People want a magical key to help them shift to a healthy lifestyle and lose lots and lots of weight, but with minimum effort. Sadly, that hasn’t been invented yet, so we are opting for other methods that do not require any magic, just some willpower and patience, only this time, it doesn’t just help you lose weight and look fit, it also helps in slowing the aging process.
Yes, you read right, it’s probably not going to help you live till 100 years, but it can slow down those wrinkles that are dying to appear on your face, and help you feel healthier overall.
People have very different opinions regarding going on a diet, some go for low-carb, high-fat diets, while some say the best way to lose weight is a low-fat diet, however, nobody fights over the fact that any losing weight process needs high levels of proteins. We definitely won’t contradict this point, maybe just rotate it a bit.
Read on to know how this method can help you, and how to apply it in your daily life.
Before we tell you about protein cycling, you first need to know more about proteins.
It’s no secret that proteins are essential to the human body, we all learned in primary school that proteins are needed for the growth process. It also helps in building body muscles as the body is constantly turning proteins over, breaking down muscles and rebuilding it throughout your day. Also, one of the most important functions of proteins is repairing damaged cells in the body. So basically, proteins are the most important building blocks of your body.
Proteins are stored in your liver, muscles, and a free amino acid pool that is much smaller than the other two. Sadly, our body’s capacity to store amino acids is pretty consistent, meaning that our body has a constant supply of those that can never increase nor decrease. Amino acids control protein synthesis inside the body, so it’s naturally advised to eat about 300-400 grams of protein daily.
If you tried to gain muscles before, you’ve probably been told to add proteins to your diet, that is because protein synthesis process is basically muscle growth. The more efficient this process is, the more muscles you gain.
That’s why some people may be scared to try protein cycling because it includes taking down your protein intake a notch, but we assure you, this method is not going to affect your muscle building process.
What is Protein Cycling?
Protein Cycling is the process of shifting between periods of normal to high protein uptake and low protein uptake, thus preventing the body from settling down and tricking it into using its protein more efficiently.
You may be asking why you need days of low protein intake, like most of u know, our body can’t make its own protein, we have to eat it. Well, if you don’t eat enough, your body is forced to recycle it’s already existing proteins, thus activating autophagy.
Autophagy is a cellular detox process that you definitely want more of because it helps rejuvenate the parts of the cells that keep your body healthy, and it cleanses the waste that is unneeded for your body. When autophagy process is muted, aging-which we don’t like- is accelerated along with diseases. Autophagy basically helps you fight against the indestructible enemy known as time because, while growing is pretty much inevitable, aging can be slowed a bit.
Some people may interpret this information in a wrong way, going on a full protein deprivation process. Don’t get us wrong, we said low protein uptake, not zero. The best results in any diet are related to having a nutrient-rich diet, which can’t be achieved without proteins.
It’s also not very wise to increase your protein uptake endlessly. Our bodies go into a state of panic when it receives much more proteins than they need. You know the feeling of having many deadlines and not getting close to finishing any of them? That’s exactly what your body feels when you eat a lot of proteins, it tries to regulate every protein-destroying enzyme to keep your body from getting poisoned.
If cutting of proteins completely won’t help your body, and eating way too many proteins will make it go crazy, then what should you do? You simply need to trick your body into becoming more efficient at protein storage, rather than disposing of it.
Here comes the part of cycling the intake of proteins, if your body is overloaded with proteins, it starts to down-regulate protein storage enzymes and it waits for more proteins to come. Your body also applies some other changes, it decreases absorption and increases excretion of proteins from your body.
Your body can be tricked into thinking that it’s becoming protein deficient, during the few days when you will cut down consumption of this nutrient, even if you’re eating other nutrients regularly.
Why Should You Cycle Your Proteins?
You’re probably not convinced that protein cycling is beneficial by now, but here’s a surprise, in those days when you will eat much fewer proteins than you usually do, your body will produce nearly ten times more growth hormone. The level of producing growth hormone stays up for more than a month after adding more proteins into your diet.
What also happens during this period is decreasing the production of protein degrading enzymes, which occurs along with increasing in protein storing enzymes.
Overall, cycling of proteins minimizes the processes that degrade proteins during the low protein phase so that by the time your body begins to return them back to normal during the high protein phase, you’ll have already gained a lot.
Then, of course, you start dropping your protein levels again, to avoid the permanent effect on your catabolism.
Returning to the topic of autophagy, because it is just too cool to pass by, this process has even more benefits. It regulates the cellular mitochondria which is the powerhouse of your body, thus improving energy production. Autophagy also helps in protecting your immune and nervous systems, along with encouraging the growth of new cells.
During protein cycling, proteins levels are lowered which only means more release of glucagon, so basically, your body won’t find enough glucose nor protein to use for energy, and it will opt for recycling proteins.
If you’ve read some of our articles before, you probably know the word plateau by now, it’s this period of time where losing weight just stops with no apparent reasons, and it can be passed by mixing up your diet plan a bit or changing your exercise routines. Protein cycling works like this for the body, it prevents it from settling down for too much time.
For optimal results, you will have to cycle through high and low protein days every week, manipulating your body into staying in a state of autophagy, that will result in renewing cells.
After reading all of this, you’re probably wondering by now how you can apply this cycling in your daily life, well relax, because it’s not hard at all.
How to Do Protein Cycling?
To ease this up, we’re going to divide this process into two stages.
This stage will last for about 5 days, and it’s called the low-protein stage.
Some may be afraid of this stage, especially bodybuilders, but don’t worry, your muscles won’t magically disappear if you take your protein intake down a notch for a few days.
The first reaction of your body will be shifting your metabolism, to lessen any loss of proteins. Basically, it slows down your proteins breaking down process. This effect causes anti-catabolism to occur. In other words, it protects your muscles and helps in preserving them.
For the five days of this stage, eat less protein than you usually do. If you weigh 200 pounds and you’re eating 200 grams of proteins, try 160-170 grams instead.
This stage will include boosting your protein consumption after the first five days of decreasing the intake.
During the first stage, consuming less protein ramped up anti-catabolism, now after your body has been in a lower protein stage for five days, you will hype it up with much more protein, which results in hyper storage of protein in your muscles. This occurs along with an increase in the protein synthesis process, causing a buildup of new muscle tissue.
In this stage, you should consume 1.5-1.7 grams of proteins per pound. Try doing this for nine days, and you will give your body more than enough time to benefit from its hyper anabolic state, which in an enzymatic environment that causes more rebuilding.
People sometimes tend to go to extreme measures when they’re following a diet, so in case you get the urge to increase or decrease your protein intake way too much, read the following.
How Much Is "Too Many Proteins?"
If you’re a bodybuilder, you probably think eating 2 grams of protein per pound is very beneficial and helpful, but that’s not always the case. Muscle growth needs a sufficient amount of proteins, not a box full of it.
When you eat this much protein, your carbs intake will decrease gradually, which will negatively affect the growth of your body. Always remember that your body has a limit, it won’t always keep growing. So, don’t go too far with your proteins because they may have no positive effect on your body.
How Much Is "Too Little Proteins?"
Eating less than 0.7 grams per pound daily is probably not that wise. This will result in you losing your muscles that you’re trying to grow, and may cause you to feel overall weaker. Just stick to the normal numbers, and don’t go for more than 5 days with the decreased and increased amounts, and you should be fine.
Protein Cycling Side Effects
This method hasn’t been tried enough yet, so not much new side effects are known to it. It just has the normal side effects of eating too much or too fewer proteins which are mainly:
- Losing muscles
- Nutrient malabsorption
- Kidney damage
If you’re planning to try this, you’ll probably need to know what foods are rich in proteins.
Eggs are probably the most famous source of proteins. A large egg may have a total of 6 grams of proteins, and they are also easy to cook, so that’s a bonus!
Chicken breasts go second on that list, 1 breast may have a total of 55 grams of proteins.
Milk is also a famous source of protein, as one glass may contain 7-8 grams.
If you are confused by now about what you want to do to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle, we encourage you to go ahead and try protein cycling. It doesn’t have dangerous side effects, so being scared of trying it should be off the table, and if you don’t gain anything from it, you probably also won’t lose, so it’s okay to try it.
Living a healthy life is a dream of many people, but only a few succeed in achieving it because it requires loads of willpower and patience. Also, the time the body takes to adapt to these changes might be a luxury to some people. But in the long term, it definitely will be worth it.
Growing old is never a nice outcome, but people who lived a healthy life went through a much smoother change than people who didn’t.
Protein cycling is one of many ways to lose weight, it’s not very famous right now but it definitely will be when people get tired of the regular ways to lose weight, like exercising for example. Exercising may never be an option for anyone with a chronic condition, so they need to have other ways they can resort to.
If you try protein cycling, while following all of our pieces of advice carefully to keep you from hurting your body, we guarantee you great results!
Drop us your thoughts in the comments, we'd be glad to hear your feedback concerning this diet plan!