T Nation

No-Carb "Carb Ups"


One more thing: isn’t it funny to think that there’s dudes out there too much of a pussy to carb up?

Like you’d eat a bunch of carbs and be hit by some devastating insulin surge that’ll cripple you. It’s ridiculous.



Ive never actually carbed up but I have eaten 16 Oz. batches of buns straight out of the oven.

Does that count?


I don’t want to get into a discussion of the benefits of a ketogenic diet, or cyclic, or “straddling” (where you basically drift in and out of mild ketosis), or autophagy though I think that those are fundamental issues for anyone considering using a ketogenic diet.

I will give my impressions of the strategy you are describing though, as a few issues come to mind, as well as alternatives.

  1. As you should know, the body virtually stops making enzymes to use glucose for fuel when you are in extended ketosis. Carbing up from long ketosis often yields a failed glucose tolerance test (over 140 at 2 hours) and can even provoke blood sugar levels in the 200-265 range. This effect can take 2-14 days of eating circa 150 grams of carbs a day to go back to giving normal blood sugar levels.

  2. Protein does act in large part like a very slow release glucose source, but actually faster than very low GI starches like legumes and al-dente pasta which have been shown to take up to 8-11 hours to fully release glucose into the bloodstream. Protein by itself is done yielding glucose in about 4 hours. If you are OK with legumes and al-dente pasta, it should produce a smaller glycemic curve than pure protein largely because its absorption is delayed substantially in the large intestine. The problems with them are that they may be allergenic, and probably raise blood sugar in part by raising glucagon and possibly cortisol and adrenaline. I don’t know what happens to someone in ketosis when their stress hormone levels spike, but I have been told that it kicks up gluconeogenesis from body proteins.

  3. Cellular damage doesn’t just occur from high blood glucose. High glucose combined with high blood lipids, amino acids and ketones creates an even greater pressure toward oxidative cellualar damage. High “Total blood energy” levels are harmful. I will look for a reference discussing total blood energy levels, but an example is that it is worse to have a high blood sugar with high ketones in your bloodstream than to just have high blood sugar. Some ketongenic diet proponents discuss this.

  4. Fruit (which I advocate eating for people not on a ketogenic diet-in line with activity levels, caloric intake and degree of insulin sensitivity) provides fructose which actually goes straight to the gut organs and liver without entering the bloodstream. Carb loading protocols often call for “starting with fructose” to fill up the liver. The liver will turn it into glucogen and then start releasing it slowly into the bloodstream as glucose. So I might actually try loading with low GI fruit since fructose does not stimulate a fast rise in blood glucose-maybe 100 grams over 12 hours of fructose and then you can go with smaller starch doses.

  5. Eating 400-600 grams of protein a day I would expect to do one thing that is not so good-ramp up enzymes that turn protein into glucose and turn up gluconeogenesis which leaves your body looking for body proteins to burn and “turn over” after the protein you ate is gone. This is why there is a limit to benefits from protein, because large amounts make you a great burner of protein. Also you have the extra nitrogen to deal with which is likely to raise ammonia levels at that point which can make you weak and not feel very good.

  6. Lastly, aside from starting a load up with fructose, I would ask the hypothetical of what would happen if you just bought regular insulin (available over the counter) and injected a few units. Insulin is the signal that turns back on glucose burning in cells, especially muscle cells, and also turns off the ketones. So you could pair even non-allergenic starches like rice and potatoes with insulin (and monitor blood sugar well). This could also prevent the pancreas from getting hammered by high blood sugar, and the need for insulin. Most people find that a unit of regular insulin covers about 8 grams of carbs without resulting in hypoglycemia, and if it is taken 30 minutes before a meal, your own pancreas would hypothetically just release less to match and maintain blood sugar in the 70-110 range.

  7. (Added) Certain whole body activities such as pool work help muscles take up glucose faster with less of a rise in plasma glucose levels. You could take a glucose source with protein like Plazma and then go move around, swim-walk at a pool for an hour to help circulate them to mucles as well as circulating insulin and burning out fatty acids from muscle cells to make room for glycogen. There are 3 reasons why people are insulin resistant coming out of ketosis. 1 is that muscles are loaded with fatty acids, and the liver has ketones taking up space. This problem goes away largely if one is in a calorie deficit prior to taking in carbs. 2 is that chronically low insulin levels signal the body to stop making enzymes that burn glucose for fuel. The brain and nerves start using ketones instead of glucose are are not immediately ready to turn back to glucose. 3 is that the pancreas may atrophy on a ketongenic diet because it is not being called upon to make normal amounts of insulin although someone in long term ketosis still produces about the same amount of basal insulin as someone on a high carb diet, and also will produce a lot of insulin per gram of carb or protein-2-3 times as much per gram as someone who eats a carb based diet. This is mostly because muscles are fat loaded and is largely nullified by going into a caloric deficit for 48 hours prior to carb intake.

Just thoughts for discussion.


At least a dick is a useful thing. Stop being such a snowflake.


Wouldn’t disagree with any of that. In fact, that’s the whole point. The key difference is scale, or ratios. A typical large carb up will result in a much higher insulin spike (e.g. the difference between c.5mmol and c.10mmol postprandial). This is not to mention the cellular damage associated with raised insulin levels. Think of it as almost a low GI carb source, i.e. without the spillover, bloat, energy swings, lethargy, etc.

  1. Remeber this is a cyclical approach, so as such would be limited to 1-2 per week.

  2. Though a bad example to cite here, pro-bodybuilders routinely consume 500g protein a day.

  3. There are historical/anthropological reasons for claiming such strategies are not that uncommon. The irony is foks in the iron community frown on such notions while chugging back 100g CHO of dextrose as part of their insane carb loads.


Believe it or not, this is OMAD carnivore. So you would be looking to consume very lean beef, perhaps some organ meat. You are talking around 2kg of meat.


Keeping it lean keeps the calories down and doesn’t over burden the digestive system, which already has a lot on its plate (pardon the pun).


Oh man, you are so hard core. Drop me your fan club address so I can sign up.


Now I know I’ve upset you, Yogi, but save the empty tirades for someone who gives a toss.

Actually the type of ‘dudes’ who do this are usually the type who are willing to put themselves through extremes to test such notions. And are also the type who have just come off a 120-hour water fast. Yeah, pussy right enough.


That’s true, and perhaps a reason for trying the protein load.

That said, I can say from experience that once you have healed through fasting blood glucose returns to normal far quicker as does a return to ketosis.

As always, a lot of fine grain detail in your reply.


Wow, folks really like to over complicate things.


Yeah, I’m sure some caveman said that to the guy who said ‘Look, I’ve invented the wheel!’


It’s not really like that at all though. That was a clever solution to a problem that needed solving.

Do you really feel that gaining muscle/ losing weight (I’m assuming this is the goal correct me if I’m misunderstanding) needs something this complex and extreme to be achieved?


That response seems a bit moody. Did you just eat a large bagel? Careful. Better check that insulin now.


Oh don’t worry; I’m as indifferent to you as ever. Pretty clear from how defensive you’ve been right from the start of this thread that you’re emotionally invested in this and unhappy with the way the thread has gone. I dunno, maybe someone’ll green light your retarded idea.[quote=“JamesBrawn007, post:26, topic:251391”]
nt. The key difference is scale, or ratios. A typical large carb up will result in a much higher insulin spike (e.g. the difference between c.5mmol and c.10mmol postprandial). This is not to mention the cellular damage associated with raised insulin levels. Think of it as almost a low GI carb source, i.e. without the spillover, bloat, energy swings, lethargy, etc.

And here is the rub. All these supposed issues from carb ups just don’t really exist in practical terms. I’ve done carb ups, you’ve done carb ups, everybody in this thread has done carb ups. I wasn’t rendered crippled by lethargy, incapacitated by energy swings, I got leaner instead of spilling over etc etc and I’m fairly sure 99% of people had the same experience as me. Certainly no one in this thread so far has said ‘eureka! 2kg of chicken breast for me next carb up!”

I do think it’s slightly interesting that it works, but it really is a solution to a non-existent problem.


I’m off bagels after all those mince pies I ate over Christmas. Ah well…


This is more about experimentation, broadening experience, etc. We can all come out with trite generalisations, e.g. ‘eat less, move more’ and smuggly sit back. If that mean justifies your end then fine. No issue with that mentality at all. This is a discussion forum after all.


Sorry mate (I can still call you that, right? We’re still pals, and all that?) Perhaps the opening post didn’t spell out clearly enough that this is someone else’s ‘retarded idea’. One which I have not personally tried, to date. So emotional investment? No, not by a long shot. No offence, but if I wanted a green light to self-test this idea the last place I would seek an endorsement is an internet forum. One last thing, before you take me off your Christmas card list, personal attack is the lowest form of argument.