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Carb cycling adds a new spin to a low-carbohydrate diet

Ow-carb diets continue to be popular for weight loss, with the keto diet being the latest craze. But these diets can result in low energy levels and headaches, and research has generated conflicting results on their long-term safety. One recent study of almost 25,000 U.S. residents found a ­32 percent higher risk of premature death among participants who ate a low-carb diet. The negative side effects and growing concerns about the safety of low-carb eating have left some dieters searching for a more middle-of-the-road approach to consuming carbohydrates. Enter carb cycling.

Carb cycling is a nutrition strategy in which you alter the amount of carbohydrates you eat on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to maximize sports performance and to build muscle and lose fat and weight. This approach has been practiced for years by bodybuilders and elite athletes in sports where body weight has an impact. It’s only lately that, because of our societal obsession with carbs, the approach has spread to the general public, showing up in mainstream health and fitness publications and as a hashtag in more than 350,000 Instagram posts. Compared with low-carb dieting, the theory goes, carb cycling could put your body under less stress, allow you to enjoy more flexibility in your diet and enable you to take advantage of the physiological perks that come from carbohydrate-rich foods, such as the benefits of fiber.