Carb Cycling: The Fit Cycle

Do you want to “lean up” without compromising your athletic performance? Do you want to train for long periods of time? Then the Fit Cycle is the cycle for you. The Fit Cycle not only eliminates fat, but it also supplies your body with the fuel it needs to perform successfully, no matter what sport you choose to excel in.

Unlike the other three carb cycles, the Fit Cycle only has two low-carb days per week, and there’s a very important reason for this: The extra high-carb day allows your muscles to absorb more fuel (glycogen), which you’ll need for maximum athletic performance. During your low-carb days, when this supply of glycogen gets depleted, your muscles will develop insulin sensitivity. When you then have a high-carb day or your reward day, these insulin-sensitive muscles will actually soak up more carbs, your body will burn this extra fuel instead of storing it as fat, and you’ll still lose weight. It’s an amazing process!

Here’s what a Fit Cycle week looks like:

  • Monday: High-carb day
  • Tuesday: High-carb day
  • Wednesday: Low-carb day
  • Thursday: High-carb day
  • Friday: High-carb day
  • Saturday: Low-carb day
  • Sunday: Reward Day

With the Fit Cycle, you won’t lose weight as fast as with the Turbo Cycle, but you will be able to maintain your athletic performance. However, if you do experience a slight decrease in your athletic performance with this cycle, and you’re not as concerned about losing weight, try combining the Fit Cycle with pre- and post-workout supplements or meal replacement shakes with some extra macronutrients.

And as with the other cycles, you can stay on the Fit Cycle or change cycles at any time. It all depends on your weight loss and athletic goals.

For more information on the Fit Cycle or any other cycle, check out our book, Choose More, Lose More for Life.


70 Comments

  1. Gianna - September 3, 2015

    Hi Heidi! Love your inspiration & blog/instagram! Just started the Fit Cycle and it’s my first time doing carb cycling. How long does it usually take to see results from carb cycling and how long do you recommend doing it? Should you periodize it or adjust your training too?

    • Team Powell - September 3, 2015

      Hi Gianna: How quickly you’ll see results depends on your starting weight/how many pounds you want to lose and how strictly you stick to the program. And it can take a bit of time for your body to adjust to a new way of doing things, so please be patient. :) And you can actually follow carb cycling for life!

  2. Hope P. - August 31, 2015

    Hi Heidi! So my husband are very active; I own a fitness studio so basically work out all day and we also enjoy lift weights. I am looking to do a bikini completion in the near future and we have been playing around with different meal plans to see which one works best for us and we have recently been getting in to carb cycling and I saw a post on your IG about how you and Chris carb cycle, So I’ve read chris’s book and see how y’all have it set up. but I am wondering how you do it to fit your calorie intake. Obviously 1500 calories is not enough to build muscle for someone like me ( i am built small, only 5’2 and petite) so I am curious to know how you adjust the carb cycling for you, since you take in more calorie for bodybuilding?
    Thank you!

    • Team Powell - August 31, 2015

      Hi Hope: Right now Heidi is following a 50/30/20 program and consuming 2600 calories a day to achieve her competition goals. I’m so sorry, but that’s all the information I have about her nutrition program. Good luck with your competition!

  3. Whitney - August 4, 2015

    I am super excited about trying this. I work out almost every day and I’m pretty lean now, but need to build more definition. How am I supposed to see what a typical carb cycling day high or low looks like? How do I know how much to consume? Thanks so much!! my wedding is in 3.5 weeks! I want to see if I can make a difference in a short time!! haha

    • Team Powell - August 4, 2015

      Hi Whitney: There’s an awesome graphic in this post (as well as some other helpful info) that outlines how to put together every meal in carb cycling: http://heidipowell.net/4514/carb-confusion/. And you can get everything – exercises, charts, food list, schedules, etc. – in Chris and Heidi’s book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” Happy carb cycling!

  4. Haley T - July 22, 2015

    Hi Heidi, This is Haley again from that other post. I have a question since I will be doing this fit carb cycle how many times should I exercise for a week and how long? Also, I know some foods with high carbs in it but I’m not sure what I should eat for high and low carb days? Thanks! Hope to hear from you soon!

    • Team Powell - July 22, 2015

      Everything is laid out for you in Chris and Heidi’s book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life,” and there’s a link to the book in this post. The book will outline everything you need to do (food and exercise) every single day, so it’s a great resource to help you along your transformation journey. Here’s another post that is very helpful too: http://heidipowell.net/4514/carb-confusion/. You can do this!

  5. Peter D - June 25, 2015

    Carb cycling seems sensible and effective. Its not dissimilar to the Dukan plan, which allows 5 days LC, 2 Days HC, or alternate daily etc. The intention evidently is to build a ‘bank’ of LC days which are the weight loss days.
    But I do have a question: ny doctor has diagnosed high blood pressure, so I think that cutting out adding salt to the diet is an obvious step. But if LC already eliminate excess sodium, would LC alone be sufficient to lower high BP?
    Also, does meat (steak, chicken etc) without added salt still contain too much sodium>
    Thanks !

    • Team Powell - June 25, 2015

      Meat without added salt should be okay, but I’d check with your doctor and see if he/she recommends any modifications to carb cycling. Good luck!

  6. Ronnie - June 21, 2015

    Hello!
    I work out 5-10 times a week depending on how much time I have. I practice yoga, pilates, play badminton, and go to different kinds of group fitness classes. I wasn’t able to train as much as usually because I hurt my back in an accident, but it’s getting better now and I’m pretty much back to my normal work out routine. I feel like I should do something with my diet and when I read about your carb cycling I got really excited :) Do you think that the Fit Cycle would work for me?
    Thanks!

    • Team Powell - June 21, 2015

      With your intense workout schedule, the Fit Cycle should be a great fit for you. And one of the great things about carb cycling is that you can change cycles at any time! Happy carb cycling!

  7. Sharon - June 15, 2015

    So do you not recommend post workout protein shakes when trying to lean out?

  8. Sarah Hynes - June 9, 2015

    mind posting the picture again? it won’t come up on my phone or my computer for whatever reason

  9. Cynthia mason - June 6, 2015

    Hello :) if I cook my chicken or veggies in olive oil does that count as my fat portion? Or can I still add a portion of fat on low carb days. And if it does count as fat is that unaccaptable for high carb days since I shouldn’t be eating fat on those days. I am on the fit cycle and I’m not looking to lose weight , just lean out. Thank you! And Heidi you’re incredible! :)

    • Team Powell - June 6, 2015

      You can have a portion of fat with every low carb meal. If you don’t use that entire portion for your cooking, then you still have some left for the rest of your meal. And you don’t have any fats (except some of the approved salad dressings) with high carb meals. Happy carb cycling!

  10. Denise D - June 6, 2015

    Question; I have done a strict low carb eating plan before and lost weight. It was 20 carbs a day. I am a little confused about how to maintain the different high carb and low carb days. Please help. Is it also about portion size? Can I maintain cycling 50 hours a week for the rest of the year? I feel eating 100-200 carbs a day would keep me in maintenance but not losing. I still need to lose 80 pounds.

    • Team Powell - June 6, 2015

      Yes, it’s all about portion size, and carb cycling is a program you can use to meet your weight loss goals and then for the rest of your life to maintain your weight. You can do this!

  11. Raegan - May 11, 2015

    Also, I lift 6 times a week with lots of supersets and such and also incorporate 2-3 15 minute HIIT sessions in. Would the Fit Cycle be the best to follow? I defiantly do not want to sacrifice strength for losing weight since I’m not looking to lose a crazy amount- just to lean out. Thanks so much- love your website!!

    • Team Powell - May 11, 2015

      Yes, the Fit Cycle sounds like the cycle for you, and you can change cycles at any time. Happy carb cycling!

  12. Raegan - May 11, 2015

    Hi there! I just started this today after reverse dieting for a while. I’m flowing the fit cycle as I am an athlete just looking to gain muscle but lean out a bit for summer! On higher carb days are you supposed to drop the fat or keep it the same? I know some people do but just wondered if that was part of this too! Thanks!

    • Team Powell - May 11, 2015

      You won’t eat any fats for any high carb meals. :)

  13. Jill - May 4, 2015

    I am an avid Crossfitter working about 5 – 6 times a week, I am going to start the Fit cycle soon for Carb Cycling but want to know if you have any sample meal plans? I would love to see what a full day of high/low carbs look like. I am 5’6″ and weigh approximately 145lbs. Thank You!

    • Team Powell - May 4, 2015

      Here are some meal ideas for low and high carb days (all recipes are from Chris and Heidi’s books: “Choose to Lose” and “Choose More, Lose More for Life.”). Low carb day: Breakfast (within 30 minutes of waking): Basic Omelet with a corn tortilla to make it a wrap. Snack (3 hours later): A protein shake with a portion of a healthy fat, like peanut butter, mixed in. Lunch (3 hours later): Tomato Basil and Garlic Chicken with a portion of olive oil drizzled on top. Snack (3 hours later): Sonora Cottage Cheese with a portion of avocado. Dinner: (3 hours later): Lemon Chicken drizzled with salad dressing. High carb day: Breakfast (within 30 minutes of waking): Denver Omelet with a portion of your favorite fruit or oatmeal on the side. Snack (3 hours later): Greek Yogurt Parfait with a portion of low fat granola.
      Lunch: (3 hours later): Caribbean Jerk Chicken with a portion of brown rice. Snack (3 hours later): Protein shake with a portion of oatmeal mixed in. Dinner (3 hours later): Apple Cider Chicken. And remember, you can have veggies (the non-root/non-starchy type) with every single meal, and you can use any of the foods on Chris and Heidi’s approved foods list – in the proper proportions – to create meals to fit your needs. Happy Fit Cycling!

  14. Irene - May 3, 2015

    Hi there!
    I recently bought the book ‘choose more, loose more’ and wanted to get started with the carb cycling.
    But as I am a very active person (running marathons and teaching a lot of yoga and Pilates classes), is it reasonable to stick to 1200 – 1500 kcal? I’m doing a few short runs per week (2or 3 times a week 6 to 10 miles) and one long distance run (16 miles) and 1 or 2 times a week strength/kettlebell training.
    I only want to loose 4,5 lbs (2kg) but do want to keep the same performance level.
    Hope you can help me out!

    Thanks from Holland,
    Irene

    • Team Powell - May 3, 2015

      With as active as you are, this cycle (the Fit Cycle) would be the one to choose. However, because you have so little weight to lose, you might try instead to have a daily calorie deficit where you eat a certain number of calories below what you’re burning through your active lifestyle. A pound equals 3500 calories, so you can decide what you want your deficit to be to be able to eat what you need to to support your activity level and still reach your weight loss goal. You can still follow carb cycling, just adjust the portion sizes/daily calories to make up for those calories you need to support your activity level.

  15. Jenny - April 30, 2015

    Hi. I’m looking to gain weight, muscle mass mostly but loose my belly fat from my pregnancy. Would this be good for me? I do cardio but not too much because I am thin, I just have baby fat on my belly. Also on the reward day should I work out? Thank you

    • Team Powell - April 30, 2015

      Yes, this could work for you. And yes, you can workout on your reward day if you’d like to. Reward day is on Sunday, which is a rest day, but you can do a light workout.

  16. Karina - March 9, 2015

    Hi!

    I’ve been on my getting in shape journey for 2 years now and I’ve definitely made progress.
    I tried your Turbo Cycle and it was Awesome. I lost 10 pounds! Thank You!
    I now want to lose another 10, but I do work out about 5 times a week, would the fit cycle work for me or would I gain weight instead of lose? I’ve been maintaining for the last 3 months and just want to make sure I will still lose those last 10 :)

    Thanks

    • Team Powell - March 9, 2015

      The Turbo Cycle should still work, but you can change cycles at any time. If you want to try the Fit Cycle, your weight loss could be slower but give it a try!

    • Karin - March 13, 2015

      I decided to try the classic cycle and am on day 5. I will post my progress in 2 weeks. I’m really liking it and hope it works for me, like the turbo did!

      Thanks, Again

    • Team Powell - March 13, 2015

      Yay! You got this!

  17. Sarah - February 3, 2015

    Hey Heidi !
    I wanna try to incorporate the carb cycle to my workout to see the gains I can make. I’m currently doing 4x a week crossfit, should I match the High Carb day with the workout or it doesn’t mather ?
    Thanks a lot and thanks for all the post you do on the blog :)

  18. Karen - December 25, 2014

    Hi all,

    I just want to check this is the one that I’d want to try out. I’m a 5’5 135lb and I’m looking to lose the fat but maintain and building muscle. Would this be a good one to try out? I work out 6 times a week including weight training and cardio.

    Thank you!

    • Team Powell - December 26, 2014

      Yes, it sounds like this cycle would work well for you. And you can change cycles at any time!

  19. Michelle Dulansky - December 3, 2014

    I am a group fitness instructor and teach 15-18 classes a week. My question is how do I balance the high and low carb days to the level of workouts for certain days. Mondays I teach 2 high cardio and one low cardio class. Tuesdays I have a mix of toning and high cardio, Thursday is a rough day with 4 high cardio and a stretch class. Wed and Fri is mostly senior fitness or mat toning. Weekends I don’t work so if I workout it my choice of workout. I usually have my “reward day ” on the weekend. My goal is be fueling my body to build muscle to be lean and toned, I am not so worried about weight loss. I have a 4lb range I pretty much stay in. Should a high carb day be the day before or the day after a high cardio day? What level of activity should happen on a low carb day? Thank you for your help and advice. You are so awesome!

    • Team Powell - December 4, 2014

      There’s cardio built into each day (Monday-Friday) during each week, no matter which cycle you’re following. It sounds like the Fit Cycle is definitely the cycle for you, and here’s a post about maintaining your weight that might help: http://heidipowell.net/5137/weight-loss-maintenance/. You can move the high/low carb schedule a bit to better fit your workout energy needs if you’d like. For example, instead of beginning the week on Monday, you can begin it on Sunday or Tuesday. Just don’t change the order of the high and low carb days. Hope that helps!

  20. Christa - October 22, 2014

    Dear Team Powell

    I am wondering what carb cycle I should do: I am an avid gym goer. I work out 60 minutes, 6 times a week. I have shed 40 lbs and have kept it off for 2 years. I am looking to shed the last 10 lbs that I first set my goal at. I am 5’6 and weigh 144 lbs. I want to shed these last 10 by Christmas time. Any advice would help!
    Thank you

  21. proudmomm - October 19, 2014

    I am looking to start carb cycling. Most days I do my workouts at night. Do I save one of my snacks for after or add an addtional protein after or do something totally different? Thanks

  22. Roberto Cartagena - October 4, 2014

    How many carbs per pound should I eat? I have a pretty good athletic build. N just wanna try this out. I need to change my diet instead of my regular one that I’ve been on way too long. I’m not seeing any changes in my current diet. This looks like it will change me in a good way.

  23. Greg - October 2, 2014

    Hello, I don’t miss an episode of your show! It inspires so many, me being one of them! I lost 50lbs and what I did was watch my calories with myfintesspal and use bodymedia to track what I burned. I’ve always wondered about carb cycling and after reading this I have a few questions. On reward day what does that consist of, one meal of your favorite food or is it all meals? And the portions are not based on servings but on using your hand to figure those portions out? Are they close to what the nutritional facts are on the label? Thanks for your time….I think to better my diet I’m going to try this.

    • Team Powell - October 2, 2014

      Great questions! 1. On reward days you can eat up to 1000 extra calories of any foods – nothing is off limits. 2. There’s a great graphic in this post that explains the portion sizes as well as other awesome info: http://heidipowell.net/4514/carb-confusion/. There’s also a great foods list beginning on page 192 in “Choose More, Lose More for Life,” that outlines some calorie-related serving sizes. 3. Nutritional facts on labels can have very different serving sizes, and the serving size can be different for two products in the same categories (cereals, for example). Hope that helps! :)

  24. Cara Stone - September 17, 2014

    Hi, Heidi!

    First, love the show! You & Chris are awesome! The transformations are so inspiring!

    I’m thinking about trying carb-cycling. I don’t need to lose weight, per se, but would like to reduce my body fat % from the current 25% down to about 20% (top end of athlete range for my gender & age – 49 yr old female).

    I’m a mom (grown kids), grandma to 1, have a full time office job, and am a certified personal trainer, running coach, & Insanity Instructor (evenings & weekends). I’m also a distance runner myself, currently training for 2 half marathons in October, and will be training for the LA Marathon (March) starting in November. I eat high carb most of the time since I expend A LOT of energy! So – obviously, I need to do the Fit Cycle.

    Currently, I track my food & exercise on the MYFITNESSPAL app. I aim for a calorie breakdown of 60% carbs, 25% protein, and 15% fat (every day). My question is, if I do the Fit Cycle, what % of my calorie take should be from carbs on high carb days & low carb days?

    Cara Stone

    • Team Powell - September 17, 2014

      Hi Cara: In carb cycling we don’t track percentages or grams – we use portion sizes. For this reason, I’m not able to answer your question. There’s a great graphic (as well as some other awesome info) in this post that might help you: http://heidipowell.net/4514/carb-confusion/. Good luck with all your races! :)

    • Cara Stone - September 18, 2014

      Thank you! Yes, the graphic is very helpful!

  25. Angel A - September 16, 2014

    Hi Heidi, I am a CrossFitter and was on a mostly primal diet, but I am finding that my energy is low and my performance is suffering a little. I do not like how wheat makes me feel and eat mostly sprouted grain products. I am trying to lose body fat and get lean, not necessarily lose weight (I am 5’6″ 132lbs), do you think the fit cycle could help me to break through this final plateau? Thanks for any advice! I absolutely love you and Chris and hope to someday help people in the same way that you do!

  26. Linda - August 27, 2014

    Hi ! You guys are Awesome! What about the hypoglycemic people that want to loose wight ?!! I am currently using a trainer 3 days a week and when I start my cardio my sugar can be as low as the 50’s or 60’s …. Any advice would be appreciated !! Thanks so much !

    • Team Powell - August 28, 2014

      It would be best to discuss Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program with your healthcare team so they can help you make any necessary modifications for your hypoglycemia. It can be done!

  27. Ciera - August 17, 2014

    Hello Heidi, first let me stat off by saying thank you for taking the time out to read my comment an to make this blog post. i am 20 years old about 230 pounds 5’2 tall, i currently trying to lose weight. I stumbled across this blog post and today which i though was awesome, however Im confused as to what to do now. Yes i want to lose weight to lose weight but I also want to gain muscle and keep my curves. My question is which car cycle should i incorporate in my fitness routine and also is it possible to burn fat and gain muscle at the same time?

  28. Jenessa - August 11, 2014

    First off I love your book, your ago, and follow you religiously on Instagram & FB!!! I have a question I work out religiously 6 days a week running and lifting then interval training 2-3 days a week as well. Would this help me to lose weight that I want? I’ve plateaued for a year or so and work my butt off not literally at the gym!!! I need help and motivation I’m terrified to gain. I hope you’ll help answer my questions! Thanks!!!

  29. Tiffany - July 24, 2014

    Thanks for posting this. I have been thinking about buying your book for a while, but wasn’t sure if I would like the plan. I am really athletic, just completed my second marathon a month ago, but nutrition is my weakness. I would love to lose 5 pounds from my last pregnancy before starting a new one! i have upped my game with weight lifting to improve my physique, but I think to get the results I want I will finally have to make changes in the kitchen and stop blaming these 5 pounds on nursing! I think I will try the plan for a week or two and if it seems like a good match for me I’ll get the book. Love extreme weightloss; you and Chris are amazing people. Wishing you well!

    • Christa - October 22, 2014

      Quick question:
      How do you stray from those awful afternoon sugar cravings?

    • Team Powell - October 22, 2014

      Try chewing some minty gum, drink some water (sometimes thirst masks itself as hunger), take a walk or do some other form of exercise, do an activity you enjoy, or anything that will keep your mind off those cravings. And make sure you’re getting enough sleep too, because sometimes cravings hit because you’re sleepy.

  30. Peta-gaye - March 22, 2014

    Hi!
    my problem is not my food portion so much but it’s staying motivated. I have lost 70lbs and gained more than that back in two years. I like walking and I would walk for hours but I just keep failing. I can give up the food easily but staying motivated is a struggle. I need to loose this weight so i will give this carb cycle a shot….. wish me luck

    • jason - July 24, 2014

      I have that struggle too. Im 36 yr old man 5’9″ 339.6. When I started to think about my health was when the dr said that I would end up eating myself to death. I have lost 31 lbs and still going. What I use for motivation is looking deep within myself and asking myself if I want to watch my girls grow up. I. Hope this helps. . If you need some more motivation hit me up on. My email pig weight @yahoo.com

    • Cara Stone - September 17, 2014

      Hi Pete-gaye ~

      When you feel your motivation lagging, remember why you started this journey. Your own personal ‘why’ can carry you through ANY workout and help you stay on ANY good nutrition plan (like carb-cycling).

      It would help to work with a trainer or at least find a friend who has a similar goal for added accountability. (Less likely to skip a workout if you have an appointment with someone).

      Always keep your goal and reason in mind! You can do this!

      Cara

  31. Melody - February 19, 2014

    I just started the Turbo Cycle and must have missed this Fit Cycle. I would like to lose about 15 lb (currently 5’6, 155 lbs)but mostly, get lean and gain muscle so weightloss is flexible. I try to work out (I’m a lover of running!) for 30-60 minutes every day. What signs should I look for from my body that might suggest it’s time to switch to Fit?

  32. Julie - January 9, 2014

    Question: If I’m doing Insanity, the w/o, would I still be able to do a carb cycling diet for weight loss? I just can’t seem to lose weight anymore and I want to try something different! Thank you in advance.

    • JS - July 13, 2014

      I’m combining Insanity HIIT workouts with Chri and Heidi’s “fit cycle” diet plan…and so far so good. I have plenty of energy for working out and am losing weight. No real cravings or hunger. Diet is probably 80% of successful weight loss, and I’m very happy with the Powell’s nutrition plan.

      Chris’ workout plan seems very “solid”, and I’ll probably fully incorporate it into my workout in the future.

    • Cara Stone - September 17, 2014

      AS JS stated, for optimal energy, which you NEED for Insanity, I’d definitely go with the Fit Cycle!

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