So, you want to get leaner and build some muscle? This is the ultimate goal. Surprisingly, it is easier to reach the ultimate goal than you think. The answer is strategic carb and calorie cycling with the help of fasting. Believe me, it sounds more complicated than it actually is.
When carb and calorie cycling, there are four types of days you can include: low carb/high fat (LCHF), moderate carb/moderate fat (MCMF), high carb-low fat (HCLF), and full day fasts (FDF). Each of these days has its own rules for what to eat and how to train. With the exception of FDF, protein is kept high every day (BW x 1-1.5 for males; use 0.8 for females). For example, a 200lb male would eat 200-300g of protein per day, while a 125lb female would eat 100g.
This is how you will eat on non-workout days, or days that you do interval training. Think of it as a fat loss day. On this day, you will not eat any starchy carbohydrates and will limit fruit consumption to just berries and/or apples. Eat a higher amount of healthy fats on this day (nut butters, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.).
This is how you will eat on days that you lift weights. Treat this as a day to build a bit of muscle. The first meal after your workout, include two to four palm-sized servings of starchy carbohydrates. Eat a normal amount of healthy fats with each meal (except after your workout). Limit fruit consumption to two servings of fruit.
I only recommend including this day once per week. This day needs to be treated as a massive muscle-building day. This is the best day of the cycle, and will work best on the day that you have your hardest workout (usually heavy lower body lifts, or a full body workout). On this day, eat starchy carbohydrates (two to three palm-sized servings) with every meal after your workout (also known as carb backloading). Feel free to eat as much fruit as you want. Try to workout before 6:00pm. Ingest as little fat as possible this day (take your normal amount of fats from supplements such as fish oil, though).
A full day fast is pretty much exactly how it sounds. Eat nothing this day, and do not go to the gym. Sip on BCAAs (BW x 0.2g) and a greens drink throughout the day. If you have work to do, get it done this day because you will be super productive. Do whatever you can to keep your mind off of food. Trust me, this is important. The FDF needs to be included for three reasons: it keeps average caloric intake low, it keeps insulin levels low, and it helps you to produce more growth hormone. These three things are all crucial when it comes to losing fat and gaining muscle.
How the Cycle Works
First of all, this cycle prioritizes fat loss over muscle gain. Why? We want to maximize your control over insulin, first and foremost. You see, insulin is a storage hormone. When there is glucose in the blood, insulin is released to store the glucose as glycogen in either fat, muscle, or the liver. As you start to get leaner, studies show that your body is better at controlling your levels of insulin. This means that it will be easier for you to get leaner while building muscle. In the end, our goal is to get as much glucose stored in the muscle (instead of fat cells) as possible.