Sean Hyson

Fitness Distilled

July/August 2014

Back-loading FAQ

posted on June 04, 2012
written by sean hyson

It’s probably the easiest diet in the world and yet I know it can still be confusing. In an effort to clear up the confusion, I put together a little Carb Back-loading Frequently Asked Questions list, based on what I’ve learned from Kiefer and my own experience with back-loading.

Remember that this is Kiefer’s baby. He created Carb Back-loading and I don’t speak for him, so any questions I can’t answer should be directed to him on his site. But see if this doesn’t tie up some loose ends for you in the meantime.

Q: Why can’t I eat bread, fruit, or pasta? I thought anything goes on a back-load night.

A: You CAN eat bread. Kiefer just warns that it’s not a great choice if your body doesn’t tolerate gluten, and perhaps as much as 50% of the population doesn’t. However, if it doesn’t bother you, white bread is a great back-loading food. If you want to have a sandwich at some point during the night, any bread is ok then too.

Pasta, unless cooked beyond the “al dente” stage, generally isn’t high-glycemic enough (it doesn’t raise insulin enough) to be a great choice during a back-load. But as long as it’s not your only carb source for the evening, you can have some. Beware of the gluten factor here as well.

As for fruit, most fruits also are not big insulin-releasers and fructose is easily converted to fat in the liver. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat your favorite fruits, but you should limit your intake. The best carb choices on back-loads are white potatoes, white or sushi rice, sweet potatoes (cooked a long time so they’re very sweet), ripe bananas, pastries, and ice cream.

Does this make you sick?bread

Q: A lot of junk food carbs contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Is it ok to eat that?

A: You should not be eating much HFCS. This should be obvious to anyone interested in health, however, not necessarily for the hyped-up reasons you may have heard about. As far as I know, there’s no real evidence to show that HFCS is inherently worse for the body than any other processed sugar, but it certainly isn’t healthy. The main reason it’s bad for back-loading is that it’s surprisingly not high on the glycemic index, so it doesn’t give you a big insulin spike. There are simply better, more wholesome and nutritious carbs you can eat during a back-load session, so it’s better to do so.

With that said, if you just finish training and you want to throw back a regular Coca-Cola or some Entenmann’s doughnuts, you won’t store these foods as fat regardless of their HFCS content. They’ll get sucked up into your muscles. There are also other sugars and starches present in foods besides HFCS, so it’s not like they’re a complete waste of time to back-load. You’ll still get an insulin spike. Again, you CAN use them, but know that there are better choices (as listed above). Unfortunately, HFCS is so prevalent in the food market these days it’s hard to avoid no matter what. So don’t stress too much over it.


Q: Can I back-load on off days?

A: Yes, but it depends. If you’re back-loading to lose fat, you need lots of low-carb days to keep insulin low and convert fat to fuel. You should only back-load on A) the night of a training day, or B) the night before the first of two morning workouts on back-to-back days. Only do this with weight workouts, not cardio.

If you’re back-loading to gain muscle and strength while staying lean, the same applies but you can be a little more liberal with your portions. Back-load more carbs on training days and you might occasionally back-load on off days.

If you’re back-loading to gain muscle and strength as quickly as possible and staying lean is not a high priority, you can back-load every night—assuming you tolerate carbs well. I have been doing this for the past month or so and haven’t fattened up much. And I’m loving every minute of it, as you can imagine.


Q: How does back-loading work if I’m an athlete?

A: I wrote a story about this for Stack.com. First, determine what kind of athlete you are. If you’re an explosive power athlete (football, wrestling, track, etc.), you can back-load for two days straight, then do two low-carb days, then carb up the night before the game/meet/match. It doesn’t matter how your workouts or practices fall—stick to that schedule. You need some carbs to keep you recovering but also a dearth of them at times so that you’ll store them better when you do eat them.

If your sport is more endurance-based (basketball, cross country, soccer, etc.), deplete carbs for a full week. Then have two big carb-up nights before game day.

I just told her she could be even better if she back-loaded before meets. Wait! I said “better”, not “hotter”!allison s

Q: I’m allowed 30 grams of carbs in the day time before I back-load and on off days. Can these 30 grams come from any kind of carbs?

A: Technically, yes, but don’t do it. The 30 grams is already taking into account the trace carbs you’re going to inadvertently pick up from foods like vegetables, nuts, dairy, etc. (Foods we don’t think of as carb-containing.) Even the most low-carb foods generally still have a gram or two of carbs in them per serving that aren’t fiber, so they have to be counted. Stick to foods like this and you’ll accumulate a few carbs over the course of the day but you’ll stay safely under the 30-gram cap. If, on the other hand, you eat one slice of an apple, a cup of cashews, or one square of Herhsey’s chocolate, and the like, you risk screwing things up big time.

I guess you COULD eat one slice of an apple and a piece of chocolate, accrue 20 grams of carbs in an hour, and eat nothing but meat the rest of the day, thereby keeping your total under 30, but this isn’t smart. You need to eat vegetables, and even green fibrous ones contain some usable carbs. Get your usable carbs from veggies and not sugar foods that offer less nutritionally.


Q: Can I eat much fat during a back-load?

A: This is very individual. Focus on consuming foods high in protein and carbs, but enjoy yourself as well. If the foods you’re carbing up with also happen to have some fat—like a cheeseburger and french fries—that’s ok. If you find you’re getting fat from this, Kiefer says you don’t necessarily need to back off the fat content but just eat less in general. Have smaller portions or less food overall.

 

Q: What macros should I aim for?

A: The beauty of back-loading is that you don’t HAVE to aim for anything. You learn to go by the way your body looks and feels—a very valuable skill. But to ensure you get enough protein, try to get one gram per pound of your body weight. You can eat a little more than a gram per pound—it won’t hurt—but it probably won’t show up in your muscles. Aim for 1–2 grams of carbs per pound—go for the low end if you’re a woman and more if you’re a muscular guy who lifts/competes a lot. This is another thing you need to experiment with to find what works for you.

As with the fat content of your back-load meals, you don’t absolutely need to write everything down, but if you find that the scale and/or your physique is not moving in the direction you’d like, you will need some kind of measurement to go by. If you don’t keep track of numbers, I suggest eyeballing portion sizes or eating more of the same foods on a regular basis so you can tell how much you need to consume to go up or down in weight.

I could study all this or... just eat pizza and look in the mirror tomorrow morning.macros

 

Q: You say I should skip breakfast, but then I hear that breakfast is ok as long as it doesn’t have carbs. Which is it?

A: If you just got up, don’t eat breakfast right away. Assuming you’re getting up at a normal time, around 7 a.m., you should wait for your cortisol levels to fall naturally a bit before taking in food. Have some black coffee or coffee with heavy whipping cream or coconut oil, or just drink water to quell the hunger pangs. Then you can have a carb-free breakfast at 9 or 10 or so, if time allows.

If you are training in the morning shortly after waking, do not eat anything. Have some black coffee or take a caffeine pill and get after it.

 

Q: What are the main differences between Carb Back-loading and the new Renegade Diet by Jason Ferrruggia?
A:
I answered this extensively HERE.

 

You can buy Kiefer’s Carb Back-loading e-book HERE.


Comments

  1. Gravatar

    05 Jun, 2012

    jason

    don't hate me for asking- but i work from 12.30-9p, i wake up around 9 and train around 10 or 10.30. Would that be considered "first thing in the morning" or do the natural bio rythms still balance out and cortisol is levels off already by the time i'm up? I know if you do pwo shake early morning fasted you can have carbs but late morning is no carb in the pwo shake.

  2. Gravatar

    05 Jun, 2012

    Clement

    Well, Sean, your site has become a CBL gold mine in recent weeks! The guys at propanefitness.com have also put themselves and clients on CBL and achieved phenomenal results. I've been on it for the past 3 weeks and loving it. I'm just tweaking a little and seeing what works for me.

    I skipped the recalibration phase, myself, but I'm sure I'll go on it if I'm doing carb nite. My current goals are muscle gain without any gains in fat.

    An interesting discussion on the Biojacked podcast led to Kiefer saying that the best CBL-ers only ate meat and some fat during the low-carb phases in both CBL and CN, with trace amounts of vegetables or fibre. This would literally allow them to go crazy on the carb nites. I thought it was an interesting point, given how everyone's talking up the benefits of fibre nowadays.

    Also, I feel that calories per day should still be kept in check, so that people don't necessarily go crazy on the backloads. I've stalled or even gone backwards because I literally let myself go and consume 3500kcal on backloading days. I've found that the 3 main components to take note of on CBL are protein intake (1g per lb of bw works perfect for me), calorie- and carb-cycling.

    Finally, you have my gratitude for posting about CBL for athletes! I'm curious about the recommendations for soccer, though. I lift on M/W/F and play a soccer match on Sundays, so that would mean I'll not be backloading on 2 of my 3 lifting days. Wouldn't it be wiser to backload on lifting days and match day instead? I find my body can recover better after the game this way.

  3. Gravatar

    05 Jun, 2012

    Clement

    To elaborate on Kiefer's low-carb statement, what he said exactly was that when his clients eliminated carb sources completely from their diets during the low-carb phase - meaning no vegetables or fruits - they could be more liberal with their food choices on carb nites, whereas if they ate vegetables on the low-carb phase, they had to be more cautious with carbs on carb nites. But then, it makes the diet quite unhealthy, doesn't it?

  4. Gravatar

    05 Jun, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Jason,
    Cortisol will have leveled a bit but I still wouldn't eat before. Have carbs in the shake after.

    Clement,
    Try it as recommended. Training without carbs means you'll store them better when you do back-load.

    It doesn't surprise me that having 0 carbs and no vegetables could lead to more fat loss and permit crazier carb ups, but I wouldn't do that. As you said, there's no way that's healthy.

    You might get leaner in the short term but pounding meat (even if organic) without vegetables to push it through is begging for illness. I think you'd feel terrible before too long and you'd get constipated. People who don't eat vegetables develop bad skin—probably because there's no other way for the toxins to come out so they literally start pushing through your pores.

    I'm all for short periods of extreme eating to achieve a specific and challenging goal, but we can't lose site of the big picture. It's much better to be healthy and give up a little leanness and decadent eating than to go hog wild and hurt yourself.

  5. Gravatar

    05 Jun, 2012

    Your Name

    Can you give us more fatty food ideas to eat throuout the day as far as Carb Back loading goes.. I j ow you already mentiOn red meet and bacon.. But what else?

  6. Gravatar

    05 Jun, 2012

    Daniel

    I usually start the day with a 75-minute bodyweight circuit, then cardio mid-afternoon, and weights at night. On a perfect day, I train for at least 3 hours. How would my specific back-loading plan look? About 15 grams of carbs after the morning work, aim for 0 at lunch, and then 30 more after dinner, plus about a hundred more throughout the rest of the night? I weigh a lean 165.

  7. Gravatar

    05 Jun, 2012

    Daniel

    Sorry, meant to say 30 more AT dinner, which I eat right after weight training at about 5:00.

  8. Gravatar

    05 Jun, 2012

    Wood

    Did you hear about Ori Hormekrel, the father of warrior diet? He said:
    First off, after training your muscle becomes temporarily insulin resistant. That’s due to tissue micro-injuries which impair the mechanism that utilizes glucose in your muscle. Putting a high glycemic fuel in your muscle right after exercise will jeopardize energy utilization and disrupt your insulin sensitivity. High glycemic fuel includes all kinds of sugars, dried fruits and refined flour.

    One of the biggest misconceptions is the idea that an insulin spike is necessary for boosting protein synthesis in the muscle. The truth is quite different. The real factor is not insulin spike but rather insulin sensitivity.

    It has been proven that as long as insulin sensitivity is high, even low (fasting) insulin levels along with amino acids will be sufficient to trigger mTOR/AKT – the cellular pathway that deposits protein in the muscle towards repair and growth.

    Overly spiking insulin with simple carbs immediately after exercise impairs insulin sensitivity and diminishes your capacity to sustain a healthy metabolism and a lean, strong physique.

  9. Gravatar

    06 Jun, 2012

    jason

    Just out of curiosity- Why the 10 day prep phase for carb nite, and the 7 day prep for CBL? And for CBL SA version- is it 7 or 10 day?

  10. Gravatar

    06 Jun, 2012

    Pete

    Wood... what does Ori Hofmekler suggest to consume after a workout?

  11. Gravatar

    06 Jun, 2012

    Tony

    I lift late at night, generally at 10 pm. I usually hit bed around 1am and rise at 9am What protocol should I follow if I want to Cbl , is it even possible with late night workouts

  12. Gravatar

    06 Jun, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Your name,
    Cheese, avocados, a small amount of nuts, ham, sausage, salmon, sardines, and other fatty fish, olive oil on salad, whole eggs cooked in coconut oil, pork chops...

    Daniel,
    That's a good question. You're doing a hell of a lot of training. What are you training for? If you want to use back-loading for muscle gain, I wouldn't even bother until you cut some of that other exercise out. But I guess If I had to I'd go 30g of carbs after the morning session and then eat a few pizzas at night after lifting. Sounds like you could eat anything and stay lean on that schedule.

  13. Gravatar

    06 Jun, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Wood,

    I'm not very familiar with Hofmekler's work but I know he's gotten some impressive results. I'm used to reading things that contradict everything I've been told before—that was my first reaction to CBL—but I don't think OH's approach is something I'd get into.

    I can get past the fact that it's the opposite of what every other nutritionist says, but I did an approach not unlike that in the past. Most of us did.

    When I started training, I knew nothing of shakes and insulin spikes, so I didn't have any post-workout nutrition. I made some gains but not great. Then I had just whey protein shakes. Again, some gains but nothing outstanding.

    It wasn't until I started mixing whey with some kind of carb that I saw quicker gains in muscle and strength. And it wasn't until I tried CBL that I made exceptional gains in a short period of time with an approach that I enjoyed and that really suited my lifestyle.

    I don't see any reason to change back. Here I am, more than 10 years older and making better gains than I did as a beginner. Why mess with that?

    Also, to say that getting an insulin spike and taking carbs post-workout "diminishes your capacity for a lean, strong physique" is ridiculous. First of all, it's vague.

    Diminished how? By how much?

    And secondly, millions upon millions of trainees haven't been harmed by it. I'd venture to say that nearly all bodybuilders and strength athletes have paired protein and carbs shortly after workouts throughout history.

    Even the old strongmen like Saxon and Sandow drank whole milk after training. That's been shown time and time again to work very well. And milk is protein and quick-digesting carbs.

  14. Gravatar

    06 Jun, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Jason,
    Not exactly sure but I think Kiefer just refined his methods. Carb Nite was written years ago. The length of the recalibration phase varies depending on how much activity you do, and ultimately it is optional, but I would stick with the 10 days just to be totally safe.

    Tony,
    I would just do CBL for night time training as originally intended.

  15. Gravatar

    06 Jun, 2012

    Daniel

    Thanks for the response, Sean.

    I was recently discharged from the Army due to a minor, non-violent crime I was charged with years ago and neglected to mention in my enlistment papers (the charge was dismissed in court). As a result, I can't re-enlist til August, but in the meantime I've made it my goal to dedicate myself to becoming a physical machine so that when I go back, I can hopefully achieve fitness-specific promotions (for instance, certain endurance and strength tests could get me into a Paratrooper division that pays a lot more).

    Anyway, I guess my training would best fit under the plan you advise for athletes. I want to maintain flexibility and cardio endurance, but since I started lifting with free weights for the first time in my life only about 5 months ago, I've been encouraged by solid gains and overall more functional athleticism.

    My main concern isn't to gain size (though I've already noticed improvements in that area since starting CBL), but I've been trying to implement the basic principles of CBL because I love the idea of rewarding myself at the end of the day, and up til basically a week ago, I'd been having only about 100 carbs a day for several months. I eat just 3 meals/day, one after each of the sessions I described above, and until CBL, they'd all been basically just a 30:15-ish protein:carb ratio.

    Again, I appreciate the feedback, and I have one follow-up question: if indeed my current training plan doesn't "require" a CBL-based approach and I still want to continue with my current routine, is the 30-grams idea still beneficial enough as it pertains to late-in-the-day weight training? Or am I perhaps sapping my strength for that session by scattering my 30 grams throughout a day that's already included 2+ hours of mostly non-strength, HIIT-type workouts?

  16. Gravatar

    07 Jun, 2012

    jason

    Hey Sean- thanks much for the reply- i was thinking about it and if i recall correctly Carb Nite doesn't need to be paired with any kind of training- in other words, you could follow carb nite and the training isn't as critical- hence a 10 day depletion. But with CBL Heavy training is CRITICAL to it's success and training during the depletion period would probably wipe out glycogen 2-3 days earlier.

  17. Gravatar

    08 Jun, 2012

    ICE

    Sean,

    Can you advice me on using CBL while on a bi-phasic sleeping schedule? I'll be sleeping from 11:00 PM - 3:30 AM and then again from 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM. People that do this are able to maintain a normal circadian rythem so my cortisol levels should be normal throughout the day... I'm not so sure about my insulin levels though. Therefore I don't really know if CBL will be effective. Can you advice me on this? Thanks

  18. Gravatar

    08 Jun, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Daniel,

    I think with that much activity you won't gain fat no matter what. I would go low carb at all times until after your toughest weight training session of the day, but I don't think you need to limit it to 30 grams. Just clean sources. Then go all out at night. That's what I would do, but your situation is unique. I'd be interested to hear what happens.

    Jason,
    You're right. I forgot to mention that point.

    ICE,

    I don't think the timing of your sleep is a problem but the lack of it may be. That's not a lot of rest, and that will elevate cortisol. Is there any way you can extend one of these sleep sessionsa so you get at least 7 hours total?

  19. Gravatar

    09 Jun, 2012

    ICE

    Sean,

    Thanks for your response. There is not much flexibility in the naps due too when REM and deep sleep cycle within them. But by splitting the sleep up like that, I am able to get the same amount of REM and deep sleep that 7-8 hours of monophasic sleep provides.

    I have two more questions:

    Is there a place in CBL that I can effectively use casein hydrolysate, such as Mag-10 or Anaconda from biotest?

    And I'm wondering about using rice, potato, or sweet potato flour in protein shakes for the extra carbs? Would this be effective compared to eating them in their natural state?

  20. Gravatar

    10 Jun, 2012

    Pete

    Sean

    My post workout nutrition has been exactly the same like yours. It went form nothing to occasional whey shakes to solid food and back to whey or nothing. Either way, I never noticed much difference.

    I want to start adding carbs to my whey protein powder.

    How much protein and carbs do you mix? What ratio? I read that 3:1 carbs to protein is common. Do you use dextrose?

    Thank you..

  21. Gravatar

    13 Jun, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    ICE,

    Not sure about those particular brands and what else might be in them, but casein h should be taken post workout.
    A shake with powders is better post workout than whole food, so yes, those would be fine.


    Pete,

    the ratio is usually 2:1 carbs to protein. For back-loading, go around 40g protein and 30–50g carbs. It depends on whether you really want to add size or just stay lean while gaining strength.

  22. Gravatar

    13 Jun, 2012

    Richard Hayter

    Hi Sean,

    Thanks for the info. Your site is my favourite place for CBL info.

    I think it's safe to say you can't just go nuts on the Back-load phase, as you will invariably store a bit.

    I tend to eat breakfast later on about 11ish which is typically a 2 egg ham and cheese omelette cooked in coconut oil and a tomato. Other foods I eat during the low-carb phase are: low fat natural or greek yogurt, cottage cheese, bacon and other meats, almonds. My dinner tends to be meat with some greens. No fruit at all during the low-carb phase. Post workout if training in morning will be protein shake and no carbs, if training just between 3-5pm I'll add some carbs. During back-load I do tend to go a bit nuts and so the results vary. If I'm semi-sensible I can enjoy some treats and still stay lean.

    One of the major bonuses for me is that during the day because carbs are low I get no cravings at all. You really can make this diet work and make it healthy plus if you can show even a little restraint during back-loading, you'll see results.

    Things that throw up issues with me are my night shifts. On my 1st night I'm basically up all day so I eat, train and back-load as normal but since I don't sleep during the night I tend to continue to back-loading until I sleep in the morning at around 7am. My second night shift is more straight forward, I awake at around 2pm and eat low-carb until about 3am when I back-load until bed at around 7am. The next day however is a short day, I wake at 11am-ish and sleep at night at around 22.30 so I should probably stay low-carb all day and reset it all again for the following day when I wake at 7am but I tend to back-load from 6pm as normal and I think this coupled with the fact that my hormones are upside down tends to throw things out a bit.

    Anyone else find night shifts an issue?

    Another point that hasn't been discussed much is training. At the moment I'm training for strength and my routine is simple. 3 compound moves 1 lower, 1 upper push and 1 upper pull, 6 sets of 6 reps of each working to near failure, 5-6 ftimes per week (probably should drop this to 3 or 4 times per week). The only thing I can find in terms of training is that it should be resistance training or HIT.

    So what is required in terms of training in order to take advantage of CBL, power, strength or hypertrophy based routines, what about intensity, no of sets. Basically what type of training is CBL most beneficial for and most suited to and how do the results vary?

    I intend to experiment more with CBL but so far I love it! Well done Kiefer! And a big thanks to you Sean for answering a lot of questions.

    Cheers!

  23. Gravatar

    16 Jun, 2012

    Joey B

    Hey Sean, question about CBL and HIIT...

    I'd like to do a quick session of HIIT (no more than 30 minutes) a few times a week first thing in the morning while in a fasted state. I know that if I lift in the morning, I need to take in some carbs and protein after the strength session, but what if I just do the HIIT cardio? Do I still need to take in some carbs after that, or just a protein shake?

    Thanks!

  24. Gravatar

    17 Jun, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Richard,

    Thanks for the comment. I think your approach to your crazy schedule is smart. However, if you're training for strength, I don't think you should be lifting five or six days per week. Back-loading is ideal for any kind of strength training, providing you're using loads that regularly exceed 70% of your max. In other words, it needs to be bodybuilding/strength work, not what 99% of the population does—wandering around the gym and cranking out the occasional curl :-)

  25. Gravatar

    17 Jun, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Joey,

    Just have some protein after. Short HIIT workouts don't cause much muscle damage and don't need carbs to recover from. Also, you don't do them to build muscle, it's conditioning, so carbs aren't needed to provide a growth stimulus.

  26. Gravatar

    18 Jun, 2012

    Mike

    Sean,

    What is your opinion on cinnamon during the backload? As I know it increases insulin sensitivity, I was just wondering if it would be detrimental.

    Thanks!

  27. Gravatar

    18 Jun, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Mike,

    Cinnamon is great. Anything that improves insulin sensitivity is fine during a backload.

  28. Gravatar

    21 Jun, 2012

    Daniel

    Hi Sean,

    An update on how my 3+ hours of training combined with CBL is going...

    It took my body a while to get used to it, and at times I simply can't go beyond 60-70 carbs at night because my stomach would just get too full (but I'm guessing that's kinda the point as far as lean-ness is concerned, and if you're still adding tons of protein at night, this no doubt leads to higher satiety.)

    This week, I've approached my PM carb intake a little differently by IMMEDIATELY downing a protein shake and a couple bananas post-weight lifting, and then preparing a big, carb-heavy dinner during that hour window after this post-workout "meal". I've found it's given me more of an appetite at night, and I've immediately seen an improvement in lean mass as I've been able to tolerate more eating.

    So I have another question. Even after my post-weights "meal" and real-food dinner, I've still only consumed about 120 or so carbs and it's only 6:00PM. If I go to bed around 10:30 and I'd like to add about 50 more carbs (baby steps), how much time do I have to do it? I usually find myself getting hungry again by the end of the night, but I don't want to just force down food so close to passing out, since I fear it'll be stored as fat overnight.

    In the meantime, I should note that I haven't experience any loss in energy with my morning body-resistance workout, nor my mid-afternoon cardio sessions, and have found that mostly-protein and greens meals is more than sufficient to keep my energy levels high for the heavy lifting that comes later.

    Props to you for this amazing diet approach, and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

  29. Gravatar

    21 Jun, 2012

    Daniel

    I should note that the 120 carbs I've consumed by 6:00PM also includes the 30 or so I have at breakfast, post-resistance training.

  30. Gravatar

    23 Jun, 2012

    jatinkumar

    hello,
    I studied the blog,its much different from other, your suggestion make my booby health and proper shape. i reduced my weight,by eating bread, fruit, or pasta. i tell my many of friends. Than you..

  31. Gravatar

    26 Jun, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Daniel,

    I've had the same problem and I think it's a mental block. You should never be going to bed hungry. You don't want to go to bed so stuffed that you can't sleep, but you should be eating pretty heavy until shortly before you lie down. The solution is simply to eat more food. Eat more carbs that go down easily—white rice or white bread/rolls/buns are a good one. Hamburgers are good back-loading foods because you get protein and carbs in every bite and the bun doesn't do much to fill you.

    In short, keep eating. A shake would be helpful too.

  32. Gravatar

    01 Jul, 2012

    Terence

    Sean,
    Thanks for this great FAQ. It really helped out before I purchased the book.

    I was wondering what you would do in this situation: I started the prep phase on Monday, but messed it up by eating a lot of meat Friday, of which I didn't know it was prepped in such a way that it contained a lot of carbs :( . This probably has happened before on another day (which would explain why my weight went up a little bit again too the day after). So I thought this prep phase was no good and decided to carb up on Friday after I found that out. I will start the prep phase from the beginning again this weekend. Good decision or bad decision? Should I just have kept going?

    Thanks in advance!

  33. Gravatar

    02 Jul, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Terence,

    Start it again. The first time you try a program, you should always follow it to the letter. That's the only way to know how it truly works for you.

  34. Gravatar

    05 Jul, 2012

    Jen

    Sean

    How lean do you need to be already for this to work? I'm female 136 lbs and 21%ish bf?

  35. Gravatar

    05 Jul, 2012

    Terence

    Sean,

    Thanks, that's what I thought. So I guess I did the right thing by starting it over again. Just hope I did it the right way (not to soon after the mess up) Anyway, this time around I'm cooking and prepping all my food so I'm sure of what I'm eating. Not making that mistake again haha..

    Thanks again.

  36. Gravatar

    06 Jul, 2012

    Chris

    Sean,

    What are the rules on Sugar Alcohols? I'm looking into picking up some protein bars for work as meal replacements, but I obviously want to keep them low-carb. A lot of the bars/shakes I'm seeing have a high amount of carbs (between 20 & 30) with little to no sugar nor dietary fiber. However, they are packed with sugar alcohols, so with their minor effect on insulin levels can I consider them to be like fiber and just subtract them from the total amount of carbs? i.e. 30g carbs, 27g sugar alcohols, 3g net carbs...?

    Thanks.

  37. Gravatar

    06 Jul, 2012

    Barry

    Hi Sean, I don't understand why you say that people should wait for cortisol levels to drop before eating. The "cortisol awakening response" occurs in 77% of the population wherein cortisol levels rise by as much as 50% within 30 minutes after waking up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortisol_awakening_response

  38. Gravatar

    06 Jul, 2012

    Chris

    Two more quick question I have....after my workout I find myself making a Casein Protein Shake, and with this back-loading plan I am going to start adding a little bit of ice cream to it, and making a milkshake of sorts (1 scoop casein protein, 1 cup skim milk, 3 scoops ice cream)...Although filling, I still find myself being a little hungry after the shake, so would it be too much to add a bowl of pasta, or some other form of carbs? Or is that too much/over the top?....I try to eat every two-three hours to keep my metabolism up, so two hours after I have my post-workout casein shake I will be eating again. If I elect to eat pasta during this time, should I stick with the fast digesting white pasta, or since it's not immediately afer my workout out should I switch to a bowl of slow digesting whole wheat pasta? Thanks Sean.

  39. Gravatar

    09 Jul, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Jen,

    Just start doing it. Do the calibration first.

    Chris,

    This is discussed in the interview w Kiefer. In short, avoid them.

    Barry,

    You want cortisol to drop before you eat carbs. Otherwise you store them for fat. Without carbs, cortisol is beneficial for fat burning.

  40. Gravatar

    09 Jul, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Chris,

    Don't put ice cream in the shake. Only because the fat will slow down the digestion. You want the shake to be absorbed fast. Later on when time isn't so important you can pound ice cream. Pasta is not ideal—see the Kiefer interviews.

  41. Gravatar

    12 Jul, 2012

    chris

    Hi Sean,

    This blog has been very helpful. I bought the CBL book and have been backloading for about a month. I have gotten much stronger, but haven't seen any body fat reduction. This leads me to the three questions I have for you that may help answer why I am not seeing the results I potentially could.

    1. If I have a few days here and there where I consume carbs regularly through out the day, will my body immediately stop running in a ketogenic manner? And if so, should I start another "Prep Phase"?

    2. I know alcohol and bodybuilding do not go together, but I am still in college and drink a good amount on the weekends. When I do this I make sure I lift hard and heavy first, and drink during the backload portion of the night. Can alcohol be consumed during the backload portion of the night after weight training?

    3. I lift 4 times a week with 2 HIIT cardio sessions mixed in, so I backload 5-6 nights a week. I haven't lost any bodyfat, and may have possibly gained a little. As a result I have been limiting my carb intake after workouts to about 120-180 (I weigh 160 lbs.). Should I be consuming more carbs?

    Thanks for your help.

  42. Gravatar

    12 Jul, 2012

    chris s.

    I just realized there is another "Chris" posting on this same FAQ, so I just want to clarify that the post directly above this is from me, not the Chris with the capital C in earlier posts. From now on I will add an s. to then end of my name to prevent confusion.

  43. Gravatar

    13 Jul, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Chris,

    1. Yes. This is very important. You need to go several days without carbs at all and then only eat the carbs at night when you back-load. This is the whole point.

    2. Sorry man. The booze has got to go. That's going to wreck everything. There's just no way to drink and get lean. Those who can are a VERY lucky few.

    3. Man, you need to re-read the book! The only time you shouldn't skimp on carbs is during the back-load.

    Chris, this is really very easy. But you're breaking the few rules there are to be broken. Do the recalibration phase and start over. Limit the drinking to one or two days a week and keep your intake moderate.

  44. Gravatar

    16 Jul, 2012

    Chris S.

    Thanks for the help!

    After an intense HIIT session, should I back-load, or treat it like an off-day?

  45. Gravatar

    23 Jul, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Chris,

    Do not back-load. It's an off day.

  46. Gravatar

    01 Aug, 2012

    tyler

    Sean,

    I had a question reguarding vegetbales and the cbl diet. I use a juicer quite frequently, and was wondering if I could still "juice" the vegetables that kiefer says are acceptable such as cucumber, tomato, celery, broccoli etc... I know when he discusses eating vegtables it mainly deals with it being acceptable because of the fiber, and juicing gets rid of all the fiber. I was hoping you could answer this for me because its an easy way to get nutrients. Also I could juice the vegetbales at night and eat carbs if that makes more sense? Thanks in advance.

  47. Gravatar

    05 Aug, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Tyler,

    Yes, if you're going to do that I would do it at night. I don't know how Kiefer feels about this though. As you point out, juicing takes out the fiber which is going to make any sugar in your veggies more problematic, but it seems to me like a minor thing. To be safe, I'd do it at night. BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE HIGH-GLYCEMIC CARBS you're supposed to be eating then. Don't substitute.

  48. Gravatar

    08 Aug, 2012

    David

    Hi, Sean!

    I want to buy Kiefer's book, but before I have a pair of doubts that I want to ask you…

    Let's see if I understood well:

    -To start this "Carb back-loading" method for the first time, you have to do the 10 days approach to train your body.
    -You only can eat 30 grams of carbs (only green vegetables) after your work out during the first 9 days.
    -Then, from the 10th day on, you only back-load the days you train with irons (no matter if you train 5 days a week, i guess); and the days you only do cardio, you only can eat 30 grams of carbs (green vegetables) in the evening.
    -You have to avoid the breakfast (the protein intake) until the 9 or 10 AM.

    My questions are:

    1-What about the issue of avoiding the protein intake when you wake up? What about the catabolic effect of your muscles of being 8 hours sleeping without intake protein?

    2-How many months has this diet to last ?

    I'm glad of discovering your blog!

    Best wishes from Barcelona, Spain.

  49. Gravatar

    13 Aug, 2012

    Rick

    Sean,

    I was wondering during the low carb part of the day if I can drink protein shakes. I use a protein called about time which has 0 carbs and uses stevia as the sugar. I thought it would work perfectly because it is 0 carbs and I could use it occasionally during the day to help keep me full and as a snack. I started researching and found that Whey can spike insulin however. Should protein shakes only be used immediately before and after workouts?

  50. Gravatar

    19 Aug, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    David,

    yes,
    30 grams total for the day. Most should come from veg.

    You can have protein right away unless you're training shortly after waking. That can hurt fat burning so don't. You can follow the diet as long as you like. I'd give it a month to really take effect.

    Rick,

    That sounds like a good protein. You can have shakes throughout the day but you have to watch your dose. Whey can raise insulin so have less than a serving and eat something else with it to slow down the digestion. However, if you're doing everything else right, I don't think you need to worry.

  51. Gravatar

    31 Aug, 2012

    Chirs

    Sean,
    What protocol would you suggest using for someone who uses Crossfit type workouts, Carb Nite or CBL? My goal is fat lose while building lean muscle.

  52. Gravatar

    01 Sep, 2012

    Pasquale

    Sean, Thanks for all the great info ( you've mentioned this before but Grabby a lifting partner to smack you keeps you honest during those days when you may get week during the prep phase)

    QUESTION: I Really like taking SuperPum Max or the low carb pre work out. I just seem to get a better workout in and more intensity during my work out. Is a scoop and half of SuperPump Max gonna effect CBL? Thanks

  53. Gravatar

    05 Sep, 2012

    Cainoooo



    Hi sean, heres one i havnt seen posted yet,
    Alcohol? Can we have a night on the vodka soda waters? There 60 cals per serve and the cals are from alcohol or will that wreck the keto phase, also, while where on the back load, coz really im 23 and got a lot more partying ahead of me!? And only once per week or 2 weeks!

  54. Gravatar

    05 Sep, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Chirs,

    I don't think Kiefer approves of CrossFit and he warns about using Back-loading for it in his book. I would do a modified back-load just carb up post workout.


    Pasquale,

    I don't know what the carb count is in that product, but keep it low. If you don't come near 30 grams, it should be fine.

    Cainooo,

    I would drink as little as possible. Back-loading nights would be best for it but it will still hurt. One or two drinks but no more. That's my advice.

  55. Gravatar

    06 Sep, 2012

    Cainoooo

    Thanks sean! Yeah im not a big drinker as it is, but to keep my sanity And not isolate myself from social situations and to hav a normal conversation lol, what sort of problems does it have for the program, do people treat it as a carb feed or do they treat it as a bad thing for gains and start prep phase again? Thanks again!!

  56. Gravatar

    06 Sep, 2012

    Chaz

    Hey Sean,

    I've started the prep phase and im on day 9 - I am getting ready tmrw night to do the first carb backload which is going to be a big relief :).

    I have one question - over and over in his E-book Kiefer talks about not eating pasta - however pasta is literally my FAVORITE dish and I dont think i could give it entirely up - if im eating maybe white pasta or rice pasta or something would that be ok?

    Thanks in advance!

  57. Gravatar

    16 Sep, 2012

    Mike

    If I finish a workout around 6pm, I know I should immediately have a protein drink with some fast digesting carbs, but is there a specific amount of time I should wait before really pounding the carbs? Or can I just go at it right after my workout for the rest of the night, getting protein in as I go?

    Thanks for a great interactive site!

  58. Gravatar

    17 Sep, 2012

    MICHAEL

    I typically workout on my lunch hour from 11:30 to 12:30 with a four day split with wednesdays and fri and sat off. What would be the best way to carb back load with that kind of workout schedule?

  59. Gravatar

    22 Sep, 2012

    Jack

    whats wrong with eating fruits during the day, dont they have some carbs and more importantly, fiber to keep u fuller, thanks

  60. Gravatar

    07 Oct, 2012

    Stefano

    I have been doing CBL for DB for about a month now. I have fallowed the book and I am averaging 400 grams a day and lifting 6 days a week/heavy. I am getting fatter. I lost 10 lbs during the 10 ULC (192 around 10% BF TO 182 8% or so BF) Now I am 186 but my abs are not showing as well, more fat around chest and my pants don't fit as well. What should I do?

  61. Gravatar

    28 Oct, 2012

    Wes

    I normally do the coffee/coconut oil/heavy cream thing, and stay extremely low carb until after I train. That's usually between 2-4 in the afternoon and I have my first carb meal around 4pm or so. I have no problem destroying a couple hundred grams of carbs in the next couple hours. But I used to eat a cup of full fat Greek Yogurt and maybe some almond butter at night before bed. Once I've gotten my carbs in for the day, and am several hours past the post workout period, is this high protein/fat, low carb meal cool, or should I still be focusing on carbs until sleep?

  62. Gravatar

    30 Oct, 2012

    Paletasala

    Sean just wandering if carbnite works for The (German volume training)because i want to get big and stay lean , body fat is 14%

  63. Gravatar

    30 Oct, 2012

    rehan

    Hi sean

    I use to weigh 21 stone(mostly fat) and I've dropped most of it through a low carb diet, mma training and various team beachbody workouts like p90x and insanity, after a while i raised my carbs throughout the day and after training.

    Now im weighing at 12 stone, what i really wanted to know is how critical is the 10 day recalibration phase for me because I've basically followed that plan as a diet for when i first started on the weight loss(low carb)
    I'm on day 3 of the recalibration any ways should i continue to day 10?

    Also is mma training, boxing wrestling 4 times a week with p90x everyday enough to backload on or should i switch to weightlifting?

    Thank you for your time sir

  64. Gravatar

    01 Nov, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Wes,

    I think you're doing it right. If you train that early, eat carbs for five or so hours after, but then taper them off at night. I think you're risking fat gain if you purposely keep gorging. A, I don't think you'll enjoy forcing the carbs down for that long a period, and B, I think it will fatten you up.

    I certainly wouldn't worry about carbs at night, however. If you want to eat greek yogurt or almond butter—foods that have some carbs—go ahead. You can afford it after training.

  65. Gravatar

    01 Nov, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Patelesana,

    That's a good question. I'm going to guess that Carb Nite is a bad combination with GVT. All that volume demands recovery, and recovery demands carbs (at least over the long term).

    Use Carb Nite with more conventional weight plans. I think CBL would be better for GVT.

  66. Gravatar

    01 Nov, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Rehan, I think you can begin back-loading. good luck.

  67. Gravatar

    10 Nov, 2012

    Joe

    I read in the book that you're not necessarily carb loading for the workout you just completed but rather storing glycogen for tomorrow's workout.

    If I know I'm going to take off tomorrow shouldn't I not carb backload after the gym tonight and do it tomorrow night for a full glycemic tank to use the day after my off day?

    Sorry if this sounds confusing!

  68. Gravatar

    28 Nov, 2012

    Mike

    Sean, sorry if it's been asked before. Would vegetables count towards the 30 grams of carbs I'm allowed for the day while I'm running the 10 day no carb stage? Can I eat as many veggies as I'd like?

  69. Gravatar

    28 Feb, 2013

    chad aharon

    Sean does this look good for backload days?

    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

  70. Gravatar

    01 Mar, 2013

    silas

    Heavy weights are key to cbl but I am going on a month or 2 of bodyweight only training.
    Now after my bodyweight training I am sore and all muscle trained are just as sore as if I had used heavy weights but does this still mean I cannot use cbl? and why? if so.

  71. Gravatar

    05 Mar, 2013

    Garrett

    I was just wondering how many calories you're suppose to be taking in for the first 10 days during carb depletion. Should you be taking in more protein to make up for the carbs that you're not getting for those days?

  72. Gravatar

    18 Mar, 2013

    Nick

    Hi, i have been doing the CBL diet for around 3 weeks now. I did the 10 day prep phase and lost 5 pound during this phase.
    I train 3 to 4 times a week heavy and backload from around 6 till bed which is around 10:30.
    I am aiming at around 300 grams carbs after training but im not really seeing good results. I am a bricklayer by trade so i do a lot of manual work, will this affect my progress?
    Also i attended my brothers wedding last weekend and drank a lot of beer from early afternoon, do i need to do the prep phase again?

  73. Gravatar

    06 May, 2013

    steven.fisher

    I can't see difference between Back-loading and CKD (Cyclic ketogenic diet)? Could you point out the difference? Thanks.

  74. Gravatar

    10 Jun, 2013

    Dominic

    Hey,
    Great article, really enjoyed it and the responses to the questions.

    This may sound stupid, but would carbs from Cottage cheese be counted towards the 30g?

  75. Gravatar

    19 Jun, 2013

    Tommy

    It's possibile play calistenics barstarz style + CBL??

  76. Gravatar

    26 Jun, 2013

    Andrew Yanik

    Sean -

    I have read a lot that says high glycemic is more effective for the backload, which I understand. Yet, for a backload before a morning session, the carbs cannot be too high glycemic because of the change in workout time. Would it be advantageous to only backload the nights when I can have (pizza, pie, ice cream, donuts, pancakes) before an afternoon session the next day? Therefore, not backload nights before morning sessions and simply have proteins/fats (keto style).

    Thanks

  77. Gravatar

    30 Jun, 2013

    davey

    hi there sean quick question regarding the weight gaining process. im 5ft 5in weighin 140 pounds im fairly toned but trying to build on muscle mass not to fussed about size as i have 10% body fat would the 30gram rule still apply for someone like me looking for fast results,also what supplements would u recommend i am currently using: whey isolate protein with peanut butter flaxseeds and coffee and milk i am plannin on getting coconut oil soon, i also use creatine are these supps ok to use before and after work outs, if not what else would u recommend.

    im sorry one last question in regards to food, how frequent ly should you be eating whilst carb loading on a day to day basis 3/4 or 4/5 portions a day then pig out on carbs after?

  78. Gravatar

    04 Jul, 2013

    Kieran

    Sean, sorry if this has been answered and I know it's an old post. But really simply:

    I think I'm not great at tolerating carbs (don't feel that lean morning after) What should I do?
    I realise that Kiefer says that fat's not too much to worry about post training but if I reduce my carbs my fat's gonna have to go way up to account for the other calories.

    Currently @ 155lb, training day aims:
    195g protein
    285g carbs
    45g fat
    This is about 2300 calories.

    Again, I realise Kiefer says not to worry too much about cals but I find it easier to keep control this way. Was thinking of dropping carbs down to 200g but I'll be having about 90g of fat to keep calories the same!

    Decrease carbs, raise fat or just decrease carbs?

    Any help would be much appreciated!!

    Kieran

  79. Gravatar

    03 Sep, 2013

    Anthony L

    Great article. Question: I want to try CBL. I play ice hockey Thurs and Sunday evening. My work schedule Mon Tue and Wed is 2-10P, so I must train in the AM on those day. I weight train on weekdays I don't skate.
    What do you think would be the most productive CBL schedule to attain fatloss and be able to have energy stores for hockey on those 2 nights?

    Thanks
    Anthony
    Florida

  80. Gravatar

    08 Jan, 2014

    Jim B

    SEAN;
    I AM 58 YEARS OLD AND HAVE BEEN WORKING OUT WITH WEIGHTS RELIGOUSLY FOR THE LAST 12 MONTHS. I WAS 235 LBS AND 5'9". I AM CURRENTLY 198 LBS AND 13%BODY FAT. I HAVE INCREASED MY SHOULDER WIDTH BY 4 INCHES, MY BICEPS BY 2 INCHES AND MY THIGHS BY 3 INCHES AND WENT FROM A 36 INC WAIST TO A 33 INCH WAIST. I AM IN THE LOADING PHASE DAY 6 AND FEEL GREAT. I'VE BEEN KEEPING MY CARB COUNT TO AROUND 20 GRAMS A DAY. I WANT TO ENTER A BODYBUILDING CONTEST IN END OF APRIL. HAVE ALREADY LOST 6 LBS ON LOADING PHASE. WILL BACKLOADING GET ME TO A CLOSE BODYFAT LEVEL FOR COMPETITION ASSUMING I MAY HAVE TO CUT WATER AND SODIUM ADDITIONALLY AS DAY OF COMPETITION GETS CLOSER. I HAVE ABOUT 15 WEEKS

  81. Gravatar

    10 Jan, 2014

    mark

    Hi Sean,

    If i train from monday to friday.

    Do i Backload monday, tuesday, wednesday and thursday then?

    Is it no problem to backload so many days in a row?

    I Think i'm at 12% bodyfat right now, following CBL for a while now, but it seems like i'm stuck at 12%

    Really want to go the 9-10% bodyfat.

    Do i have to do more cardio? Because i only do cardio on rest days now

  82. Gravatar

    11 Feb, 2014

    Jason

    I was wondering how much carbs I should eat post workout and whether chocolate milk is good for backloading? Let me know Sean. Thanks.

  83. Gravatar

    27 Feb, 2014

    Andrew Cabello

    I work shifts from 4am to about 2 pm. I train varying from mid day to early evening depending on how I feel. I want to try carb backloading, but I am not sure how to get it done. I am a crossfit athlete so my training is intense and my job is very physically demanding. I need to know how to backload and what is the best way to put on lean muscle without added fat.

  84. Gravatar

    02 Apr, 2014

    conrad

    Hi Sean
    Really enjoyed reading all the question and answers on the site, I'm currently doing the prep phase, I had a few sandwiches over the first 3 days made with soya and linseed bread but was still about 35gs of carbs
    but I read you should only get the carbs from veg sources, should I start again or is the bread okay, also i do night shift every 2 weeks which would mean i train at 3pm and work from 8.30pm/7am
    so would i just have a hi gi shake with protein after the gym and then just backload late at night while i work, i have just started IF so would fast after the shake till later

  85. Gravatar

    07 Apr, 2014

    Your Name

    if u have already answered this, im still not understanding...sorry. I am switching from straight ketogenics and trying to incorporate backloading. The thing is, im not sure how to schedule it. Im an endurance athlete ( a marathon runner) so my morning " training" sessions do not always consist of strength training. I will either power lift for 1 hr in am or i may run for 2 hrs. Will backloading the night before sustain me for an endurance session? To add to the confusion, 2x per week i strength train in am and then i run in the pm. I get the am part for strength training. Just wake up, have coffee, and make sure i train within 12 hrs of the beginning of sleep but does this apply if my am session is long duration endurance. I havent found any info about endurance running ( which is NOT cardio) and backloading but have seen lots of info about endurance sports and ketosis. I need carbs because i am losing too much weight and just need to know when to eat.

  86. Gravatar

    15 Jun, 2014

    oli

    hi.

    I´ve been on the preperation stage now for six days. i exedentially had more then 30 carbs over the day. What should i do ?
    should i start over ?

    i´m 1,94 m. tall and 93 kilos.

    Best Regards.

  87. Gravatar

    15 Jun, 2014

    oli

    Sorry, here again.

    I had propably around 25-40 carbs.

    I have also been snacking slightly on
    rapunzel 85% chocolate which has small amount
    of carbs. but always under 30 carbs a day, but i havent counted the carbs from vegetables.
    I´ve been around 10 carbs a day which i´ve counted.

  88. Gravatar

    22 Jun, 2014

    Stephen

    Hi Sean,

    I am on day 4 of the prep phase and screwed up and had more than 30 carbs, more like 120 carbs. Does that put me back to day 1 or can I just keep it real strict for the next 4 to 6 days?

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