Carb Backloading - Have Your Cake And Get Ripped Too!

Carb Backloading - Have Your Cake And Get Ripped Too!

Who among us trusts any article that starts off... "It's simple, really"...?

Probably very few. But that's exactly how this is going to start ... (excluding the introduction, of course):

It's simple, really...

You can be ripped and in shape and still eat the foods you want to eat!  Now it probably sounds like something you'd see in the back of a magazine, asking you for an order of $19.95 to learn how.

Put your checkbook away - we're going to give it to you for free right here.

Not exactly a diet plan, the Carb Back-Loading system is actually a mindful eating strategy, more than anything else. 

And it is quite simple: 

  • Zero-to-low carbohydrates in the morning
  • Hit the gym in the afternoon
  • Eat your favorite carbs

The theory began when a physicist named John Kiefer took up nutrition - quite a combination and transition in any intellectual camp.  The upshot is, he basically noted that because cortisol rises during sleep and is at a peak around 7 a.m., eating absolutely nothing for breakfast was key to minimizing fat storage and to setting up encouraging fat loss later on in the day, just after training.

So much for "breakfast is the most important meal." Then again, it depends on your goals.

The reasoning in skipping breakfast - or at least in skipping carbohydrates during that period - is  that cortisol must drop quickly in order to set the tone for keeping fat at bay.

Cortisol drops naturally later in the day, but he said a typical breakfast, full of toast, oatmeal and other carbs, slows that decline.

So while many diets and eating plans focus on fat loss that is set up by eating carbohydrate grams earlier in the day - while eschewing them for proteins and fats in the late afternoon and evening - Kiefer reckons otherwise, and the philosophy of carb back-loading supposes the opposite.

Kiefer's ideal morning would start something like this:

Wake up Get up Drink nothing but coffee or water Sit and let your body burn fat until you eat your first meal

Those familiar with "intermittent fasting" will recognize some wisdom and similarities here because there is a bit of the fasting concept found here.

The day continues late morning with a protein- and fat-only meal.  Proteins are measured at one gram per pound of body weight (180 pounds = 180 grams protein).

Foods like chicken, eggs, avocados, bacon, nuts, coconut oil (and so on) sustain you until your workout.

Carb Back-Loading's Shining Moment

Once you get to your workout, you've basically eaten no carbs (or minimal carbs found in dairy or some vegetable fat sources, such as nuts and legumes), and then eat the equivalent of carbs in one meal that you eat of protein throughout the day:  One gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight following a resistance and cardio workout.

Beyond the cortisol, the idea behind this is that the body uses carbohydrates immediately following strenuous exercise, in order to replenish what was lost - so none gets stored as fat and most all are used.

We might argue that someone who is 200 pounds shouldn't take in 200 grams of carbs post-workout unless the workout was grueling. However, this program does prescribe it, so try it and adjust or reduce the number of grams you take in post-workout, based on light or heavy training days.

The Plan

The actual more detailed plan begins with a 10-day breaking in period.  It's priming your body metabolically to switch over from one type of eating to another.  A usual interlude used to do that is a zero- or low-carb breaking-in period.


 For 10 days, you'll go extremely low carb - eating about 30 grams per day, but boosting protein and fat. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you'd be eating 200 grams of protein (1:1 ratio), and eat as much fat as you like. 

Fats can include cheese, egg yolks, dairy, avocados, nuts, bacon and coconut and olive oils.  We recommend staying as clean as possible, but fat is fat as far as the body is concerned. Whatever makes you feel good as you transition.

Following your afternoon workout on the 10th and final day, you'll "carb up" - getting as much as 200 grams (1:1 ratio) of carbohydrates as you can immediately following your workout.  Whether that's having rice at the ready, along with some bread and sweet potatoes - or even pizza - it doesn't matter. You can actually also include sugary carbs in that equation, though we recommend that you try to stay healthy.

Carbs just need to be a bit higher on the glycemic index.

The Idea and Science Behind It

So why does this work?  Well, it works because you use most of the carbohydrates you take in directly after an intense workout - whether that's just a resistance training routine or resistance and cardio training.

Time of day is part of what influences everything from peak alertness to insulin sensitivity - and particularly the latter as well as other hormonal activity (GH and IGF-1 release as well).

For years, it used to be thought that eating carbs, when insulin sensitivity is at its peak, was the way to keep fat at bay.  But time of day can be used to greater advantage when it comes to food, training, and boosted hormonal activity for greater anabolic result, and - most importantly - fat burning.

or easy, sustainable fat loss, insulin levels should be kept as low as possible during the first half of the day and spiked late at night.  No more oatmeal and egg whites for breakfast — but late night snacking, it turns out, is not so bad after all.

One of the reasons this works is that tissue growth regulator rapamycin (mTOR) is a key component in losing body fat - while keeping or even gaining lean muscle tissue.  So you can actually get in shape with this, not just lose fat at the risk of muscle loss.

In a nutshell:  Because resistance training triggers anabolic hormones and other positive regulators of muscle growth than any other activity, carb back-loading enables you to choose your food and training time to enhance and encourage those signals, while also quite regularly enjoying elevated strength and fat loss, and starvation of fat cells.

What You'll See

Upon waking, you'll probably actually also look better than you did the day before - since you flattened out from the low carb diet.

On days you do not train, go back to the 30 grams per day of carbohydrates, later in the day. Keep your stomach empty through the morning, with just non-caloric fluids.

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