30 Day Carb Cycling Meal Plan For Beginners

Looking for a new way to lose weight? Consider the carb cycling diet! It’s one of the most popular diets for a reason. You still get to eat your favorite good-for-you carbs, but cycle with low-carb days so you lose weight too! It’s the best of both worlds! If you’re looking into the carb cycling diet, here are 30 days of recipes for beginners.

What is the Carb Cycling Diet?

The carb cycling diet varies your carb intake, allowing you to lose weight without giving up your favourite carb-rich foods. You vary your carb consumption between high and low intakes on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. For example, you would eat a low-carb diet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and a high-carb diet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Or, you can cycle three low carb days followed by 2 high carb days. Low carb days help with fat loss, while high carb days help muscle growth and performance.

How and Why Does Carb Cycling Work?

Carb cycling works because cycling low carb and high carb days offers your body different benefits.

High carb days stimulate an insulin response that helps your muscles grow. High carb days also replenish your glycerin stores that fuel your muscles and make you feel energized!

Low carb days trick your body into burning fat for fuel (instead of sugar from carbs), promoting fat loss. As you can see, the cycling increases your muscle and decreases your fat, making weight loss quick and sustainable.

6 Carb Cycling Diet Rules

1. Eat 5 to 7 times a day
2. Don’t drink your calories
3. Eat lots of vegetables for fibre (try to have veggies in every meal)
4. Be prepared! Meal planning will ensure you don’t snack on bad foods
5. Perform intensive full-body weight lifting workouts on high carb days
6. Do cardio or rest days on low carb days

  • Brown Rice
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Couscous
  • Butternut Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • White Potatoes with Skin
  • Oatmeal
  • Fresh Beets
  • Carb Rich Fruits like Blueberries, Bananas, Pineapple, Peaches, Oranges, Plums, and Mango
  • Starchy Vegetables like Corn and Peas

Foods You Cannot Eat on the Carb Cycling Diet

  • White Bread
  • White Rice
  • White Pasta
  • Tortillas and Wraps
  • French Fries
  • Pizza
  • Cookies
  • Muffins
  • Pancakes
  • Pastries
  • Cakes
  • Refined Cereals

Carb-Days Defined

Before I provide you with the meal plan I want to define what a high-carb, medium-carb, and low-carb days will look like. 

This is generally speaking. There are a few hard and “strict”‘ rules for metabolic carb cycling, so I’ll let you make a few of your own choices.

High-Carb Days

These days will be your “cheat” days. However, I do recommend making good choices even on high-carb days especially if you’re trying to get your hormones healthier/balances, are rehabbing your metabolism, and/or want to lose weight as fast as you can.

For example, for breakfast you’ll add in servings of fruit, potatoes, gluten-free toast/english muffins, gluten-free muffins, organic sugar in your coffee, etc…

Yup, you can even eat sugar!

Ideally, you’ll do your intense workouts on this day. 

Medium-Carb Days

Most carb cycling experts don’t bother with medium-carb days, it’s just high or low carb, but I’m no ordinary expert.

There are days that you want to just focus on adding in a serving of fruit, potatoes, rice, or gluten-free grain for only ONE meal.

That’s a medium carb day.

For example, for lunch you’ll have grilled chicken, brown rice, and buttered broccoli. Delicious, right?!

Low-Carb Days

Think KETO!

On these days, it’s all about healthy fats and high-quality proteins. And green/low-glycemic vegetables (spinach, kale, romaine, etc…)

This is pretty straightforward, especially after reviewing some of my delicious keto recipes below.

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Day 1 (Low-Carb)

Breakfast: 10-Minute Keto Tomato Basil Omelet
Lunch: The Upgraded Fat Loss Burger
Snack: Hard-boiled egg
Dinner: Taco Lettuce Wraps

Day 2 (Low-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Over-Easy Egg Salad
Lunch: Keto Thai Chicken Bowl
Snack: 2 Tbsp. sunbutter and celery sticks
Dinner: Keto Spicy Chicken Sauté Tossed With Avocado

Day 3 (High-Carb)

Breakfast: 3 Fried Eggs, 1 Slice bacon, and 1 piece of gluten-free toast with butter
Lunch: Avocado Chicken Salad with 2 servings of fruit 
Snack: 2 oz. cheddar cheese and 1 cup blueberries
Dinner: Grilled steak with roasted rosemary potatoes

Day 4 (Medium-Carb)

Breakfast: 2 Fried Eggs, 2 slices bacon, and 1 cup blueberries
Lunch: Grilled Chicken, brown rice, and sauteed spinach
Snack: 2 oz. cheddar cheese and 1 apple
Dinner: Sheet Pan Haddock With Roasted Veggies

Day 5 (Low-carb)

Breakfast: Low-Carb No Egg Breakfast Bake With Sausage, Peppers, and Mushrooms
Lunch: Keto Ground Beef Taco Salad
Snack: hard-boiled egg
Dinner: Keto Mini Zucchini Avocado Burgers

Day 6 (High-Carb)

Breakfast: Sausage, egg, and mushroom scramble with 1 piece of gluten-free toast with butter
Lunch: Keto Easy Shrimp and Asparagus Bake
Snack: jerky with 1 serving fruit
Dinner: Buttered Rosemary Chicken Drumsticks and Baked Sweet Potatoes

Day 7 (Medium-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Morning Egg Scramble with Bacon
Lunch: Keto Tuna Salad
Snack: 2 Tbsp. sunbutter and celery sticks
Dinner: Lemon Butter Haddock over Mashed Potatoes

Day 8 (Low-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Scrambled Eggs
Lunch: Keto Turkey Plate
Snack: Hard-boiled egg
Dinner: Keto Ground Beef and Broccoli

Day 9 (Low-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Mexican Scrambled Eggs
Lunch: Keto 30 Minute Hearty Chili
Snack: beef jerky
Dinner: Keto Spicy Shrimp Salad

Day 10 (High-Carb)

Breakfast: oatmeal with protein powder and blueberries
Lunch: Keto Tuna Fish Cakes With Parsley Tomato Sauce
Snack: grapes and almonds
Dinner: grilled chicken breast and gluten-free pasta

Day 11 (Medium-Carb)

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, blueberries, and sausage
Lunch: Keto Tuna Salad
Snack: hard boiled egg and apple
Dinner: Keto Cheesy Bacon Chicken

Day 12 (Low-carb)

Breakfast: Keto Breakfast Smoothie
Lunch: Keto Avocado Boats with Tuna Salad
Snack: pork rinds
Dinner: Keto Pork Chops with Blue-Cheese Sauce

Day 13 (High-Carb)

Breakfast: eggs, bacon, and gluten-free toast with butter
Lunch: Keto Curried Chicken
Snack: cheese and gluten-free crackers
Dinner: Keto Chicken with Squash “Spaghetti”

Day 14 (Medium-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Mushroom Omelet
Lunch: Keto Easy Chicken Salad
Snack: apple and cashews
Dinner: Keto Chicken Caesar with Boiled Egg and Avocado

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Day 15 (Low-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Breakfast Sausage and Eggs
Lunch: Bacon Wrapped Chicken Fingers
Snack: hard boiled egg
Dinner: Keto Roasted Rosemary Beef Tenderloin

Day 16 (Low-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Pancakes
Lunch: Keto Chicken Burgers with Tomato Butter
Snack: jerky
Dinner: Keto Salmon with Cream Cheese Spinach

Day 17 (High-Carb)

Breakfast: Sausage, egg, and mushroom scramble with 1 piece of gluten-free toast with butter
Lunch: Keto Easy Shrimp and Asparagus Bake
Snack: jerky with 1 serving fruit
Dinner: Buttered Rosemary Chicken Drumsticks and Baked Sweet Potatoes

Day 18 (Medium-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Low-Carb Oatmeal
Lunch: Keto Chicken and Cabbage Plate
Snack: almonds and grapes
Dinner: Keto Mini Zucchini Avocado Burgers

Day 19 (Low-carb)

Breakfast: Keto Bulletproof Coffee, Frittata with Fresh Spinach
Lunch: Keto Avocado Chicken Salad
Snack: pork rinds
Dinner: Keto BLT plus Chicken Dinner Salad

Day 20 (High-Carb)

Breakfast: 2 Fried Eggs, bacon, sauteed potatoes and carrots
Lunch: Spicy Chicken Sauté Tossed With Avocado
Snack: hard boiled egg and apple
Dinner: Keto Fried Pork Chop with Mushrooms & Green Beans

Day 21 (Medium-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Mushroom Omelet
Lunch: Keto Chicken Salad with Sunflower Seeds
Snack: cashews and fruit
Dinner: Keto Tex-Mex Style Burger

Day 22 (Low-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Low-Carb Strawberry Smoothie
Lunch: Keto Asian Chicken Wraps with Tahini Tamari Sauce
Snack: almonds
Dinner: Keto Asian Wings with celery

Day 23 (Low-Carb)

Breakfast: 10-Minute Keto Tomato Basil Omelet
Lunch: The Upgraded Fat Loss Burger
Snack: Hard-boiled egg
Dinner: Taco Lettuce Wraps

Day 24 (High-Carb)

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, and GF toast with butter
Lunch: Keto Pork Chops with Green Apple Radish Salsa and Broccoli Slaw
Snack: fruit and nuts
Dinner: Lemon Butter Haddock over Mashed Potatoes

Day 25 (Medium-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Morning Egg Scramble with Bacon
Lunch: Keto Tuna Salad
Snack: 2 Tbsp. sunbutter and celery sticks
Dinner: Lemon Butter Haddock over Mashed Potatoes

Day 26 (Low-carb)

Breakfast: Keto Over-Easy Egg Salad
Lunch: Keto Thai Chicken Bowl
Snack: 2 Tbsp. sunbutter and celery sticks
Dinner: Keto Spicy Chicken Sauté Tossed With Avocado

Day 27 (High-Carb)

Breakfast: scramble with eggs, sausage, and potatoes
Lunch: Burger an fries
Snack: hard boiled egg
Dinner: Keto Pepperoni Pizza

Day 28 (Medium-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Easy Egg Salad
Lunch: Keto Ground Beef and Broccoli
Snack: fruit and cashews
Dinner: Keto Pork Chops with Blue-Cheese Sauce

Day 29 (High-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Avocado Smoothie
Lunch: Keto High Protein Pad Thai with Sweet Potato Noodles
Snack: fruit and nuts
Dinner: Keto Tex-Mex Burger Plate with french fries

Day 30 (Medium-Carb)

Breakfast: Keto Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Lunch: Keto Curried Chicken
Snack: beef jerky and a grapefruit
Dinner: Keto Steak Fajita Skillet with a serving of carrots and beets

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Carb cycling is where you alternate periods of low and higher carbohydrate content in your diet.

This means you might spend three days eating low-carb, then a high-carb day, then another low-carb, then a medium-carb day.

Easy, huh?

A lot easier than a full-fledged keto diet.

The theory behind carb cycling and weight loss is that it optimizes your body’s metabolic needs. 

While in a low carb period, your body sharpens insulin sensitivity, produces glucagon to help you burn fat, and becomes metabolically streamlined.

These are great things. Yet if you persist in being too low carb for too long your thyroid hormone levels will drop, and your insulin sensitivity may actually worsen. 

In short: you gain weight.

So you want to eat low carb most of the time, but still be deliberate about including carbohydrates every so often.

For a lot of women I work with, it is important to consistently eat carbohydrates.

What women benefit from eating carbohydrates?

  • They are essential for women who have delicate hormonal systems
  • who are recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea
  • who may have thyroid issues
  • who are pregnant, nursing, or trying to conceive
  • and who have mood issues

Nevertheless, carb cycling is an effective tool for fitness and weight loss when used correctly. The problem is that it is not always used correctly. Here’s why, and what to do about it.

Carb cycling and weight loss

The #1 mistake I see people making with carb cycling and weight loss is inattention to the specific needs of the female body.

Because it comes from a world of men, it doesn’t pay a whole lot of good attention to women. But there are two important considerations to bear in mind:

A) Thyroid status must be protected.

Thyroid hormone is essential for fat loss. Unfortunately on a low carbohydrate diet thyroid hormone production can slow down. This is crucial to bear in mind for women especially because women’s metabolism and thyroid activity are much more sensitive than men’s. It is important in the “low carb” times of the cycle to still not be very low carb. Stay above 50 grams of carbohydrate a day, at very minimum (and higher if physically active).

B) Female hormones impact insulin sensitivity

Estrogen and progesterone have significant impacts on carbohydrate metabolism.

At different parts in the menstrual cycle, carbohydrates are processed either much more efficiently or with much more fat storage. 

This is the secret to female carbohydrate cycling. I

nstead of sticking to a simple regimen provided by a personal trainer or some internet forum, the best thing you can do to maximize the effectiveness of your carb cycling is sync it up with your menstrual cycle.

Carb cycling and carbs

There are two important facts here: estrogen slightly increases, and progesterone decreases insulin sensitivity. 

Estrogen and progesterone are elevated at different points in the menstrual cycle. Estrogen levels tend to be the most dominant in the first and second weeks of the cycle (especially the second week). Progesterone levels are at their highest in the third and fourth week of the cycle.

The consequences of this are that:

  • The female body is naturally more insulin-sensitive in the follicular phase (the first two weeks of the cycle) when estrogen levels are highest and progesterone levels are at their lowest. This means it tolerates carbohydrates in these two weeks better than the rest of the time.
  • The female body is naturally slightly less insulin sensitive when progesterone levels are higher in the luteal phase (after ovulation, in the last two weeks of the cycle). This means it does not tolerate carbohydrate as well in these weeks.

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How does carb cycling work

A carb cycling diet plan works by giving your body the fuel it needs to increase your metabolic capacity and work load via carbohydrates and optimize fat loss via a reduced carbohydrate diet.

It is seen as ‘the best of both worlds’.

There are a number of protocols that have been designed to manipulate the general set up of a carb cycling diet plan, but many will use all three types throughout the week. These are generally rotated daily, or cycled, but the most common set up is based on daily activity levels.

The typical recommendations are:  

  1. On days of high activity, you should consume moderate to high amounts of carbohydrates.
  2. On days of moderate to no activity you should consume moderate to no amounts of carbohydrates.

A typical weekly breakdown would look like this: 

Monday: Heavy weight training day > High carb 
Tuesday: Interval training day > Moderate carbs 
Wednesday: Rest day > Low carbs
Thursday: Heavy weight training day > High carbs 
Friday: Interval training day > Moderate carbs 
Saturday: Heavy weight training day > High Carbs 
Sunday: Rest day > Low carb 

Various carb cycling diet plans show differences in the detail, but overall it is nothing more than eating more carbohydrates on some days and eating fewer carbohydrates on other days. 

The heavy focus is placed on carbohydrates manipulation as it is considered to have the most influential effect on body composition and how you look, feel and perform. 

Various carb cycling diet plans show differences in the detail, but overall it is nothing more than eating more carbohydrates on some days and eating fewer carbohydrates on other days.

The heavy focus is placed on carbohydrates manipulation as it is considered to have the most influential effect on body composition and how you look, feel and perform. 

MODERATE TO HIGH CARB DAYS:

  • Improve insulin sensitivity, making your body respond better to carbohydrates;
  • Promote fat loss by tricking your body into burning fat for fuel; improved fat oxidization via reduced insulin levels; and
  • Improve fat burning by reducing overall daily calories into a calorie deficit.

LOW TO NO CARB DAYS: 

  • Make you feel good and energized;
     
  • Replenish glycogen stores that fuel muscle; and
  • Stimulate an insulin response to create an anabolic environment for muscle retention and growth.

The Key to Carb Cycling

Remember that different things work for everyone.

While some may see major results from carb cycling, others might find that following a consistent diet with a moderate amount of carbs works well for them.

Everyone can benefit, however, from following a few of the central concepts of carb cycling:

Load up on fibrous vegetables every day. They are nutrient dense, low in calories, and should be a main component of everyone’s diet.

Limit or eliminate refined starches, like pastries, cakes, muffins, etc. They contribute very little nutrition-wise besides empty calories and sugar.

Focus on healthy carbohydrate choices. Fruits, tubers, and gluten-free grains are all excellent choices for rounding out a healthy diet.

Include lean proteins and healthy fats with each meal. Integrating these into every meal is just as important as including good sources of carbohydrates.

A simple low carb day diet plan

Meal 1: Breakfast
4 whole eggs scrambled in coconut oil with spinach
Serving protein powder with greens powder

Meal 2: Lunch
Homemade turkey burgers with large side salad
Large handful of roasted mixed nuts

Meal 3: Snack
Small sweet potato topped with tuna and cheese

Meal 4: Evening Meal
Large chicken breast wrapped stuffed with olives wrapped in Parma ham, served with roasted seasonal vegetables topped with olive oil

This would be a non weight-training day

Bottom Line About Carb Cycling

A carb cycling diet plan can be a good protocol for those who want an easy and simple set of guidelines to follow when seeking body composition changes.

Also it can quickly help people understand what their body wants in terms of macronutrient breakdown and what they do best on.

Aside from this, little evidence exists to suggest it will change body composition any quicker than traditional methods.

Lastly, taking everything into consideration, it can become quite a difficult protocol to follow.

Which is why you should follow a proven and science backed program like The 3-Week Carb Cycling Diet to guide you through a carb-cycling diet. 

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