It is with absolute pleasure that I get to bring to you an entire series on the world of carb backloading. This has been a hot topic recently on my facebook page. I’ve been helping out my friend Em who I met via our fitness pages to get started on a plan and that has sparking a lot of curiosity about what it is with others. I’ve found myself talking about it a lot and helping others understand what it entails. Between how much I’ve been talking about it and the fact that I recently had great success using carb backloading, now seems like the perfect time to present it to everyone.
I have a lot to say about backloading as I want to talk about what it is, why it works, how I went about it and the results I had with it. So with that out of the way here is the first installment of the series, which will likely be followed by at least two more. In part one I will be giving a brief overview of what carb backloading is. I’ll talk about the basics of the diet and different variations of the diet. Parts two and three could change a bit but currently in part two, I will talk about the science behind it and why it works as well as talk about if introducing refeeds is necessary. In part three, I will talk about my experience with it. How I went about it and what kind of results I got with it. Hopefully by the end of it all you’ll have a good understanding of what carb backloading is and if you think it could be right for you.
I personally gave the carb backloading diet a shot for a planned cut following up nearly 4 months of bulking. When I was researching I found there are many variations of the diet. The one thing that is widely understood is that you keep carbs as minimal as possible during the day, eating mostly protein and fats. Then you eat your carbs in the evening after working out via resistance training. A lot of people seem to think backloading is a very confusing and difficult plan to follow, but it’s really not that complicated at all. Perhaps the reasons why it works and the science behind it can be tough to understand for some, but what to do is actually fairly simple. At a glance here is a very basic rundown of what it looks like:
1. Keep carbs very low throughout the day, your only source of carbohydrates at this point is pretty much vegetables.
2. Weight train in the late afternoon or early evening, the reason for this I will get into next week.
3. Consume your carbs post workout and/or in the evening. Whether you do simple or complex carbs is up to you. I will get into why you may want to choose one or the other next week as well.
Now, here are some of the plans I commonly see. One plan is you go the first 10 days eating 30 grams of carbs per day and then on the tenth day you eat a ton of carbs after a weight training session. Not only are you eating carbs, but a lot of simple carbs, sugary snacks, ice cream, pizza, etc. The reason for this is supposed to be because after going 10 days without carbs you refill your carb stores and crank up your metabolism. After that you’ll eat your carb source after your workouts everyday and on off days like you did in the first 10 days and avoid carbs. This is not the plan I choose, not even close actually.
The other common plan I’ve seen is to skip breakfast and don’t eat for the first three hours of the day. It will have you keep your calories low throughout the day, eating only fats and proteins and then a ton of carbs and protein after your workout to feed your muscles. There is actually a lot of merit behind eating more of your calories in the evening, despite what you’ve probably heard. This is actually the best way to maintain muscle and lose fat. There was even a study done comparing two meal patterns, one with a group eating 70% of their calories in the morning and the other eating 70% of their calories in the evening. The morning group actually lost more overall weight, but it was at the sacrifice of muscle mass. The evening group conserved muscle mass better and in turn had a larger drop in body fat percentage. Once again, this is not the plan I followed either, at least not all of it.
Those are just two of the more common plans I see. You’ll find that my plan was pretty different from the two plans above, but still had many of the same principles. In all cases of carb backloading, resistance training is done later in the afternoon or into the early evening. This is when insulin sensitivity is at its lowest level so it’s the optimal time to train when maintaining or even building muscle and losing fat is your goal. The reason is at this time of day your body’s insulin levels are low and after training your muscles are primed for taking in glucose, which alters your body’s chemistry to a degree in order to function more optimally for our own interests of fat loss and muscle gain. I’m getting ahead of myself though, sometimes I can’t help it. I just get so excited about this stuff! All of this info will come in part two next week.
I do personally feel that carb backloading is more for the serious trainer. Those who have a hard time keeping schedules or staying on point with their diet would struggle with this diet in my opinion. I think the important part is, like with any diet, you have to give it a real chance. You may not feel great at first as your body adapts, but that doesn’t mean it’s not for you. Give it plenty of time and see how it turns out. I think many times people tend to say something they tried didn’t work because either A) They didn’t give it long enough to give it a fair chance to work or B) They didn’t follow the plan the way it’s supposed to be followed at all. If you’ve given it a real chance and it didn’t work, then you know. Everybody and every body is different, so you have to find what works for you.
Just remember, carb backloading is not a free pass to eat as much as you want. You still need to be at a caloric deficit to lose. Also, if you are someone who lifts in the morning, perhaps Matt’s Anabolic Keto would be something you would be interested in. The plan is extremely similar with the exception of training times.
Well that’s it for this week. Check back next week for part 2 in the exciting world of carb backloading!