T Nation

Carb Backloading, Worth It?


#1

Just curious if anyone has any experience with carb backloading? After watching heaps of mark bell and looking up 'carb nite' I was also introduced to the idea of carb backloading. I always struggle to eat stacks during the day with my work and uni schedule, and thought it seemed like a decent tactic for me to start smashing food at night. Anyone had any success or failure with it?


#2

There are a lot of threads about this already, if you use the “Search” function.

First and foremost, what is your main goal? Please let us know your TOP goal, without saying, “I want to lose fat and gain muscle.”

Also, before going further, realize that you’ll find people who say CBL rocks and is the only way to get ripped, and you’ll find others that say it didn’t work and made them fat, and everything between. The only way to know for sure is to try it out yourself and be incredibly consistent.

One reason is that consistent CBL might not be the best for people who are trying to lose fat/cut, if you’re eating very close to bed time. Again, getting your numbers in is the top priority, BUT, I would say that if you’re trying to cut, routinely eating very large meals close to bed time might not be a good call. Depending on your schedule, that may or may be helpful.

My personal opinion is it makes more sense to have lots of calories going into your workout to FUEL your workout, then have a meal afterwards that allows you to recover properly. I would think being fueled for a killer training session and a sensible size recovery meal (not small by any means, just sensible, like, anywhere from 500-800 calories, not 1,200 calories or something), would be better than going into your session without enough fuel and pounding food afterwards.

How hard have you tried to eat your calories during the day? Have you measured and prepped your food and brought it with you every day for a while, or are you eating out?

If you DO experiment with CBL, realize the overall factor that will contribute to your success is are you reaching your numbers exactly, regardless of timing, so don’t guess with your macros, log them for at least a few weeks to be sure. Some people may let CBL turn into straight binge/junk eating, especially at night.

Everyone’s success rate is different with every method you can think of, so if you want to try it out, log your food, be sure to get to your exact macros, and see how you respond after 3-4 weeks of consistency.

Good luck!


#3

Couple of things. Yes you are eating a lot late, but immediately after training which is meant to prevent fat storage in addition to burning off fat throughout the day. If you are eating plenty for recovery at night, you aren?t going to be empty going into training, your body doesn?t really work that way. You don?t have to be absorbing food energy to have energy in your body, and in some respects it?s the opposite. Additionally in CBL you are still eating throughout the day, even pretty large numbers of calories.

The whole Idea is really to make it easier than traditional dieting. So the question ?is it worth it? is kinda moot. If it works, it should be easy and get you results.


#4

I bought the book and did the diet as described for a few weeks. Training on low/ no carbs had a severely negative impact on my strength and I always felt like absolute shit after “backloading.” I don’t know if it was the huge insulin spike, rebound hypoglycemia, or what, but it got to the point where I was literally canceling plans because I couldn’t do anything but lay down and try not to die after my post workout meals.

I think I did get marginally leaner over the month or so that I did it, all while eating ice-cream, pizza, and entire boxes of captain crunch cereal; so that was kind of cool I guess.


#5

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
I bought the book and did the diet as described for a few weeks. Training on low/ no carbs had a severely negative impact on my strength and I always felt like absolute shit after “backloading.” I don’t know if it was the huge insulin spike, rebound hypoglycemia, or what, but it got to the point where I was literally canceling plans because I couldn’t do anything but lay down and try not to die after my post workout meals.

I think I did get marginally leaner over the month or so that I did it, all while eating ice-cream, pizza, and entire boxes of captain crunch cereal; so that was kind of cool I guess. [/quote]

So washing down pizza with ice cream and captain crunch made you feel like shit? I think you might want to re-read the book. Doing that sort of thing is a bit overblown. You don’t have to eat a whole box of Captain crunch to CBL especially if it makes you feel terrible.


#6

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
I bought the book and did the diet as described for a few weeks. Training on low/ no carbs had a severely negative impact on my strength and I always felt like absolute shit after “backloading.” I don’t know if it was the huge insulin spike, rebound hypoglycemia, or what, but it got to the point where I was literally canceling plans because I couldn’t do anything but lay down and try not to die after my post workout meals.

I think I did get marginally leaner over the month or so that I did it, all while eating ice-cream, pizza, and entire boxes of captain crunch cereal; so that was kind of cool I guess. [/quote]

You eat low/no carbs all day, train, then eat ice cream, pizza and captain crunch, and have to lay down because you don’t feel well?! CBL must not work!


#7

[quote]robstein wrote:

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
I bought the book and did the diet as described for a few weeks. Training on low/ no carbs had a severely negative impact on my strength and I always felt like absolute shit after “backloading.” I don’t know if it was the huge insulin spike, rebound hypoglycemia, or what, but it got to the point where I was literally canceling plans because I couldn’t do anything but lay down and try not to die after my post workout meals.

I think I did get marginally leaner over the month or so that I did it, all while eating ice-cream, pizza, and entire boxes of captain crunch cereal; so that was kind of cool I guess. [/quote]

You eat low/no carbs all day, train, then eat ice cream, pizza and captain crunch, and have to lay down because you don’t feel well?! CBL must not work![/quote]

I never said it didn’t work. I said I felt like shit while doing it. Have you read the book?


#8

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
I bought the book and did the diet as described for a few weeks. Training on low/ no carbs had a severely negative impact on my strength and I always felt like absolute shit after “backloading.” I don’t know if it was the huge insulin spike, rebound hypoglycemia, or what, but it got to the point where I was literally canceling plans because I couldn’t do anything but lay down and try not to die after my post workout meals.

I think I did get marginally leaner over the month or so that I did it, all while eating ice-cream, pizza, and entire boxes of captain crunch cereal; so that was kind of cool I guess. [/quote]

So washing down pizza with ice cream and captain crunch made you feel like shit? I think you might want to re-read the book. Doing that sort of thing is a bit overblown. You don’t have to eat a whole box of Captain crunch to CBL especially if it makes you feel terrible.[/quote]

I didn’t eat that much captain crunch because I thought I had to. I ate that much captain crunch because I wanted to.


#9

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
I bought the book and did the diet as described for a few weeks. Training on low/ no carbs had a severely negative impact on my strength and I always felt like absolute shit after “backloading.” I don’t know if it was the huge insulin spike, rebound hypoglycemia, or what, but it got to the point where I was literally canceling plans because I couldn’t do anything but lay down and try not to die after my post workout meals.

I think I did get marginally leaner over the month or so that I did it, all while eating ice-cream, pizza, and entire boxes of captain crunch cereal; so that was kind of cool I guess. [/quote]

So washing down pizza with ice cream and captain crunch made you feel like shit? I think you might want to re-read the book. Doing that sort of thing is a bit overblown. You don’t have to eat a whole box of Captain crunch to CBL especially if it makes you feel terrible.[/quote]

I didn’t eat that much captain crunch because I thought I had to. I ate that much captain crunch because I wanted to. [/quote]

HAH. If you did it because you wanted to it seems a little disingenuous to complain about it on the back end.


#10

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
I bought the book and did the diet as described for a few weeks. Training on low/ no carbs had a severely negative impact on my strength and I always felt like absolute shit after “backloading.” I don’t know if it was the huge insulin spike, rebound hypoglycemia, or what, but it got to the point where I was literally canceling plans because I couldn’t do anything but lay down and try not to die after my post workout meals.

I think I did get marginally leaner over the month or so that I did it, all while eating ice-cream, pizza, and entire boxes of captain crunch cereal; so that was kind of cool I guess. [/quote]

So washing down pizza with ice cream and captain crunch made you feel like shit? I think you might want to re-read the book. Doing that sort of thing is a bit overblown. You don’t have to eat a whole box of Captain crunch to CBL especially if it makes you feel terrible.[/quote]

I didn’t eat that much captain crunch because I thought I had to. I ate that much captain crunch because I wanted to. [/quote]

HAH. If you did it because you wanted to it seems a little disingenuous to complain about it on the back end.[/quote]

I didn’t mean for my report to be interpreted as a complaint, and even said that the diet seemed to work for fat loss. I was just reporting my experiences.


#11

No, I haven’t read the book. Plenty of people have had great success with CBL, while feeling great doing it. It sounds like your food choices were not optimal, CBL does not have to entail eating junk.


#12

[quote]robstein wrote:
No, I haven’t read the book. Plenty of people have had great success with CBL, while feeling great doing it. It sounds like your food choices were not optimal, CBL does not have to entail eating junk.[/quote]

I have no doubt that what you say about other people’s success is true. But Kiefer DOES talk very explicitly about “junk” being entirely appropriate to eat on the diet – even to the extent that it is better than “healthy” carb options.

See the following quotes if you don’t believe me:

“About thirty minutes to an hour after a PWO shake, the time comes that everyone reading this book has been salivating over: the carb back-load. This is where pizzas, pastries, donuts, French fries and milk shakes come in handy.”

“You need to eat very high-glycemic carbs for Carb Back-Loading to work. Trying to eat healthy carbs – low-glycemic or fibrous food items – will sabotage your results.”

"Stay away from the healthy foods: avoid whole-grain breads, high- fiber, low-glycemic foods. This is the time go get highâ??high glycemic and insulinotropic. Cherry turnovers, apple pie or rice pudding work.

These junk items, as health experts call them, spike insulin and supply huge glucose boluses to help refill glycogen stores."

So, there you have it. Maybe I DID do CBL after all.


#13

Thanks for the quote. I am certainly not disputing that you tried CBL, obviously you did. Keep in mind all that means is eating the majority of your carbs at night/post workout, regardless of food quality.

For sure maybe once in a while some junk food may be helpful to get the carbs in, and high glycemic carbs play their role there. Potatoes and rice are also high glycemic foods. Additionally, the glycemic index of a food ONLY HOLDS TRUE when that’s the only food you eat. So, if you have apple pie with a protein shake, the protein will slow the digestion, therefor lowering the GI of whatever else you’re eating.

But in my opinion, just my thoughts, just because someone writes in a book that eating a ton of junk food consistently is gonna help you, doesn’t mean I’m gonna follow it or think it has validity. I would try it and see how I felt. Obviously you tried it and it didn’t work out so well, so maybe if you tried it again with healthier foods, it may yield better results. I am not at all saying rice pudding or apple pie doesn’t have it’s place, I just think only eating pizza, ice cream, cereal and desserts would make anyone feel pretty sick.


#14

If you listen to Kiefer interviews, he addresses this stuff. That people do it as an excuse to binge on crap every day because that is what you are “supposed” to do. When in reality it’s more that you can generally get away with more. He also discusses that much of that recommendation is because he wants people to start off at the high end to see changes fast and scale back as needed based on experience. If you were eating things that made you feel like shit, you should choose other options, on CBLing or anything else.


#15

Word to both of you guys. I feel like my initial post is being interpreted very differently than I intended it to be. The OP asked if anyone had experiences with carb backloading, so I shared my experiences with carb backloading. Wasn’t making a value judgement about the diet one way or the other. That was a few years ago, and I have since changed my eating to something I find more enjoyable and effective. So it goes.

As for the point about Kiefer saying that people use CBL as a way to eat a bunch of shit, I’ve read those interviews and there is even a very short and ambiguous section in the book covering that basic idea. But that always felt like a copout to me since he marketed the book as a way to get leaner and stronger while eating a bunch of junk, and states very explicitly in the text that you should do exactly that. To then turn around and say “well? I didn’t mean you should eat THAT much junk” seems like lame backpedalling. I mean, I get it – not many people are going to buy a book that claims to help you get leaner by limiting the timeframe in which you eat carbohydrates and occasionally enjoy a small amount of junk food during this designated time, but still. Don’t claim one thing to market your book, continue to claim that very thing within the text of your book, and then add all these qualifiers and exceptions in interviews later on.


#16

[quote]robstein wrote:
There are a lot of threads about this already, if you use the “Search” function.

First and foremost, what is your main goal? Please let us know your TOP goal, without saying, “I want to lose fat and gain muscle.”

Also, before going further, realize that you’ll find people who say CBL rocks and is the only way to get ripped, and you’ll find others that say it didn’t work and made them fat, and everything between. The only way to know for sure is to try it out yourself and be incredibly consistent.

One reason is that consistent CBL might not be the best for people who are trying to lose fat/cut, if you’re eating very close to bed time. Again, getting your numbers in is the top priority, BUT, I would say that if you’re trying to cut, routinely eating very large meals close to bed time might not be a good call. Depending on your schedule, that may or may be helpful.

My personal opinion is it makes more sense to have lots of calories going into your workout to FUEL your workout, then have a meal afterwards that allows you to recover properly. I would think being fueled for a killer training session and a sensible size recovery meal (not small by any means, just sensible, like, anywhere from 500-800 calories, not 1,200 calories or something), would be better than going into your session without enough fuel and pounding food afterwards.

How hard have you tried to eat your calories during the day? Have you measured and prepped your food and brought it with you every day for a while, or are you eating out?

If you DO experiment with CBL, realize the overall factor that will contribute to your success is are you reaching your numbers exactly, regardless of timing, so don’t guess with your macros, log them for at least a few weeks to be sure. Some people may let CBL turn into straight binge/junk eating, especially at night.

Everyone’s success rate is different with every method you can think of, so if you want to try it out, log your food, be sure to get to your exact macros, and see how you respond after 3-4 weeks of consistency.

Good luck![/quote]

My Main goal is definitely to put on some size, but the typical ‘just eat more’ response didn’t really work for me. Now there is every chance I was doing it wrong, but I was eating between 3500-4500 calories per day, 60% carb, 30% protein and 10% fat. The biggest struggle was eating that much consistently, as it just made me feel so damn lethargic and bloated…which I guess it natural coming with eating in a calorie excess, but perhaps I was just overdoing it too much.

Regardless eating became a chore, and my training suffered from it. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat…but at dinner time. In the mornings and even at lunch I’m more of a grazer, which is pretty much why CBL appealed to me, as I could cruise through the day on bacon & eggs, tuna, protein shakes etc and then smash it when it comes to the afternoon. This is usually when I’m hungriest AND have the most access to all of the food I want.

You made the most obvious point, that I really knew before I posted this, that I won’t know until I try it myself. So I’ve been giving it a go for a couple days…So I have no idea really, but so far training has not been an issue, but that may change in the coming weeks.

Everyone has made some great arguments and awesome input, so thanks everyone for your time, I really appreciate it.


#17

should have clarified,
I spent about 4 months eating that amount of calories, with most meals (at least my meals through the day) being prepared at home.


#18

Hey kleinhound,
I definitely understand where you’re coming from, I am never hungry in the mornings, sometimes I really have to force breakfast down, at least on a training day. Do you think that your calories were too high? 3500-4500 is a big window, did you have a specific non-training/training day protocol, or just kind of shooting for that calorie range each day? If you’re not super sure, try plugging into a BMR calculator that factors in activity level for a good starting point.

Here are a few other thoughts just thinking about your schedule and timing preferences, if you may find them helpful:

-If your calories were too high, it could have been a reason you didn’t see the gains you were looking for. Insulin sensitivity may have stalled out, progress slows, etc. I think trying to find the MOST you can eat, WHILE not gaining body fat is the way to go. Muscle growth is slow, I believe .5-1 pounds of muscle per month is considered standard and awesome for a natural lifter, if all your training parameters are in line, once you’ve been training for a few years and have exhausted the initial muscle gains.

-If you’re eating 3500-4500 calories, do you think 30% protein is enough? I’m not saying it’s not, I’m just thinking that’s a lot of carbs to eat consistently every day, compared to the amount of protein. If we round out to 4000 calories, that’s like, 600g carbs a day, that’s a lot! May be helpful to rework some percentages and see how it goes?

-You could try somewhat of an IF approach, and start eating later in the day if you’re nut hungry in the morning. So, if you start eating at like, 2pm each day, and get your numbers in by the evening, I believe that would help maintain insulin sensitivity while still eating to gain, which would be helpful. Some people might say, “You’re gonna go catabolic dood!” but I really wouldn’t worry about it, especially if you’re training hard and getting your calories in by the end of the day.

-You could try eating foods that maybe don’t make you feel so bloated, I recently had to make some adjustments. On a training day I also recently upped my carbs, so while I typically eat “clean” foods, (just my preference for health), I’ll throw in a bagel on a training day, a few finibars (not that finibars aren’t clean, I love em!), I find I can eat those carbs without feeling bloated or too full. If I’m short on protein and I’m feeling full, or just not hungry, I’ll mix a scoop or two of MD with 8oz water and slug it, not filling at all but gets the protein in. You could also add some oats if carbs are needed.

You’re looking great in your avatar, you are obviously doing it right! Maybe double check how many calories you need, and try tracking your food for a couple weeks to be sure you’re locked in each and every day, I’m sure with very exact numbers and consistently getting those numbers, you’ll see the improvements you’re looking for!


#19

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
Word to both of you guys. I feel like my initial post is being interpreted very differently than I intended it to be. The OP asked if anyone had experiences with carb backloading, so I shared my experiences with carb backloading. Wasn’t making a value judgement about the diet one way or the other. That was a few years ago, and I have since changed my eating to something I find more enjoyable and effective. So it goes.

As for the point about Kiefer saying that people use CBL as a way to eat a bunch of shit, I’ve read those interviews and there is even a very short and ambiguous section in the book covering that basic idea. But that always felt like a copout to me since he marketed the book as a way to get leaner and stronger while eating a bunch of junk, and states very explicitly in the text that you should do exactly that. To then turn around and say “well? I didn’t mean you should eat THAT much junk” seems like lame backpedalling. I mean, I get it – not many people are going to buy a book that claims to help you get leaner by limiting the timeframe in which you eat carbohydrates and occasionally enjoy a small amount of junk food during this designated time, but still. Don’t claim one thing to market your book, continue to claim that very thing within the text of your book, and then add all these qualifiers and exceptions in interviews later on. [/quote]

Agreed man, all the way! A little misleading, but like you said, guy’s gotta sell his product. Also, I don’t know enough to say if he was assisted or not, but if he was, I’m sure he had an easier time gaining muscle from those foods than a natural would.

CBL can be a great tool when used properly! It sounds like you’ve found better methods since then that work for you, but if you ever want to give it another go, I bet some calorie tracking and cleaner foods would provide better results.


#20

Little Update,

I’ve been Carb Backloading since I first posted and it’s working great for me, I feel great when I train and have been steadily getting stronger. I don’t feel like I’m going to faint or anything like that and the Low Carb eating is super easy for me. As far as the backload, I keep it fairly balanced between clean and ‘dirty’. Lots of rice and sweet potato, bread rolls etc makes up most of my night eating, though I still smash in some Cookies and Pop-Tarts and delicious shit like that.

I wake up and I’m pretty lean and dry, I’ve been doing the density bulking approach, so I backload pretty much every day of the week, though I try to keep my conditioning days cleaner. When I’ve had just the one carb meal at night I wake up lean as fuck, its pretty cool.
Weight it at 80-81kg consistently in the mornings, but I’m leaner than before. After the first week and a half of CBL I was down to about 77-78, but I know a lot of that would have been water weight from the lack of carbs.
It’s a pretty fun eating strategy, and I’m going to keep it going for a while

I eat Pretty much the same during the day time

Breakfast
Greens Drink 2g carbs, 4g fibre
Long black coffee with Whipped Cream, heaps of fat, .5g carbs

1st meal
bacon, trimmed or un trimmed (depending on how much fat I want) enough for 20g protein
eggs, 1-2, 12g protein,

2nd meal
trimmed steak or chicken, enough for 50g protein
1/2 cup of green vegetables, usually broccoli, a few carbs but nothing that counts

3rd meal
Protein shake, depending which protein, at the moment Slingshot hydrolysate, 30g protein, 2g carbs

4th meal
tin of tuna in springwater, 16g protein

BACKLOADING
depends what I feel like. I try not to eat too much shit, even though its tempting and easy. Some days I eat like a fat prick, but I’m pretty lean so I just use the mirror to gauge it.