Carb cycling high fat performance and diet

We know from research findings that carbohydrate is necessary for enhancing both high intensity and endurance performance. But recently this theory has been challenged by a true number of endurance athletes and researchers.

In this first part of a two-part series, Joe Alan and McQuillan McCubbin introduce us to high-fat, low-carb diets, discuss the advantages of such diets and look at how you can try one for yourself. Some athletes claim that following a low carbohydrate diet – with a greater proportion of energy coming from fat – has allowed them to consume less carbs during exercise with no loss of performance.

I was never hungry. In fact, it seemed like the more fat I ate, the more weight I lost. These suggestions stem from research showing that the reliance on carbohydrate as opposed to fat to provide energy increases with the intensity of the exercise. Studies have proven that beginning endurance exercise with more carbohydrate kept as glycogen in muscles and the liver increases performance when the duration is more than 2 hours long and when the exercise is performed at a moderate-high intensity.

Consuming additional carbohydrate during exercise further increases performance by adding to the total amount of carbohydrate available to the muscles. A recent study showed that increasing the amount of carbohydrate consumed during endurance exercise 2 hours of continuous moderate intensity cycling followed by a 20km time trial improved performance see Table 1, right above.

The need for such volumes of carbohydrate stems from the need to avoid running out of muscle glycogen during periods of high-intensity training or racing. When this occurs without additional carbs coming in from food the muscles draw on blood glucose as the only remaining source of carbs in the body.

If the body draws much then blood glucose levels fall too, resulting in hypoglycaemia. Low-carb diets and energy production At lower-intensity exercise our body requires very little energy to move the bike forwards. When the physical body can keep up with demand for oxygen, fat can be utilized as the major energy source. This makes fat a more weight-efficient way of carrying kept energy in the body far. If we could better access this pool of energy at higher exercise intensities we could be able to reduce our dependence on carbohydrate dietary and kept and prevent bonking during a race.

In both cases the athletes rode for 20 minutes at watts; thereafter the wattage increased by 25W every 5 minutes with heart rate and blood lactate measurements taken at the end of each 5 minute stage. The minute warm-up was used to allow the athlete to increase their reliance on fat as a fuel. As you can see in figure 1, the first athlete preferentially used greater relative amounts of carbs over fat even at low intensities, despite not eating for four hours to the test prior.

It is fair to say that Athlete 1 is carb dependant even at lower intensity exercise heavily. Figure 1: Percentage fat and carbohydrate use during incremental cycling exercise in Athlete 1.

different findings are seen with Athlete 2

Very, tested under the same protocols figure 2. Figure 2: Percentage fat and carbohydrate use during incremental cycling exercise in Athlete 2. As well as Athlete 2 having a 50W higher peak power output, it is apparent that they use a far greater percentage of fat as an energy source compared to Athlete 1. Figure 3 left : Percentage of fat utilisation vs VO2max. Figure 4 right : Percentage of carbohydrate utilisation vs VO2max.

Why would low carb diets be beneficial for endurance athletes? Being dependent on carbohydrate as the major energy source during exercise has some apparent limitations limited supply, depletion results in hypoglycaemiaand therefore adapting the body to utilise more of our body fat stores to fuel exercise makes practical sense.

While the concept of fat adaptation and low carb diets for athletes has only risen to prominence recently, research in this area goes almost two decades back. Several papers followed in the next few years, all showing the same result.

They also found that athletes struggled to perform high intensity training intervals after a period of high fat, low carb eating. These studies found evidence of fat adaptation Again, but no difference in performance at the final end of the training block. They also noticed that athletes who undertook every second session carb-depleted actually performed less work in training, but interestingly performed as well at the end of the training block just.

What it has improved is getting to and staying at race weight without calorie counting or hunger. In part 2 in this series Alan and Joe show how the two test subjects responded to high-fat, low-carb diets, discuss what a high-fat, low-carb diet may look like, and describe what you can do if you would like to try such a diet for yourself. Click to read part 2 here. Having said that, EPO shall reduce your reliance on carbohydrate at any given power output, meaning you can go harder for before you run out longer.

74 thoughts on “Carb cycling high fat performance and diet

  1. Rice cakes spikes the blood sugar in too much, to be good on a keto diet.

  2. Thank you for the video. I usually workout around 5:30pm. Do you recommend eating dinner after or before working out?

    1. Hey! We suggest eating whenever it feels best for you to get in a great workout! Theres not a magic time necessarily. It just depends on how you feel most fueled for your best workout. Some people need a little something before they workout, others dont like to be too full. Just test out what works best for you 🙂

  3. Love this. Such a sustainable and realistic approach plus your examples include all of my favorite foods! Thank you 😁

  4. I noticed some nonpaleo foods. such as rice cakes and cheese. is that ok?

  5. I really enjoyed watching this video. It made me realise that my meals dont need to be extravagant or contain a lot of different ingredients to get a lot of nutrients. Thank you!!

  6. The mechanisms behind carb cycling suggest that it
    can be beneficial for weight loss.
    In theory, carb cycling may help you maintain physical performance while providing some of the same
    benefits as a low-carb diet.
    As with any diet, the main mechanism behind weight
    loss is a calorie deficit, as in eating less than your body
    burns over a prolonged period of time (16Trusted Source).
    If a carb cycling diet is implemented
    alongside a calorie deficit, then you will likely lose weight.
    However, its more complex nature may
    cause adherence issues and confusion for beginners.
    In contrast, many people may enjoy the
    flexibility of carb cycling. This could probably improve adherence
    and long-term success for some people.

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  7. Thank you guys 😀 it was just was i asked for ! i needed some ideas

  8. I am counting carbs to a “T” even with veggies. 1 cup of cooked broccoli is 5😱 it’s only 11 and I’ve used up several of my carbs for my low carb day.. 25 for no carb days, no more than 75 for low and no more than 200 for high carb days..

  9. 4:33 Ill give you some of that nut butter you love all right and it is rich in protein.

  10. This is much clearer then all the other information sites about carb cycling. I almost dropped the idea to give it a try but after founding this perfect 👌 channel I am totally go for it. Thank you 😊 both. Ps your dog 🐶 is sooooo cute.

  11. I noticed no flour products. Is this prohibited in carb cycling? Awesome instructional video 🙋🏽‍♂️🙋🏽‍♂️🙋🏽‍♂️

  12. Love the examples! My one issue is I have difficulty with beef, thus steak, burgers, etc. are not an option for me. Fortunately, I LOVE fish, chicken, turkey, seafood, and such. I can so some red meat, such as lamb and duck, but they’re not as easily accessible as beef.

    1. Cavell is is All ways healthy in the right proportion depending you exercises

  13. This was great. Its nice to actually see the dishes. Any chance you guys could do the same for a vegan carb cycling?

  14. Would tofu be a good replacement for any meat used in this video?

  15. Thank you very much! You make this so simple. It does seem like a lot of food which I can definitely go for.

  16. This was kinda useless. Everyone know sweet potatoes and broccoli. Really could have used some more suggestions.

  17. I LOVE how easy and uncomplicated this video is! I tend to over think things and I love how easy you make carb cycling and your flexible approach! It’s such a relief! Thank you!

  18. Tis did help me determine what I should eat with my hamburger on my high carb day. I was close on increasing my veggies on low carb day. That gave me encouragement to continue. Thank you.

  19. High carb day.. sweet potatoes. Low carb day.. no sweet potatoes GOT IT

  20. This is GREAT with the low/high carb differences and example…unlike any other Ive seen. Please keep posting different options. You two are GREAT

    1. This was great, thanks, I have been researching carb cycling meal plans weight loss for a while now, and I think this has helped. You ever tried – Nantray Carb Caboodle – (do a google search ) ? Ive heard some extraordinary things about it and my mate got excellent success with it.

    2. Winner of a video, I been tryin to find out about carb cycling bulk diet for a while now, and I think this has helped. Have you ever come across – Nantray Carb Caboodle – (just google it ) ? Ive heard some pretty good things about it and my co-worker got cool success with it.

    3. Winner of a video, been searching for low carb high carb days for a while now, and I think this has helped. You ever tried – Nantray Carb Caboodle – (do a search on google ) ? Ive heard some extraordinary things about it and my neighbour got excellent success with it.

    4. Just wonderful, Ive been looking for carb cycling breakfast for a while now, and I think this has helped. You ever tried – Nantray Carb Caboodle – (just google it ) ? Ive heard some great things about it and my m8 got great success with it.

  21. Really love that you give examples of both high and low carb!! Very helpful! Thank you!

  22. Is your low carb high carb days depended on when you exercise? So if you don’t workout then you have low carb? What if i exercise everyday? Also noticed you didn’t include bread, do you guys not eat bread?? Thanks for your help!!

    1. Your carb cycle can depend on your goals and lifestyle. Some people find it easier to pair their higher carb days with their toughest workouts (for example, maybe a day where you are lifting legs) and their lower carb days on days where they rest of have lighter workouts. However, if you are just trying to get used to carb cycling and have specific goals, following a carb cycling schedule based on goals can be helpful. If you check out our carb cycling quiz, we can help you find a schedule that fits your goals:   🙂

  23. Your only choice is sweet thanks..and you cook all 3 meals..i dont think so when u work all

  24. Thank you for the meal ideas! 🙂 God bless you and your loved ones.

  25. Hi guys, what about muesli, cereals(oats) …mixed with greek yogurt, coconut milk/oil, quinoa /in, chia seeds, pollen, honey…dry fruits, Brasilian nuts, almond seeds…green tea; My routine is to eat from 8.00 oclock(fruits 5/600 gr.), from 10.00 oclock my cereals mixed stuff, 12.00 vegetebles&fish/chicken…then some chocolate, muesli bar, dry fruits in the water, and finish the day around 16.00 with seeds/nuts, half banana/avocado, and honeycomb!

  26. whats the difference in your workouts on days that you have low carb days and higher carb days? Like do you eat lower carbs on your HIIT days?

  27. This was really useful so thank you, but I was wondering if there is an alternative to avocado as Im​ not the biggest fan

  28. Really helpful, thank you. Quick question, Im not great at eating plain foods so how detrimental would it be to have a bit of sauce or flavouring on my meals? Thanks!

  29. This is so great! Love this and ill be watching for more ideas…ive gotten so lame with figuring out what to eat! When I got married in 2007, I got a trainer and it included making a meal plan guide, which I totally followed and lost like 15 lbs. After my 2nd baby a few years ago, I hate my stomach and have held like 15-20 lbs coupled with a few physical injuries and it can be hard for me

  30. Can I use regular potatoes ? For all three meals on high carb day ? Also are you tracking your food ?

  31. But you cant eat just sweet potatoes as your chat source
    It might work for a week or so until the cravings for some pasta or pizza will kick in. How sustainable is this actually?

  32. Thanks so much for the simple explanation and meal examples

  33. Greens seems to be missing…..
    However this is a great short video….excellent video thanks guys

  34. Love the meal ideas! Hopefully your next video on this topic will include other meal options. Looking forward to it! 😊

  35. I’m always paranoid about eating too much even when it’s healthy cause I feel like I’ll gain wait, are you sure these servings aren’t too big? Or is this the proper amount?

    1. It depends on how active your are. If you exercise a lot you will need more energy

  36. thanks for the great video, may I know the macro ration in carb cycling days? like how many percent is from carb and how many percent from fat…?

  37. Can you also do a video for intermittent fasting and the carb cycling combination for the week plan?

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