Carb-Cycling Through The Holidays

For many of us, Christmas is a time to revisit our treasured holiday traditions of decorating our Christmas trees, setting up nativity scenes and watching our crazy aunt Susan have one too many glasses of punch, then faceplant while trying to put a bow on the dog’s head.

Ahh… the holidays…

Christmas for many of us is also a two-week bender where we totally blow our diets and stuff ourselves full of egg nog, Christmas cookies and chocolates.


Now as important as it is to periodically take a break from healthy eating, going off the rails for weeks at a time is rarely a strategy that sets anyone up for success.

That’s why one of my favourite holiday diet strategies (hell, it’s one of my favourite year round diet recommendations) is to leverage the benefits of strategic calorie (or carb) cycling.

For the uninitiated, carb-cycling is the dietary approach where you deliberately go between high and low carbohydrate & calorie days throughout the week, in an effort to keep your hormones and metabolism happy.

As you are manipulating the amount of carbohydrates you eat each day, this often means dietary fat intake will also change daily, whereas you’d typically leave protein intake fairly constant.

There isn’t a magic formula for the perfect number of low vs. high calorie days, as your specific low/moderate/high calories breakdown will vary depending on how physically active you are, your weekly training program and how robust your resting metabolism tends to be.

But if we were to sketch out a plan for a client interested in weight loss, their week might look like this:

  • Monday: low calorie
  • Tuesday: moderate calorie
  • Wednesday: moderate calorie
  • Thursday: low calorie
  • Friday: low calorie
  • Saturday: high calorie
  • Sunday: low calorie

Obviously, low vs high calorie is all relative to their size and baseline needs, but hopefully you get the general idea.

To give you a quick synopsis of how and why carb cycling works, here’s a video lesson I put together several years ago.

So this Christmas, why not get the holiday treats working for you, instead of against you?

The beauty of carb-cycing is that when structured correctly, you can leverage your high calorie days for social gatherings.

This allows you to enjoy the social parts of holiday season, without being “that guy or girl” who has to bring all their own food to a party in a tupperware.

If this approach is appealing to you and you’d like to learn more about calorie-cycling and other more advanced diet strategies, I highly recommend you sign up for my free newsletter as I cover these topics and more in greater detail.

Cheers and Happy Holidays everyone!