The Keto Zone diet is a very-low-carb diet that provides maximum health and weight loss benefits. But there are certain situations where you might need to slightly and temporarily increase your carbs. This is where carb cycling can be beneficial.
This article will discuss what carb cycling is, when you might need it, and how to do it.
CARB CYCLING: WHAT IT IS, HOW TO DO IT, AND WHEN IT’S USEFUL
Carb cycling means alternating your carbohydrate intake over a certain period of time. The goal is to time your carb intake so that it gives you the most benefit without doing harm.
Carb cycling can be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on your needs. For example, in a week, you could eat low-carb for five days and slightly higher-carb for two days. Or, you might eat extra carbs at a certain time of day or certain days during the month.
Higher-carb days can range anywhere between 50-150 net grams per day, depending on your individual needs and lifestyle.
Start on the smaller end first, and keep listening to your body to see what works.
And remember, low-carb days should be at 20 net carb grams or less if you’re following the Keto Zone diet.
WHAT TO EAT
When you do increase carbs, make sure they’re still nutrient-dense, healthy forms (like those allowed on my 21-Day Detox):
- Veggies like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, kale, and carrots
- Beans and legumes like lentils or chickpeas
- Berries like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
You’ll still want to avoid refined carbs like sugars, flours, corn, white potatoes, or grains and make sure your carbs are from nutrient-dense whole foods.
Here are some situations when you might need carb cycling:
1. AFTER REACHING A GOAL WEIGHT
When you reach your goal weight on the Keto Zone diet and are then in maintenance mode, you may benefit from moving into carb cycling. This will help you listen to your body and find what works best for you.
2. CARB CYCLING FOR SLEEP TROUBLES
If you’ve had trouble sleeping since starting a low carb diet, carb cycling might help. Having some extra carbs before bed can make getting to sleep easier for some people.
Try eating 1-2 teaspoons of honey before bed when you’re having trouble sleeping to help your body produce more serotonin and aid you into sleep.
In general, your body will get used to a low-carb diet after several weeks and you won’t need to rely on them to get to sleep.
3. CARB CYCLING FOR WOMEN
Although the ketogenic diet can actually help balance hormones, some women eating low-carb may experience a disruption in their monthly cycle. This is because the hormones estrogen and progesterone greatly impact carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
If you’re a woman who has experienced hair loss, low energy, or weight gain after following a low-carb diet, you may also benefit from carb cycling.
In this case, you’ll want to sync carb cycling with your menstrual cycle:
- During the first two weeks of your cycle, which includes menstruation, estrogen levels are highest. Your body will be more insulin-sensitive and better able to handle carbohydrates. This is a good time to increase carbs to meet hormone changes.
- During the third and fourth weeks of your cycle, ovulation has passed and your progesterone levels are highest. Your body is less sensitive to insulin and doesn’t tolerate carbs well. This is when you can continue eating the Keto Zone diet as normal.
During this process, always listen to your body. Some women need more carbs during menstruation, while others just need a little more. And some women do just fine on 20 net carbs or less per day without issues.
Remember to consult your doctor if you continue to have trouble with your cycle or hormones.
4. CARB CYCLING FOR PHYSICAL FITNESS AND ATHLETES
If you’re a serious athlete or do very intense physical activity, you might also need more carbohydrates.
Carb cycling can provide more carbs on intense training days or around intense workout days to ensure they get used efficiently. Some extra carbs may also help with recovery . (This is also known as a cyclical ketogenic diet.)
Another option is to have 25-50 grams of carbohydrates about a half hour before an intense training workout, then eat the Keto Zone diet the rest of the time. (This is also known as the targeted ketogenic diet.)
And remember the rest of the time when you aren’t cycling up, you’re back on 20 grams of net carbs or less. This is important to reap the fat-burning health benefits of the Keto Zone diet!