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Once the go-to dieting strategy of bodybuilders, carb cycling is now making a return as the ‘trendy’ way for dieters to get lean. But, for runners, is carb cycling a sensible weight-loss method? Jennifer Bozon investigates

Low-carb diets have been hugely popular over the years, with the likes of The Atkins Diet and The Dukan Diet seeing millions going low carb in the early 2000s. However, aside from the health implications posed by such diets, sustainability has been a central problem, with dieters falling off the wagon and delving into the bread bin at the weekend. Practicality has proved problematic too, with dieters feeling too fatigued to exercise or even get through the working day. But what if there were a way to regularly switch up your carbohydrate intake, so that you could still lose weight, without feeling sluggish, and even indulge in garlic bread guilt free?

This phenomenon is known as carb cycling – a method of dieting that involves the strategic increase and decrease of carbohydrates to manipulate body composition. Recently, we’ve seen such diets gaining immensely popularity – namely Joe Wicks’ ‘Shift, Shape and Sustain’ plan, which has seen thousands transforming their bodies in just 90 days, and the Instagram star developing a lucrative fan-base in the process. In his plan (specifically phase one and three), carbs are cycled between workout and rest days, with high-carb meals enjoyed after exercise, consisting of HIIT and weight training, and low-carb meals eaten on rest days. The aim is to strip fat and build lean muscle; carbohydrates are eaten after exercise to top up blood glucose levels, prompting an insulin response to transport nutrients to muscles for growth, repair and recovery and, on rest days, carbohydrates are restricted to utilise fat as a fuel source.

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About Women’s Running

Re-start your running with the new issue of Women's Running, out now! We'll show you seven ways to break out of a running rut and how to come to terms with a new way of running when your times are on the decline. We've got expert advice on the steps you need to take now if you're planning for a spring PB next year. Plus, find out how running can help you be more mindful; be inspired by three women who celebrated big birthdays through amazing run events; and find out how to run if you have asthma. Giving your nutrition a re-think? Read a dietician's no-nonsense advice for fuelling your endurance sessions and read our special report on carb cycling for runners. You'll find all this plus the best kit reviews for road and trail, workouts for runners, and much more!