Increase your carb intake to lose weight, fitness expert says

hands grabbing pizza carbs
Eating more carbs could help you lose weight, a fitness expert has said. (Getty Images)

When it comes to ways to lose weight, increasing your intake of carbohydrates probably isn’t at the top of your list.

This is because carbohydrates – which are found in everything from bread to rice, potatoes to fruit and even dairy products – have received a bit of a bad reputation over the years.

Carbs have famously been excluded from several fad diets, including the ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet, but now a fitness expert has explained that we should be increasing our carb intake – not lowering it.

"If you are eating a calorie deficit and exercising several times per week but not losing any weight, this could be because your metabolism isn’t functioning correctly," Rowan Cooke, sport and exercise science specialist at says.

Instead, Cooke suggests a practice called ‘carb cycling’, which he says allows your body to burn fat instead of carbs and muscle.

"The process involves going back and forth between high-carb days and low-carb days," Cooke explains.

"With carb cycling, you will spend two days eating a high amount of carbs, between 175 to 275 grams, and three days eating a low amount of carbs, between 100 to 125 grams daily."

Cross training circuit in an health club inside an industrial loft with big windows.
HIIT classes can be good to do on higher carb days. (Getty Images)

During the higher carb days, Cooke suggests doing a 15-minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout.

"After a HIIT workout, your body can burn calories for 24-48 hours, which is known as the ‘afterburn effect’," he explains.

"While this cycle works across five days, for example, between Monday and Friday, during the remaining two days in the week, you can aim to eat how you normally would. It is a great way to mentally and emotionally feel like you are never deprived of foods you cannot have on a typical diet.

"Normally on this cycle, you will begin to notice small results within two weeks. You can see significant results in the six and enjoy a balanced, healthy lifestyle."

To maintain your weight, women are advised to consume around 2,000 calories daily, while men should look to consume 2,500 daily.

To give a clearer idea of how carb cycling works, Cooke has outlined an example of a high carb day, and a low carb day, below.

eggs on toast
Eggs on toast are a good source of protein and carbs. (Getty Images)

High carb day example

  • Breakfast: Three large eggs, cooked to your liking, two slices of whole wheat toast and half of a large grapefruit.

  • Morning snack: 170 grams of cottage cheese and one large peach.

  • Lunch: 85 grams of tinned tuna, drained, one tablespoon mayonnaise, 10 high-fiber, whole-grain crackers, one celery stalk and one medium apple.

  • Afternoon snack: A medium-sized bowl of air-popped popcorn, one small box of seedless raisins and 30 grams of chocolate chips.

  • Dinner: 225 grams of grilled chicken breast, 250 grams of cooked brown rice, and a handful of steamed broccoli.

Daily totals: 2,052 calories, 156 grams of protein, 243 grams of carbohydrates, and 58 grams fat

Low carb day example

  • Breakfast: Two slices of tomato, three large eggs, cooked to your liking, quarter of an avocado, and half a grapefruit.

  • Morning snack: 80 grams of salted and prepared edamame in pods, and 80 grams of sliced carrots.

  • Lunch: Greek salad with grilled chicken consisting of 100 grams of chopped salad greens, 120 grams of grilled chicken breast, 30 grams of crumbled feta cheese, 20 grams of sliced cucumber, four olives, four cherry tomatoes, 30 ml of balsamic vinegar, and one tablespoon of olive oil.

  • Afternoon snack: One scoop of whey protein powder mixed in water or coffee and one medium banana.

  • Dinner: 225 grams of baked salmon, one medium baked sweet potato, and 80 grams of green beans with lemon and garlic.

Daily totals: 1,900 calories, 147 grams of protein, 155 grams of carbohydrates, and 81 grams of fat.

Healthy eating: Read more