Carb cycling is generally thought of as strictly a weight loss tactic, but can also be used for muscle building or to promote maintenance of lean muscle mass during a fat loss phase. For the purposes of rapid fat loss, it’s effective (and I’d go so far as to say essential) for the exact same reasons the cheat day is so clutch:
1) High carb days boost slipping leptin, thyroid and other hormone levels that have fallen due to consecutive lower carb days. This hormonal bump is KEY to keeping metabolism high during a weight loss diet.
2) By cycling days of lower and higher carbs, we can manipulate insulin levels and maximize muscle building and muscle sparing (preventing lean muscle breakdown) effects according to your overall body transformation goals.
3) Because higher carb days follow several days of lower carb intake, most of the added carbs consumed will be put to good use by refilling glycogen stores in liver and muscle, rather than being stored as fat.
4) Carb cycling offers a huge psychological upside as well. Besides all the internal benefits, you get to look forward to days where it’s not only okay to eat more carbohydrate-rich food, but it’s required by the diet plan. This scheduled ‘break’ from lower carb dieting can be a game changer when it comes to staying on track the rest of the week.
There are multiple websites and sources that clam that carb-cycling is much more effective for fat loss and muscle maintenance than straight low-carb. This is very intriguing! I can definitely see myself doing the 20 grams or less thing Monday-Friday, knowing that i can relax and consume plenty of carbohydrates on Saturday. Psychologically, this is a PHENOMENAL discovery for me, and I will definitely be giving this a try! *happy dance*