My Carb Cycling Plan

So I met ‘Mr Muscle’ a few weeks ago and he looked at my training and nutrition. The first thing he noticed about what I eat is that I eat hardly any carbs, and any I do, are usually sugary, simple carbs (following a craving).

I’ve perhaps been swept up by the idea that carbs are bad, when in fact it’s the simple sugary / baked goods which aren’t good. But there are plenty of carbohydrates which are good.

Mr Muscle suggested I do ‘carb cycling’ in my aim to get leaner and stronger. Here I will go into what I’ve learned so far and how I hope to do carb cycling.

The idea of “carb cycling” is that it’s a nutritional secret weapon that will help turn your body in a muscle-building, fat-burning machine. Here’s how to do it.


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 or Med Carb days) to help minimise fat gain and even promote fat loss.

The focus is on carbohydrates (and not protein or fats) because carbs seem to have the most influential effect on body composition.

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 energised.

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.

My nutritional intake is in the most part low carb. I rely mainly on proteins and fats and have limited carbohydrates. So when I eat high carb, it’s a case of having more complex carbohydrates, from vegetables, greens, potatoes, and from simple carbs in the form of fruit.


The rules for carb cycling are very simple.

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

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. I’ll have medium carb days, more oats and veg, on cardio days, and (normal) low carb days on my rest days.

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

I’ve done around two weeks of testing, and the main thing I’ve found is that I’m avoiding the sugar cravings I used to get. And now I’ve come up with a plan (helped along by Mr Muscle).


(If you read this before 28th Dec, I realised the bottom part didn’t post!)

My Carb Cycling Plan 

Training / days / carbs:
Mon: Strength / High
Tue: Run easy / Med-Low
Wed: Rest or Strength / HIIT / Low or Med
Thu: Run effective / Med
Fri: Strength / High
Sat: Run long / Med
Sun: Rest / Low


High carb day (strength days)

Pre workout:
Greek yoghurt & half a banana
2 scrambled eggs, berries, banana, spinach, crushed up Rivita, blueberries. Option to add rice. Coffee: Latte or Americano.
Mocha protein shake with 40g oats
Chicken or tuna salad: cucumber, tomatoes, beet, flaked almonds, raisins, extra Virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar.
Rivita, philly cheese and smoked salmon / tuna.
Greek yoghurt, oats, grapes, nuts
Meat / fish and veg /
Baked sweet potato and tuna or chicken or beans /
Mince and Tatties
Chinese takeaway on Fridays.
2 oatcakes and peanut butter
Water and green tea throughout day.


Med carb day (run days)
Pre workout:
Greek yoghurt & half a banana
Porridge (oats, berries, greek yoghurt, flaked almonds, raisins)
Coffee: Green Tea or Americano
Mocha shake (with coconut milk)
Baked potato and tuna
3 oatcakes and peanut butter
Chicken breast and mixed veg
/ Chicken Stir Fry
2/3 spoonfuls cottage cheese


Low carb day (rest and easy run days)
Pre workout:
2 scrambled eggs, Greek yoghurt and tomatoes or berries or smoked salmon.
Coffee: Americano / Green Tea
Mocha shake (with coconut milk)
Chicken or tuna salad: cucumber, tomatoes, beet, flaked almonds, raisins, extra Virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar.
Almonds or Cashew nuts
Steak / fish and mixed veg


Here are my 10 Tips to support what I’m doing:

1. Focus on calorie deficit first and budget calories accordingly.
– Watch portion sizes, stop when you’re full.
– Consider everything you eat and drink, aim for better choices.
– Slight hunger is ok.

2. Build every meal with lean protein.
– eggs, turkey, chicken, lean red meat, fish, low fat cottage cheese, Greek yoghurt, milk, protein shake.

3. Eat vegetables (fibrous carbs) with every meal.
– Eat foods which are rich in colour: green vegetables, salad vegetables, other fibrous vegetables.
– 5-6 servings of non starchy veg per day, 2 different veggies with each meal.

4. Eat omega 3 and other healthy fats every day.
– Extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, almonds, oily fish, flax seed.

5. Eat 2 fruits every day.
– Included with meals, or after meals.
– Berries and citrus fruits, bananas on high carb days.

6. Eat natural starches and grains.
– On high carb days; rice, oats, baked potatoes, whole meal wraps, vegetables, Rivita.

7. Eat mostly natural foods.
– Go for natural foods where possible, and avoid processed foods.

8. Eat 5 or 6 times a day – a meal or snack every 3 hours.
– When choosing snacks: nuts and seeds, raw vegetables, fruit, yoghurt, cheese, cottage cheese, lean proteins, protein shakes, soup.
– Remember to base meals and snacks around protein.

9. Limit or avoid liquid calories and drink mostly water or green tea instead.
– Drink plenty water and Green Tea.
– Avoid alcohol and limit coffee before2pm.

10. Follow the 90/10 compliance rule.
– Stick to the plan 90% of the time.
– Allow a bit of flexibility and the odd treat every now and again (just don’t make it an every day habit.)
– In coffee shops, have Green Tea / Mixed Nuts.


Other snack options:
– Vegetables / Greens / Chicken
– Banana (high carb days)
– Porridge (high or med carb days)
– Cottage cheese, berries, walnuts (any)
– Mixed Nuts / Sultanas (any)
– Milk / Water / Green Tea
– Protein shake
– For goodness shakes (after long run)
– Cottage cheese, peanut butter, choc protein powder, chopped nuts, blueberries.


Eat 5-7 times a day:
Times of eating:
Pre workout: 6am
Breakfast: 8am
Snack: 11am
Lunch: 1pm
Snack: 3pm
Dinner: 7pm
Snack: 8pm (optional)



So far, I’ve eaten lots on my high carb days, and worked hard in my strength sessions. 2 weeks ago I started at:

124lbs, 20.1% body fat, 58.7% water

And today I weighed in at:

126lbs, 21.5% body fat, 57.6% water

The numbers are going the wrong way (up for lbs and body fat%), so now that Christmas is out of the way, I’m going to have a look at my intake, and be more careful with it. And focus more on doing effective run and strength sessions. See if I can get my nutrition and training right to get leaner and stronger. 🙂

It’ll be interesting to see what happens. I like the idea of carb cycling, I just need to stick with it and see what happens over the next 10 weeks or so.

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