Carb Back-Loading Q’s, Kiefer A’s, Part I
written by sean hyson
At long last he speaks! I’ve been promising an exclusive interview with Kiefer, creator of Carb Back-loading, for months now. In fact, I was the first one to sit down with him after his e-book officially launched, but a series of delays kept me from revealing our discussion until now.
Believe me, it was worth the wait.
Kiefer answers all kinds of questions about his controversial diet, and then fields numerous other ones about various general nutrition topics. We spoke for an hour and I walked away with some information that I’m sure is going to blow your mind. I’ve transcribed the entire conversation and will put it up a little at a time over the course of this week. Go to muscleandfitness.com to hear the audio of our discussion.
Go HERE to pick up a copy of Kiefer’s e-book, Carb Back-Loading 1.0.
Sean: One question I see all the time is if [Carb Back-loading] can be done even when your body clock is totally out of whack with the time of day. You say cortisol peaks at 7 a.m., but what if you work nights and go to bed at around 5 a.m.? Would cortisol then rise toward the end of your sleep cycle, even though it’s later in the day—around 1 p.m., maybe—or is it hardwired to rise at 7 a.m.
Kiefer: Some people will sleep in a room without blacking out all the sunlight. In those instances, the body stays pretty close to regular circadian rhythms. Your body will still try to be in tune with sunlight if you’re not blocking out sun. But then you have people who are up all night and then basically make a cave for themselves when they sleep, and there’s not as much research on that. It does shift, but it’s somewhat erratic. I’ve worked with people where it’s appeared to have shifted perfectly with their sleep cycle. So even though they’re waking up at 6 p.m., everything is normal. And then I’ve worked with people where it just didn’t seem to benefit them… I would recommend still doing back-loading as advertised. I would avoid food when you first get up. People in those instances who are the most successful also train right after they get up. So maybe they’re getting up at 7 p.m., training, and then going off to work at night.
Sean: So then that guy’s 7 p.m. is like our 7 a.m.?
Kiefer: Correct. In a way, it makes it nice for those people. They get to enjoy the breakfast foods. [When they get back from work, it’s most people’s breakfast time, and since they’ve already trained] they can have pancakes, [hash browns, other starchy or sugary carbs].
Sean: You say that high-glycemic, insulin-spiking carbs are best at night because they’ll cause insulin to crash before you go to bed and more growth hormone will be released through the night. If we can’t eat carbs during the day, and we’re only allowed sugary or starchy ones at night, is there ANY place in the diet for standard bodybuilding fare like oats and brown rice while back-loading?
Kiefer: No! [laughs]
Sean: You say in the book that sweet potatoes are ok at night. I’m curious because brown rice and oats are generally put in the same category by bodybuilders. But you’re saying brown rice and oats have no place?
Kiefer: That’s correct. I used to think that as well. I just assumed that because they were always put together in conversation that sweet potatoes or yams are low-glycemic, but they’re not. They’re actually medium to high-glycemic. They can work on the back-loading diet. But the brown rice and oats, there’s really no place for them.
Sean: It also depends on how you cook them, right? Just like with bananas, the riper they get, the sweeter. I think the longer you cook a sweet potato, the sweeter it becomes.
Kiefer: That’s exactly right. You could eat a raw sweet potato and get no insulin reaction.
Sean: And whole fruit then goes by the same logic?
Kiefer: It depends on the fruit. Really ripe bananas and grapes are really high-glycemic. Mangoes are pretty good.
Sean: So if I’m a strict back-loader then, apples, pears, and blackberries are going to have little to no appearance in my diet?
Kiefer: Maybe some berries. I’d definitely stay away from apples, pears. Citrus fruits are ok. You can include fruit but it shouldn’t be the main source of your carbs.
Sean: Back-loading aside, are we losing anything nutritionally by not including fruit in our diet? Should we eventually work them into the diet, or can we back-load indefinitely?
Kiefer: There’s not anything in fruit that you can’t get from the vegetables you’re allowed to eat in the first half of the day on back-loading. I’m assuming, and I recommend it in the book, that there’s quite a bit of vegetable consumption going on in the low-carb part of the day. People should barely even need a multivitamin if they’re eating properly.
Sean: I was aghast to read that pasta is a so-called “horrible” carb to eat post-workout, even at the ideal training time [between 3 and 6 p.m.]. You mention gluten-sensitivity as being a reason for that, which is a good point, but you also say pasta is not high-glycemic, which flies in the face of everything else I’ve ever heard.
Kiefer: It’s not very high-glycemic, but again I’m assuming people are cooking it al dente. If you cook it so long that it becomes a mush, then it is higher-glycemic. But it’s still not as good of a choice as an extremely ripe banana.
Sean: I think you recommended pasta for carb ups in [your earlier book] The Carb Nite Solution.
Kiefer: I did. At the time, my education wasn’t quite as in depth as it is now. Until recently I thought the whole gluten-sensitivity thing was just in people’s heads, but now I’ve seen quite a bit of research that suggests that as many as 50% of people have it and it’s a major problem.
Sean: If that’s out, then what are your top 5 carb choices on a back-load?
Kiefer: White rice, white potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes, corn.
Sean: No cherry turnovers?
Kiefer: [laughs] I was going for whole foods, but if you want to open the door up, then yes, turnovers, cookies. Ice cream is an excellent one. That was the first carb back-loading food.
Sean: You say that you shouldn’t back-load on your off days unless you’re planning to train the next morning. You say this will allow for an even greater insulin spike when you take your post-workout nutrition the next morning. Can you explain why that is?
Kiefer: We know that what you eat several hours or even a day before can affect how your body responds to food the next day, and even potentially through the week. So they did studies where they tested certain types of carbohydrates with different insulin responses before they went to bed and then in the morning they would do a similar cross-battery of tests of carbohydrates and gylcemic loads and if you eat high inulinotropic carbs before bed, your body will respond even more strongly to insulin to any carb you eat the next morning.
Sean: That’s interesting, because a lot of us think of every morning as starting fresh.
Kiefer: If you’re training in the morning, you have a very small window to get a very big insulin spike with as few carbs as possible. So in that instance it’s very important to eat the high-glycemic carbs before bed to get as much of an insulin response as possible.
Sean: So if I train two mornings back to back, I should eat carbs the night before that first training session, back-load that first training day, and then not back-load the evening of the second training day.
Kiefer: That is correct. You’re always eating not so much to recover from your workout as to prepare for the next day’s workout. Those carbs become glycogen for the next session.
Sean: You seem to indicate that training fasted, or on just coffee, is best if training first thing in the morning. So if I train in the morning, should I not have the AM Accelerator Shake you recommend in the book—coconut oil and whey—and why not?
Kiefer: No, and my answer is based on a lack of knowledge. If you train fasted first thing in the morning, the upregulation of growth factors for muscle is double what it is if you were to eat before the training session.
Sean: We’ve discussed this before and you’ve said that that information is based on only one study. Have you read any more on that since?
Kiefer: I unfortunately haven’t. But it’s better safe than sorry.
Sean: You mean it would be better to train totally fasted than to even have a little bit of coconut oil before?
Kiefer: As far as I know, yes.
Sean: I would think the coconut oil would be beneficial, and give you a quick energy boost.
Kiefer: Well, that could be the problem. It might be the introduction of any exogenous fuel source that might change that reaction.
Sean: So the AM Accelerator Shake is really for guys who are going to train later in the day like you’re ideally supposed to. But you bag that if you have to train in the morning?
Kiefer: That’s correct.
Sean: While we’re on the subject, the AM Accelerator Shake recipe in the book calls for one gram of MCT oil. I figure that had to be a misprint.
Kiefer: It’s supposed to say one tablespoon. One tablespoon of MCT oil is 100% MCTs, and coconut oil is only about 70%, so MCT oil is more optimal.
Sean: You mention that when training in the morning, Vivarin or another caffeine supplement would be better than coffee. You make a strong argument for drinking coffee throughout the book, so I’m wondering why Vivarin gets the preference in this case.
Kiefer: When you’re trying to use caffeine in the morning to mimic the circadian rhythm that allows for the perfect training time, you’re trying to suppress the insulin sensitivity in your cells. The caffeine alkaloids in Vivarin have a stronger effect than coffee. It’s a matter of potency. You can add caffeine powder to your coffee too.
Sean: When you give these coffee recommendations, you’re talking about one to two cups, right?
Kiefer: That’s correct.