Carb Backloading

Carb Backloading Question from Facebook:

I’m in great shape right now, thanks to your advice and all your info, but notice your talking about this carb back-loading thing. You don’t think that actually works do you? I went to the site and it sounds like another “fad diet” to me. – Scott

Does Carb Backloading Work?

Scott, define “what actually works?”

If you simply mean… does this crazy sounding program carb backloading by John Kiefer that I’ve been following almost to the letter for 2 month, that has all these typical before and after shots plus the marketing pitch of eating junk food on the sales page really build muscle or burn fat like they claim?  In a minute, I will talk about some carb backloading results from my own experience if that would help.

Then Yes but there’s more to the discussion.  Here is my personal Carb Backloading Review.


Carb Backloading Cliff Notes:

carb back-loading

In a hurry? Watch the video on Carb Back-Loading

Being the experimenter I am, I purchased the Carb Backloading book based on a friend’s recommendation.  At 327 pages, it’s probably one of the shorter ebooks on a fitness protocol I’ve read.  The spacing is nice, the font is large so you can breeze thru it in a day.  But I highly suggest re-reading the text several times as the first pass, you miss a lot of subtle but very important points, recommendations and tips.

In a nutshell, Carb Backloading is…

  • Shift calories to later in the day
  • Eating lighter in the morning and early afternoon, and
  • Feast at night
  • This may include skipping breakfast

Almost every bullet point above in the concept of carb backloading, goes against what I’ve been taught and almost all mainstream nutritional advice.  It’s not that they are wrong, it’s just a different way of thinking and using a concept of nutrient timing to accomplish body composition changes.  Furthermore, the carb backloading protocol utilizes the time of day and insulin to spur growth.

Personal Carb Backloading Results in 32 days:

  • Start 178 lbs at 11.9% body fat
  • End at 192 lbs at 14% body fat

View my Carb Backloading Results

Carb Backloading Schedule:

My chosen carb backloading schedule was to Density Bulk on every day (even non-training) so some fat gain was unavoidable.  My strength increased on almost every lift.  My energy levels were high.  I was not hungry at any point or felt the urge to eat (that low blood sugar urge I seemed to get when I was eating 5-6 meals every 2-3 hours that included carbohydrates).  I trained in a “fasted” state (not hungry) but slammed the carbs starting with the post workout shake on wards until bedtime.  I kept my back loading windows to about 4 hours.

Carb Backloading on Off Days:

This is where you use the program as a guide but you tweak it to your needs over time based upon your results.  Depending on your initial level of body fat, you can density bulk every day, even on your off days.  This is a bit different from the Strength Accumulation option which simply says, on your off days, you don’t back load.

There’s a lot of info in the above paragraph that probably makes very little sense.  The plan is so simple it’s stupid!  There’s no workout that comes with it as it assumes you have that piece of the puzzle.  And while there is a carb backloading workout, you could do a number of bodybuilding programs that deplete your glycogen stores and get the same if not better results.

What About Carb Backloading for Morning Training?

You’ve heard somewhere that it’s not possible or doesn’t work.  That the time of day dictates the outcome of this program.  While Kiefer recommends late afternoon/early evening training, carb backloading can be tweaked to morning training routines.  Maybe you won’t get the best effects, but the concepts work and you can adapt it to such a schedule.  There’s a section in the book called “Nobody’s Perfect.”  John Kiefer outlines what to do in these type of situations to make the program work for you.

Now here’s some food for thought from another critic on the subject who’s never tried it.

“I just went to that site “Dangerously Hardcore” and I find it hard to believe not to mention the before and after photos are complete garbage. Marc, you are into this  carb backloading stuff, do you call bullshit the claims John Kiefer makes or are they legit? I think you were trying this system … Also, he says he eats cheeseburgers and fries? I mean come on man. Great that you can eat that, or want to eat it, but if you are serious about fitness you really shouldn’t consume that kind of garbage.

Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with tracking your diet, more American’s should get in the habit of this. Instead they pay more attention to the release date of new apps, “smart phones”, and when dancing with the stars is coming on TV. I also love how proud he is that he does no cardio. Who is this guy? America needs to do more cardio from my observations of the general public. They also need to pay attention to what they eat.”

Let’s be clear friend, carb backloading is NOT nutrition advice for the average mass seeker or person who’s looking to have a nice and neat healthy lifestyle.  This is performance nutrition and the lines get blurred.

The average person should indeed:

  • become aware of what they are eating
  • should do more activity (weight training over spending hours spinning on a bike)
  • steer clear of refined products, processed foods and things considered junk

Carb Backloading isn’t meant for the person who’s chubby and has random gym experience.  John Kiefer wrote a previous book called The Carb Nite Solution to address people looking to lose weight and fat as a primary goal.  This is for a different class who’s not pigeon-holed into definitions of health or what it means to “be healthy.”

I Ask You to Define: Healthy

People are quick to say “that’s not healthy!  That’s junk!”  But without the proper context of how the food or items are being used, it’s absolutely meaningless.  A handful of jelly beans after an intense workout cannot be compared to eating a bowl of fruity pebbles in the morning before school.  However, most people label and define on a broad scope without any second thought as to what they are defining and in what context.

Here is my carb backloading meal plan for your use as a template or to critique.

My own thoughts on Carb Backloading are quite simple.  It is by far the best mass gaining program (nutrition) I’ve ever used up until this point.  In no other time in my life have I gained 20 lbs with a majority of that being muscle.  It took me over a year to go from 175 to 190 in the past and it was with many more meal sessions, less productive workouts and a feeling of being stuffed all the time.  I experience none of that on carb backloading.

Be Fit, Stay Strong!

Marc David – CPT

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14 Responses to "Carb Backloading"

  1. Vicky:
    July 31, 2016 12:26 pm

    Hi I have just been recommended to try this carb backloading but I do not want to gain body fat I want to loose body fat at the min I have 16 percent body fat and want to get it down to 10 will this plan make me put on body fat

    Leave a reply  
    1. Marc:
      August 02, 2016 08:15 am

      You’ve be better off looking at the Carb Nite Solution. It’s geared more for your body composition goals.

      Leave a reply  
  2. Jaga:
    March 30, 2015 09:20 am

    Hi, can u describe a trg program for mass , as I’m now currently following density bulling ? Best rep ranges and sets ?

    Leave a reply  
  3. Chad Aharon:
    February 28, 2013 09:57 am

    mark

    Great write up. I too do it. You said you trained fasted. What time? Also from what hours did you carb up?

    Leave a reply  
    1. Marc:
      February 28, 2013 10:00 am

      Train fasted as defined as “coffee with coconut oil (an MCT) and 10g of whey isolate. Sans carbs. I never train hungry! Just in case anybody was confused as to what I mean by fasted. I have always hit the weights in the afternoon. Somewhere around 4pm. I started my carb load with my post workout shake onward!

      Leave a reply  
      1. Chad Aharon:
        February 28, 2013 10:35 am

        Thanks for the reply. I would assume 10g of whey is breaking the fast. Also can you please critique my meal plan?

        1:00 Break fast with 2 pieces of grilled chicken, crap load of raw veggies, 3 whole eggs with olive oil.
        3:00 Handful of almonds
        6:00 Dinner Chicken, veggies
        7:30-8:00 Workout
        9:00 50g whey protein, 100g dextrose 2 bananas, 1 yam
        930 Sleep

        Leave a reply  
        1. Marc:
          February 28, 2013 11:03 am

          Technically anything but fat will break the fast but keeping carbs under 30g keeps you in somewhat of a state of ketosis so the fat burning can be prolonged. That’s how I understood it anyway. As far as your diet goes, input that into Fitday.com or similar and see what you get. You seem to be way low on overall daily protein and fats.

          Leave a reply  
  4. jaga:
    December 30, 2012 08:56 pm

    Hi Marc, just started with CBL , goal is to gain mass, Am 5,5 and weigh 116lbs with 9%bf. Target is to reach 145lbs and still be ripped.
    Active male who gyms 3x per week on MWF. Tue and Thur are Hiit cardio. Every evening from Mon-Sun light cardio and skipping for abt 30mins. I am currently doing Stronglifts 5×5 program to gain mass.

    How much Protein,Carbs and Fats should i be eating ? and my calories?.And can i backload everyday cause its Fun! but importantly cause i want to bulk up looking strong.

    Thanks
    Jaga

    Leave a reply  
    1. Marc:
      December 31, 2012 12:48 pm

      Jaga – If you still want to be “ripped” I’d suggest following the SA phase vs density bulking. Although you could easily do density bulking at your body fat right now.

      Ditch all that cardio. It really gets in the way of efficient weight gain. You can keep the HIIT to once a week maybe twice to stay lean but 2x a week plus all the light cardio seems unnecessary.

      Your ratios for protein, carbs and fats are all in the book. I don’t bother with calories. I figured out my target carbs per day and the protein and fats fell into place. It still comes out to the ~1g of protein per lb of body weight or close to it. Fat is about .25g per 1g of carbs. And the carb ratio is really the strong part of the program. And the type of carbs.

      Can you back load every day? I am density bulking still and I do. Occasionally I will do an ULC day or two but for the most part, I’ve been DB every day regardless of training. I can’t say I’m ripped but I’m surprisingly lean given the nutrition I’m following. My strength is way up and the muscle mass gained outweighs the fat gained so that is a big bonus!

      Leave a reply  
  5. Marc:
    December 11, 2012 11:38 am

    It’s quite a simple program. I will be posting some carb backloading meal plan information as well as my personal carb backloading results. Stay tuned! Please feel free to ask any questions you might have regarding this “flies in the face” of what is being told to you now. This is quite an interesting venture.

    Leave a reply  
    1. Jim:
      December 11, 2012 11:57 am

      Cool! Definitely looking forward to seeing that! I’ve just subscribed to your new blog so that I can get the updates when it arrives! The next question’s mainly a curiosity one in regards to why evening loading yields better results than morning loading! I must admit, I swear I used to get better results when I trained in the evening (and therefore also got the lion’s share of my carbs), but that was just a hunch! -I never knew before that there were physiological reasons why this happens! What reasons does kiefer give for this?

      Leave a reply  
      1. Marc:
        December 11, 2012 12:04 pm

        In a nutshell: Insulin sensitivty and Growth Hormone play an important role. While you can tweak the program based on your training times, it’s pretty clear he’s into late afternoon or early evening training. That works for me anyway since I dislike lifting heavy weights before my 15th cup of coffee!

        Leave a reply  
        1. Jim:
          December 11, 2012 12:22 pm

          I hear ya on that! 😉 Thanks for taking the time going into this, it’s definitely a fascinating subject, and seriously deserves a good play with! Roll-on next bulking season!! 🙂

          Leave a reply  
  6. Jim:
    December 11, 2012 11:08 am

    Nice one Marc! Thankyou for finally posting some of this stuff about carb loading like we were talking about! So there’s a whole program based on it, eh? Interesting! Am definitely gonna have to take me a peek at that! The moment you first mentioned it, it sounded like my kinda program! Awesome stuff!!

    Leave a reply  

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