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Carb Cycling During Prep

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    Carb Cycling During Prep

    Ive seen first hand and observed in others several approaches to Carb Management leading into a Contest Prep. From experience as well as seeing it in others,  more often than not we tend to deplete ourselves of Carbs during prep to the point of what most would consider looking flat. As we shrink down and get the body fat down and start seeing the cuts and striations its easy to loose track of the fullness which is easily lost in a depletion.

    On the other hand I have seen guys Carb Load or Carb Cycle to some great effect as well. These guys just look a little fuller more round and have seen and read about guys well into the 200 and 300 grams of carbs daily and still looking chiseled.

    For me at least, I have found that cycling in its purist form has worked best for me. I have tried two to three day heavy carb loards and have even stayed in a sub 25gram a day routine leading into 0 cards during last 2 weeks out with a final carb load. Beyond macro counts it also seems like carbs affect everyone a little differently. Some use carbs to their advantage and come thru with a fuller lean frame while others have to stay nearly in a deficit to keep from swelling up.

    What do you guys think? Have you had better success with Carb Cycles  or Carb Restriction?


    Im interested to read what comes up on this topic. Haven't done a contest...yet. But, i hear its different from person to person and even for the same person, different contest.



      To answer your question DP.... I don't know yet because I am in my very first competition prep cycle. Calm is our resident lady competitor. With great success I might add but I have not seen many competing bodybuilders actually share their experience in this area. Maybe this thread will motivate them to share for the benefit of others.

      BTW- You might want to go to the source introduction page and do a restart intro. Letting the members know there is a new sheriff in town on your end. 





        Carb cycling and restriction is very individual and has to be tailored to suit their needs. Overall, from my experience, it is very beneficial to me during my cut. I will not compete without cycling my carbs. The low carb days are the pits. The higher carb days I look forward to. For those competing, I honestly feel as though no two preps or peaks will be the same...not even for the same person. Carbs do tend to affect each person differently. My coach used to make comments about how he had to feed me more carbs and food period than any other woman he had ever coached. Lol. I

        So, I carb cycle during my cut as well as during my peak week. However, I try to make sure that I carb load appropriately. I think some people are afraid to take carbs in during their peak, hence, flatness.  I've seen competitors so depleted and yet at a show with no food of any sort! On the other hand, there are others like myself who continue to eat our meals and drink water the day of the event. There are some who will only consume food after prejudging. 

        Used according to one's specific needs, carb cycling, carb restriction and refeeds are useful tools. I found this an interesting read. Written by a coach S. Weingarten:

        "Let’s talk a bit about the function of cheat meals and refeeds in a bodybuilder’s meal plan.

        The general-fitness client views cheat meals as a reward: “Hey, I’ve been good and have dropped 6 pounds this month and now I get to enjoy a cheat meal as a reward.”  

        That outlook is fine for a non-competitor, but it’s absolutely the wrong mindset for someone seeking to bring their absolute best physique to the stage.  Reward-meal obsessions have derailed many competitors, and my social media feed makes it obvious that way too many of you are insanely overenthusiastic about your cheat meals.   If you want to achieve superior conditioning, then cultivate the viewpoint that your reward is your ever-improving body and your meal plan is one of the tools you use to achieve it.  

        When I assign someone a reefed/cheat meal/cheat day, it isn’t a reward for a job well done.  It’s because I’m reading signs that tell me their metabolism needs the boost.  Yes, this is a controversial subject in coaching circles.  Not everyone believes that cheat meals serve a physiological function.  Back in the stone age, when I started competing, you were viewed as weak-minded for succumbing to cheat meals.  You entered preps with the understanding that you were going to endure 12-16 weeks (or longer) of doughnutless discipline and a relentless, gradual lowering of calories to starvation levels.  You figured you’d beat your competitors by being the most hardcore, disciplined, non-sugar-eating, gut-bustingly hungry sonofabitch on stage.  

        Today, we (Well, not everyone) know better. Relentless discipline is still required for success, of course, but it has to be combined with some learned attention to your body’s feedback.  And no, hunger is not a signal that you need a cheat/refeed, because hunger is almost always a constant companion during prep.

        For those who don’t know, a refeed is a higher-calorie meal using “clean” foods, while a cheat meal is anything goes. Some do better with a refeed, while a cheat works better for others.  Some require a half-day cheat/refeed, or even a full day.  Whether to use a cheat or a refeed, and whether it should be a single meal, a half day or a full day (and sometimes longer!) not only varies from person to person, it can vary for the same person at different points in their prep.  

        Strategic increases in calories, when you have been in a prolonged caloric deficit, absolutely enhance the fat-loss process. There is science to back this up, but even if there weren’t, I’ve experienced this with myself and my clients enough times that I just ignore it when someone wants to argue this point.  Arguing with ignoramuses gets tiresome. Besides, results speak louder than words. 

        Don’t misinterpret this and think that YOU should have a refeed/cheat just because someone else does.  No matter how overwhelming your hunger is, YOU may get better fat-loss results (right now) by further reducing calories and/or increasing cardio than by adding a refeed/cheat.  Context is everything –- adding a cheat/refeed at the wrong time will hinder, not help, your fat-loss efforts."



          I've never contest prepped, but I hear it's a rather brutal and exhaustive experience. My respect to you and anyone else who does.



            Outstanding post. Thank you for sharing. +2


            SEMPER FI



              Great write up! Thanks for the insight.


                Carb cycling for me is an easier way to lean down than going with crazy restrictive dieting... Leg Day=high carb.... ArmDay=low carb... Rest Day=low carb.. That's a good place to start in my humble opinion..