How many times have you been told that you can’t build muscle and burn fat simultaneously? It is widely accepted that the two processes are mutually exclusive, building muscle requires a calorie surplus and an abundance of carbs in the diet while fat loss requires as calorie deficit with carbs seen as the enemy. However by manipulating your bodies’ hormones though a targeted intake of carbs you can pack on muscle while getting shredded. Welcome to the world of carb back loading.
What is Carb Back Loading?
Put simply carb back loading requires you to eat zero to 30 grams of net carbs (carbs minus fibre) prior to resistance training, saving daily carb consumption to post workout. Prior to training, meals should be based around protein and fats. So how does this work? The science behind the idea is that when we wake in the morning we have essentially fasted for 8 hours elevating the stress hormone cortisol which is a potent fat burner and peaks in the early morning.
In order to keep our bodies incinerating fat stores throughout the day we must keep cortisol elevated by minimizing insulin spikes caused by carb consumption while also preventing muscle wastage. After resistance training our muscles are highly sensitive to insulin, providing a perfect muscle building environment in which carbs ingested will be sucked into the muscle tissue to replenish glycogen stores and stimulate muscle protein synthesis while not being converted to fat.
Carb Back Loading: The Theory
The original theory proposed by John Keifer recommended eating all the foods you would normally go out of your way to avoid, pizza, ice cream, cookies and cakes! However I would suggest keeping your carb sources relatively clean, sweet potatoes, basmati rice, berries and oats, along with a maltodextrin/dextrose/waxy maize starch powder with your PWO protein shake. Whatever carbs you choose to consume aim to get 2.2 to 4.4 grams per kg of bodyweight, shoot for the lower end of the scale if fat loss is you overriding aim and the higher end for muscle building.
The original also recommends skipping breakfast altogether to keep cortisol elevated and fasting until midday, however in this modified version I suggest eating high protein high fat breakfast to prevent muscle wastage while keeping insulin spike to a minimum and providing energy to fuel your day.
Example Meal Plan:
Below is a sample meal plan to that can be adapted to fit your individual macronutrient requirements
- Breakfast – 4 Whole Eggs, 2 egg whites, ½ an avocado
- Snack – Handful of mixed nuts/Beef Jerky
- Lunch – Chicken/tuna salad w/ 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Snack – Smoked salmon w/ cottage cheese
- Pre Workout – Whey Protein shake
- Intra Workout – BCAAs & Glutamine
- Post Workout – Whey Protein shake w/ 70g carb powder & 1 banana
- Dinner – Steak w/ 1 large sweet potato or 1 cup basmati rice and veg/salad
- Snack – Casein shake & bowl of oats w/ handful of blueberries.
These additions can take your fat burning to the next level and turn your body into a furnace!
- Take 1 serving of L-Carnitine before breakfast and prior to your workout to enhance fat burning.
- Consume total 5g of Omega 3 fish oil each day split over your first 4 meals to enhance fat oxidation.
- Add BCAA powder to your water and consume between meals to boost protein synthesis.
- Take an ALA supplement along with your post workout shake to enhance insulin sensitivity.