For many mums, fighting off excess weight is a constant battle. You want to look your best, but for one reason or another, it rarely works out how you’d hope.
That’s why there’s currently so much excitement around the concept of carb cycling. It promises to help mums shed excess pounds and get fit once more. But what exactly is it? What’s the science behind it? And should you try it? Let’s find out.
What Is Carb Cycling?
Several decades ago, medical practitioners began experimenting en masse with the idea of cycling people off carbohydrates to see if it helped them lose weight. To their surprise, it worked, going against a lot of the mainstream nutrition literature at the time. People on low-carbohydrate diets consumed fewer calories and tended to lose weight exceptionally rapidly – almost miraculously.
Thus, the concept of carb cycling was born. The idea is to spend some time eating carbohydrates as you usually would and then eliminate them periodically. What’s interesting is that there’s no exact science for how you should do this – it all comes down to your particular needs and biology. Some mums find that taking a couple of weeks off carbs helps them tone up, while for others, it could be much longer. Carb cycling can even be a daily thing: you cut out all carbs after, say, midday.
The problem, of course, is that cutting out carbs entirely is a big challenge. You have to cut out everything, not just bread and pasta, but fruits and veggies too. Surely doing that long-term isn’t healthy?
What Are the Pros and Cons?
According to oxfordonlinepharmacy.co.uk, carb cycling the best fat burner, or are there downsides? Let’s take a look at both the pros and cons.
Better Insulin Control
Why exactly do people think that it’s a good idea to cut down on carbohydrates periodically? It all comes down to the insulin theory of weight gain. Insulin is a hormone in your body that tells your cells to open up their doors and allow sugar in the bloodstream to enter. As cells become more engorged in fat, however, this signaling doesn’t work as well, and the body has to pump out more insulin to have the same effect.
The problem is that insulin is, itself, a weight-gain hormone. It puts the body into fat-storage mode, preparing it for a possible future famine. We no longer live in societies where famine is a distinct possibility, so we never lose the weight through starvation (thank goodness). Carb cycling, therefore, helps to reduce the amount of insulin (and thus fat storage), making it easier to lose weight.
It Removes Bad Carbs from The Diet
Carbohydrates get a bad rap, but there’s a vast difference between a stalk of broccoli and a jelly baby. Broccoli is a health-promoting food, while jelly babies are not. The great thing about carb cycling is that it gives your body a break from all the unhealthy carbs that you might eat, like soda, cookies, candy, and cake.
It Helps to Preserve Lean Muscle Mass
Muscles require carbohydrates in the bloodstream to maintain their size and strength. If there isn’t much glucose in the blood, they’ll atrophy to conserve energy. Eliminating carbs entirely can cause muscle wasting and a loss of exercise performance. Carb cycling, however, only periodically denies muscles a source of glucose from food, helping them retain their size.
You Could Miss Out on Nutritious Foods
Of course, it’s not all good news when it comes to carb cycling. One of the most significant downsides is that you miss out on eating some of the healthiest foods in the world. The vast majority of the most nutrient-dense foods that people eat are carbohydrate foods, like green veggies, beans, whole grains, and fruits. While cutting out bad carbs is a good idea, cutting out all carbs could be the equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Nobody puts on excess weight because they’re eating too many greens!
Weight Loss Could Be Temporary
Carb cycling can yield some impressive results over the short term, but researchers question whether it’s sustainable for most people. Is it possible for the average mum, for instance, to cut out carbs every other day from now until eternity? Maybe not.
Carb Cycling Could Expose You to Harmful Foods
Not all high-fat, high-protein foods are good for you. In fact, many health organizations around the world warn people not to consume foods in this category. Nuts, seeds, and avocados may be the only exceptions.