Carb Cycling and Insulin Sensitivity

Assorted Carbohydrate Sources Spelling Out 'Carbs'

Carb Cycling and Insulin Sensitivity

Carb Cycling and Insulin Sensitivity.

carb cycling

What is insulin sensitivity? A question a lot of individuals are not too familiar with.

Insulin is controlled through a hormone in the body and the response to the foods we consume. Insulin can help store food in muscle cells or fat cells. Depending on how you utilize and set up your insulin control is a major factor in body composition. Insulin can be elevated by any source of food we eat whether it is protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Insulin can have a significant aspect on our body composition, but if controlled properly can be used to our advantage. The leaner we are, the better we can utilize insulin to our benefit. The more body fat we have on our bodies insulin can be our largest nightmare. Insulin sensitivity is measured through the pancrease as an increase in response to high blood sugar. When insulin is secreted, muscle/fat cells can absorb blood sugar. The relationship between how much insulin needs to be produced and how much is produced is how we measure insulin sensitivity.


For those in the fitness industry, insulin sensitivity can be best seen during two phases. One a dieting phase and two a gaining phase. The longer you diet, the better your insulin sensitivity can become. When you get your body into a leaner bodyfat level, your body is prone to carbohydrates. Carbohydrate refeeds or cheat meals can help fill out your body, increase leptin, increase t3, and hormone levels.Doing this helps regulate the body into overdrive, and can help you lose weight, lose fat, and increase your metabolism for short periods of time before resuming back to a caloric deficit.

insulin sensitivity

On the other side of the spectrum when in a gaining phase most people will increase their carbohydrate intake once protein and fat minimums are met. Doing so allows us to spread out carbohydrate intake evenly through meals, or allot bigger portions for a few meals. In my opinion, it will always be best to allot the bulk of your carbs around your workout to help fuel for optimal training. This is also a great time where the body will process them to its advantage when insulin levels rise from cardiovascular or weigh training. There does become a law of diminishing returns when you add carbohydrates for so long, and the body can only handle so much. Individuals towards the end of a gaining phase may see more fat gain than muscle gain as the scale rises. This is where you will note the insulin sensitivity has reached its peak, and you need to pull back.


Now where does Carb cycling come into this equation to help balance insulin sensitivity for your goal? When you frequently exercise, and take care of your diet, this can help you control your insulin levels and sensitivity.One aspect to help control insulin sensitivity is fiber intake. Fiber can help lower blood glucose and keep insulin at bay. The longer you can keep insulin at bay the less chance insulin will be used for fat storage. I would highly suggest not in taking a large amount of fiber around your workouts because it could leave a big rock in your stomach. Post-workout may be an optimal time for carbohydrate intake and refueling your body from lost glucose, glutamine, and aminos that are lost during a good training or cardio session.


Believe it or not, there is research to signify BMI, caloric intake, genetic predisposition, waist circumference, and triglyceride levels to those who eat faster. If you slow down and eat, there can be an increase in your insulin resistance. Most people who eat fast intake more calories than those who eat at a slower pace. It allows your brain to process the foods you eat and register in the digestion system. Give your hormones and body a time to understand how full you truly are, instead of eating so fast you eat yourself to guilt. Slower is always better the same principal applies to dieting and also with lean gaining. Rome was not built overnight and neither will your body.


The reason why carb cycling can be a huge beneficial aspect to insulin sensitivity is that you can allot your carb intake on nontraining and training days to your advantage to control insulin. On nonworkout days I would suggest lowering your carbohydrate intake and increase your fat intake. One primary reason is most people on non-workout days are less active. The need for excessive glucose and carbohydrates may not be necessary. This is where I would place the majority of my carbs either in my first meal or last meal. Myself I train upon waking, so filling my glycogen levels for early morning training aids me in sleep (serotonin levels), and giving my body plenty of carbs to power through my workout. A high fat intake on nonworkout days will help with staying satisfied, feeling full, and control insulin intake.


On training days You can lower your fat intake and increase your carbohydrate intake while keeping your caloric intake to match your goal. This will allow you to open up a few options. One it can help you spread our your carbohydrate intake to give your training an ample amount of fuel. I would suggest eating just enough carbs to help fuel you for your workout, and then intake a large meal post-workout to help replenish from weight training or cardiovascular activity. For those who train in the morning, it can be an excellent way to fuel the body as the day goes on. On the other hand, if you train at night you are filling your body full of energy to blast your way through a PM training session.


I have also seen some contest prep coaches even cycling their calories to a greater degree and break their days in high, medium, and low days. On very intense training days (back or leg workouts) they would allot their highest carbohydrate intake. Arms, Shoulders, or Chest workout they could allot a medium carbohydrate intake, where fat intake is risen and carbs are reduced. Then off day will be a low carbohydrate and high-fat makeup to help offset insulin levels on days where minimal activity may be done.


The primary feedback seen from carbohydrate cycling and controlling insulin sensitivity has given trainees the ability to stay leaner in the offseason. A large surplus of carbs on a daily basis may be a fallback to some individuals who cannot metabolize them. Everyone’s body is made different, so give carbohydrate cycling a try to see how it suits your body. As we age our metabolism will slow, so this could be a great asset to help you stay in shape year round.

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