Nutrition

Super-Fast Slimdown Plan

Lean-out fast—and stay that way—with a simple-yet-highly effective diet and training reboot known as carb cycling.

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That’s where carb cycling comes in. This integrated dieting and training technique has long been used by physique athletes to strip away fat. The key is to manipulate your diet by changing around your carb intake, moving from lower carbohydrates in one phase to higher levels in the next.

"When you follow a strictly low-carb diet for weeks or even months on end, it can have a negative impact on your metabolism and actually slow your progress, " explains Denise Maxwell, R.D., a registered dietitian, professional chef and an NPC figure competitor. "That can also result in excess catabolism of muscle, energy depletion, and a decrease in stamina." But by changing around your foods and eating patterns, you’ll help burn off stubborn fat and avoid weight-loss plateaus, she notes.

Giving your body an excess of carbs on high-carb days refills your muscle glycogen stores and promotes a favorable environment for maintaining (and building) muscle. When you switch to low carb, your body will draw on these stored energy reserves and fat—rather than your muscle mass—for power. "When you briefly ‘refuel’ with strategically incorporating higher-carb days, you give your metabolism a boost, " adds Maxwell.

But it’s not just your diet that can be cycled. Your training regimen can also be manipulated to tap into your fuel sources and maximize results. Using your higher-carb days to fuel workouts of larger body parts, such as legs and back, will allow you to train heavier while still maximizing your fat burn. Lower-carb days are best applied to smaller body parts, such as biceps and triceps, when your body doesn’t need the extra surge in carbs to train as intensely.

While there are varying approaches to carb cycling, the most common is one day of high-carb intake followed by a three- to four-day period of lower carbs. This pattern is then repeated for eight to 12 weeks, or as long as it takes to reach your fat-loss goals.

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