Carb Cycling – A Daily Meal Plan to You Get Started

Whether your goal is to build muscle, see your six pack abs, or get back in shape, this simple carb cycling plan will help you eat healthy and stay consistent.

“Is today a High Carb day or a Low Carb day?”

How you answer that will not only dictate if you have a nice slice of warm bread — it’ll also guide you for the rest of the food decisions you’ll make that night:

Sweet potato appetizer…or skip and go straight to the entree?
Steak with potatoes…or the salad with a double order of grilled chicken?
Lots of carbs…or no carbs?

This is called “carb cycling” and it’s our nutritional secret weapon that will help turn your body in a muscle-building, fat-burning machine. Here’s how to do it.
HOW CARB CYCLING WORKS

While it has a fancy name, carb cycling is nothing more than eating more carbohydrates on some days (High Carb days) to help promote muscle growth and eating less carbohydrates on other days (Low Carb days) to help minimize fat gain and even promote fat loss.

We focus on carbohydrates (and not protein or fats) because carbs seem to have the most influential effect on body composition and how you look.
High Carb Days:

stimulate an insulin response that shuttle nutrients in your muscle cells, causing them to grow

replenish glycogen stores that fuel your muscles

make you feel good and energized

Low Carb Days:

promote fat loss by tricking your body into burning fat for fuel (instead of the sugar from the carbs it would normally get)

keep your body more receptive to insulin, improving your body’s muscle-building response

Follow This: easy Carb Cycling Plan

The rules for carb cycling are very simple.

Rule 1. On the days you lift weights, eat starchy carbs along with protein, vegetables, and healthy fats.

Rule 2. On the days you’re either off from the gym or are doing some kind of intervals or cardio, don’t eat any starchy carbs, but continue to eat protein, vegetables, and healthy fats.

That’s it. There’s no need to measure how many grams of carbs you’re eating or count calories.

If you can add and subtract, you can do carb cycling.

Eat This, Not That
Eat This: Nutrient-Dense Carbs

sweet or white potato oatmeal quinoa whole wheat pasta or tortillas fruit (especially berries) rice whole grain bread

Don’t Eat That: Junk Carbs

Doughnuts and other pastries Cakes, cookies, and other desserts Pizza (store-bought or delivery) Muffins or croissants Sugar-packed instant oatmeal packets

High Carb Meal With Grains:

High Carb Meal
Low Carb Meal Without Grains:

Low Carb Meal

So what would a typical week for a guy who wants to stay lean, improve his health, and gain a little muscle look like? Assuming he’s doing three weight workouts per week, here’s how we’d set it up:

Workouts and Carbs

Monday: Upper Body Workout / High Carb

Tuesday: Interval Sprints / Low Carb

Wednesday: Off / Low Carb

Thursday: Lower Body Workout / High Carb

Friday: Off or 20 minutes of cardio / Low Carb

Saturday: Total Body Workout / High Carb

Sunday: Off / Low Carb

Sample High Carb Day

Main carb sources highlighted.
Breakfast:

3 whole eggs (scrambled, poached, or fried)
Oatmeal (1/2 cup of oats, cooked in microwave)
Couple handfuls of frozen berries for the oatmeal
Snack:

2 scoops protein powder in water
1 banana
Couple handfuls of raw mixed nuts
Lunch at Restaurant:

Burrito wrapped in whole wheat tortilla with lots of meat and vegetables

or

Sandwich on whole grain bread with lots of meat and lettuce, tomato, etc.
Optional 2nd Snack:

2 scoops protein powder in water
1 banana
Couple handfuls of raw mixed nuts
Dinner at Home:

Healthy Pesto Chicken Pizza
Sample Low Carb Day
Breakfast:

3-4 whole eggs (scrambled, poached, or fried)
Breakfast salad with broccoli slaw, arugula, and low-calorie dressing
Snack:

2 scoops protein powder in water
Couple handfuls of baby carrots
Couple handfuls of raw mixed nuts
Lunch at Restaurant:

Salad with lots of meat and vegetables
Optional 2nd Snack:

2 scoops protein powder in water
Couple handfuls of baby carrots
Couple handfuls of raw mixed nuts
Dinner at Home:

Sirloin Burger with Coconut Cauliflower Mash

Cheat Tip: Replace Grains With Greens

Notice how both the High Carb days and Low Carb days are virtually the same (lots of protein, veggies, and fat) with just one simple replacement: we replaced grains and fruit with greens.

In other words, wherever there was a starchy carbohydrate (grains or fruit), we simply added in vegetables to take its place.

Tips and Tricks – Carb Cycling FAQ
What if I get hungry on Low Carb days?

Occasionally, you may feel hungry on your Low Carb days. This is because you’re avoiding starchy carbohydrates which fill you up fast and contain a lot of calories.

Ride through the hunger by adding more protein and vegetables to your meal. There’s no harm in eating an extra bun-less burger or more salad.
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How many carbs should I eat at every meal?

Don’t worry about counting grams of carbs. The beauty of our carb cycling plan is in its simplicity. Just remember the rules:

On High Carb days, eat starchy carbs and fruit along with your protein, veggies, and healthy fats.

On Low Carb days, don’t eat starchy carbs or fruit, but continue to eat protein, veggies, and healthy fats.
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Can I do a High Carb day on days I don’t lift weights?

You can, but we don’t usually recommend it. The reason we relegate High Carb days to the days you lift is because your muscles will be ready to soak up all those nutrients after a tough workout.
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Can I eat “junk food” on my High Carb days?

We’re not your mom. And we’d be lying if we said we never had dessert. But the more you stick to the “Eat This” Carb List, the better off you and your body will be.

Junk food normally has a high amount of carbs and a high amount of fat. If you get in the habit of eating crap food on your High Carb days, your body will be more prone to pack on body fat thanks to the combination of high blood sugar, high blood insulin, and high blood fat.

Which, you know, kind of defeats the purpose of carb cycling.
Nothing To Lose But Your Belly

Forget complicated math, counting calories, and measuring food. Instead, use our simple carb cycling rules to turn your body into a fat burning, muscle-building machine.

Lifting weights today? Eat your carbs.

Doing cardio or taking the day off? Pass on the bread and feel good about it.