Sean Hyson

Fitness Distilled

July/August 2015

The Renegade Diet Vs. Carb Back-loading

posted on April 30, 2012
written by sean hyson

I’ve gotten several questions about Jason Ferruggia’s Renegade Diet and Kiefer’s Carb Back-loading plan. How do the two compare? Which is better? And so on. Let’s look at both of them.


Both involve a period of fasting (Renegade Diet is, admittedly, a kind of intermittent fasting—IF). That is, going several waking hours without food in order to arouse the sympathetic nervous system, cause the release of fatty acids for energy, and stimulate growth hormone (among many other benefits).

Both entail eating most, if not all, of your carbohydrates for the day in the afternoon/evening. Apart from a small amount of carbs post-workout if you train in the morning, you’ll eat mainly meats and vegetables until around 4–6 p.m. (this is the ideal scenario). You’ll then train, consume a post-workout shake, and eat carbs liberally along with protein and some fats until bed.

Both warn about the insulin-stimulating properties of eggs and whey protein, and recommend similar supplements like BCAAs, whey, and caffeine.

The diet that fights the book


The main one has to be that Ferruggia’s plan does not allow for junk food, while Kiefer’s encourages it in some cases. While I wouldn’t say that Carb Back-Loading is inherently unhealthy, Renegade Diet is much more health-focused. Ferruggia talks extensively about the use of digestive enzymes to ensure proper assimilation of food, the importance of organic, grass-fed meat over the conventional kind, and emphasizes getting your carbs from whole-food sources like sweet potatoes. Rice and oats are not high on his list because of the digestive difficulties they have the potential to cause.

Kiefer doesn’t discuss these topics at any length, and I don’t think this makes his approach more dangerous, but there’s little or nothing you can say can cause ill-health about Ferruggia’s method. Knowing Jay very well, I can tell you that he’s personally combated many digestive problems over the years and is very sensitive to how foods effect him. If you don’t do well with lactose, gluten, soy, or grains, Jay’s way should appeal to you. He’s given a lot of thought to how to get around these problems.

With all this said, Kiefer’s back-loading has to be more fun. Ice cream, pizza, and fast food are all perfectly acceptable WHEN CONSUMED AT THE RIGHT TIME. It seems like common sense that eating these kinds of foods regularly would be disastrous to health, but read his book and you’ll see why they’re permissible. Kiefer has assured me that none of his clients have gotten any bad news when they’ve had their bloodwork done, and neither did I when I got mine tested recently—and I’ve been back-loading consistently for the past year. I’m also approximately as lean and as strong as I’ve ever been, and I feel absolutely fine.

In the case of morning training, Back-loading and Renegade both recommend taking some carbs in after training. Even the amount the two experts prescribe is similar. Beforehand though, Ferruggia likes to take coffee and BCAAs. Kiefer agrees on the coffee but strongly disagrees about BCAAs, saying they’ll spike insulin and limit fat burning. Who is right? As with so many arguments in the fitness/nutrition world, there is evidence for both sides, but MY PERSONAL TAKE is to go with Kiefer on this one and play it safe. Unless your training loads are extreme and your workout is long, I don’t think BCAAs will do so much to prevent muscle breakdown that they’re worth the chance of putting the brakes on fat burning. Training fasted with no nutritional interference makes fat burn like crazy for fuel, and I’m certain it’s been essential in keeping me as lean as I am while eating as much junk as I do at night. The lack of pre-workout BCAAs hasn’t cost me anything as far as I’m concerned. I feel the same as I ever did after a hard training session and I’m still making smooth gains.

That’s about it as far as the scientific differences in the two protocols. The fact that Ferruggia and Kiefer agree on, I’d say, 90% of the main points—and the fact that many other IF proponents do as well—makes me think they’re really on to something. That, of course, and the results I’ve seen for myself. As far as how each product—the two e-books themselves—are laid out, there are a few more differences.

Hello... My name is Carb Back-loadingcover

Kiefer’s book is heavy on science with plenty of charts, graphs, and references. Ferruggia spares the layman that kind of work and explains things quickly and colloquially. Ferruggia gives you more detailed macros to shoot for, more meal plans, and specific tips on how to diet for leanness. Carb Back-loading’s primary focus is getting stronger and bigger while staying lean, and not so much a means to maximum leanness, so in this regard it’s like comparing apples and oranges. If you’re very heavy with a lot of fat to lose, I might go Ferruggia’s route. If you don’t have much dietary discipline, no major digestive issues to speak of, and you want to get bigger, I would probably recommend Kiefer’s stuff.


I’m not picking a favorite because the plans aren’t in head-to-head competition with each other. They’re simply two smart and effective versions of the fasting/carbs-at-night concept, and I’ve seen great results with both of them. If I had to stick my neck out, I’d say Renegade Diet is the safer, healthier pick between the two, and will get anyone lean in a hurry. Carb Back-loading is more lenient, more fun, and probably better suited to helping you pack on size.

For more information, read my Renegade Diet review HERE.


Read my interview with Kiefer on this site and listen to it on


Pick up the Renegade Diet HERE. Pick up Carb Back-loading HERE.


And look out for my coming e-book, the 2012 Buyer’s Guide To the Best Training and Nutrition Programs, where I look at both of these plans in great detail.




  1. Gravatar

    30 Apr, 2012


    Great comparison ...was hoping someone was going to do this.....I agree with what you said sean, if your already somewhat lean I would go with kiefers plan, if you not go with Ferruggias plan which is much more strict. Personally I love kiefers Carb back loading...for one thing, I feel much better when I don't eat carbs during the day, which tend to make me sluggish and what's great is that I have so much motivation to workout because I know I can eat anything and everything and not feel guilty about it....recommend it

  2. Gravatar

    30 Apr, 2012


    To be fair, Kiefer does have "Carb Nite Solution" for those looking to lean out. Also, he does mention that you should avoid gluten while using CBL'ing so he doesn't totally disregard health implications

  3. Gravatar

    01 May, 2012


    Nice article Sean. How long has usually passed for you between your nighttime meal and your fasted morning workout?

  4. Gravatar

    01 May, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    you're right. But I wasn't going to delve into Carb Nite in this post, and while he does discuss gluten, his book isn't nearly as focused on digestion as Ferruggia's.


    I'm usually done eating at 10 and up to train at 7:30.

  5. Gravatar

    01 May, 2012

    Nigel Smith

    ? on Carb-Back-Loading.

    If I have read correctly, I have 2 hours to eat whatever I want after working out in the evening, correct? If I finish working out at 6pm, when should my last bit of "junk food" be?

  6. Gravatar

    02 May, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    There's no definitive answer to this but I think it's safe to say you could eat just about anything you want for the first hour afterward and then keep carbs high as the night goes on. The way to tell if this is ok or not is to check the mirror the next morning. If you haven't slept off the bloat, you overdid it.

  7. Gravatar

    03 May, 2012


    On non workout days do u avoid carbs all together? So Monday/Tuesday's I lift and break on Wednesday's, do I still eat carbs as normal at night or do I avoid carbs till Thursday evening post workout?

  8. Gravatar

    04 May, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    Yes. You're supposed to only eat carbs on nights after training, or before a morning session. Otherwise, on off days, you wouldn't carb up. HOWEVER, I've experimented with back-loading almost every night regardless and found that I can still stay lean. It's up to you.

  9. Gravatar

    07 May, 2012

    Rolando Q

    Thank you for the great article Sean. Sometimes these things get me confused. For example I wake up at 5 am Mon, Wed , Fri. Then on Tue and Thurs I train grappling,jeet kune do, and Kali from 7-10. When should I eat carbs?? So lost....

  10. Gravatar

    07 May, 2012



    I think another difference between the two is on Carb Backloading there is a prep phase, which needs to be done before starting and possibly every time when falling of the diet for even a short time.

    To my understanding the Renegade Diet has no prep phase and when falling of the diet, you can get right right back on.

  11. Gravatar

    07 May, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Rolando, are you training martial arts 7–10 a.m. or p.m.? Kiefer has ways of using back-loading for sports performance rather than physique, but I'm not very familiar with them. My guess is you can back-load after an intense session even though it's really intended for after lifting.

    Eugene, that is correct.

  12. Gravatar

    07 May, 2012

    Your Name

    7 PM TO 10 PM, sorry i saw that after i wrote it pretty vague. You see it my schedule is really weird.So my wife is always on my ass about spending time with the family.So i try to work out at 5 am on Mon,Wed, and Fri with weights , about 20 mins of cardio and 15 mins of stretching. On Tues and Thrusday nights I train Martial Arts (Grappling,Jeet Kune do, Kali Silat) from 7pm to 10 pm. Pretty High intensity. I was leaning More towards Jason's diet since i am a bigger guy trying to lose. I dont really want to get any bigger. I am about 260 and I will get to 200.

  13. Gravatar

    07 May, 2012

    Rolando Q

    oops that was me^^^^

  14. Gravatar

    08 May, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    In your situation, I would recommend Renegade Diet. I linked to it on this page.

  15. Gravatar

    08 May, 2012

    Rolando Q

    Cool thanks Sean that is what i was thinking too. Do you know if this e book can be downloaded to an I Pad?

  16. Gravatar

    08 May, 2012


    Hello, I was reading what I believe was the original M&F article on carb back loading.;col1 On page 2, it seems to state that one who wants to gain muscle without adding fat should still carb back load on off days. This is the part of the diet that I still can't seem to get straight. I really want to try this as I feel I've been doing the conventional bodybuilding diet forever, and have yet to see the results I feel I should with how much thought, time and energy I put in. It's kind of depressing. Please help. :-)

  17. Gravatar

    09 May, 2012


    Oh yeah, my question is whether or not to back load on off days. I've seen some back and forth about it.

  18. Gravatar

    09 May, 2012


    Hi Sean, am I right to say that whey protein pre-workout is not allowed on CBL, while casein is? How about a whey and casein blend? If so, I would not be able to take advantage of the antioxidant benefits of whey protein that Kiefer alludes to in the interview, as I only take protein shakes in the morning. But then again, I guess I'd be covered adequately by fruits and vegetables.

  19. Gravatar

    10 May, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Not sure. don't think it can.

    Kiefer says no. I have done it and haven't gotten any fatter yet, so I think it depends on how well you tolerate carbs. Experiment.

    It's not that whey isn't allowed, it's that it spikes insulin, so you need a small amount or something else to slow down the digestion. The casein is a good idea.

  20. Gravatar

    18 May, 2012

    Nate Miyaki

    Great post Sean. Both of these guys combine science with practical experience = rare in our industry. Can't go wrong with either one, and I like how you present it as simply finding which approach works best for the individual.

  21. Gravatar

    21 May, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Thanks, Nate.

  22. Gravatar

    22 May, 2012

    stacy neary

    Hello everyone, i was totally amazed how CBL handles those high calorie foods like pizza, ice creams and etc, to be incorporated on his diet plan, i think i would try to obtain one copy of that of CBL to know the answer, or anyone can answer me in here?

  23. Gravatar

    28 May, 2012

    Sean Hyson

    Stacy, click on the link above and it will take you to where you can buy the back-loading e-book.

  24. Gravatar

    07 Jun, 2012


    Great review. So it's seems what it comes down to is "know the self". I've read several reviews on CBL and some do this and some do that but they all claim to get great results. But what's common is using fat as fuel in the morning...which is basically your 40 year old bodybuilding diet. High fat low carb...keep it whole foods regardless of what you eat and if things get out of hand taper back. Your thoughts?

  25. Gravatar

    13 Jun, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    100% agree.

  26. Gravatar

    17 Jun, 2012


    Hi Sean

    Is the prep-phase 100% needed . I've been cycling carbs for awhile now and went ~50g carbs for 7 days before that. I'm at around 12% at 79kg and want to lean bulk. Also oats ( I love them ) can I use them around 5pm after my shake them go high gi carbs from then till bed, or would they be to slow release . I hit bed about 9:30pm

    Thanks in advance

  27. Gravatar

    19 Jun, 2012


    Hi Sean,

    I started IF 8 weeks ago basically following Martin's (the Godfather of IF) protocols for BCAA's. I supplement my workout by taking 2 scoops of Modern BCAA during my workout hour. After reading your article comparison, I might need to change this in order to max. fat burning. Does Jason or Kiefer mention the use of Jack3d pre-workout?

  28. Gravatar

    19 Jun, 2012


    HI there...I am a 38 yr. old mommy of two...not your normal blog follower I'm sure. But just needing some advice. I am 5'11" and have already lost around 70 lbs. My current weight is 175, which is in my "normal" weight range, but my fat % is still around 30 (eek!)...but it WAS 47% (double eek!). I still think I could stand to lose another 10-15 lbs, and I definitely want/need to tone, and increase muscle development I'm sure. I am realistic about my results, and do not expect to have the body of a fitness model. When you have been extremely overweight, AND had two babies (and two c-sections!) there is damage done to the body that cannot be undone. Some of the "before" pictures you have shown of people display bodies that are better than what my "after" pictures might end up being, but I'm ok with that. I just need to know... in my case, would you suggest the Renegade diet? or the CBL diet? And any suggestions for pursuing either, with my history and future goals in mind? My goals are to more fat, and really shape up my muscle as much as possible. Not usually a fan of the "low carb" approach (but interested in the concept of carbs in the evening), and am intrigued by the science behind these particular diets - even though it seems to go against everything i've ever known and heard about nutrition and fitness. Thank you so much for your input!

  29. Gravatar

    20 Jun, 2012


    Great Review!!

    Few Questions:
    1 - what type of training is being done? (met/circuits, low reps, etc) or does this not matter? Cardio at all?
    2 - Calories in vs. Calories out still holds true, correct? Or is the special sauce of this program breaking that idea?
    3 - If getting lean is your goal, what does a night of meals look like when you don't lift, just small/moderate carb intake? (to fuel for tomorrow's workout)

  30. Gravatar

    20 Jun, 2012


    Sorry - just saw you pretty much answered my third question, it calls for no carb-loading but you have done it and it worked for you...i will just experiment. thanks

  31. Gravatar

    01 Jul, 2012


    i am a little skeptic about this
    i know people who eat just once a day in the afternoon and they are fat

  32. Gravatar

    07 Jul, 2012



    That's probably because they don't work out. Lifting heavy weights 3 days a week fasted is a major reason why this works

  33. Gravatar

    07 Jul, 2012


    If you use natural peanut butter with whey around nine A.M. will that help balance the insulin spike. Also do you need to go low carb all day for a period before you start thanks.

  34. Gravatar

    07 Jul, 2012


    Sorry I was talking about carb backloading thanks.

  35. Gravatar

    09 Jul, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    You can skip the prep. Don't eat the oats first.


    They don't mention Jacked. I don't use it myself.


    Based on what you've written here I'd go with Renegade Diet. It's not as intense and more conservative. Let me know how it goes.


    Heavy training. Circuits/Crossfit stuff is not enough. Bodybuilding, powerlifting, or strongman type workouts are best for back-loading and Renegade.

    Calories in/out still applies but hormones are more important. You can eat more calories than you burn and not gain fat. You can eat lots of carbs at night and not gain as much weight as you would eating them in the morning.

    low carb when not training

  36. Gravatar

    09 Jul, 2012


    I read recent articles of Kiefer about IF. Found them very interesting. In particular re the fasting. no more than 12h - clearly says - for muscle building. That I guess is big difference between Renegade Diet and CBL.

  37. Gravatar

    09 Jul, 2012


    I am a female who has been working out forever (years) and have just hit a permanent plateau. My body has become so adaptable at everything I throw at it, it just adjusts.

    However, I have been seeing a little result with carb cycling. I really think it has to do with my insulin even though I eat really well and am very dedicated to a clean diet. However, I am now thinking that the whey and eggs are tripping me up. Eggs have been my main source of protein. What do you think?

    I have read every fitness program out there. I own most of the ones you have listed in your comparative book. I don't have Renegade however. I am going to try doing this because this is how I normally eat. Still....worried about carbs at night. I seem to get fatter when I eat before bed even though I am ravenous at 9pm since I was a kid.


  38. Gravatar

    10 Jul, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    I think switching from eggs is a good idea. As far as eating at night, it's a mental block. I had it too. I promise you, if you're anything like 99% of the rest of back-loaders I've talked to, you will have NO PROBLEM whatsoever with carbs at night. Just make sure you train hard beforehand. And you don't have to eat junk. Well-cooked sweet potatoes and white rice are fine.

    Fat? Not likely

  39. Gravatar

    12 Jul, 2012


    I want to do the carb backloading as i am not a good eater at all. But i guess im wanting some guidence as to how i should actually go about when i should carb backload... i know it says after an intense workout but im doing the tapout xt workouts which last about an hour long after i wake up which is about 3pm and this is 6 times a week i start sundays and take saturdays off(i work nights) do i still keep my carbs down during the time im awake? I try to make it to the gym 3 times a week mon,wed,and friday and atempt to go several hours after i do my tapout workouts if i had to put a time down i would say about 10pm. Then i goto work afterwards and usually in bed by 7 or 8 what kind of carb back loading plan should i have? I.e carb backloading everday except saturday or just on days i lift weights? Should i eat less carbs still during the day or what? Im confused as to what to do!!!
    And by the way i love ur articles they are awesome and very helpful!

  40. Gravatar

    02 Aug, 2012


    Whey protein and eggs are not allow in the carb back loading diet?

  41. Gravatar

    05 Aug, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    Yes they are. They just have to be limited in the low-carb part of the day because of their affect on insulin.

  42. Gravatar

    06 Aug, 2012


    Hi Sean, I've been reading about CBL and I'm pretty confident it would work really well for me. I train using a 3-day split twice a week currently. I've been cutting for about 8 weeks and I think I'm at about 9-10% bodyfat, though I wouldn't be surprised if I'm a bit lower. I do fasted cardio in the morning (either a 30 min. run or 20-30 min HIIT) and I train at around 4pm, sometimes a bit earlier. My training always includes a lot of deadlifting, squatting and the like. My goal when I started cutting was to get to about 7-8% bodyfat and then do a lean bulk. I'm having trouble deciding whether to continue cutting further or to start backloading with a 10 day prep phase. It just seems a bit pointless to continue cutting when backloading seems like it would suit me quite well. It's basically a ketogenic diet through the day isn't it?

  43. Gravatar

    06 Aug, 2012


    I'd just like to add that while I'm not a nutritionist, I am very serious and about my diet and very eager to learn all I can about nutrition and how I can tweak to get results. I am very regimented with my diet, which I think I tend to get quite stressed about. It's difficult to fully enjoy going much of anywhere when I have to plan and pack so much of my food in advance. One thing that really appeals to me about CBL is that it allows you to be much less regimented with meal planning.

  44. Gravatar

    07 Aug, 2012


    Without having purchased the book yet, I've come up with what I think my meal plan should look like for the 10 day prep phase.
    8am - Water, maybe coffee with heavy cream.
    9am - Cardio
    10-11am - Salmon with spinach, olive oil and vinegar
    1-2pm - Turkey with lots of green vegetables and olive oil
    Pre-Workout - 1/2 scoop whey and more coffee
    Post-Workout - 1-2 scoops whey and 1 scoop maltodextrin
    1-2 Hours later - Chicken with lots of green vegetables and olive oil and more coffee
    10-11pm - More meat and veggies or a couple of eggs with cheese and veggies
    Bedtime - the same

    Does this seem like a good way to start it off? I'm not quite sure what to do about the post-workout shake being that it alone contains the 30g of carbs that are allowed during the prep phase.

  45. Gravatar

    08 Aug, 2012


    Is a scoop of whey and a tablespoon of peanut butter ok before bed in the prep phase? The more posts I read, the more questions I have. I'm on the second day of my prep phase and the real difficulty so far is allowing myself to be more liberal with the fats.

  46. Gravatar

    09 Aug, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    You can't have carbs for the first 10 days, so the maltodextrin is no good. Forget the 30g max; aim for 0.

    The pb and whey is fine.

  47. Gravatar

    14 Aug, 2012


    Thanks to you I started CBL (along with Wendler's 5-3-1 training) for the last 2 weeks. Been having eggs & whey protein for breakfast, protein/salads for the day, and hitting carbs hard after intense strength training at night.

    Unfortunately, I've seemed to put on more belly fat. Might be because of all the sugar/junk food Kiefer suggested? Thinking about substituting "junk food" carbs Kiefer suggests with more sweet potato like Ferruggia suggest - your thoughts?

  48. Gravatar

    16 Aug, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    That's one option. But make sure you're doing it right. Did you buy the book? There's more to it than I've outlined here (I can't copy Kiefer's stuff verbatim). The eggs and whey at breakfast could be the problem. They both can raise insulin and ruin fat burning.

    Besides that, try some sweet potatoes and white rice instead of a lot of junk food and experiment.

  49. Gravatar

    22 Aug, 2012


    very awesome comparison, thanks for the review. i've definitely started eating rice after intense workouts. carbs made out to be such the devil (which they can be if you are very overweight).

    i don't really like kiefer's approach to junk food, i lean more towards the once per week/special occassion. eating everyday is more just like a bad habit that needs to be broken (imo).

  50. Gravatar

    23 Sep, 2012


    Is CBL good for vegetarians?It works very good and all of that,but since my options are limited,my food sources become very repetitive.Is that something I should be concerned about?Can you recommend some low carb protein sources for vegetarians on CBL?

  51. Gravatar

    03 Oct, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    It is not recommended for vegetarians. I think if you're vegetarian, you need to find a different way to diet. Just reduced calories overall and slightly less fat. Fewer starches.

  52. Gravatar

    09 Oct, 2012


    Hi Sean, I see that coffee is recommended if doing morning training. However, I am more of a tea lover. Would drinking tea before morning training make any difference? I train in the evening more often though and so I tend to have my cup of tea for my 1st meal. Would any type of plain tea be good? I usually rotate between black, oolong, green and red tea.

  53. Gravatar

    01 Nov, 2012

    Sean Hyson


    Tea is fine but isn't as powerful as coffee.

  54. Gravatar

    12 Dec, 2012


    sean is cottage cheese and peanutbutter fine before bed prep phase

  55. Gravatar

    12 Dec, 2012


    i cant find any almond butter

  56. Gravatar

    12 Dec, 2012


    and if i train at 4pm 12 can i have a meal of protien and veggies and at around 3 another before training?

  57. Gravatar

    12 Dec, 2012


    and i have purchased the book just yesterday still kinda confused

  58. Gravatar

    11 May, 2013



    Doing the Renegade Diet and I workout at noon. So technically not the morning, so I haven't been eating carbs post-workout. However, without these post-workout carbs, I feel like krap, especially on days where I include a little HIIT at the end of my weight lifting workout, which is most days. So the question is: Is it ok to eat post-workout carbs after a noon workout?

  59. Gravatar

    01 Aug, 2013


    How can one diet be "healthier" than the other if, for the most part, assuming the foods aren't laden with ingredients we know for certain to be bad such as trans fats, certain added chemicals, preservatives, etc. all foods eventually break down into macro and micronutrients?

    For some, gluten, like dairy and soy, may be digestive issues but for most it's perfectly fine. Any logical person, not one who believes consumer pseudo-marketing-broscience, can deduce that it is inconclusive if gluten is as really as nutritionally nasty as many purport it to be. And many can tolerate dairy just fine. I don't get it.

    What Carb backloading, the Renegade Diet, and all other extreme eating and carbohydrate manipulation exposure diets attempt to do is offer a solution to fat loss and muscle gain that is better than calories in versus calories out, with macronutrient ratios being of secondary importance.

    With calorie controlled diets it is still possible to eat whatever you want, within reason, so as long as macronutrient and calories are within limits. And with the amount of information available it's fairly easy to set a diet like this up yourself.

  60. Gravatar

    15 Jul, 2014



    Slightly off topic and apologize if covered elsewhere but could you comment about using either of these diets with training in the morning, if you feel the need to eat something afterwards?

    Appreciate any feedback.


  61. Gravatar

    24 Aug, 2014

    Henry Wen


    I'm recently getting great results with CBL.
    And though I train in the morning,I still have my ice cream regularly.(training with a intense powerlifting style four to five times per week)

    My question is:
    Should i change my main carbload source from ice cream into starchy carbs like sweet potatoes in order to progress further,even if i'm doing quite well with ice cream now?

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