Nutrition, Nutrition

What is carb cycling?

Remember that carbs fuel moderate to high intensity exercise, so avoiding them may compromise your workout

Carbohydrates, they’re the enemy right? Nah probs not.  In fact, many methods such as carb cycling can help you include carbs in your diet and help you achieve your health and fitness goals. Aquanation personal trainer Byron Manning is here to debunk carb myths and help you make friends with carbs.

Are carbs the enemy?

Short answer, no.

“You need carbs, they fuel High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to moderate exercise and that’s when your carbs being used,” explains Manning.

Manning says that many people often overconsume carbohydrates because of the presence of refined sugars in our food systems, but carbs are really important for achieving your goals.

“Remember that carbs fuel moderate to high intensity exercise, so avoiding them may compromise your workout,” warns Manning.

What is carb cycling?

As Manning puts it, “carb cycling is simply periodising your carbohydrate intake, so timing your carb intake to get maximum benefit.”

He adds athletes might use this method to promote certain adaptions for fat metabolism, whereas amateur gym goers might use it for weight loss.

Manning says you don’t need a go hard or go home method with your carb intake. If you’re keen to give cycling your carbs a try, it can be done “with varying degrees of complexity, for example having higher carbohydrate intakes on certain days, and lower intake on another.”

There’s not a huge amount of research behind this dietary approach, but fuelling particular workouts with nutrition isn’t anything new and as the personal trainer puts it - carbs are really important to your fitness.

“Carbs are major fuel source for exercise and carb intake is dependent on the exercise type, intensity, duration and your goals,” explains Manning. More specifically, “days where you are participating in a lot of training might require more carbohydrates versus days when you aren’t doing as much,” clarifies the personal trainer.

When it comes to understanding what carb intake you need for your workout, it’s all individually based and Manning recommends seeing a sports dietitian if you want specifics.

Follow Manning’s top tips for including carbs in your diet:

  • Remember carbs are your friends.
  • Opt for wholefood options, that way you can avoid nasties such as added and refined sugars.
  • Eat wholegrains so you can get your fibre up too.
  • Don’t listen to people who say you have to eliminate carbs to lose weight, often it’s not necessary and you’ll feel terrible.


Byron Manning is a personal trainer at Aquahub and Aquanation with a Bachelor of Food and Nutrition Science and Masters of Dietetics at Deakin University. Learn more.