Carb Back-Loading: A Diet Fad or Remarkable Fat Loss Strategy?
Jan 10, 2016
This week in class I talked briefly about a dieting strategy I’m using this month to drop body fat more quickly. It’s called carb “back loading.”Carb back loading is obviously a hot topic right now online. My first google search turned up more than 3,000,000 results! While some “experts” claim that carb back loading is the “holy grail” of fat loss and the best thing since sliced apple pie, others claim it is no better than any other “fad” diet and a complete waste of time. So what’s the truth about it? Don’t worry—Bo KNOWS!
In this article, we’ll explore:
- What is carb back loading?
- Does it really work better for fat loss than traditional dieting methods?
- If I wanted to attempt it, how would I go about doing it?
- What does a simple meal plan look like?
Let’s start with #1: “What is carb back loading?”
The most simple explanation of carb back loading is to avoid carbohydrate-containing foods during the morning and daytime, but then consume all (or the vast majority) of your carbs at the end of the day (at dinner). Those who promote carb back loading typically advocate either fasting during much of the day or snacking on protein and healthy fats.
#2: “Does it work for fat loss better than traditional dieting?”
Advocates of carb back loading will go on and on about all the potential reasons why it is a superior dieting method compared to traditional forms of fat loss nutrition (such as just counting calories). They often site studies like these ones to promote it. There seems to be a lot of good common sense and science to support it. Proponents claim eating this way helps for greater health and fat loss via many different mechanisms such as: resetting leptin levels at night for better satiety and increased energy, increasing serotonin levels for better sleep at night (lack of sleep is often associated with obesity), regulation of cortisol levels, boosting metabolism, increasing insulin sensitivity, optimizing nutrition around circadian rhythms, causing greater fat loss during the day because carbs are low, reducing cravings, etc.The truth of all these claims are still hotly debated. However, this doesn’t really matter to me. I like carb back loading for two main reasons:
- It works for me.
- It’s so EASY and SIMPLE to follow!!
The fact of the matter is that I just can’t stand overly complicated diets and nutrition plans. I’m always keeping my eyes peeled for fat loss strategies that are easy to remember, that work well, are healthy, and super-simple to follow. That’s exactly what carb back loading is for me!! If carb back loading sounds more complicated to you than what you are already doing, then don’t read any further!!
#4: “If I wanted to attempt it, how would I go about doing it?”
If you’re tired of being confused over what to eat each day, you’ll love carb back loading. It takes out all the guess-work and is super simple to follow. When you get up in the morning, you simply snack on your choice of lean proteins, non-starchy veggies, and small quantities of healthy fats whenever you feel hungry (I’ll give you a list of foods shortly). It’s okay to feel a bit hungry from time-to-time during this time—this is a sign you are burning fat!! Prior to your first workout of the day (about 30-45 minutes), it is okay to consume a small quantity of starchy or “sweet” carbohydrate to fuel your workout. Again, I’m all about simplicity, so I just throw one scoop of pre-workout powder (called Pre-Extreme) or 1 scoop of “Super Carb” (a product made by NutraBio) in my water bottle about 40 minutes before my work-out and start sipping it. I don’t even want to have to think about what to eat before my workout, so I just do the same pre-workout drink every day. I love it because I have no stomach discomfort and it digests with no extreme spike in insulin. Occasionally I throw a scoop of a green plant powder in there as well called “Green Vibrance” by Vibrant Health.After my workout, I simply resume eating protein, non-starchy veggies, and healthy fats (**only small quantities—no more than 40-50 grams for the day) up until dinner time. At dinner I have a large meal of mostly carbs and protein (keep fat as low as possible in this meal) and then go to bed an hour or two later. It’s that simple!
#5: What does a simple meal plan look like?
From the time you wake up until the last meal of the day, choose foods from these three lists (**Vegan or Vegetarians can choose non-animal sources)
Lean Proteins - Tofu, Soy, Tempeh, Chicken, Turkey, Meal Replacement Shake, Fish, Egg White, Protein Powder, Low-carb Protein Bars, Etc.
Non-Starchy Veggies - Spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale, Etc, Romaine, Asparagus, Green Beans, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Green Powders, Sugar Snap Peas, Etc.
Healthy Fats - Avocado, Guacamole, Raw Nuts, Nut Milk, Fish Oil, Raw Seeds (ground)
While counting calories is not necessary on this eating plan (as hunger should be your guide), those wishing to lose weight more rapidly would certainly benefit from keeping tabs on total intakes and macros.
A little trick I learned with carb back loading is to pay careful attention to your “hunger” during the day. Sometimes I feel hungry and have no desire to eat veggies or protein. Instead I may crave something sweet or fatty. I remind myself that if the veggies and protein do not seem attractive then it is highly likely that I am not responding to “hunger” but a “craving.” I try to wait until the veggies and protein seem highly attractive, and then eat. If you struggle with trying to identify whether or not you have a craving or are truly hungry, always remember that hunger “will eat ANYTHING,” but a craving is for “Something SPECIFIC.”
I typically workout in the middle of the afternoon, so I take my pre-workout drink (about 100 calories) about 30-40 minutes before my main workout. I throw one scoop of either Super Carb (by Nutra Bio) or Pre-Extreme (also by Nutra Bio) in my water bottle, shake it up, and drink it down. I alternate Super Carb and Pre-Extreme every other day.After my workout, I resume the same eating schedule as the earlier part of the day all the way up to dinner. At dinner time, I allow myself to eat any of the following foods:
Carbs - Oatmeal, Beans, Coconut, Palm sugar, Dried Fruit (raisins, dates, figs), Cereal, Maple syrup, Polenta, Low-fat or fat-free ice cream (non-dairy), Whole Grains, Raw Fruit, Bread, Potatoes, Veggie Juices, Jelly/Jam, Corn, Frozen Fruit, Sweet Potatoes, Rice, Pasta, Etc.
Here’s what a typical day of eating might look like for me while carb back loading:
9 AM—Arise and Shine (Drink Glass of water)
10 AM—Protein shake
- 1 Scoop Chocolate Vega or Plant Fusion
- Squirt of stevia or erythritol
- 2-3 cups raw spinach
- 1 brazil nut
- 2 cups Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
11 AM—12 PM: No Food (just water)
12:30 PM—Drink Pre-workout Drink
- 1 scoop of Pre-extreme (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday)
- 1 large shaker bottle of water
- 1 scoop of Super Carb and 1 scoop of Creatine (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
3:14—Eat Second Meal of Day (if you don’t count the pre-workout drink as a “meal”)
- 6 - free-range egg whites with basil and black pepper
- 3 cups of broccoli steamed with broth
- 1 walnut and 1 brazil nut
- 4 Fish oil capsules with Vit. D
- Digestive Enzyme
- Joint Care Formula (Nutra Bio) 4 capsules
- 1 kelp capsule
- 1 Raw Multi (only when cutting)
5:30 PM—Meal 3
- Low carb Protein bar (homemade) with sugar snap peas
- Protein shake with green powder
- Salad with Veggie Burger
8:30 PM—Meal 4
- Another protein bar or I may finish off my egg whites and broccoli
10 PM—Home with a final high-carb/low-fat meal
- A big bowl of oatmeal, raisins, coconut palm sugar, cinnamon as well as
- A protein shake made with pitted dates, frozen banana, frozen cherries, spinach, and plant-based protein powder.
I also take my ZMA (Zinc magnesium Aspartate) at this time
I hope you found this article helpful!!