Carb Back-Loading Book ReviewI previously mentioned that I have been working on an e-book that reviews all the best fitnes...
Does Back-loading work for women? Look at Julia Ladewski’s progress. She’s a powerlifter, strength coach, andbusymom.How T...
beyond that, you should stick with sweet potatoes and brown rice. Eat carbs liberallyuntil you go to bed.8. On days that y...
already comfortable with. That’s a lot easier than trying to adopt a more standard fitness diet where you’reeating five sm...
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  1. 1. Carb Back-Loading Book ReviewI previously mentioned that I have been working on an e-book that reviews all the best fitness and nutritionprograms that have come out in the past few years. I am happy to say that we are razor close to the release date.I know many of you have had your hopes up for a while and are tired of waiting, and I apologize. But when yousee this book and all the work that wentintoit, you’ll know whyit was delayed.And it’s also FREE, so quit complaining!Last time I gave you a glimpse at the book, I posted my review of The Renegade Diet, and since I get so manyquestions about Carb Back-loading, I’ll give you another sneak peek with the Back-loading review below. Notethat I make a few references to Kiefer’s other book, The Carb Nite Solution, which reallyhelps you understand thescience of Back-loading better. My e-book includes a thorough review of Carb Nite as well, so when you read it,your understanding of Back-loading should be more complete.Hope this helps answers your questions.Carb Back-loadingIt’s a fitness magazine editor’s dream: tell people they can eat all the bad food they want and gain muscle whilelosing fat simultaneously. That’s essentially the promise Kiefer makes with Carb Back-loading (and the reason I’vegiven him various assignments for Men’s Fitness and Muscle&Fitness). Again, he delivers. Unlike The Carb NiteSolution, his primary fat-loss protocol, Carb Back-loading is suited to people who lift weights and are looking tobulk up while staying lean. The main principle behind it violates one of the major guidelines nutritionists havebeen pushing for years—eat most of your carbs in the morning and taper them throughout the day. In thisprotocol, you’ll “back-load” your carbs, eating the bulkof themat night.About The AuthorHis real name is John Kiefer, but he prefers to use his last name alone. If you think that’s a right reserved onlyfora rock star, I agree with you, and fortunately for him, Kiefer is just that. I’ve never met a guy who was soconsumed with research. He reviewed over 20,000 articles from scientific journals to form his opinions.This isreallysaying something, since he makes his living marketing fitness to the mainstream, which doesn’t care abouthard science. More importantly, Kiefer wants to interpret that research correctl y, so he reads studies in theirentiretyand analyzes how they were conducted, on what population they were done, and whether the methodsused were valid. He has a highly analytical mind, so it’s not surprising that he’s also a physicist and writessoftware. From Kiefer’s website,“Physicists develop a large number ofskills during their work, the most important of which is the ability to gather,decipher, and form a theory to describe a mind-boggling number of facts. Perhaps even more important:physicists need to find the answer simplybecause the problem exists.”With his egghead background, you might expect Kiefer to write a book that’s insufferably scientific, beating youover the head with jargon and formulas. Thankfully, he doesn’t, and as I’ve found over the years, the smarter theexpert is, the more simply he can explain his ideas. Kiefer also matches his research library with an equallyimpressive record of practical experience, having worked with several clients of all fitness levels and with all kindsof goals for more than 15 years.
  2. 2. Does Back-loading work for women? Look at Julia Ladewski’s progress. She’s a powerlifter, strength coach, andbusymom.How To Do It1. Deplete carbs. Consume no more than 30 grams of carbs per day for five to 10 days. This is optional, butdepleting carbs first will heighten your sensitivity to themandallow them to be better storedin your muscles.2. Schedule your weight training in the afternoon or evening (if this isn’t an option for you, I’ll explain whatmorning trainees can do below). When you wake up in the morning, you can have coffee with or without heavywhipping cream, but if you choose toeat breakfast, you must not consume carbs.3. Every meal from this point forward until after you train will comprise protein and fat sources (greenvegetables are ok, too). The sources are yours to choose, and it’s hard to go wrong. Bacon, whole eggs, sausage,and cheeseburgers are all fine. Keep your carb intake very low until after your workout Kiefer has written mealplans where a tomato is allowed atlunch, plus anyincidental carbs you pick up from veggies or nuts and seeds.4. After lifting, which should ideally fall between three and six p.m., have a post-workout meal of protein andcarbs. Kiefer suggests a protein shake with rilose or dextrose powder (simple sugars), which digest very quickly,but says that sugary fruits like a mango or three ripe bananas can work as well. You need about 30–50 grams ofcarbs and 20–40 grams protein. The same supplements Kiefer recommends on the Carb Nite program applyhereas well—Blend H and leucine are perfect after the workout. While Blend H is formulated to allow you to get aninsulin spike without ingesting carbs, combining itwith carbs for Back-loading intensifies the insulinresponse, setting the stage for greater musclegains. (Remember, too, that Carb Nite’s purposewas to prevent muscle loss, and Carb Back-loadingis aimed at maximizing growth without fat gain.)You can also add five grams of creatine to theshake for an even greater effect.5. About an hour after your post-workout meal,begin eating carbs ravenously. I’ve seen specificmeal plans that Kiefer has written for his clients,and the instructions actually state, “Splurge anddon’t worry about anything.” What more do youneed to hear? Eat like he recommends on a Carb Nite—burgers, pizza, and ice cream. Just be sure to get someprotein in with each meal (this is where protein shakes comes in handy). While you won’t count calories or gramson this program either, Kiefer still recommends getting about a gram of protein per pound of body weight. Healsosays it’s not uncommon forpeople to eat up to 400 grams of carbs in anevening andstill lose bodyfat.6. The next morning, evaluate yourself in the mirror. If you look lean and hard, you’re on the right track. If youlook soft and bloated, you overdid it with carbs andshould be a bit more conservative the next night. That’s reallyhow he judges progress—a simple mirror test.7. If you have to train in the morning, schedule your day like this: Wake up, drink coffee, then train. Aftertraining, have a small serving of carbs (a scoop of carb powder or two bananas) with protein, and then eat proteinand fat foods until the evening. If you trained at seven a.m., begin eating carbs around six p.m. Because your feastis so far removed from the workout, your muscles can’t soak up carbs as effectively, so, unfortunately, you’ll haveto be more conservative with your food choices. You can still have a few slices of pizza or a burger with fries, but
  3. 3. beyond that, you should stick with sweet potatoes and brown rice. Eat carbs liberallyuntil you go to bed.8. On days that you don’t lift weights, limit your carbs to a single, conservative meal in the evening. A sweetpotato or some rice at dinner, ora small dessert.Because Carb Back-loading contradicts so much of what fitness enthusiasts have been taught over the past fewdecades, many are skeptical of the science behind it. The truth is, it’s pretty solid. Kiefer grants that there arestudies showing that muscle is more insulin sensitive in the morning, but, he points out, so is fat. Eating carbs inthe morning may cause a good portion of them to be stored in fat cells, so he gets around this byhaving you fastor drink coffee, which has a wayof curbing hunger and shutting down fat cells.Keeping carb intake low throughout the daynot onlykeeps the body in a fat-burning state but also amps up thesympathetic nervous system—the mode that’s responsible for the “fight or flight” response to stress. In otherwords, when you go to train, you’ll be clear-headed and sharp—ready to attack the weights as if your lifedepended on it. Kiefer says you’ll even be able to recruit muscle fibers better, and you may see an immediateincrease in your lifts. Afterward, your muscles’ sensitivity to insulin is high because they’re damaged and needrepair, but your fat cells are less sensitive (especially if you’ve taken caffeine). So while it’s true that insulinsensitivity lessens as the daygoes on and you’re more likely to store fat if you eat carbs late in the day, resistancetraining turns the tables. For this reason, Carb Back-loading can’t be practiced by sedentary people who do noweight training.If you’re still not convinced there’s something to this, Kieferhas plenty of testimonials for you. NPC bodybuilderDavid Hewett raves about it. And elite powerlifters Jesse Burdick, Jason Pegg, and Brian Carroll have allbenefited as well (Carroll and Burdick have evenachieved single-digit body fat percentages—ararity for someone not competing in physiquecompetition).Elite lifter Jesse Burdick didn’t get to look like thisbyeating oatmeal and egg whites in the morning.What I Like About ItIt’s fun! Almost every day feels like a “cheat” dayon this plan. You can eat all sorts of heinous foodswithout worrying how they affect your waistline.And again, as with The Carb Nite Solution, youdon’t have the stress of having to count anything. If you’re the type who can’t stick with a regimented plan, this isas goodas it’s going to get for you.It works fast. Even if you don’t use Kiefer’s supplements or follow the program to the letter, you’ll still see resultsquickly. My assumption is that consuming carbs at night is such a departure for most people that the shock itprovides to the bodyalone is enough to speed the metabolismand see fatloss. At least that was myexperience.It fits perfectly with a busy schedule.Even though I just stated that it’s a departure for most people, CarbBack-loading is at the same time just a few steps removed from most people’s ingrained habits. (They just happento be crucialsteps.) Most of us tend not to wake up feeling hungry, but we eat breakfast anyway becauseeverything we’ve readsays we should. Or maybe we drink coffee and skip it like Kiefer says to but we start eatingcarbs much earlier in the day than we ought to. Because we work from nine to five, we typicallyonlyget a meal atlunchand then tend to eat most of our calories at dinner or afterward when we have free time after work.Now imagine if we just fasted or ate protein and fat in the morning, kept carbs to a minimum, trained at night,and made a point of carbing up after the workout. It’s a matter of making a few gentle tweaks to a routine we’re
  4. 4. already comfortable with. That’s a lot easier than trying to adopt a more standard fitness diet where you’reeating five small, well-balanced, and “clean” meals throughout the day, beginning with a large carb-ladenbreakfast.What To ConsiderLike the Carb Nite plan, it may not be healthy long-term. I can picture the pundits at the American DieteticAssociation looking aghast at Kiefer’s meal plans. As anyone familiar with bodybuilding diets knows, there’s adistinction that needs to be made betweenlosing fat healthily and just losing it. There’s adifference between performance nutrition andhealth nutrition.Eating sugar- and fat-rich foods can certainlyaggravate blood pressure and cholesterol levels,but if your body fat is going down, one canmake the argument that you’re still improvinghealth. While I think Kiefer’s general tenet ofconsuming carbs at night is a great guideline tofollow for the rest of one’s life, extremefeedings of junk foods shouldn’t be maintained for long periods. That’s just common sense, and Kiefer doesn’targue it. If you’re concerned about eating too much junk food, stay instead with cleaner carbs like grains andpotatoes.It’s hard to gauge progress without counting. The big advantage to counting calories and macros over the courseof a diet is that it gives you some basic measure of how much you’re consuming, and you get a sense of how eachkind of nutrient affects you. While Kiefer has rightly pointed out that calorie needs fluctuate daily based on anumber of processes in the body, not counting anything can be like flying blind—especiallyif you’re a beginningdieter who’s not very in tune with his body or has no concept of how much he’s reallyeating. If you find you’renot gaining weight or getting leaner, you maywant to start estimating how much protein and carbs you’re takingin and adjustaccordingly.On A Personal NoteI’ve had great success with Carb Back-loading, and have turned manyothers on to it who have alsodone well. Weall looked and felt better within a week’s time. The scale goes up yet you look leaner in the mirror. Energy duringworkouts is never a problem, as some might suspect it would be without carbs beforehand. In fact, looking back,eating the standard ration of egg whites and oatmeal before training made me feel downright sleepy compared togoing to the gym after a plate of bacon and whole eggs, or just black coffee.There are other diets out there that bear strong similarities to Kiefer’s method, such as the modified Warrior Dietthat Michael Keck has championed, and The Renegade Diet by Jason Ferruggia (discussed HERE). All of theseapproaches use fasting and have you eating most of your carbs at night, which I think are the take-home points.The rest is just details.Eat this at night, and a lot of other stuff, and you’ll be fine.Further ReadingThe Carb Back-loading e-book is available HERE. He generously gives awaya considerable amount ofinformationand strategy for this approach on his site,, and in various articles he’s done for fitnessmagazines and other sites. Blend H is available at Leucine and creatine can be found, per Kiefer’s recommendation.