Dieting Strategy: Carbohydrate Backloading

Dieting Strategy: Carbohydrate Backloading

Andrew Berry / October 27, 2013

One diet that I have found effective especially for those looking to add new muscle while maintaining and dropping a slight amount of body fat is a technique called carbohydrate back loading. This method works best for people that train in the mid to late afternoon but can be used by those that train earlier in the day as well. Ideally, you are already at or near the body fat percentage that your would like to be at.

Basically you set up your meal plan so that all meals before your weight training session contain little to no carbohydrates. Following your workout you will take in carbs with every meal until bedtime (depending on when you are training).

Some might ask “well that seems counterintuitive because won’t eating carbs right before bed make you fat?” The answer to this question is no because following a weight training session, your body has gone through the equivalent of a daylong fast. The metabolic stress of training causes a severe depletion of muscular and hepatic glycogen (energy) stores as well as significant muscle protein breakdown. This happens, because at exercise intensities above 65% of your max heart rate, your body loses the ability to use fat as a fuel source. This is because at higher intensities it is harder to get oxygen to the exercising muscle tissue.

Our bodies need oxygen to metabolize fat (oxidative phosphorylation). When we are exercising at higher intensities, such as when doing intervals, sprinting, or lifting weights, our bodies must use an alternative source of energy. This energy is provided by our muscle and liver glycogen stores and through the breakdown of muscle protein as well as through the creatine-phosphate pathway (substrate level phosphorylation). Glycogen is storage form of carbohydrates that accumulates from the energy we eat.. Our bodies can store about 250 grams of glycogen in the muscle tissue that can be broken down and used for energy during intense exercise. Muscle protein can be broken down and deaminized (removal of nitrogenous group) and converted to usable energy (gluconeogenesis). This is an easier source of energy for our bodies to use when exercising at high intensities because it is readily available, doesn’t require much transport or need oxygen. The net effect from all of this makes our bodies ready to store glycogen and rebuild muscle tissue.

The meal you consume right after training should consist of easy to digest proteins and carbohydrates—something like a whey protein shake and a simple sugar or quickly digested carbohydrate. Every meal after that should also contain protein and carbohydrates but as we move farther away from our training time the sources should become more complex- something like a chicken breast and a sweet potato.

On your non-training days you should try to keep carbohydrates to a minimum and focus on lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables.

Here are the guidelines to figure out your macronutrient breakdown:

Males Training Day Non-Training Day

  • Start off by calculating your protein requirement and dividing it evenly over 6 meals. (5 if you absolutely have to)
  • For training days, determine your carbohydrate need and divide that over your last 2 to 3 meals of the day. Try to get your fats in where is convenient. On non-training days make your first meal of the day your carbohydrate meal. Divide your fat intake evenly for the other meals.
  • If you are not seeing results right within two weeks then first increase the time of your cardio sessions by 5 to 10 minutes. If that doesn’t help then decrease your carbohydrate intake by 10 to 20 grams each day.

Sample CBL Meal Plan for a 185 pound Male (Training Day)

Protein:

185 lb. x 1.25 g/lb. = 231 g (38 g/meal)

Carbohydrate:

185 lb. x 1.5 g/lb. = 277 g

Fat:

185 lb. x .15 g/lb. = 28 g

Meal 1:

38 g Protein, 0 g Carbohydrate, 12 g Fat

  • 7 egg whites + 2 whole eggs
  • ½ cup spinach
  • 1 fish oil pill

Meal 2:

38 g Protein, 0 g Carbohydrate, 10 g Fat

  • 5 ½ oz. chicken breast
  • 17 almonds
  • 5 asparagus stalks

Meal 3:

38 g Protein, 0 g Carbohydrate, 10 g Fat

  • 5 ½ oz chicken breast
  • 17 almonds

Meal 4:

38 g Protein, 150 g Carbohydrate, 0 g Fat (post-train meal)

1.5 scoop whey protein

waxy maize or dextrose 70g

2 packs flavored oatmeal (20 min later)

1 banana (20 min later)

Meal 5:

38 g Protein, 65 g Carbohydrate, 0 g Fat

1.5 scoop whey protein

1 cup Ezekiel grain cereal

Meal 6:

38 g Protein, 60 g Carbohydrate, 4 g Fat

5 ½ oz. chicken breast

2 pieces of Ezekiel grain bread

1 medium sweet potato

2 fish oil pills

Daily Totals:

2300 kcal, 275 g carbohydrate, 230 g protein, 30 g fat

Sample CBL Meal Plan for a 185 pound Male (Non-training Day)

Protein:

185 lb. x 1.5 g/lb. = 277 g (46 g/meal)

Carbohydrate:

185 lb. x .25 g/lb. = 45 g

Fat:

185 lb. x .5 g/lb. = 93 g

Meal 1:

46 g Protein, 40 g Carbohydrate, 11 g Fat

    • 9 egg whites + 1 whole egg
    • ½ cup oats
    • ¼ cup raisins
    • 2 fish oil pills

    Meal 2: 46 g Protein, 20 g Fat,

    2 scoops whey protein

    33 almonds

    Meal 3: 46 g Protein, 20 g Fat, veggies

    5 ½ oz. chicken breast

    large green salad

    1.5 tbsp olive oil based dressing

    Meal 4: 46 g Protein, 20 g Fat

    2 scoops whey protein

    2 tbsp all natural peanut butter

    Meal 5: 46 g Protein, 20 g Fat, veggies

    7 oz. round steak

    1-2 cup broccoli

    Meal 6: 46 g Protein, 10 g Fat, veggies

    10 egg whites

    ⅕ cup feta cheese

    ½ cup spinach

    2 fish oil pills

    Daily Totals: 2200 kcal, 40 g Carbohydrate, 276 g Protein, 100 g Fat
    Sample Meal Plan for a 140 pound Female (Training Day)

    Protein: 140 lb. x .75 g/lb. = 105 g (18 g/meal)

    Carbohydrate: 140 lb. x 1.25 g/lb. = 175 g

    Fat: 140 lb. x .15 g/lb = 21 g

    Meal 1: 18 g Protein, 0 g Carbohydrate, 5 g Fat

    3 egg whites + 1 whole egg

    ¼ cup spinach

    1 fish oil pill

    Meal 2: 18 g Protein, 0 g Carbohydrate, 10 g Fat

    3 oz chicken breast

    17 almonds

    3 asparagus stalks

    Meal 3: 18 g Protein, O g Carbohydrate, 5 g Fat

    3 hard boiled egg whites + 1 hard boiled whole egg

    Meal 4: 18 g Protein, 75 g Carbohydrate, 0 g Fat (post-training meal)

    ¾ scoop of whey protein

    1 scoop of waxy maize (40 g Carbohydrate)

    ½ cup oatmeal (20 min later)

    20 raisins (20 min later)

    Meal 5: 18 g Protein, 50 g Carbohydrate, 0 g Fat

    ¾ scoop of whey protein

    ½ cup of Ezekiel grain cereal

    1 rice cake with 1 teaspoon jelly

    Meal 6: 18 g Protein, 40 g Carbohydrate, 1 g Fat

    3 oz. chicken breast

    1 slice Ezekiel bread

    1 small sweet potato

    1 fish oil pill

    Daily Totals: 1323 kcal, 170 g Carbohydrate, 120 g Protein, 22 g Fat
    Sample Meal Plan for a 140 pound Female (Non-Training Day)

    Protein: 140 lb. x 1 g/lb. = 140 g (23 g/meal)

    Carbohydrate: 140 lb. x .25 g/lb. = 35 g

    Fat: 140 lb. x .35 g/lb = 49 g

    Meal 1: 22 g Protein, 23 g Carbohydrate, 6 g Fat

    4 egg whites + 1 whole egg

    ½ cup oatmeal w/ non-calorie sweetener

    1 fish oil pill

    Meal 2: 24 g Protein, 0 g Carbohydrate, 10 g Fat

    3 ½ oz chicken breast

    17 almonds

    3 asparagus stalks

    Meal 3: 24 g Protein, O g Carbohydrate, 10 g Fat

    3 ½ oz chicken breast

    1.5 – 2 cup green veggie salad

    1 ½ tbsp olive oil based dressing

    Meal 4: 24 g Protein, 0 g Carbohydrate, 12 g Fat

    1 scoop of whey protein

    1 ⅓ tbsp natural peanut butter

    Meal 5: 24 g Protein, O g Carbohydrate, 10 g Fat

    3 ½ oz chicken breast

    1.5 – 2 cup green veggie salad

    1 ½ tbsp olive oil based dressing

    Meal 6: 22 g Protein, 0 g Carbohydrate, 11 g Fat

    4 egg white + 1 whole egg

    ⅕ cup feta cheese

    ½ cup spinach

    1 fish oil pill

    Daily Totals: 1147 kcal, 23 g Carbohydrate, 140 g Protein, 55 g Fat

    Cheat Meals: substitute in 2 cheat meals a week. Make the chest meal 2-3 times the amount of a meal that you are replacing.

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