How Much Fat To Eat When Carb Cycling (Does It Matter?)

When you are carb cycling, it is also important to pay attention to the amount of fat that you are eating, as this will depend on how many carbs you are eating on that given day.

During a carb cycling phase, your fat intake should have an inverse correlation to your carb intake in order to keep calorie intake consistent. When you decrease your carb intake, the amount of fat you eat should increase. When you increase your carb intake, the amount of fat should eat should decrease. 

It is important to note that if you fail to adjust your fat intake in response to your fluctuating carb intake, you may not experience the results you are hoping for. This is due to the fact that your calorie intake will not remain consistent, which ultimately could have a negative effect on your body composition goals.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • Is fat important when carb cycling?
  • Does your fat intake change on high-carb vs low-carb days?
  • Calculating how much fat you should eat when carb cycling
  • Types of fat to eat when carb cycling

Is Fat Important When Carb Cycling?

When you are in a carb cycling phase of your diet, it is important to manipulate the amount of fat that you are eating.

If you do not pay attention to your fat intake when you are carb cycling, you risk overdoing calories from fat on your high-carb days, which might affect the success of your carb cycling, particularly if your goal is weight loss.

While it is important that you do not overdo your fat intake, you also want to make sure that you aren’t undereating on fat. If you are only paying attention to your carb intake while not getting enough fat in your diet, this could lead to health symptoms related to a fat deficiency in the diet.

Fat deficiency can cause symptoms such as fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies, dry skin or inflammation of the skin, low energy, hormone imbalances, and hair loss.

While the exact amount of fat that should be consumed will depend on an individual’s calorie and macro requirements, it is generally recommended to get around 20-35% of your daily calories from fat. Eating less than 20% of your calories from fat over an extended period could lead to the health issues listed above.

For example, if a 5’4” woman who weighs 145 pounds needed to consume 1700 calories a day in order to achieve weight loss, she would need to eat between 38-66 grams of fat in order to fall within the healthy range.

Does Your Fat Intake Change on High-Carb vs Low-Carb Days?

When your carb intake fluctuates during your carb cycle, ideally you will manipulate your fat intake as well. In order to keep your calories consistent on a daily basis, it will be necessary to adjust your macros when you are carb cycling.

During a carb cycle, it is generally best to keep protein intake consistent no matter what your carb intake is. It is important that you are getting enough protein on a daily basis since protein is crucial for muscle growth and development.

While protein intake should stay consistent, your fat intake can fluctuate depending on how many carbs you are eating.

If we take the example of the woman above who is eating 1700 calories per day, she may have had a macro split of 129g protein, 170g carbs, and 56g fat.

When she starts carb cycling, her weekly macros might look something like this:

DAY OF THE WEEKCARB INTAKEFAT INTAKEPROTEIN INTAKECALORIES
MONDAY
(moderate-carb day)
170 grams56 grams129 grams1700 calories
TUESDAY
(low-carb day)
83 grams95 grams129 grams1700 calories
WEDNESDAY
(high-carb day)
251 grams20 grams129 grams1700 calories
THURSDAY
(moderate-carb day)
170 grams56 grams129 grams1700 calories
FRIDAY
(low-carb day)
83 grams95 grams129 grams1700 calories
SATURDAY
(high-carb day)
251 grams20 grams129 grams1700 calories
SUNDAY
(moderate-carb day)
170 grams56 grams129 grams1700 calories

You might notice that on the high-carb days in the example above, the fat intake falls below the recommended 20% of total calories.

While it is not recommended to go under 20% of calories from fat on a consistent basis, you will not experience any negative side effects if you are cycling your fat intake and including moderate- and high-fat days on a regular basis as well.

During a carb cycle, you also have the option to manipulate your carb intake while keeping both your protein and your fat intake at a stable amount. This might look like having your protein intake stay consistent at around 25-35% of your intake, while fat might be around 20-30% of your daily intake.

This might be a practical form of carb cycling for you if you are looking to adjust your carbs around how much energy you’re expending (ie. your workout days vs your rest days). While this can be effective, the downside is that it will result in your calories fluctuating throughout your week, which can affect your progress if you consume too many calories.

Calculating How Much Fat You Should Eat When Carb Cycling

calculating how much fat you should eat when carb cycling

In order to calculate how much fat you need to eat during your carb cycle, you must first determine your daily calorie goal, along with your macro percentage for your low-carb, moderate-carb, and high-carb days.

The steps that you can take to calculate your fat intake during a carb cycle are:

  • Determine your daily calorie intake
  • Determine your body composition goal and adjust calories accordingly
  • Calculate your baseline macros
  • Calculate your macro percentage for your low- and high-carb days

1. Determine Your Maintenance Calories

In order to determine your daily calorie intake, you must first determine the total amount of calories that you burn in a day (TDEE, or total daily energy expenditure).

Your TDEE is a calculation that determines the number of calories you burn in a day based on information such as your height, weight, gender, age, and activity level. While there are formulas that allow you to calculate this number by hand, it is much easier to use an online calculator like this one here.

If we take the woman in the example above, the number of calories that she burns in a day and would need to eat in order to maintain her weight is about 1960 according to the online TDEE calculator.

2. Determine Your Body Composition Goal and Adjust Calories Accordingly

Once you have determined your maintenance calories, you must then establish whether your goal is to lose weight, maintain weight, or gain weight during your carb cycling phase. This is due to the fact that your calorie intake (not your macros) will ultimately have the largest effect on your body composition goal.

In this case, the woman in the example above has a body composition goal of mild weight loss. Since mild to moderate weight loss requires a calorie deficit of about 200-500 calories per day, this woman would need to consume about 1700 calories per day (a 260-calorie deficit) in order to achieve her goal.

3. Calculate Your Baseline Macros

Once you have determined your daily calorie intake, it is best to determine what your baseline macro split will be, as this macro split will likely be the macros that you follow on your “moderate” carb days.

A healthy macronutrient split to follow is roughly 30% of calories from protein, 40% of calories from carbs, and 30% of calories from fat. These numbers can fluctuate slightly based on personal preference, but this is the macro split that we will be using for the purposes of this article.

If the woman in the example above were to follow this macro split for her calorie deficit, she would need to consume roughly 129 grams of protein, 170 grams of carbs, and 56 grams of fat.

4. Calculate Your Macro Percentage For Your Low- and High-Carb Days

After you have determined your macros for a moderate-carb day, you will then want to calculate your macro split for your low-carb day and your high-carb day. In both of these situations, your carb and fat macros will fluctuate, and your protein macros should remain the same.

During a high-carb day, you will want to increase your carbs to roughly 50-60% of your calorie intake. In order to account for the calorie increase due to the higher carb intake, your fat intake should reduce to roughly 10-20% of your diet.

This would mean the woman in the example above would need to eat around 213-255 grams of carbs and 20-38 grams of fat.

Similar to your high-carb days, your low-carb days should consist of an inverse correlation between your fat and carb intake. When you lower your carbs, you will need to increase your fat intake in order to account for the decrease in calories.

On a low-carb day, your carb intake may be as low as 15-30% of your calories, while your fat intake may be as high as 40-55%. The amount of carbs and fat that the woman in the example would need to consume on her low-carb day would be about 64-128 grams of carbs and 76-104 grams of fat.

Types of Fat to Eat When Carb Cycling

During your carb cycle, certain types of fat will be more optimal to consume in comparison to others. In fact, the fats that I will discuss below are ideal to consume on any diet, not just a carb cycle. These specific types of fats will contribute to good health, while other types of fat can have negative health effects.

The following types of fat that are great to eat during your carb cycle are:

  • Monounsaturated fats
  • Polyunsaturated fats
  • Saturated fats

1. Monounsaturated Fats

It is important to include unsaturated fats such as monounsaturated fats in your diet when you are carb cycling since they help to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. These types of fats also help to maintain the health of your body’s cells.

Some examples of foods that are high in monounsaturated fats include:

  • Olives and olive oils
  • Avocados and avocado oil
  • Nuts and seeds such as almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds

2. Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats are also a great type of unsaturated fat to include in your diet, as these also contribute to your overall health and well-being.

More specifically, oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats contain essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 that the body does not produce on its own.

Some examples of foods that are high in polyunsaturated fats include:

 3. Saturated Fats

While saturated fats might have a bit of a bad reputation, the body actually requires moderate amounts of them in order to maintain optimal health.

Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats can actually help to regulate cholesterol levels. It is important to make sure you are not eating only saturated fats, but you are including the fats listed above as well.

Some examples of foods that are high in saturated fats include:

What To Read Next

If you’re still curious about carb cycling and carb/fat macros, check out the articles below:


About The Author

COLBY ROY

Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.