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How can I use carb cycling without triggering a massive carb urge and desire to eat junk food?

A bad reaction to a high carb day after being on low carb diet is not the normal reaction for most.

The normal reaction is you typically feel much better across the board on high carb day.

For example, for myself, high carb days give me a surge of energy. My muscles fill out, I get a better pump and I'm able to train more intensely. n addition, I am typically in a better mood, feel more full throughout the day and have no urge for any more food.

Now, this makes sense considering I'm going from restrictive (deficit and reduced carb) eating to normal eating. Usually the deficit part is hard and the eating more part is easy.

But, its not unheard of if your experiencing the urge and desire to eat junk food on high carb days. The urges could potentially be caused to the high carb foods you are choosing.

For example, simple sugars can cause a large blood sugar spike. Low fiber and low fat can create a reactive hypoglycemia response, depending on how sensitive you are.

So your blood sugar spikes, then crashes and that crash could explain the negative responses you are getting from your high carb days.

I know the concept of re-feeding and carb cycling is popular these days. Some even say you're supposed to eat the "bad" carbs on re-feed day or make that a cheat day.

Some suggest to even avoid fruit because they say you're not supposed to use fructose with re-feeds.

I know many people who do it this way successfully. They figure out on their re-feed days if they're going to have a cheat day or be looser with their carb choices.

This doesn't work for everyone.

For me, high carb day consists of eating more of the starchy carbs, but larger servings such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, rice and sometimes beans or legumes. And also fruit.

My "free meals" aka "cheat meals" are something I consider separate, not necessarily one in the same with high carb re-feed days.

I do this because the larger the percentage of unprocessed foods you eat, the better it is for your health.

But also, my body responds to eating those foods well. If I suddenly changed all the foods I was eating for the sake of following what is considered "standard protocol," I wouldn't know how my body would react because I don't normally eat those foods.

It could cause the reactive hypoglycemia or it might cause some gastrointestinal upset. To continue using myself as an example, I know for sure that most boxed cold cereals don't have anywhere near the satiating effect in my body as hot cooked oatmeal does.

I could eat a couple cups of cold cereal and hit 300 to 400 calories and still feel like I ate nothing, leaving me wanting the eat the rest of the box.

Then I actually could eat the remaining 600 or 800 calories in the box, and still feel starving afterward. Then to add insult to injury, 90 minutes later I have hypoglycemia and feel like i need to eat again.

So there are potential factors that could of caused the negative response.

Did you eat "carb up" foods that were different than your usual food?

It sounds like you don't eat many starchy carbs. My main tip would be to eat more starchy carbs for someone who considers themselves carb intolerant.

Don't go crazy on high carb days with different foods you typically don't eat. And on a related note, don't make the high carb day a massive cheat day with junk food.

I'd also suggest when it comes to controlling the hunger and cravings that you choose higher fiber starches. There are some starchy carbs and whole grains that have less fiber than others.

Id recommend favoring the higher fiber types.(as well as eating them WITH fibrous carbs / veggies.

Thats another thing - a lot of people are told they don't need the fibrous veggies on re-feed day, but for the carb intolerant person, its important to keep them in.

And for good nutrition we should eat veggies and fruit every day anyway. In addition, you could keep the dietary fat level up as well.

For example: good dietary fats: whole eggs, not egg whites, some fatty fish like salmon or sardines, and consider something like ground flaxseed or walnuts in your cereal for plant based healthy fats.

Watch the calories though because at your depending on your weight and height you could have a fairly tight calorie budget.

Next, you could try increasing the amount of high carb days instead of suddenly spiking. Another thing you might consider is that carb cycling is optional in the first place.

Its not something you must do, unless you are on a re-comp program. Then there would be some kind of cyclical dieting involved.

Carb cycling is helpful to give yourself a mental break from long time carb restriction (long cutting phase) and also give your body a break (to help restore metabolism and metabolism- regulating hormones to pre-diet levels).

But with that said, you could simply do a slow increase in all calories across the board.

This is the way most bodybuilders and physique athletes have eased off a contest diet for years - they just slowly eat more of everything, adding a little bit each week.

These days they have a fancy name for it; "reverse dieting" which simply means what i said: gradually bring all your calories back up to maintenance.

This way there is no sudden spike in one macro like carbs.

I do realize some of the above advice goes entirely against what you might read on the internet about how to do a carb cycling program or re-feed day, but you have to customize for your body.

Learn the rules first.... THEN... it's ok break them.



My name is Steven Goldstein

With over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have worked with clients of all ages and fitness levels. From professional athletes to individuals aiming to lose weight, I have helped countless people achieve their goals and improve their overall health through customized training and nutrition plans.

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Hundreds of clients of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities have put their health in our hands over the years and achieved truly remarkable results. 

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