There are a few fundamental truths when it comes to dieting and bodybuilding. To lose fat, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. But eat too few calories, or eat badly, and you can lose muscle. However, to build muscle, you need to take in more calories than you burn. So how do you keep or build on the muscles you have while cutting down on your body fat percentage? The answer for you could be a carb-cycling diet.
Carb cycling has a number of benefits:
- It tricks your body into burning calories
As you limit your caloric intake, your body reacts by slowing down your metabolism to save energy and increasing hunger and cravings. This is directly due to the levels of a protein hormone called leptin, which is primarily produced by your fat (adipose) cells. Carb cycling works by kicking your calorie levels up on certain days to reset your leptin levels. This speeds up your metabolism, helping you burn more calories and reduce hunger pangs (at least temporarily).
- It helps elevate your hormones
Dieting can wreak havoc with your hormone levels. But by increasing your leptin levels, it also ultimately boosts your levels of testosterone and growth hormone while also reducing the catabolic hormone cortisol.
- It gives you the chance to build muscle
As mentioned above, you need to be in a calorie surplus to build muscle. In most diets, you maintain a calorie deficit most of the time. In carb cycling, you move from a caloric deficit to a surplus throughout the week. By timing your training so that you’re doing your hard work on or just after caloric surplus days, you may be able to build muscle.
- It’s easier to stick to
Sustaining day after day of eating barely any carbs can be brutal, especially when no end is in sight. With carb cycling, sticking to a strict diet for a couple of days is easier, because you know that a high-carb day is just around the corner.