We Need to Talk About "Carb-Cycling"

Updated 05/04/19
Half Baked Harvest

Carbohydrates have become something of a naughty word in the lexicon of healthy eating. Recent times have turned our grade-school food pyramid on its head, casting carbs as an undesirable block that's best left avoided. Thought of as a no-no for anyone looking to overhaul their healthy eating plans, carbohydrates might actually have some value in a well-rounded diet—as long as you're consuming the right ones. A new healthy eating trend fittingly called "carb-cycling" encourages the consumption of complex carbs to fuel active individuals. According to MyBody+Soul, carb-cycling has been "growing in popularity with fitness experts" and "allows you to pick and choose what carbs to consume based on the exercise you undertake that day."

Anyone who's ever cut carbs knows a carb-free diet can leave you feeling drained and exhausted, eventually more likely to binge on everything bad. But the article notes that unlike low-carb diets that cause these "cravings, energy crashes and impaired athletic performances, 'carb cycling' may boost metabolism, lower body fat and improve your time spent in the gym." Accredited practicing and sports dietitian Tim Stewart says the idea behind carb-cycling "is to eat [a] varying amount of carbohydrates on a daily basis, according to our activity levels." He encourages people to experiment with different types of healthy carbs—like bananas, bircher muesli, and sweet potato—to determine what works best to fuel their body, and then adjust intake from there depending on what their day demands. 

It's important to understand carb-cycling not as a weight-loss strategy, but a way to provide your body with the healthy fuel it needs to sustain its energy levels. Stewart underscored that this eating plan encourages better understanding the role of healthy foods to fuel your body—to "help maintain performance and prevent fatigue."

Related Stories