cycling is a genius food plan. Really, it is. It is a much more effective way of eating than continually following low carb diets, day after day.
Because of the constant change from high to low carbs, and with a cheat meal or day scheduled in, the body burns more calories!
On the high carb days, it burns the food instead of storing because there is enough. On the low carb days, the body is forced to burn fat.
It’s also helpful to follow a carb cycling workout plan, correlating your exercises with your carb cycling schedule. If you need help correlating the two, be sure to grab the Carb Cycling Cheat Sheet above by submitting your email address and I will send you a copy straight to your inbox. With it, you’ll be able to see what days are best for your harder workouts, plus calculate what your macros should be for optimum success.
Carb cycling for women is easily customized for different goals and works right along with vacations and individual schedules. I really love the flexibility – a carb cycling schedule can work for anyone!
Carb Cycling Meal Plan to Follow
We have a very popular 28 day Carb Cycling Meal Plan right here on the website for your convenience. It has over 50 different of recipes for meals and snacks as well as plenty of quick, easy solutions to ensure you’re eating the right foods on the right days.
The carb cycling meal plan pdf is easy to download and print and comes with all of the materials needed to learn to carb cycle.
Have questions? Just leave a comment below.
Additional Posts for Weight Loss:
- A Must Read: Ground Turkey vs Ground Beef?
- Here’s a Great Low Carb Protein Powder to Support a Low Carb Diet
- Intermittent Fasting vs. Daily Reduced Calories: Which One is Really the Best?