Carb cycling helps women build and maintain muscle mass while encouraging fat loss, states Fitness Rx for Women. High-carb days stimulate insulin release and replenish glycogen in the muscles, while low-carb days promote fat burning by forcing the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrate for energy. Alternating between high-carb and low-carb days optimizes fat metabolism, increases thyroid activity and is easier to stick with than low-carb diets for many people.
The structure of a carb cycling plan varies, but the general structure of the diet is one high-carb day followed by one low-carb day, notes Muscle For Life. Some people may choose to do a few low-carb days consecutively, followed by a high-carb refeed day. Others separate days further into high-carb, moderate-carb, low-carb and no-carb days.
For high-carb days, consume 2 to 2.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight, advises Muscle For Life. For moderate-carb days, 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound is sufficient. Low-carb days call for 0.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound, and no-carb days require less than 30 grams of carbohydrates for the whole day. Exact amounts vary based on an individual's own response to high carbohydrate intake. It is recommended for women to adhere to the lower range of carbohydrates in general, according to Fitness Rx for Women.