Will a carb cycling diet help you get better results?
I have tried many different approaches when it comes to sufficient weightloss, I have been asked my opinion many times on what is the best diet and how to easiest lose the most fat, being honest all of the diets work.. Its just which suits you and your lifestyle.
But will carb cycling help you get better results.., Not according to a new study published in the journal Nutrients.
In fact, the researchers report that “A balanced diet outperformed a cyclical keto diet when it came to improving body composition”
But that’s just the headline… and information from just one study. Let us take a closer look at the details to understand the full picture—and why the results might or might not match your (or your friends) experience.
You probably need to know this first…
In case you’re not familiar with “carb cycling” or a “cyclical ketogenic diet,” here’s a basic description: Generally, Carb cycling is a period of lower Carn consumption usually over about 3-7 days followed by a shorter period of higher carb consumption.
(You could also eat high carb on workout days, and low carb on non-workout days; you’ll find there are various approaches you can use. There are many ways to the same end goal.)
The hypothesis goes something like this: By keeping carbs low most of the time, your body will start using more fat for energy.
So carb cycling advocates say it speeds fat loss. Plus, some believe the high-carb days provide a hormonal boost that’ll also help you better maintain muscle.
There’s more to it than that, but you get the idea.
In this study, the researchers defined the diets this way…
Balanced 15% protien 55% Carb 10% fat
Cyclical keto diet
Weekdays 20% protien 10% carb 70%fat
Weekends same as balanced diet
How the study worked
- Twenty-five males were randomly assigned to a Balanced Diet or Cyclical Ketogenic Diet.
- The dieters were in their early to mid-twenties and had at least one year of resistance and aerobic training experience.
- For each diet, they were all told to eat 500 calories less than what they’d need to maintain their weight. (Based on the researchers’ estimates.)
- Both groups performed three strength workouts (about 60 minutes) per week, along with three aerobic workouts (30 minutes).
What the study found
Turns out, both diets led to significant weight loss, fat loss, and improvements in body fat percentage. That makes sense, given they cut the same number of daily calories.
Those who followed the Balanced Diet lost 4.5 kg (9.9 lbs) of body weight, 89 percent of which was from fat.
However those on the cyclical keto diet lost a significant amount of lean mass, They lost only 1.9 kg (4.2 lbs) of actual fat, which represented just 41 percent of their total weight loss.
What’s more, only those on the Balanced Diet saw significant increases in strength and aerobic capacity
This is just one study.
(Yes, I emphasize this frequently in the Research posts I put out.)
Plus, with just 25 young, physically active male participants, it’s also very small. So you shouldn’t just think that carb cycling doesn’t work at all (Although it obviously underperformed in this trial.)
We also don’t know how the findings might apply to, say, older men, all women, or people with obesity or diabetes.
The fact is, there’s just not much research on the topic.
At eight weeks in duration, this is the longest head-to-head study we know of that compares carb cycling to a more traditional diet—and that also looks at body composition changes.