For those of you who follow a carb restricted diet there will be times during your diet when you need to ‘’carb up’’ or ‘’refeed’’ as we normally label it. The big question here is when? Of course, we would all love to be able to do this as often as possible right? As far as I am aware, every man and woman on earth loves carbs, the last time I checked anyway!! Like most things this question is a ‘’how long is a piece of string’’ scenario, there is no right or wrong. However I will set out some basic guidelines which I believe will help you choose the correct time.
Most people will lose the most weight in their first week; to an extent it gives false hope because much of the weight is water retention. With that said I would recommend waiting until week 2 and in some cases week 3 before you reefed depending on body fat levels and exercise volume.
After you get past the first 7 days where you are normally ‘’flattered’’ by the scales, I believe that based on weight loss you can cycle your carbs and have a high day. As a VERY generally lose rule of thumb I would recommend a high carb day every 3lbs lost. This rule applies to those of you in the 15-20% body fat range. Above this I would hold off almost exclusively until your body fat is sub 20%.
Mirror Mirror On The Wall
This is a great way of knowing when you need to carb up, but I must warn you that it takes someone with experience and knowledge to make the correct call! To put this into perspective it has taken me 6 years to understand when I need to reload, by looking in the mirror.
So what are we looking for? Very flat muscle bellies, I mean flat. Not slightly depleted, I mean when you look as though you REALLY need to eat! Personally I can go by the measurements of my arms, they will fluctuate between 17’’ and 17.5’’ depending on muscle glycogen levels.
This is a more subjective approach, yet it can be a great sign. Funnily enough when we follow a carb restricted diet our appetite can become suppressed, when we are talking about the normal diet food! This can be a great sign that you need to drive your metabolic activity up with a reefed. Generally this only applies to those of us who have ‘’low carbed’’ for many weeks, this doesn’t happen after a few days without carbs!!
Hopefully these few pointers have allowed you to gain a better insight as to when you might need to reload the carbohydrate levels in your diet!
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