I get asked all the time about carb cycling so here's a quick Q & A that will hopefully answer some of your questions!
What is carb cycling?
A program that cycles your carbohydrate intake between high and low carb days.
Why carb cycle?
Many people carb cycle as an alternative to a completely low carb diet which can help prevent severe drops in energy, hunger, cravings etc. Many competitors and models also carb cycle as a big show or photo shoot approaches to tighten up as much as possible as their prep comes to a close. Simply put, the theory behind carb cycling is to confuse your body by not providing a consistent form of fuel and this manipulation allows the body to drop fat fairly quickly.
How do I know how many carbs to have during my cycle?
There are many different methods of carb cycling-- I've seen anywhere from high, low, high low, etc. to 3 low days followed by a high day, even a high, medium, and no carb day. In short your specific needs would be based on a multitude of factors so your personal carb cycle would need to be determined by someone who knows the specifics about you.
Should I carb cycle?
In all honesty, I think carb cycling is unnecessary for the average person trying to get in shape. Keeping your nutrition on point and your workouts intense is what will get you the results you're after-- carb cycling tends to be more of a quick fix method of weight loss which I'm not really a fan of. It's not something that can be easily maintained long term which is why I tend to stay away from it personally and rarely put my clients on a hard core carb cycle. This isn't to say I haven't done it in the past, I've done Jamie Easons 12 week trainer carb cycle (which is VERY intense) and I've also more recently talked about doing a mini-type cycle which honestly didn't last long. I cut my carbs from every meal to 2-3 meals a day except for leg days and I almost immediately noticed my muscles looked flat and I just hate that feeling so I ditched it.
Moral of the story-- unless you're trying to get lean for a photo shoot or competition I say stick to the basics and you'll be just fine. Carb cycling isn't easy and isn't maintainable long term so if you do decide to test one out, just keep in mind when the cycling stops and you introduce more carbs back into your diet you'll likely gain what you've lost back. As always remember this is just my personal opinion-- there's tons of info out there on different types of carb cycling so make sure you do your research and never take anything too extreme!