CARB CYCLING

Tim Wescott

The Competitive Bodybuilder’s SECRET to GETTING SHREDDED

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When dieting for a bodybuilding contest, I use an arsenal of weapons to lose excess bodyfat—the major one being to cycle my carbs. The body uses carbohydrates as energy. They fuel our workouts and provide ample fuel for use throughout the day. Carbs also replenish our glucose and glycogen stores to prevent fatigue. Carb cycling lets you eat carbs from clean sources without adding bodyfat and use fat more efficiently as fuel—as opposed to burning carbs and hard-earned muscle tissue for fuel.

Are Carbs the Enemy?

Carbs aren’t the villain some people make them out to be. Improper carb timing can, however, cause them to be stored as fat. Carbs have gotten a bad rap lately because so many people are jumping on the low-carb bandwagon to make a buck. A few years back it was all about bashing fats, remember? What will it be next year, protein? Well, that’s not going to happen in the bodybuilding world—muscle is protein.

Junk Carbs

Carbohydrates eaten in excess or at the wrong time of day can add adipose tissue to the body. They’re not a bad thing, though, if properly incorporated into a diet. Eat the majority of your carbs early in the day and at the postworkout meal, tapering off on them as the day goes on. Never eat carbs late at night—opt for protein instead. Sugar-laden junk foods are always bad. They should have no place in a serious bodybuilder’s diet. If people eliminated or cut down junk food alone, they’d lose a lot of weight and look and feel much better for it. Giving up junk food, however, is usually too much to ask of most people. Junk food is just that—calorie-dense garbage, totally devoid of nutrients. (Keep telling yourself that!)

When I devise a diet for trainees, I have them cut back on junk gradually, until it’s totally eliminated from the diet, except for the occasional treat. Once it’s gone from the diet, it’s usually not thought about again, except for the occasional craving.

The Proper Attitude

When talking with bodybuilders and others who want to lose fat or increase muscular definition for competition purposes, I often find that they think they can still eat taboo foods in moderate portions while on a diet. Terms like refeed, cheat meal and cheat day almost always come up. Those ideas can be used to your advantage, but, in my opinion, you should wait until you’re pretty close to achieving your desired bodyfat-percentage goals before even thinking about them. Yes, folks, I’m old school and firmly believe that you have to make some sacrifices and give up all bad eating habits if you want to lose fat or win a contest.

I typically diet down for a contest to approximately 3 to 5 percent bodyfat. Did I accomplish that while cheating and eating the occasional junk treat? No! I suffered a bit here and there, but once I flip the switch in my mind to eat clean, that’s what I do. There can be no half measures. You must get into the proper mind-set and stay completely focused on achieving your goals. If you screw around and cheat once, it’s easier to cheat again and again. I know that from my early attempts at getting cut up and from what I’ve learned training my clients. Remain steadfast on your mission to get lean, and you most definitely will.

Cycling Carbs

When I cycle carbs, I follow three low-carb days with two higher-carb days, which aid in recovery and replenish glycogen. That provides just the right amount of carbs for fuel. Need I remind you to always use carbs from clean foods, not junk?

The most important thing about carb cycling, in my opinion, is too never go too high, except for the latter stages of the diet, and then only if necessary. We’ll discuss that aspect later.

The formula I recommend as a starting point, to determine just how many carbs you should eat on your highest day, is one to 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight.

Start out using the higher number and adjust according to your results. I believe it’s vital to keep a nutrition journal so you can chart progress and make adjustments. That takes the guesswork out of dieting, and you can look back on it to see how your body responded to certain tactics. It’s an invaluable tool.


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