Friday, May 25, 2007

Carb Cycling Findings

The diet log that I am maintaining on this site has only one weight per week, so it is hard for you to see how great the fluctuations are. Typically during my 3 days of carb up, I gain between 5 and 10 pounds. This weight then comes off very fast once I begin my carb down. I think that the fluctuations are due primarily to water retention. So, if you try carb cycling, don't freak out over the rapid weight gain following your first up cycle. Try to step back and look at your long term weight changes or simply focus on your waste and hips measurements.

Loosely following a diet of under 45 net carbs daily for 6 months resulted in an average weekly weight loss of 2.3 pounds per week or 0.78% of total body weight. The rate of weight loss slowed over time. So, if only looking at the last 2 of 6 months, the average weekly loss was 0.7 pounds or 0.25% of total body weight).

5-2 carb cycling (5 days under 45 net carbs, 2 days over 190*) for 5 weeks resulted in an average weekly loss of 0.4 pounds or 0.15% of total body weight.

11-3 carb cycling (11 days under 45 net carbs, 3 days over 190*) for 7 weeks resulted in an average weekly loss of 0.66 pounds or 0.24% of total body weight.

So far, it seems obvious that the 5-2 cycling (taking every weekend off from your low-carb diet) does not work nearly as good as low carb every day. However, the 11-3 cycling (taking a slightly longer weekend off every other week) seems to work almost as well as low-carb every day. Keep in mind that the leaner I get, the harder it is to lose weight. So, my 0.66 pounds per week might be the same or greater than what I would have lost had I taken no carb-up days. Hopefully some of my fellow low-carb bloggers willfollow suit so that we can compare results.

It is still not apparent whether or not the carb-up days will result in increased metabolism.
Regardless, even if cycling does not impact metabolism, it is comforting to have some weekends off of the diet and not feel like my will power is broken.

*For me, carb up days seem to usually wind up somewhere between 300 and 400 net carbs per day.


About PJ said...

I'm wondering how the 14 day cycle broken into

5 days standard LC
1 or 2 days ultra LC (>15)
5 days standard LC
1 or 2 days very HC
(the ULC matching the VHC)

would pan out. I grant, it would reduce one day of eating as you wish (maybe two depending), and it would add 1-2 days of much greater restriction than usual (lotsa meat or protein drinks I guess!). But if it helps to kick start a 'difference' for the body maybe a lower difference would matter just like a higher one would. And maybe the higher # of days could be set by the lower one; that oughtta be encouragement to stay on VLC two days instead of one haha.

Maybe I'll try it. I need to spend a little more time back in ketosis though, stabilizing, before I get wild. ;-)

Big Daddy D said...

My concern would be that ultra-low carb (near 0) might result in the body thinking it's starving and therefore trying to put on fat. But, it would be worth trying for a month...

Best case, your strategy works.

Most likely case, it works but not quite as well as full time low-carb.

Worst Case, you gain a little weight and go back to what you were doing before.

Since you are already doing low carb, I'd recommend doing measurements the morning that your carb-up cycle begins. If you measure at the end of the start of carb-down, be prepared for a shock as I usually gain 5-10 pounds (probably water weight).

Big Daddy D said...

Another thought for females... to keep your weight measurements a bit more consistant, what about synching your diet with your menstral cycles? Carb up during periods and during ovulation, carb down at other times? Just a thought.

Sherrie said...

For me I certainly think it helped perk up my metabolism. I had lost the majority of my weight and only had a few kgs to go and I was weight training which really started to take its toll with strict lcing.
When I did it I had been stalled for a while, I started a carb up every saturday and I started losing again. My cycles improved including periods that had stopped when I was stalled which returned pretty much straight away if I remember right.

When I was reading up a lot on this the general consensus seemed to be the leaner you were the longer and more frequent carb ups you need.