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Carb Backloading Explained

Posted on June 6, 2014 by BBWarehouse There have been 27 comment(s)

Have you ever heard of or tried Carb Back-Loading (CBL)? I will do my best to explain the science behind it and how to start it. It goes against pretty much everything I have done in the past in terms of nutrition but after hours of research and reading the CBL book by DH Kiefer, I decided to try it.

The Science of Carb Backloading

The aim of CBL is to increase lean muscle mass while keeping body fat as low as possible.

Let’s take a look at the way carbs affect your body. When you eat them, they’re broken down in to glucose. This will increase blood sugar levels and create an insulin spike to bring them back down. To get rid of the excess carbs, insulin will transport them as well as protein and fat in to either muscle or fat cells. If you have been lazy all day, insulin will store the carbs as fat. Until the insulin spike reduces, your body will not use fat as fuel. It will use the extra sugars as fuel first.carb back loading

If you avoid carbs, your blood sugar levels will be low, which means your body will use more fat as fuel and help you to stay lean. With this in mind, the best time to eat carbs is after a weights session when your muscles carb stores are depleted and blood sugar levels are low. The timing of these carbs is what makes CBL completely different to other diets out there. It also allows you to indulge in your favourite foods, for example, ice cream, fries, and chocolate without looking like you do. Like the sound of that? Keep reading.

Many diets out there will recommend that you should eat a carb meal before training. However, remember what we said about insulin? Eating carbs pre-workout will reduce the amount of fat you can burn during a session and honestly, you don’t need them. Your body can cope with the most intense training sessions on just protein and fats just fine if you eat enough of these nutrients.

Another thing to keep in mind, is the effect of carbs on your nervous system. Without them, you will think clearly and react quickly. You can even recruit muscle fibres more efficiently. Eating carbs dampens this response and you will feel sluggish. How do you feel after a Sunday roast or a Nandos? Exactly.

How to Back Load

This is the approach, as directed by CBL’s creator, John Kiefer.

1.       Avoid eating for 2-3 hours upon waking or at the very least avoid carbs. You can extend the fast to 12 – 14 hours from the evening prior’s last meal. (If fat loss is your main goal, the early morning fast is a great way to burn that fat). Drink coffee for breakfast instead. Caffeine is a great accelerator and the chemicals in coffee act as an appetite suppressant. The reason you should skip breakfast and stick to coffee and coconut oil is because we are much more sensitive to insulin in the morning. Also, cortisol levels are at its peak in the mornings which will aid with fat burning.

2.       For 10 days, you will only be allowed 30g of carbs per day. This is the hardest part of the whole thing. Keep in mind, that 30g is your maximum! Aim for less. Any carbs apart from fiber counts – green vegetables are fine but root vegetables are a no go. Eat one gram of protein per pound of your body weight daily and consume plenty of good fats. There is no need for calorie counting. Initially, you will feel tired for a few days, this is normal during the depletion phase and your body will soon switch over to burning fat and restore your energy levels. Coffee with coconut oil is allowed. Continue to train as normal.teambbwarehouse

3.       On the evening of the 10th day, eat a lot of carbs. Plan this in advance so you can train in the afternoon/evening and demolish all your carbs in the evening. Eat plenty of carbs and protein. Aim for roughly 1g of carbs per pound of body weight. However, your body may be able to handle more – reward yourself! This is no time to be looking at sensible portions of brown rice or oats. You need to eat starchy and sugary foods which create the biggest insulin spike possible and restore your depleted glycogen stores. You can enjoy things like, white rice, potatoes, cheeseburger, fries, milkshake, ice cream, cookies, the lot!

4.       Repeat back loading on days you train. On days you don’t or days you do cardio, eat no carbs as you did for the first 10 days. CBL works best if you train the afternoon/evening. However, if you can only train in the morning, eat a small carb meal containing about 30g of carbs and the same amount of protein post workout. After that, stick to low carbs all day and save carb loading to the evening. You are more sensitive to insulin in the morning so if you eat a big carb meal post morning workout, some of it is likely to be stored as fat.

Apart from counting your protein intake and avoiding carbs during the day/back loading in the evening, you don’t need to count calories. Just pay attention to how you look in the morning after back loads. If soft and bloated, eat a bit less carbs next time. Lean and ripped, you’re on the right track. If your goal is to gain muscle while keeping body fat low, consume more protein and carbs during your back loads. Those who want to cut and lose fat, just need to eat less.

Supplements that I am using to help with carb back loading:

Pure Whey Protein Concentrate 80
Creatine Monohydrate
iBCAA 8:1:1
Pure CLA Powder
Pure Caffeine (200mg) (Pre-workout)
Pure Organic Virgin Coconut oil (in my black coffee in the mornings)
Pure Dextrose (In my post workout shake on back loading nights)

I have just finished the 10 day depletion phase and have started to carb load. I will update the blog again first week of July with before and after pictures so be sure to keep an eye out for the next blog post!

The above is the very basics of carb back loading to get you started. If you have any questions, fire away and I will do my best to answer them.

By Carlos Filippsen Follow me on Twiiter: @carlosfilippsen


This post was posted in Athletes and was tagged with carb backloading, carbs, CBL, lean gains

27 Responses to Carb Backloading Explained

  • Kyle says:

    So after 10 days is it low carbs until the evening or low carbs all day? Step 4 says if you train in the morning (which I do) to have you 30g of carbs post work out and then save carb loading until the evening?

    Posted on June 9, 2014 at 8:50 am

  • Mark says:


    Tried this previously and found I was extremely shakey during workouts and couldn't concentrate. Suggestions?



    Posted on June 9, 2014 at 9:00 am

  • Looked at a few article online after seeing this and it seems quite interesting.
    I'm considering giving it after after next pay day.
    Pure some pure 80 whey (1g carb) 1 in the morning with bacon and eggs. Another shake at about 10am.
    Lunch- god knows! Im fussy lol. Chicken, peas, brocolli, lettuce maybe?
    Preworkout (superdrive)
    Post - mass v2 (2/3 of serving - 55g carbs)
    Lunch - pig out (4 hours after workout with another mass v2 before bed)

    Posted on June 9, 2014 at 11:19 am

  • Normally during a bulk you are advised to limit cardio because you want your calories to be used for building muscle and energy, whereas this plan is all about less is more, before you workout. So could you add some cardio before or after your resistance workout to increase burning fat? If so, how much? (HIIT)

    Posted on June 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm

  • Luke says:

    @Ben - you need to watch your protein shakes in the morning as it's been shown to create an insulin response despite having no carbs. Kiefer recommends not having shakes or more than 3 eggs in the ULC stage of the day. This might be overkill but it's his recommendation.

    Posted on June 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm

  • If your finding it hard during workouts I suggest taking a really good pre workout maybe one with a stimulant if you have no problems with stims.

    Also as it says after a while tour body will adapt so just try and soldier through the workouts if you can :)

    Posted on June 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm

  • Kyle - After the 10 days you need to eat low carbs all day. You should only carb load on days you do resistance training so if you do cardio, stick to less than 30g of carbs all day. If you do resistance training in the morning, then you need a small portion of carbs, 30g is perfect. If I train in the morning, I add a serving of Dextrose to my protein shake to create an insulin spike and kick start recovery. After that, stick to low carbs all day and carb load in the evening after 5-6pm.

    Mark - You need to make sure you increase your good fats intake to make up for the lack of carbs. This will provide you with enough energy to fuel your workouts. I also take 1-2 capsules of Pure Caffeine 30 minutes prior to my session for extra energy and focus: http://www.bodybuildingwarehouse.co.uk/pure-caffeine-200mg

    Ben - Your plan sounds good. However, if you are looking to cut down body fat, I would skip breakfast. It will increase the opportunity to burn fat while Cortisol levels are at its peak. If you are worried about muscle loss, take a 5g serving of BCAA's in the morning. I also like using CLA Power and Raspberry Ketones first thing in the morning. Because you will be eating low carbs during the day, you will have to make sure you take in an adequate amount of good fats as a source of energy. Here is a list of vegetables and fats you can use to create your meals:

    Green veg - Asparagus, green beans, cabbage, celery, kale, lettuce, cucumber, spinach, you can also have small portions of tomatoes. The reason you should stick to green veg is because they are classed as non useable carbs and will not create an insulin spike. If you find your salad is bland, I like to add lemon/lime, coconut oil or olive oil for some flavour.

    Fats - avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed, peanut butter, a mixture of nuts (non salted), cottage cheese, eggs, bacon, green olives, fish and I also recommend using omega 3/fish oils.

    Thank you for your questions and keep them coming. Don't forget to follow me on twitter @carlosfilippsen :)

    Posted on June 9, 2014 at 5:40 pm

  • Ben - In regards to cardio. It depends on your current goal. If you are looking to build lean mass, I would suggest limiting cardio to once week maximum. This should not be steady state cardio, I suggest HIIT for no more than 10-20 minutes. However, if your goal is to lose body fat, cardio 2 per week is fine. Also, what Luke said is true. Protein and BCAA's have been shown to create insulin spikes. I prefer to skip breakfast (I just have black coffee with some coconut oil) fast for 2-3 hours upon waking. If I wake up at 7am, I will have my first protein meal at 10am (normally 3-4 eggs) Eggs have been shown to spike insulin but you can prevent this by including fats with this meal. I like to include 2 rashers of bacon.

    Posted on June 9, 2014 at 6:02 pm

  • Thanks all for the replies.
    I will give this ago for a month and see how I respond to the change.

    Posted on June 9, 2014 at 7:22 pm

  • I'm confused its a 10 day cycle? But then I read on days you do resistance training(weights) carb load.

    So I follow the protocol for 10 days, pigging out in the evening(I assume after i workout.

    And now say I train mon/weds/fri, do I eat 30g carbs sun/tues/thurs/sat and pig out on the training nights?

    Posted on June 10, 2014 at 10:56 pm

  • Kyle says:

    Is the 10 days to try and achieve ketosis? Im struggling to only consume 30g of carbs and im having between 40/50. Im wary of not consuming another calories so without eating a hell of a lot of meat what is the best way to get in my calories without the carbs?

    Posted on June 11, 2014 at 9:08 pm

  • Ignore my last comment. After a bit of research the 10 day 'fast' is clearly important.

    Starting tomorrow

    Posted on June 11, 2014 at 9:13 pm

  • So I'm starting the 10 days today.
    Had nothing all morning so far (10am), not feeling to bad, but having tikka chicken (1g carb), stripy bacon (0g), mattesons sausage (0g), lettuce, broccoli, cheese (0.1g) in 30 mins.
    But I think I may have screwed up by having a bottle of squash, very low carbs but includes sweetners which I didn't notice till 5 minutes ago but it suppresses hunger really well.

    P.S. I watched a video by DH Kiefer and he says you can speed up the 10 days to as little as 7 days by adding cardio to the intro phase ;)
    Going to do some HIIT 10 mins 3-4 times to speed things up I think. Just thought that could be helpful for some.
    He also states if you don't feel absolutely hammered and down by day 10 you are doing something wrong (either diet or not pushing yourself at the gym hard enough).

    Posted on June 12, 2014 at 10:16 am

  • Ian - You need to do the prep phase for 10 days to achieve Ketosis. This will allow your body to burn more fat as a source of energy. Once you have gone through the depletion phase, you can start to carb load. You should only carb load on days that you do weights (only carb load in the evening from 5pm onwards) and stick to no carbs/depletion phase on days which you rest or do cardio. For example,

    Monday - Weights (Carb Load)
    Tuesday - Rest (30g carbs or less)
    Wednesday - Weights (Carb load)
    Thursday - Rest (30g carbs or less)
    Friday - Weights (Carb Load)
    Saturday - Rest (30g carbs or less)
    Sunday - Weights (Carb Load)

    Kyle - That's right. You will need to increase your fat intake in order to achieve your calorie goal. For example, flaxseed oil is extremely calorie dense and is a healthy fat which you can add to your salad, coffee etc to boost your calorific intake. Please see my list above for other options of healthy fats.

    Ben - The 10 day fast is very important. That's a great first meal you have listed so good start. I would stick to water because as you said, a lot of these drinks have added sweeteners etc. You could speed up the prep phase by adding HIIT cardio to your week. However, I still did 10 days so that you 100% know you have achieved Ketosis. Please keep us up to date with how you get on.

    Keep the questions coming :)

    Posted on June 12, 2014 at 7:22 pm

  • Thanks for the response,

    Another quick question, I do nightshirts at irregular weeks, how would this CBL work around nightshifts? If it would?

    Posted on June 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm

  • This maybe off topic... Or not but:
    As you can see, i started thursday with the intension hitting the gym and remaining carbless. But at 4pm my mrs went into labour (probs a bad time to start a new program lol).
    As you can imagine, i sacked off the program for now.
    I ate my usual shake in the after noon just to get some energy for the night. I ate chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks... I havent slept for 40 hours. Eaten small amounts of sweets and sausage rolls all day today to just to get energy fast. Had a rumbly empty belly most the day and i have lost a massive amount of weight on my top abs, i walked past the mirror and had a double take. Could this be because a real lack of carbs on the first morning day, or lack of sleep so my body needed more than the usual 2500 calories for my size on a normal day (use less cals sleeping), or both. Just interested for some input.
    Hopefully its the lack of carbs (great insentive)lol.

    Ps mom and baby are doing great lol

    Posted on June 13, 2014 at 9:59 pm

  • Ian - I suggest that you still carb load in the evening between 5pm - 10pm and stick to low carbs during the day and night when you are doing nightshifts. Also if you can, try to train between 4pm-6pm so you can carb load straight after training to create an insulin spike and replinish your glycogen stores.

    Ben - Congratulations! Glad to hear mom and baby are doing great. Bit unlucky with the timing starting a new diet plan but there's always a way around things! If you were eating a large amount of carbs prior to starting this plan, you were probably holding on to a lot of water. I imagine the lack of carbs resulted in loss of water which will drastically improve definition fairly quickly! As little as 24-48 hours.

    Anyone else trying CBL? Any feedback or questions? :)

    Posted on June 19, 2014 at 7:58 am

  • Thanks again Carlos. I was eating a lot before starting this. Around 3000 calories so that could explain it.

    I have a few people 'judging' me about this plan so far, including my brother, his mate and a well educated PT, won't even let me explain how it works, as they won't see past the ketosis stage. Using it as an insentive to prove them wrong (hopefully) ;)

    Posted on June 19, 2014 at 11:23 am

  • When you backload should you stick to simple carbs (sugar) for 4 hours for quick release energy. Or can you mix it up with proper food and complex carbs (potatos, etc)?

    Posted on June 19, 2014 at 1:37 pm

  • No problem Ben. Always happy to help. I am sure you will prove them wrong. CBL is a great way to diet, there are pro bodybuilders/mens physique competitors who eat this way and achieve great results. I have made some good progress so far, 4 weeks in to it. I was also a little sceptical about trying it but I am always willing to give things a go and after reading the CBL book, it is clear that DH Kiefer is an extremely knowledgeable guy who has done tons and tons of research in his career.

    I tend to mix it up. I eat a 50/50 amount of simple and complex carbs and find that works best. For my current body weight, I aim for about 200g of carbs which is 1g of carbs per lbs of body weight. I'm working on conditining so I keep carbs on the lower end of the scale. If you are looking to put on size/gain lean mass, you can aim for as much as 2g of carbs per lbs of body weight. Just keep an eye on how you look the next morning as mentioned in the article.

    Posted on June 19, 2014 at 2:26 pm

  • Nice one mate. I will be look to gain size as im only 80kg ish. So 1-2g carbs i will be doing

    Posted on June 19, 2014 at 6:09 pm

  • Anyone posting up progress yet?

    This program seems to fit in with my lifestyle really well so far.
    Survived on chicken, steak, bacon, eggs, brocolli, cauliflower before 6pm. And eating a bagel + nutella, 1/3 of performance mass v2 serving and 1 and a half servings of pure 80 for a total of 90g carbs and 45-50g protein. Then cereal and other goodies within 2 hours. And another pure80 to keep protein topped up.

    Lost loads of fat/water during the 10 days so it feels like its 100% progress and no fallbacks. Back at work monday, so taking mixing up a few pasta sauces with chicken and veg :)

    Thanks Carlos for this post. Seems like something that I can stick to long term.

    Posted on June 28, 2014 at 8:56 pm

  • Hi Ben, Sounds like your off to a good start! How are you finding fitting the plan into your lifestyle now that you are back at work? Carlos is away this week but will be posting his progress next week as promised :)

    Posted on July 1, 2014 at 1:13 pm

  • It's not too bad.
    I've bought ready cooked plain and tikka chicken from tesco at £2 a pack, frozen brocolli, cauliflower, carrots & peas and tesco pasta sauces (39p) and Pataks Tikka Masala £1. I look for bargains!
    The night before I cook off my veggies, let them cool, chuck them into two lunch boxes (one big, one small), chuck 1/3 of my chicken into one, and 2/3 the other (around 30g protein in total), use around 150g of sauces in the large box, 100g in the other (around 5-8g carbs per 100g) that's a maximum 20g carbs + veggies (which I won't lie, I don't really count as it's mostly brocolli so I round it up to 10g).
    I have the small tub at 10am (12-14hours after last bit of food or shake), then one and a half servings of pure 80 (30g protein) at 11:30 ish, then the large tub at 2ish. Total of 60g protein, around 30g carbs)

    Preworkout + creatine at 4, gym at 4:30. A lot of people say you shouldn't hit the gym for longer than 45mins, but am normally there till 6 doing a 5 day split. And then I have the food I mentioned in my above comment.

    I'm still drinking 1.5 litres of sugar free squash every weekday at the minute as I don't want to cut water out, and I know I wouldn't drink plain water if it was there. But this is a great hunger suppressant for me even though sweetners are frowned upon.

    After reading through this though, I fell I may need to up my protein before the gym, as 60g doesn't seem enough, but don't know where to include it without breaking the bank or taking more pure 80 which is said can give you an insulin spike.

    I should also add, I have 2-3 flaxseed oil capsules a day, 1 a-z vitamin & minerals and a green tea capsule, normally in the morning, but due to moving breakfast I have these on my backload. Nothing special really.
    Will be getting more pure 80, mass v2 soon. Plus I may try Prime and Dextrose... But other priorities are starting to take over :(

    Posted on July 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm

  • How much Protein should you have in the day, and how much after your workout (on the backload).
    After switching somethings around I'm having around 80g-100g during the day, and maybe 70g-90g at night (40g of which is post workout and mainly whey)...

    I weigh around 170lbs (78kgs), 6 foot, approx 17%-19% body fat (not the best I know)

    Posted on July 9, 2014 at 11:43 am

  • Glad to hear you are doing well and seeing some good results using Carb Backload Ben. You should aim for at least 1g of protein per pound of body weight spread equally throughout the day. This will depend on how many meals you eat a day. You weigh 170lbs so you should aim for 170g of protein each day. Divide that evenly with each meal.

    Unfortunately because I have been away, I have not been able to post my Carb Backload results on the blog but I am home this weekend so will do a write up and apologies that it is late!

    Posted on July 9, 2014 at 1:12 pm

  • No problem.

    1g per body weight seems about what I'm doing now to be fair so I will just keep doing what im doing.

    Can squeeze at a push into the 4 hole on my trouser belt now. I was on the second when I started haha puts it into perspective

    Posted on July 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm