Nutrition Experiment Phase 2: Carb Back Loading

Here we go again! It’s nutrition experiment time. I’ve talked about this mini experiment I’m doing in several posts, but if you’re new and just need a general overview, check it out here.

If you’ll recall, I already did a month of Intermittent Fasting (IF), which I actually loved. The past few weeks since then have been a very loose interpretation of IF, in which I haven’t been too strict on my hours of fasting/eating, but I have been consistently continuing my fast through the mornings until after I work out.  And you know what? Surprise, surprise, I haven’t been feeling nearly as good as I did when I was strict about the 16/8 fasting/eating times.

I think it was actually working for me. Who knew.

But now it’s time for the next phase of my experiment, and that is 4 weeks of Carb Back Loading (CBL).  I purposely stacked IF and CBL one after the other because they are very similar, especially when following the LeanGains style of IF, which I was doing. I want to take today to just give you all a quick overview of the weeks to come and what I expect out of it. Hopefully I enjoy this as much as IF, and can find some way to combine the two when this is all said and done!

What Is Carb Back Loading?

CBL is a style of eating developed by John Kiefer, based on his extensive research about the way our bodies utilize carbohydrates, and how we can optimize this through nutrient timing. I’m not going to give you all the details, because if you want to learn all about this style of eating, you really should check out Kiefer’s downloadable PDF. I invested in it, and I’m glad I did, because I want to be able to do this the right way, and not just half-ass it. The basic premise of CBL is that carbs should be almost exclusively eaten at night, directly following a night time training (heavy lifting) session. And when I say carbs, I don’t mean whole grains. The rules actually tell you to eat the junkiest carbs possible — those with high glycemic index scores. One of Kiefer’s favorite suggestions? Cherry turnovers. I know, I know, I didn’t believe it or understand at first either, but after reading the e-book, it is actually starting to make sense.

The science behind this is related to insulin sensitivity and your body’s natural clock when it comes to fat burning.  It is designed for people who lift heavy and train at night, but there are ways to modify this for those who train first thing in the morning (such as myself).

Essentially, I will be training fasted (as I have been doing for the last month and a half), and will eat a meal with fat, protein, and a small amount of carbs directly post lift. I will then eat only trace carbs throughout the day until dinner time, which is where it get’s a little more fun. On nights when I will be lifting the following morning, I will be actively CBL-ing, eating things like white rice, bread every once in a while, and carb-y desserts, even ice cream! (Well, let’s be real, it’s not like I avoid ice cream now). On days when I’m not lifting the next morning however, carbs have to remain trace at dinner as well. This also means that on days when I’m not training for 2 days in a row, both of those days will be very low carb all day.

What Am I Looking Forward To About CBL?

Well duh — the food obviously. But more importantly I’m looking forward to some structure in my diet. As I said before about IF, I don’t forsee this as being something that I would be 100% strict with until the end of time, but for a month? Sure, I’ll give it a go. I think my CBL nights are going to be glorious, and I’m probably going to end up eating a good amount of FroYo and animal crackers. (I don’t know why I love animal crackers so much, but I do, and I never eat them). Take Monday night for example. We had some leftover mini whoopie pies that I had made for easter… you better bet that I had one (or 2) of those, and loved every second of it! Carb me up!

whoopie piesYummmmmmm! 

What are the challenges going to be? 

There will certainly be challenges to this. The times when I am supposed to be extremely low carb are going to be difficult. I don’t eat a high-carb diet, but being asked to slash it even lower than I am used to (I usually eat around a 40-30-30 carb-protein-fat spread) will be tough. I’m going to have to be super vigilant about planning ahead, especially when I need quick meals for work, because most of my usual grab-and-go meal options have a good amount of carbs in them. One other thing that may turn out to be a huge challenge will be figuring out my limits. I am not going to be able to eat as much on a CBL day as a 250 lb guy who deadlifts 500 pounds, that’s for sure. I will need to find a balance between getting in enough useful carbs to take advantage of this program, and stuffing my face just because I like cake. (I mean, I really like cake.)

My long term goal is still to lose about 3-4% bodyfat, so I will be bummed if I start gaining body fat while on this plan. Of course it won’t be the end of the world, but it sure as heck could be the end of my experimenting with CBL. Again, finding that balance will be key, as will really trying to stick with optimum nutrient timing.

Whew. This could get exhausting!

As with IF, I’ll keep you updated periodically throughout the month. I’ll also keep a log of what I’m eating, how I’m feeling, etc. and will give you all an overview of my experience once my four weeks is up. I’ll also let you in on any body composition changes that may or may not happen over this time.

Wish me luck!

Have you heard of Carb Back Loading? Does it sound like something you’d want to try?

8 thoughts on “Nutrition Experiment Phase 2: Carb Back Loading

  1. Hi! I’ve found your journey really interesting – mostly because I did the same sort of thing myself, albeit by accident. I started with leangains and then have incorporated carb nite (Kiefer’s original program, before carb backloading). I’m a female crossfitter, which puts me in a weird middle category between carb backloading and carb nite. I’m also an AM workout-er. Anyway, I really like eating 8/16 and have continued doing that with carb nite. My struggle on carb nite is lowering my protein and upping the fat, and not going too overboard on carb nites. Anyways, just wanted to say good luck and I’m really curious to see how you like it! Also, I think the Nov 12, 2012 robb wolff podcast with kiefer was really interesting and a great explanation of a lot of the science behind it if you’re interested.

    1. Thank you! I’ll definitely look into that podcast. I’m not too familiar with carb nite, but I always just kind of assumed it was very similar to CBL? I’ll tell you, I’ve only been doing this a few days, and I’m craving sugar like crazy during my low carb times. Hoping this will pass soon!!

  2. Right before I found out I had PCOS, I experimented with my own take on CBL. I fasted in the morning, worked out, ate a post workout meal (including carbs) and then no carbs until dinner where I loaded up. I loved that style of eating. I didn’t gain weight, but I also didn’t lose weight either. I’ve found that just cutting out simple carbs makes me lose weight (even if my calories/carb totals are exactly the same), due to my insulin sensitivity. So I don’t think having ‘junky’ carbs would work for me, but it certainly makes things more fun 🙂

    1. I’m liking it OK so far, but like I said, the full low-carb days are TORTURE. Last night all I wanted was bread after dinner, and I really think it’s only because I knew I “couldn’t” have it until tonight, since I wasn’t training today. Argh. Rules bore me. 🙂

  3. OH MY GOSH YOU MADE THOSE WHOOPIE PIES?! I’ve never had a whoopie pie. Can you believe that?

    1. I did I did… It was my first time making them, but they came out pretty good if I do say so myself 🙂 And I can’t believe you’ve never had one… Get on that, girl! Frosting sandwiched between cake… it’s like an inside out cupcake… yummmm!

  4. It is so amazing that yoiu are doing these, and it shows that you are really dedicated to researching things before you give advice to your bloggers. It is really impressive! All of yuor carb talk made me miss gluten, but then I thought of how I feel when I eat it and stopped missing it. If I wasn’t allergic to gluten, your whoopie pie photo would have pushed me to buy one!
    I look forward to hearing how this goes. You are pushing me to eliminate more and more sugar out of my diet by your trials, so thank you!

  5. Oh I have not heard of this, but it is eerily similar to the way that I seem to be naturally eating – lots of carbs the night before key morning workouts, and almost nothing before those workouts! I am excited to see how this goes for you, and may even have to purchase the PDF if it looks promising!

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