What is Carb Backloading? Can It Help You Lose Fat?

John Kiefer created a dieting method called carb backloading (CBL) as an alternative method for fat loss while enjoying the foods that are usually off limits on conventional diet plans. Most diet methods suggest adding carbohydrates at the start of the day and then tapering them off as the day goes on, whereas carb backloading is the reverse: bare minimal carbs being taken in during the day and post training is when the carbs are eaten.

Pile of tasty carbohydrates

The science behind this method revolves around insulin secretion and blood sugar levels. Cortisol, a stress hormone, rises during the night while you sleep and peaks at about 7am. Left alone, it helps you burn fat, but when you eat carbs, cortisol will encourage fat storage, just as is the case with insulin. John Kiefer suggests that after a hard workout is the time to be eating carbs as the muscle glycogen is depleted and cortisol levels are at a much lower level later in the day. By training on ’empty’, carbohydrate wise your body is forced to dip into its energy reserves (fat stores) to fuel the activity.

Now this is where the rest of the carb backloading methodology flies smack in the face of conventional dieting: post workout you are allowed to eat large amounts of carbohydrates but they must be from the high glycaemic index (GI) scale; we are talking insulin spiking white rice, bananas, white potatoes, even cake and ice cream, junk food… the lot. The aim is for 1g of carbs per pound of bodyweight at a minimum.

The structure to the diet is as follows:

  • Step 1: A 10 day 30g cap on carbohydrates. Green veg is allowed but all fibrous carbs are out. Protein should be 1g per 1lb of bodyweight and plenty of healthy fats throughout the day.
  • Step 2: On day 10, eat loads of carbohydrates after your workout (late afternoon or evening).

In a nut shell, on non-training days you abide by the 30g cap, on training days you only have your carbohydrates (as detailed above) post workout. During the first 10 days people state they feel sluggish and tired as the body is forced to fuel the daily activities from body fat and stored glycogen.

This is the basics of carb backloading; with a lot of diets you can see the success stories over the internet and many have had great results losing weight while being able to eat the foods they crave while dieting.

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