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Carb Backloading – How Does It Work?

Gaining traction in recent years, Carb Backloading is an up-and-coming dietary approach. Rather than prohibiting foods such as cake, donuts and cheeseburgers, the carb backloading diet defies common rules of nutrition, as it allows you to eat these usually restricted treats, yet still enabling you to get fit and build muscle.

John Kiefer, the originator of this diet regime, alleges that carbohydrates are utilized more efficiently if you forgo eating them until the evening meal, when you are then at liberty to consume whatever you want.

How Do Carbs Work?

It is essential to comprehend how carbs are digested in the body before one can grasp the concept of carb backloading.

Whenever you consume carbohydrates, they are converted into glucose in your bloodstream. This causes a spike in your glucose levels, prompting your pancreas to secrete insulin in order to restore equilibrium.

Insulin assists in storing carbohydrates in either the muscle cells or the fat cells.

If you lead an energetic lifestyle, are a smaller size, and are generally in good physical condition, likely the carbohydrates you consume will be stored in your muscles. Then your body is thought to process insulin efficiently.

Conversely, if you take on a less active lifestyle, you may have increased body fat which causes carbs to be stored as fat rather than muscle. This is considered being insulin resistant.

Carb backloading capitalizes on this pattern and centers on ingesting all of your carbs when your body is most reactive to insulin – after physically demanding activities such as weight lifting or resistance training.

What Is Carb Backloading?

For this eating plan, you should not have much, if any, carbs at breakfast and lunchtime, while the majority of your calories should come from fats and protein. After you finish exercising (ideally at night), up your carb intake for your meal after exercising.

John Kiefer, inventor of carb backloading, believes that this diet provides a beneficial complementation of the body’s insulin receptivity.

Studies have exhibited that the point of maximum sensitivity for insulin happens in the morning hours, granting your body the capacity to both keep glucose in fat and muscles. Carb backloading suggests avoiding the intake of carbs when the body is inclined to store them as fat throughout the day.

Most of your carbs should be eaten when your body is well equipped to turn glucose into muscle tissue. Keeping carb intake to a minimum during the day helps to reduce the amount of fat accumulation or the formation of new fat cells from carbohydrates.

Basically, when you’re consuming carbohydrates, your body is more likely to hold them as muscle glycogen instead of accumulating them as body fat.

How Carb Backloading Works

This diet focuses heavily on proper hormonal function timing. When you are asleep, your body uses fat for fuel and releases hormones that contribute to growth.

When you wake up, the aim of this dietary plan is to remain in a state of burning fat (which is generally referred to as ketosis). This has been demonstrated to help suppress appetite and increase the body’s ability to burn fat, and it can be obtained by consuming just fats and proteins all day.

Choose a low-carb, high-fat breakfast option, like a bacon, egg, and cheese casserole, or don’t eat breakfast at all.

Avoiding breakfast, a key component of intermittent fasting, brings a wide variety of advantages that go beyond the scope of this eating regimen. Assisting in the relief of your glycogen reserves throughout the day can help boost your body’s sensitivity to insulin and make it easier for it to make the most of carbohydrates.

It is advised that lunch consists primarily of fats and proteins, with the majority of calories coming from healthy fats. Make sure you stick to your low-carb diet by having ketogenically friendly fare like baked salmon with cauliflower rice with pesto.

The bulk of your caloric intake from carbohydrates should occur following your exercise session. It is essential to abide by the “following-exercise” approach because at this time, your body is more inclined to store glycogen into your muscles instead of into your fat cells.

Eating Carbs at Night

It has been rumored that if you consume a lot of carbohydrates in your evening meals, your body fat percentage will increase.

Nutritionists and dietitians generally suggest that most of your carbohydrates should be consumed earlier in the day when your insulin sensitivity is elevated, and then to have a smaller amount of calories later in the day.

However, the carb backloading protocol proposes the complete opposite.

The hormone cortisol, which is produced by the body during periods of stress, rises through the night and reaches its highest point right around 7 in the morning. If you have carbohydrates for breakfast, this could interfere with your body’s insulin production and may lead to gaining weight.

You can reduce the potential for gaining fat by eating your carbs in the evening after exercising.

Benefits to Carb Backloading

Carb backloading, similar to other diets, has a range of possible advantages to one’s health.

  • Helps reduce cravings: This diet allows you to be less restrictive (at night), so it’s OK to have junk food once in a while as long as you’ve remained low-carb for most of the day. Recent studies show that giving in to your cravings can help you achieve your weight loss goals faster.
  • Promotes less stored fat: The whole idea behind this diet is to utilize your hormonal function. By staying in nutritional ketosis throughout the day, you’re encouraging your body to burn off excess fat.
  • Can promote better sleep: Carb consumption at night time helps produce more tryptophan. This essential amino acid promotes the conversion of serotonin into melatonin, which helps you to have a better quality of sleep.

The Science Behind Carb Backloading

By abstaining from consuming carbohydrates for the majority of the day, you are keeping your blood sugar levels low. This implies that you won’t experience significant output of insulin, and your body will convert fat into energy during the majority of the day via ketosis.

A research project studied the impacts on female dieters who ate 70% of their daily calories in the morning rather than the night to gauge their consequent fat reduction. The findings demonstrated that females who consumed most of their calories during the night dropped more fat and less muscle compared to those who ate earlier on in the day by 0.5 pounds.

A research conducted in 2011 monitored the food consumption of 70 Israeli cops over a six-month period. The first group ate their carbohydrates evenly throughout the day, while the second mainly ate them at supper.

The investigators concluded that the second group had less appetite, lost a significant amount more weight, and experienced an improved BMI relative to the individuals who ate carbohydrates all day. The people in the study who consumed the majority of their carbs in the evening experienced lower inflammation, improved blood sugar levels, and better blood lipid levels.

Where Do We Stand on Meal Timing In General?

Recently, meal scheduling has been a major focus in the fields of exercise and nutrition for athletes. It seems remarkable, it appears to be founded on science, and one would think it has a remarkable effect.

Essentially, nutrient timing involves consuming the correct measure of certain nutrients at designated times of day – for example, having 150 grams of carbohydrates straight after exercise.

We have some stimulating research concerning this topic which includes experiments that have evaluated the popular ‘anabolic window’ and the potential of it being valid (12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17). It is an understatement to say that the results we have observed have been varied. It is have to be said that there is still an insufficient amount of research on the topic, and the studies that have been completed have certainly had certain constraints (such as being limited to the short-term).

The notion of pursuing the well-known “anabolic window” is highly well-regarded. It is logical to think that expending our muscles (and the whole body) will result in a more proficient utilization of nutrients. We use the carbohydrates we consume as a source of energy and store them in the form of glycogen rather than fat, and protein catalyses protein synthesis (18).

This reasoning caused a lot of fear regarding the anabolic window, leading to people becoming quite apprehensive about having the potential to miss it.

“Hurry! As soon as the last weight is dropped, you should eat something immediately. If you don’t act fast, the chance will pass and your effort will have been in vain!

It appears that the timeframe for this chance is bigger than we initially assumed. Rather than waiting for the last possible moment, taking action as soon as possible may be more beneficial. This is because when the body has been stressed (such as by muscle damage) it needs the proper nutrition to be able to repair itself and develop. Even if you don’t give the necessary supplies right away after teaching, the things learned can still be employed effectively hours later.

Although it has been demonstrated that eating carbs after a workout can be beneficial for overall body composition, the subject of when to take in nutrients is not as plainly obvious as people believe.

But Wait, Isn’t The Overconsumption of Carbs Later In The Day Bad?

It is widely accepted that consuming carbohydrates later in the day could lead to weight gain. Since the 1990s, the idea that carbohydrates should not be eaten after 6 pm has been prevalent.

It’s a frequent message today spouted by gurus and marketers that you shouldn’t eat carbs in the evening, and this misguided belief has been accepted by those looking to lose weight.

But, here’s the thing:

Fat gain cannot occur without a caloric surplus. Put it another way, if you do not consume a greater amount of calories than you are burning off, your body will not save any for later in the form of fat. It’s not physically possible. Eating carbohydrates (or any type of food) during the evening (or any time of day) will not automatically cause you to put on weight.

Furthermore, as indicated by some of the research mentioned previously, by consuming the majority of carbs at night, it can have a positive effect on one’s body composition. Therefore, the notion that consuming carbs after 6 pm will cause someone to put on weight is beginning to be questioned.

An Example Carb Backloading Meal Plan (With Three Simple Steps You Can Follow)

To close this guide, we have made a sample meal plan for carb backloading, which includes steps that can be taken for successful implementation. This meal plan is based on nutrients typically consumed by a 200-pound man in order to lean out.

  1. His calories.

We’ll be taking advantage of this BMR calculator and the multiplier to determine his TDEE for the day. It is recognisable that there are a lot of calculators available, yet these two equations are the most precise for people who are engaged in physical activity.

For our calculations, we’ll set the following stats to our hypothetical person:

  • 200 pounds.
  • 6 feet tall.
  • 29 years old.
  • Average physical activity (multiply BMR by 1.55 from the equation above).

He has a Basal Metabolic Rate of 2,029 calories, and his Total Daily Energy Expenditure is 3,145 calories (which is 1.55 times his BMR). We will start off with a shortfall of around 20 percent, equivalent to 630 calories (3,145 * 0.20). His starting calories will be roughly 2,500 per day.

2. His macronutrients.

Once we’ve determined the initial amount of calories, let’s get them divided up among the three macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

First, we have protein. We will be taking the straightforward approach of eating 1.5 grams of protein per pound of one’s bodyweight. We will begin with a goal of consuming 300 grams of protein, which equals 1,200 calories since each gram of protein contains four calories.

Next, we have dietary fats. We will abide by the rule of 0.5 grams for each pound of one’s body weight. It is advised to ingest between 0.3 and 0.6 grams of fat per pound of an individual’s weight, which would place us right in the middle area. This amounts to 100 grams of fat each day, equaling 900 calories overall (as a gram of fat equates to nine calories).

Finally, we have carbs. In the present circumstances, we must subtract the calories from proteins and fats from the overall total (2500). Then the resulting number should be divided by 4, which is the number of calories for each gram of carbs.

So, in our case:

2,500 – (1,200 + 900) = 400

400 / 4 = 100 grams of carbs.

Instead, you can choose the least amount of dietary fats allowable – 0.3 grams per every pound of your body weight – and that leaves you with 760 calories for carbohydrates or a total of 190 grams.

3. Meal frequency.

This is the point where the meal plan departs from the traditional calorie counting approach. The major contrast is that with regular diets you typically consume carbohydrates throughout the day, whereas with this method you keep the carbohydrates for your last meal or two.

In our example, we’ll be having six meals. Your first four meals should have a minimal amount of carbs, if any (ideally 0-10g), while the last two should have more significant amounts of carbohydrates.


  • Meal 1: moderate protein + moderate fats + as few carbs as possible
  • Meal 2: moderate protein + moderate fats + as few carbs as possible
  • Meal 3: moderate protein + moderate fats + as few carbs as possible
  • Meal 4: moderate protein + moderate fats + as few carbs as possible
  • Meal 5 (pre-workout): low protein + moderate carbs (for example, 20 to 30 percent of your daily total) + low (to none) fats
  • Meal 6 (post-workout): remaining protein + high carbs (about 70 to 80 percent of your daily intake) + remaining fats

It’s totally up to you to decide how large or small to make each individual meal. Feel free to experiment with this.

The attractive feature of this program is that while you can take advantage of carb backloading, you can eat some carbs prior to exercise to fuel your activity. This plan is quite straightforward so it should work well for many individuals.

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