Carb tapering means tapering off your carb consumption as the day progresses. The rationale is that carbs are for energy and you need energy when you are going to be physically very active which is during the day and during your intense cardio sessions. Late in the evening you dont need carbs. Carb tapering means that not all meals have the same macros but rather you get the nutrients you need at the optimal times. A Carb Tapering meal will often start with a good complex carb grain like oats, then for lunch have something with legumes, but then the meals after 4pm will have very few carbs at all. Please note that Carb tapering is completely different than carb cycling
. Carb cycling that the amount of carbs cycle thru the week. In carb cycling, day 1 is very low carb, day 2 is low carb, day 3 is medium carb, day 4 is back to very low carb. In carb tapering, every day has about the same amount of carbs but earlier meals have more carbs than later meals. Here is an example of a carb tapering meal plan with 5 meals, note how the carbs decrease later in the day:
Why Carb Tapering Works
Any nutritional plan that will allow you to maintain a caloric deficit consistently week after week will be successful in lowering your bodyfat. The most likely reason that carb tapering works so well for fat loss and muscle gain is that it gives your body needs, when it needs it. when you are trying to lose fat, you want to have top perforance in your weight workouts and your cardio workouts with a minimum of daily calories. Bonking during a workout because you did not have enough carbs is counter-productive. You get your carbs when you need them to workout but dont waste calories on them later in the day when they are not needed. There are a lot of people who have convinced themselves that fasted cardio in the morning is the best. In our experience, people who do fasted cardio usually have much shorter workouts so the fasted cardio is counterproductive.
Muscle gain expectations with carb tapering
If you are a newcomer to lifting with bodyfat over 15% then you will continue your rapid newbie muscle gains while cutting fat. If you are an advanced lifter nearing your genetic max then gaining muscle is not realistic during your cut but this carb cycling plan will keep you from losing muscle mass. For advanced lifters, it is recommended that you set your expected muscle gain rate to zero for the duration of the cut to obtain accurate bodyfat charts.
How long should I keep on the carb tapering meal plan?
Carb tapering is a lifestyle, its not a diet that you "go on" then "go off" later. Carb tapering is a good philosphy and one that you can use year round to maintain your bodyfat where you want it without even having to count calories. When you eat clean, healthy food and cut carbs out of your meals after 4pm, its very easy to maintain bodyfat naturally. You can also apply carb tapering to virutally any other nutritional type by simply chosing a low carb meal for the last meal of the day.
You can't pigeonhole nutrition
This is a perfect time to point out tthat you should never allow yourself to be limited by other peoples boundaries. People you talk to will want to put you into a little nutritional box they understand by asking what you "do". Are you vegan, vegetarian, low carb, pescetarian, or what? You do not need to color within the lines and are free to create your own nutritional type! Take the meal plan above. The first meal is medium carb, the second and third are vegan meals, the fourth is low carb and the last is keto. Mix and match is actually a really good strategy as this meal plan illustrates. The low carb and keto meals at the end of the day allow you to have very high carb plant based meals early in the day when you need the energy.