What is Carb Cycling? Celebrity personal trainer David Kingsbury explains

MyProtein ambassador David Kingsbury is an advocate of carb cycling, using it with many of his Hollywood clients

David Kingsbury has just finished working with Jake Gyllenhaal Photo: David Kingsbury/Instagram

Carb cycling is a method I have utilised with my clients who need to cut fat for as long as I can remember, MyProtein ambassador and celebrity personal trainer David Kingsbury reveals.

It’s been an incredibly useful tool in effective diet planning for decades and I swear by it. Name a movie for which I’ve trained the leading cast, and I can guarantee I’ve had them all carb cycling. Without it, we wouldn’t have achieved half the impact during all those shirtless scenes.

In fact, if Marvel ever wrote a comic based around Wolverine’s body composition, he’d definitely be a carb cycler. Hell, Hugh [Jackman] was.

Over the course of a week you have days with high, medium and low carbohydrate intake. That sounds easy, and it is, but you have to coincide your higher carb days with heavier gym sessions and low carb days with either rest days or low intensity training. Whatever the day, you also require a high protein intake to help muscle growth.

It’s this cycling of carbs that leads to fat loss and muscle growth. As much as you’re cycling your carbs, you are also cycling your fat intake. It should be low when your carb intake is at its highest, and high on days when your carb intake is low.

All of this carb cycling gives your body a number of physical and biological benefits, namely:

Improved insulin sensitivity
Improved metabolism
Improved muscle gain
Improved fat burning

Why it works?

Despite what we so often read, carbs aren’t necessarily kryptonite to the body you want. It’s true that there are no essential carbohydrates, unlike essential fats and amino acids, but they do help to boost metabolism (and of course they tend to be delicious). If your timing is off, however, and calories are too high, carbs can easily be stored as fat. But not any longer. We’re going to use them to our advantage.

It might sound like carb cycling is purely focused on what you eat, which it is to a point, but it’s what’s happening to your body internally that gives you the edge. High carb days are all about refuelling your muscles’ glycogen levels and flooding your body with insulin. This process has anti-catabolic efforts, reducing muscle loss. Insulin inhibits muscle breakdown, which is perfect for those days when you’re doing your toughest, most intense workouts on high carb days.

On moderate (or medium) carb intake days, you are giving your muscles just enough carbs to maintain their glycogen stores, but creating a biological environment for improved insulin sensitivity and consequently fat loss.

For days when you’re eating food with low carbohydrate properties, this is when you’re going to be in the lowest calorie situation too. By only doing low intensity workouts, or having a rest day completely, in a way, you are fooling your body into burning fat at an accelerated rate by keeping the insulin levels low. When it comes to fat loss, this is the part of the process where it really begins to work.

I also suggest supplementing with two scoops of Impact Whey Isolate daily, I use Myprotein as its ranked very highly for both quality and price Impact whey isolate is one of the purest whey proteins having undergone a highly intense and meticulous purifying process, each serving contains over 90% of protein and just 1% of fat which means it’s the best option when shedding fat. Whey protein isolate provides all the essential amino acids including 2g of Leucine per serving to really help push your development of lean muscle mass.


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This article was last updated on February 20, 2018.
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