Carb Cycling May Help You Lose Weight


Carb cycling, or carb rotating, is a weight loss method that many athletes have been practicing in one form or another for years. Unlike diets that say you need to restrict carbohydrates all the time, carb cycling allows you to alternate between low carb and higher carb days while losing weight, burning fat, and maintaining your energy.

There are literally hundreds of diets on the market, and each one claims to be the one that will help you lose unwanted pounds and fat. Carbohydrate cycling, the concepts of which have been brought together in the book Carb Cycling Diet by Roman Malkov, MD, reportedly helps people lose fat, increase muscle mass, drop pounds and adopt healthier eating habits.

Dr. Malkov is a medical doctor, nutritional consultant, and exercise psychologist who worked with the Russian National Athletic Team and helped the athletes lose fat, build muscle, and improve their performances by assisting their anabolism process. This is the process that is fueled by anabolic hormones, which help the body build muscle. Young people produce sufficient quantities of these hormones, but levels decline with age. As the levels decline, weight gain and health problems can become issues.

The other bodily process involved in carb cycling is catabolism, which is how the body burns fat. Many diets, including low-carb plans, focus on changing how the body burns fat and ignores the anabolism process. Carb cycling involves both anabolism and catabolism by allowing people to alternate the amount of carbohydrates they eat on different days, so they both burn fat and build muscle.


Carb cycling means that you alternate between low carb and higher carb days. Some people alternate every other day, while others do two days of higher carb followed by two days of low carb and keep repeating it. Others go low carb all week and then higher carb on weekends. Some people even include no-carb days, eating only protein and fats on that day. Everyone needs to find the approach that helps them reach their goals while maintaining a healthy eating plan.

On higher carb days, the amount of carbs recommended by Dr. Malkov is between 350 and 400 grams, which varies depending on the individual’s age, body mass, and sex. These carbs should be from unrefined sources, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. People who follow carb cycling should greatly limit their consumption of refined carbs from sugar and processed white flour.

On low carb days, dieters should consume less than 300 grams per day and avoid all foods that contain sugar or white flour. The carbohydrate content of foods can be found on food labels, but there are also books on the market and in libraries that list the number of carbohydrates in thousands of foods, including fast food.

Like any reasonable diet plan, carb cycling should include regular exercise. When it comes to fat, healthy fats (e.g., monounsaturated, omega-3 fatty acids) are highly recommended over saturated and trans fats. Protein sources should be lean. The big draw with carb cycling, however, is that people do not feel deprived like many do if they follow a low-carb diet, because they know a higher carb day is coming, and that weight loss is possible while maintaining energy and strength.

Malkov R. Carb Cycling Diet, Hatherleigh Press, 2009.
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