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Carbohydrate waves

As we have analysed in the previous articles, sports nutrition plays an important role in building muscle mass as well as in weight reduction. One of the ways to maximize burning of subcutaneous fat is the handling of carbohydrates, in bodybuilding jargon also called carbohydrate waves. It is the most common form of dietary modification in the pre-competition period. Let's discuss the most important things about them.

There are several ways to define muscles. Essentially, it is the combination of diet and exercise modification. There are bodybuilders who bet on a combination of fat and protein intake (Palumbo diet, CKD diet), but the vast majority follow the protein-carbohydrate diet. Its essence lies in monitoring carbohydrate intake, as we have analysed in the first article of pre-competition diet. It is good to know the carbohydrate value, since it represents important data that will serve you on the way to your goal.

When should I place the carbohydrate waves?

It is good to include them to your plan 3-8 weeks before competition, in particular when the burning of fats, despite the amount and intensity of training, is stopped. It is not advisable to start with them too early because the carbohydrate waves serve to kick-off the metabolism and in the beginning of your diet it will go very well without them. It is very simple and based on the principle of alternating intake of carbohydrates for each day; however, you must follow certain principles. For a better explanation we will give you a practical example:

Let's assume that the amount of carbohydrates you consume is 400 g a day and your progress stagnates. Your waves will look like this:

Training system 3+1 Amount of carbohydrates
Non-training day 400 
1st training day 300
2nd training day 200
3rd training day 100
Non-training day 400

The table shows some principles that must be followed:

  • On the non-training day, consume the highest amount of carbohydrates. You do not have to worry about gaining weight! You will refill glycogen, and thus the energy for the upcoming training days.
  • Every day, the amount of carbohydrates gradually decreases to a value of 100 g.
  • If possible, avoid consuming lower amounts of carbohydrates than 100 g, except for the last week before the competition.
  • On the days when you consume lower amounts of carbohydrates, add proteins and vice versa.
  • Do not count vegetables in the carbohydrate intake, just oatmeal, rice and fruit, if you still eat some.
  • In bodybuilding terminology, we use the term zero carbohydrate or "zero". This is the day on which you do not eat any carbohydrates, their intake is thus zero. We do not recommend such a resort, because you risk losing muscle mass. 

 It is nothing complicated. If you are planning to try carbohydrate waves for the first time in your life, you may encounter some feelings, signals of your body that you have not known before, but do not worry, everything is presumably fine. You may encounter the following symptoms.

Your weight is higher after a day off: the first thing you think of is that you have gained weight. Wrong. With the increased carbohydrate intake, the body bounds water to them, so if your weight is higher, this is the only reason. Do not worry; it will decrease day by day.

On the days with higher amount of carbohydrates I get tired more than on the days with low carbohydrate intake: this is normal phenomenon caused by higher ins secretion in response to the greater amount of carbohydrates. It is good to be prepared for this situation to avoid any mental distress. We know bodybuilders who prefer training on the days with low carbohydrate intake.

I have difficulty concentrating and learning: this negative phenomenon is associated with low levels of carbohydrates, because they serve as fuel for your brain. To be able to work and function in everyday life, we do not recommend amounts less than 100 g.

Increased nervousness: a common side effect of every diet. The body has difficulties to accept the shortage of calories and initiates a defence mechanism. Most often it is your surrounding that suffers the most. Keep smiling; the perfect body awaits you!