Carb Cycling Meal Plans - Shaun Stafford WBFF Pro
I have been asked by a few people to give ideas of what you should eat for the high/ low carb days, and give a few more guidelines on the subject. This is not a definitive answer on the subject, but this is what I have come up with for my most recent cycle, and so far, so good.
A little bit of planning is required to work out what specific quantities of different foods you should be having: sitting at around 85kgs (187lbs), I have found that if my daily calorie intake is around 2,400, then I can maintain bodyweight, and induce fat loss. Looking at the bigger picture means that I need to look at this on a ‘weekly’ basis. Now this week doesn’t have to be 7 days… it can be, but for this example (3-low/1-high) I will take an 8 day period as a week! Using the above figure, I know that I need to be consuming around 19,200kcals/ 8 days to maintain bodyweight, and drop fat… now for the plans!
What I do is I drop the Carbohydrate levels of my ‘low carb’ days to a bare minimum: for this I find it hard to get much lower than 30g/day, and in fact there has been a bit of research that states anything lower than 30g/day inhibits some brain function and hormone release… To keep my calories at a level where I am not a zombie, I increase my protein and fat intake to compensate for the drop in ‘carb calories’.
The deficit for the ‘low carb’ days is approximately 400-450kcals. Here is what a typical day would look like:
Low Carb Day
I would follow 3 days of depletion at this deficit to drop my muscle and blood glycogen levels, and help burn off as much fat as possible. Then, when the body is starting to shift to a more catabolic state, I switch to a very carb and calorie dense day, well in excess of my normal calorie baseline.
For the ‘high carb' day, I still eat regularly, but actively include carbohydrates from varied sources: fruit, grains, supplements, veg… This is to stock pile the muscles with glycogen again, and get the body flooding itself with metabolic hormones such as Leptin and Insulin again! This turns the body back to a muscle building machine, and continues to strip away fats… Calories on this high carb day can reach 4000kcals!
High Carb Day
You may think this is way too many calories to be effective at fat burning, but that is when you must look at the bigger picture of the ‘weekly view’: if I am supposed to be hitting 19,200kcals from my 8 day cycle to sustain mass and burn fat, 6 days at c.1950kcals, and 2 days at 3700kcals makes a ‘weekly’ total of c.19,000kcals… pretty much bang on the money!!!
I have found this manipulation of your bodies capacity to switch fuel sources really helpful in getting me to drop body fat quickly, but be warned, it is not for the faint hearted: on high carb days I often get headaches due to the influx of glucose into the body… Also, it is not uncommon to feel very up and down through the course of the cycle, as energy levels go a little bananas!!!
In terms of your training when Carb Cycling, I tend to hit some fasted cardio on the low carb days to burn off some extra fat and wake me up, and then hit a big weights session in the afternoon after lunch. A tip is to hit your least favorite or hardest body parts at the start of the cycle when energy levels should be higher, and save your favorite or easiest workouts for when you are most depleted.
As I have said, carb cycling isn’t for everyone, but I have found it to be a really effective tool, and something that has now become a staple of my contest prep! Enjoy!
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