Carb Cycling: The Classic Cycle

The Classic Cycle was first introduced in Chris’ book, Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution. While the Easy Cycle is the easiest cycle, the Classic Cycle is the simplest carb cycle. It offers a quick and easy introduction to carb cycling and results in fast and steady weight loss.

Unlike the Easy Cycle, which has a reward meal incorporated into every high-carb day, the Classic Cycle has an entire reward day every week. Imagine that—a whole day to satisfy those cravings for your favorite foods! And you’ll still lose weight.

Here’s what a Classic Cycle week looks like:

  #CarbCycling: The Classic Cycle #HeidiPowell #ChrisPowell #ChooseMoreLoseMoreforLife Learn more at

With the Classic Cycle, besides losing weight at a quick and constant pace, you’ll also be able to tune into what is happening in your body during this carb cycle process. You’ll learn and actually feel how food affects your body, and while you may experience some brief periods of nausea, headaches, low energy and other symptoms as you change the way you fuel your body, these will be temporary. In the end, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for this marvelous body you have! And as with the Easy Cycle, you can stick with the Classic Cycle throughout your weight loss journey or move onto another cycle. You are in control!

Find more information on the Classic Cycle in both my books—Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution and Choose More, Lose More for Life.


  1. Amanda - February 11, 2015

    Hey there! I am a clean eater, and work out on a regular basis (I strength train 3-4 days a week always with at least a 30 minute cardio portion and try to add in an additional cardio day outside of that). I’m an active mom of a 1 year old and just trying to get rid of those last 5 pesky pounds. I’ve never carb cycled before but the more I am learning about it the more I am seeing that it could be the missing piece to my weight loss. Do you have any suggestions/guidelines for workouts on low carb days? I am concerned I may be famished if I do my typical workout on those days or that I may not have enough energy to get through it? Thanks!

    • Team Powell - February 11, 2015

      All your workouts are outlined for you for every single day – you simply have to follow the plan! And if you find that you can’t get through workouts on low carb days, then you can move those more intense workout days to high carb days, or switch cycles. Happy carb cycling!

  2. Rachael - February 3, 2015

    I love the idea of carb cycling and would love to try the classic cycle as i do crossfit 3 days a week. However, I feel as though the measurements are slightly vague and the OCD in me really wants to know exactly how many grams of carbs and fat and protein that should be consumed! I love my food scale. is there anywhere that macros get broken down for meals or portion sizes?

    • Team Powell - February 3, 2015

      In carb cycling we don’t count grams, we count portion sizes, so I don’t have that information you’d like available. If it will help, you can also count calories. For women, you’ll eat 1200 calories for low carb days, and 1500 calories for high carb days. Happy carb cycling!

  3. Tony - January 17, 2015


    Would i be right in saying that i can start day 1 on a Sunday, Day 2 then is Monday and so on making Saturday the reward day then start new week. Also if low day = 1500 calories and high = 2000 calories and reward day is +1000 calories extra would this make the reward day 1500 calories +1000 calories or would it be 2000 calories +1000 calories.

    Great book


    • Team Powell - January 17, 2015

      Yes, you can do this if it fits into your schedule better, and you’ll treat your reward day as a high carb day + 1000 calories. Happy carb cycling!

  4. Colleen - January 14, 2015

    I have both the hard copy and audio version of Choose More, Lose More for Life. The audio version refers to PDF’s which I didn’t get through Audible. I would love to get PDF’s of Appendix F if possible to track and plan. I haven’t found them on your website. Is it possible to get them?

    I am really interested in this program. I just started a more restrictive version of carb cycling through a trainer but believe your system is something more sustainable for a life change.

    Thank you!

  5. Lauren - January 8, 2015

    Can Day 6 and Day 7 be swapped?

    • Team Powell - January 8, 2015

      No, it’s best not to, because the days are arranged in the best way possible for weight loss. If you need to, you can move the entire week one way or the other, but always keep the days (high and low carb) in the same order.

  6. Joe P. - December 31, 2014

    I just purchased and read through about 100 pages today of Choose More, Lose More for Life. For Carb cycling specific to turbo and classic meal plans, do we get to eat 2 fistful of veggies at each meal in additional to the protein/fat/carbs for the day? I’m looking to start the program on Friday.

    • Team Powell - December 31, 2014

      Yes! You can have two fist fulls of veggies (the non-root/non-starchy type) with every single meal in carb cycling – even the high carb ones (if you’re still hungry). Happy carb cycling! :)

  7. Natascha - November 24, 2014

    Hi! I’m really glad I found your site and bought the book. It really feels like I can do it for the first time in years. I started with the Classic Circle last week (I want to switch to the turbo circle after a few weeks, when I’m used to the Classic Cirlce…) and lost about 4 pounds in this week without feeling like I’ve missed anything.

    the only thing is that it is hard for me to manage my five meals, when I’m at work. Most of the times I should eat, when I just can’t. So it is often that I get to eat after 4 hours and then I skip my 5th meal, because I don’t want to eat at 10pm when I’m on my way to bed. It’s kind of a confusing start to figure it all out, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to manage my new diet.

    • Team Powell - November 25, 2014

      Congrats on those 4 pounds gone – that’s awesome! With the eating schedule, just do the best you can and make sure you’re getting all the calories for each day (1200 for low carb days and 1500 for high carb days), you’re drinking all your water, and you’re following the protein, carb, veggie, and fat requirements for each meal. You got this! :)

  8. Michaela - November 5, 2014

    So exactly how many carbs should I be eating on low and high carb days? I am starting with the classic cycle!

  9. Karen - October 15, 2014

    Is this diet good for women with hormone issues? I am a cancer survivor and was rushed into menopause at a young age so I find losing weight impossible. I want to try this, but wonder if it is even worth it? Thanks!

    • Team Powell - October 15, 2014

      Yes, it can work for those with a variety of health issues. I’d suggest discussing carb cycling, or any nutrition and exercise program, with your healthcare team first. Give it a try – it’s an awesome program!

  10. Melissa - October 10, 2014

    Are there any type of meal replacement bars you can use for when you are on the go? If so, what kind and how do you know which type to buy?

    • Team Powell - October 10, 2014

      Quest bars are great for low carb days. With any protein bars, pay attention to the fat and carb contents so you can know which type of meal (low or high carb) they are best suited for. You’ll have to look at the nutrition labels of every bar to make sure, as there are so many varieties with differing nutritional values.

  11. Amy B - October 2, 2014

    I am a plant-based vegan. How would carb cycling work for me since all of my protein comes from soy, nuts, legumes, grains and plants? Would I just stick to nuts and seeds with green veggies on low carb days?

    • Team Powell - October 2, 2014

      For protein sources you can use tempeh, tofu, and TVP; legumes, grains, and plants would be carb sources, and any nuts would be healthy fats. It can be done! Here’s a post that might help with the carb part of carb cycling: :)

    • Amy TP - October 17, 2014

      Hi Amy,

      I too am a vegan (and an Amy : ) I was wondering if you are carb cycling now and how it is working for you? I am trying to go through in my head how our options will work and I am getting stumped. Any suggestions or sample menus would be appreciated : ) We vegans need to stick together, thank you.


  12. Erica C - October 2, 2014

    Which program would you recommend for a nursing mommy? My baby is two months old and I would like to breast-feed as long as I can… Would like to get my eating habits back on track but don’t want to risk diminishing my milk supply.

    Love your show! You and your hubby are an amazing team! Very, very inspiring!

  13. Chrsity - October 2, 2014

    What if I cannot eat within 30 mintues of waking? I take a thyroid pill 1st thing every morning and cannot eat for an hour. Will this have an effect on my results?

    • Team Powell - October 2, 2014

      With medications, it’s best to follow your doctor’s recommendations. This shouldn’t affect your weight loss at all! Happy carb cycling! :)

  14. abe - October 2, 2014

    I am confused if fruit can be eaten on the classic ?

  15. Anne Miller - October 1, 2014

    On low carb days do you still eat a high carb breakfast? What is considered high carb – oatmeal and turkey sausage for protein? And last question: ;-) Does the type of carb cycling depend on how much exercising you are doing?

    • Team Powell - October 1, 2014

      Great questions! Yes, every breakfast is a high carb breakfast. There’s an awesome graphic in this post that will show you how to put together every meal in carb cycling, both low and high carb: There’s an extensive list in both of Chris and Heidi’s books (“Choose to Lose” and Choose More, Lose More for Life”), and you can also get their free approved foods list at Enter your email address in the “Join the Transformation” section, hit “Join,” and you’ll be given a link to download the list. And the amount of recommended exercise is the same for all four carb cycles. Happy carb cycling! :)

  16. Anthony - September 26, 2014


    Love your show, absolutely so inspiring and amazing. Quick question….I want to get this book, just wanted to know if it covers carb cycling for vegans? I am vegan, so just wanted to make for sure. Thanks for all that you do!

    • Team Powell - September 26, 2014

      There are some vegan options available in the book, as well as Chris and Heidi’s complete exercise program, and lots of other awesome info. Check it out!

  17. Kelly - September 18, 2014

    On a low carbs day can I replace a meal with a Quest bar?

  18. Fat mummy - September 4, 2014

    On Sunday and Tuesday I don’t eat meat or fish or eggs.
    I really want to start carb cycling. I’m think Tuesday and Sunday should be high carb days for ease. Is there any other vegetable protein you guys could recommend and is it ok if I have lets 2 highs n then low or does it have to high low high.
    I want to carb cycle for weight loss.

    Thank you in advance.

  19. Liane T - August 5, 2014

    I just started carb cycling yesterday. My plan was to try the turbo cycle first. Yesterday was my low carb day and I ended up feeling hungry, nauseous, and dizzy all day and with a headache. I decided to change to the classic cycle. I feel much better today adding the carbs. Will I feel like I did yesterday on every low carb day? Also, where can I add a Quest bar in my day? I’ve tried them in the past and their awesome especially when you have a sweet tooth. Will it keep me full?

    • Team Powell - August 5, 2014

      Low carb days will get easier! It might take your body a bit of time to adjust, but it will adjust. This is actually pretty normal too. ;) Quest bars can be eaten as the protein and fat portions of your low carb meal. Good luck! :)

  20. Gina - July 25, 2014

    Hi Team Powell!! I am just starting the cycling process and have a few questions. How many carbs should be taken in on a low carb day and how many on high carb day? I have done low carb off and on for years so I am not sure what the carb range is for carb cycling.

  21. Dawne Howes - July 24, 2014

    I have both books, but bought the second one on my Kindle. Is there anywhere on either Heidi or Chris’ site where I can find the exercises that he describes, and print them out? Even with the first book, if I can print them out from a website, it’s easier than trying to hold open the book (provided my cats don’t lay on either one!!) thanks :)

    • Team Powell - July 24, 2014

      I’m so sorry, but there’s not.

    • Erika - August 9, 2014

      Hi Dawne,
      Since they don’t seem to have a printable set of the exercises, try getting a cookbook holder; they would hold open the book to the page you are using and keep it upright for viewing. Plus: kitty can’t lay on it and cover your info anymore! :) Good luck!

  22. Yvonne - July 24, 2014

    I have purchased the Chris’s first book about carb cycling, but I am concerned about the frequent meals. I am a registered nurse who can barely get a 30 min break during 12.5 hrs, let alone every 3. Do you have any suggestions that might help me? I really need to lose 40 pounds to get my life and health back. Thanks in advance for your help.

  23. Lindsay Wirthlin - July 24, 2014

    Is there information in the book about aligning the cycling schedule with your workout days? I think this may be a good way to maintain energy levels while training/competing in triathlons. this is my first season and I have a lot to lose but don’t want to wait until this season is over. I know that low-carb works well for me to drop fat, but it seems to diminish my performance. So would I exercise on high-carb days? or exercise the day after high-carb days so that my body is stoked with energy from the day before?

    • Team Powell - July 24, 2014

      In the book there are charts outlining both nutrition (low/high carb days) and exercise for each day, so I’d suggest following the plan as it’s outlined in the book – it works! And every breakfast is a high carb breakfast, so you’ll have everything your body needs to get going and do what you need to do. Everything is explained very well, so check it out!

  24. Lynn Collins - July 10, 2014

    I just purchased your book, Choose More, Lose More for Life and am trying to figure out a menu for the week for my husband and I on the Classic Cycle. It’s pretty confusing… In the book it looks like you should have a protein and carb at every breakfast regardless of whether it is a HC or LC day. I notice in the comment to MaryAnn above, it is stated ” For a low carb meal, choose a protein, healthy fat, and veggies. For a high carb meal, choose a protein, carb, and veggies.” Thanks!

  25. Joelle Delancey - July 9, 2014

    In the book, are there tips for nursing and dealing with allergies (dairy, eggs, and peanuts)? My baby is almost 1, but I don’t think she plans on weaning anytime soon and I like having something in her diet that I know for sure is safe and healthy for her. Thanks for any help/advice/insight!

  26. Lauren - July 7, 2014

    Do the books provide suggestions for vegans to follow a carb cycling plan?

  27. MaryAnn Frattarole - July 6, 2014

    I’ve read Chris’ book and am excited to get started. I understand the general principles of carb cycling, but I am a little lost in converting all that info into meal plans and a shopping list. I’d be very appreciative to have more definitive guides such as several weekly meal plans with a shopping list. I’d be willing to buy this for convenience. Thanks for the great work you and your husband do!

    • Team Powell - July 7, 2014

      We don’t have any sample meal plans available, but here are some ideas that might help: (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. For a low carb meal, choose a protein, healthy fat, and veggies. For a high carb meal, choose a protein, carb, and veggies. Hope this helps – best of luck carb cycling! :)

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    […] “Classic Cycle,” a straightforward plan designed by Powell’s husband Chris (and featured in his book Choose to […]

  29. crystal froemming - August 8, 2013

    I started carb cycling this week using this cycle, except I am choosing to have a treat meal once every six weeks in place of weekly :) thank you for the great info! Chad Crystal Froemming on Facebook.

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