You are headed to get leaner and build some muscle? Surprisingly, it is easier to reach the ultimate goal than you actually think. The solution is strategic carb and calorie cycling with the help of fasting. When carb and calorie cycling, there are 4 types of days you can include: low carb/high fat (LCHF), moderate calorie cycling, carb back loading, intermittent fasting carb/moderate fat (MCMF), high carb-low fat (HCLF), and full day fasts (FDF). Each of these days has its own rules for what to intake and how to work out. With the exception of FDF, protein is kept high every day (BW x 1-1.5 for men; use 0.8 for women). For instance, a 200lb male would eat 200-300g of protein per day, while a 125lb female would eat 100g.
This is how you will eat on non-workout days, or days that you do interval workout. Think of it as a fat cut day. On this day, you will not consume any starchy carbohydrates and will limit fruit consumption to just berries and/or apples. Eat bigger amount of healthy fats on this day (nut butters, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.).
This is how you’re going to eat on days that you lift weights. Treat this as a day to gain a bit of muscle. The first meal after your exercise, include 2 to 4 palm-sized servings of starchy carbohydrates. Eat a regular amount of healthy fats with each meal (except after your workout). Limit fruit intake to 2 servings of fruit.
I only suggest including this day once per week. This day needs to be treated as a big muscle-building day. This is the best day of the cycle, and will work perfectly on the day that you have your 200% giving workout. On this day, intake starchy carbohydrates (2 to 3 palm-sized servings) with every meal after your training (also known as carb back loading). You can eat as much fruit as you want. Try to exercise before 6:00pm. Ingest as little fat as possible that day (take your usual amount of fats from supplements such as fish oil, though).
A full day fast is nearly exactly how it sounds. Eat nothing this day, and don’t go to the gym. Sip on BCAAs (BW x 0.2g) and veggies drink throughout the day. If you have something to do, get it done this day because you will be super effective. Do all to keep your mind off of food. The FDF needs to be included for 3 factors: it keeps average caloric intake low, it keeps insulin levels low, and it helps you to generate more growth hormone. These 3 elements are all vital when it comes to losing fat and gaining muscle.
How the Cycle Works
First off, this cycle prioritizes fat loss over muscle gain. Why? Because we want to maximize your control over insulin, and it’s first and foremost. You see that insulin is a storage hormone. When there is glucose in the blood, insulin is released to accumulate the glucose as glycogen in either fat, muscle, or the liver. As you start to become slimmer, researches show that your body is better at controlling your levels of insulin. This means that it will be easier for you to get skinnier while building muscle. In the end, our aim is to get as much glucose stored in the muscle (instead of fat cells obviously) as possible.
It is absolutely easy to control insulin by carb intake. If eaten before an exercise, carbs are most likely converted to glucose and stored in fat cells. On the contrary, after a workout they are transformed to glucose and used for muscle storage and repair. This, my friends, will be your secret weapon.
The Fat Loss Battle
For majority of people, this can easily be attained by eating no starchy carbs and small amounts of fruit on LCHF days, as well as incorporating full day fasts. This is also known as a ketogenic form of eating. Every meal will have a good amount of protein, veggies, and a serving of healthy fat.
On MCMF days, you will only intake starchy carbs your first meal post workout. Don't be insufficient on the amount of carbs you eat in this meal. So - enjoy them because you’ve earned them. An ideal starting point is BW x 0.5 grams. For instance, a 200lb male would eat 100g of carbs in this post workout meal. For more productive fat loss - use BW x 0.25.
If you are already moderately lean (under 15% BF for men, and under 20% BF for women), your goal is only to be cutting 1 to 2 pounds per week (excluding the first week). In case you continue to drop weight too fast, either replace your FDF day with a LCHF day, or slightly increase the amount of fat you are eating on LCHF days. This guarantees safe and sustainable weight/fat loss.
Getting the Scale to Go in the Right Direction
To ensure that you are above all in fat loss mode to start, I would highly suggest daily intermittent fasting with an approximate 16/8 fasting to eating ratio (Lean gains style). This is an excellent way to stay compliant, and lower daily caloric intake.
Once you are relatively lean - below 10% for men and below 15% for women, then you can start to prioritize muscle gain. The easiest method to do this is to replace the FDF with a LCHF day.
When it comes to tracking body composition, carb and calorie cycling is the way to go. Add this with daily intermittent fasting, and you are sure to be lean, compliant, and an overall badass. Reward yourself for lifting weights by getting carbs.