Sitting here tonight writing this article eating ice cream is a little out of the normal routine for a fitness professional and competitor like myself. As we all know eating things like ice cream and pizza are reserved for only extreme cheat days, or at least I thought that was the case. However, over the past few months I have amerced myself deep into the world of Carb Back loading. Eating things like ice cream, cookies, and various “cheat foods” post workout all while keeping my body fat in single digits during that span. Now many of you are wondering what the heck is carb back loading?
Well to get started quickly Carb back loading in a nutshell is when you back load your carbs so you are eating no carbohydrates before you workout, only proteins and fats throughout the day and saving all your carb consumption for post workout. Yes, you are reading that correctly you only eat carbs after you strength train and ZERO carbs before. I am not talking just eating brown rice and oatmeal after training, I am talking ice cream, cookies, milk shakes, and pizza in fact according to the research those simple sugars work best with back loading. Now before you do condemn me to the mad house, this theory was made popular by a guy named John Kiefer a Physicist who became a nutritionist, so there is some science and education to this method.
Now I come from the world of 'IF' intermittent fasting, (fasting for a minimum of 16 hours and eating for the remaining 8 hours of the day) so many of the principals in carb back loading came easy to me, as there is a fasting concept inside the back loading.
Before I get into that, let’s start from the main idea, when you sleep you are fasting essentially and when you wake up your body is a fat burning monster. Research has shown that cortisol which we know is a stress hormone rises while we sleep, and for most people on a regular schedule it peaks in the early morning around 7am. The idea with carb back loading is to wake up and eat nothing, that’s right the whole breakfast is the most important meal of the day idea is gone. In fact if you guys end up researching carb back loading on your own you will hear John Keifer say “breakfast sucks”. The reasoning for this is you want your cortisol level to drop, which they do naturally later in the day a few hours after waking up. To break it down you wake up, drink nothing but coffee or water and let your body just burn fat like crazy until you eat your 1st meal.
So, assuming you train later in the day after work let’s say 6pm, what does one eat during the day when they are carb back loading? It’s simple really, just proteins and fats and ZERO carbs during the day before you workout. I know most magazines and professionals will disagree with this as they suggest eating carbs pre-workout is essential and needed for energy. Honestly I use to think the same thing years ago, that I needed carbs before I workout or I will have no energy and be sluggish. The reality is you don’t need them pre-workout you can train all out hardcore on proteins and fats. The idea behind it is just like the short morning fast, without eating carbs pre-workout you can burn even more fat will you train during the session. I have found I feel more energized, motivated, and train like a maniac on no carbs pre-workout; you will be surprised when you give it a try for the 1st time how well you perform.
Here is the basics on how to get started if you think this is for you.
To prime your body for this new eating style and lifestyle honestly you must go extremely low carbs for 10 days – Kiefer prescribes 30g or less each day. That’s right 10 days of 30g carbs or less, and trust me on this, it’s the hardest part of this whole program. We are only talking 10 days, which anyone can struggle through if they are serious about training and making changes. Protein intake is pretty standard 1g per pound – so if you are 200lbs eat 200g of protein per day. You can also eat as much fat as you like; now keep in mind proper judgment on this. Things like cheese, avocados, bacon, whole eggs, coconut oil and the list goes on and on. The restrictions on this program are limited, it’s based heavily on how you look in the mirror and feel from day to day.
On the 10th day of your low carb intake after you train that evening you can, as they say “carb up”. Your body will be ready to take in some serious carbs, and this is where the fun starts.
Consume around 1g of carbs per pound of bodyweight so if you weight 200lbs eat 200g of carbs or a little more if your body can handle it. The main thing to remember here is these are high-glycemic foods, ice cream, cup cakes, cookies, fries, pizza and so on. You will probably go to sleep full and bloated feeling happy and fat, upon waking you will probably find yourself looking lean and ripped.
Now you are in the world of carb back loading, from here on out, on all days you strength train (lift heavy weight) you can carb backload. On days you don’t strength train and just do cardio or have rest days eat as you would during the 1st 10 days with 30g of carbs of less just eating proteins and fats.
That in a nutshell is the basics of carb back loading and how it’s done.
Carbs on backloading days range from 1 - 2g per lb of your bodyweight so for a 200lb man that would be 200g-400g carbs per back load. If your looking to lose more body fat keep the carbs closer to the 1g, if you are looking to gain a little size keep it closer to the 2g per lb.
If you train in the morning there are modifications in the book Kiefer put out and he breaks down exactly how to do it.
Keep your protein and carb numbers in mind while you eat, but more importantly just check the mirror to see how you feel and look each day. If you are looking lean and ripped after time you are on the right path, if you feel bloated and look doughy odds are you might be overdoing the back loading so cut back on the carbs for a few days.
Overall my thoughts,... it’s a fun program to follow that allows you to eat some of the foods you love on a more regular basis. It also allows you to eat with friends and family enjoying pizza and ice cream from time to time. It’s not for everybody, but if you really struggle with your cheat meals this just might be the thing that gets you to the next level. It’s been a fun few months backloading as I love pizza and ice cream just as much as most people. Going forward I will probably be practicing a hybrid of intermittent fasting mixed with a little backloading.
From a health stand point there will be arguments on eating ice cream and pizza every week, from a personal standpoint my blood work has been as clean as ever even while integrating these foods into my life over the past few months. Again do a little research on your own and become educated on what best fits your health and training needs before moving forward. Best of luck and happy eating!
Resources: CBL 1.0 – for more info carbbackloading.com
Author - Jeremy Scott is the creator of www.jeremyscottfitness.com , PROLAB Sponsored Athlete, Nationally Published Author, and currently lives in and trains in Scottsdale, Arizona.
You can follow Jeremy on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/Jeremyscottfitness