Just came off an 8 week cut that brought me down to 6.5% body fat. Problem is that my muscles are all glycogen starved and flat because I am not managing my carb intake very well.
Anyways, it was recommended to me that I cycle my carbs and eat complex carbs. I couldn't really find any articles online that seemed helpful on carb cycling though. All of them would have me eating at starvation levels. On top of that, they all suggest to eat high carbs on work-out days, which makes sense except that I workout 6 days a week.
So question is, what percentage of caloric intake should come from carbs on low/high carb days? How often should you alternate between low/high carbs? And more importantly, should you carb cycle if you workout 6 days a week?
BTW: My goal right now is to lean bulk and not to cut
I'll outline three possible carb rotation patterns that can help you get going. If I want to keep carbs steady I may choose that happy medium amount that allows for a strong pace, but will still include one higher-carb day to give a nice bump to glycogen levels and thus signal my endocrine system that I'm not starving.
Good things happen to the metabolism when that is achieved, but... if you go too far, you can actually store body fat and fill your glycogen levels so completely that it takes days to even start losing body fat again. Those that mistake carb increases for justified binges; bad idea. With a slower metabolism, I actually use this one-day method myself.
When someone has a faster metabolism and guarding muscle is even more important, it may take two increases per week to keep the pace in check.
Still having two to three days of lower carbs/lower food is necessary to work through glycogen and into higher levels of body fat, but the additional carb-increase day can be a needed buffer. Keep in mind, however, that the goal is still to be losing, so don't let the higher days rise more than perhaps a doubling of carbs and sometimes not even that high.
For those who really struggle to lose - the unfortunate who got the short straw metabolically - all is not lost. It may take longer, especially at the end, so make sure you stay leaner all year and start sooner. Even so, you may need to drop carbs virtually into ketogenic levels, but not for the sustained typical time frames.
You may need to eat zero starch one day, then up a little each day for three to four days, and then repeat. Your higher days rescue you and your metabolism, but digging deeper into the lower amounts is necessary. If you went too low and stayed there, you're simply getting the worst of ketogenic dieting as described. The incremental, small upward movement is a good idea even in the most aggressive plans.