Carb Back-Loading Results After 4 Weeks

CBLCarb Back-Loading Results After 4 Weeks

Carb Back-Loading (CBL) is John Kiefer’s variation on a targeted ketogenic diet in which a large load of carbs are only eaten after heavy resistance training (optimally in the afternoon).  This theoretically takes advantage of the body’s hormonal and metabolic response to stimulate muscle cell growth while at the same time increasing the breakdown of fat cells.  You can read more about the basics of this approach from my review of the book.


Burn fat while increasing muscle mass and strength.


  • Adhere to Kiefer’s Carb Back-Loading as much as possible
  • At the same time, use paleo and primal principles (eating whole foods, avoiding wheat products, legumes, vegetable oils, processed foods etc).
  • When back-loading, primarily use ‘clean carbs’ such as rice, potatoes, and sweet potatoes as my source of carbohydrates.



  • Stronglifts 5×5 – Weight training regimen
  • BJJ 2-3 times per week
  • Walking or slow jogging at least 10,000 steps (~5 miles) per day.
  • Crossfit 1 – 2 times per week.  Kiefer specifically mentions in the book that Crossfit doesn’t provide enough stimulus to make the physiologic changes that Carb Back-Loading is supposed to take advantage of.  This means I don’t get to do a back-load on Crossfit days.  He does state that Crossfit is a great way to burn through glycogen stores which is helpful when speeding along ketosis.  The BJJ Cavewife really enjoys Crossfit and enjoys it even more when I do it with her and she can beat me on the WODs… so this is one of the main reasons I’ll be continuing with this during this experiment.  Need to keep this missus happy!
  • My workouts will include 3 days total of either Stronglifts or Stronglifts + Crossfit or just Crossfit.  With BJJ I still try to practice with light training to allow for recovery and am aiming for 1-2 imes per week on my resistance training off days.  So hopefully the regimen will look something like this:
    • Mon: Stronglifts 5×5 or Crossfit
    • Tues: Light BJJ or walking
    • Wed: Stronglifts 5×5 or Crossfit
    • Thurs: Walking
    • Fri: Stronglifts 5×5 or Crossfit
    • Sat: Light BJJ
    • Sun: Walking



There is now a bunch of stuff from the Protein Factory which is one of the sources Kiefer actually recommends (here and here).  In Carb Back-Loading, Kiefer also recommends a few different ‘optional shakes.’  I figured why not give this experiment the best possible chance and try as much of what he recommends as possible.

Here are some of the shakes that I’ll be messing around with.

Pre-Training Shake – Whey, MCT, and Creatine

Post-Training Shake – Whey, Casein hydrolysate, Leucine, Creatine, Rilose

Carb Back Loading Shake – Casein hydrolysate and Leucine

I’m still a big fan of Dave Asprey the Bullet Proof Executive and Mark Sisson and try to use their stuff when possible.  As with my Carb Nite experiment, I try to take these things regularly but sometimes I forget to take them or forget to bring them with me when traveling, and so my use isn’t as consistent as I would like.



Carb Back Loading 4 weeks

Before I dive into the results, I just wanted to explain where my starting point was.  Following the end of my 10 week Carb Nite Experiment, I went to Italy where the wheels understandably came off the wagon.  When I returned, I messed around a little with ketosis and resistant starches, after which I went to Argentina and Antarctica, where the wheels again came off the wagon (here’s a look at some of the goodies I indulged in).


At the end of my Carb Nite experiment I weighed 184 lbs.  After all my trips and international culinary indulgences, my weight jumped up to 192 lbs.  This was the starting point of my Carb Back-Loading experiment.  After 4 weeks, my weight came down slightly to 189 lbs for a total loss of 3 lbs.  The greatest weight loss came during the 10 day induction period when I ate strict ultra low carb (less than 30 gm per day).  Of course the weight came back up to 192.6 lbs at the end of week 3… and I can explain what happened there.

Weeks 2 and 3 were essentially when I was trouble shooting and trying to dial in what I ate during the CBL days.  During the first couple CBL days, I approached with a Carb Nite mindset, and just went balls to the wall, shoving anything down my mouth.  My inner fat man definitely came out to play, and there were days when I was able to take in 5000+ calories!  It’s no wonder my weight went up.  Again, if you’re curious to see what kind of crap I ate, add me as a friend on myfitnesspal and feel free to gawk at the insatiable appetite my inner fat man has.

When I saw that my weight actually climbed higher than my starting point, I knew I had to reign things back.  I started trying to keep my caloric intake near 2400 calories on CBL days while increasing carbs to 100-250 gm (I would eat less fat on these days).  This seemed to do the trick as seen by my weight of 189 lbs at the end of week 4.

Here’s another thing.  I got so enamored with taking in all those shakes, that I would have my AM bullet proof coffee, then lunch then a pre-workout shake and a post work-out shake, followed by a CBL dinner, and topped it all off with a CBL pre-bed snack!  Since the pre workout shake comes out to around 200 calories and the post work out shake is somewhere between 400-500 calories, the shakes alone were pretty much a meal in themselves.  So by week four I figured out that if I had pre and post work out shakes, I had to skip lunch and my pre-bed snack.


I imagined that since I was pretty much eating sheer crap for almost 3 straight weeks while in Argentina and Antarctica, that it would take me a while to get back into ketosis, that’s why I didn’t test for the first couple days.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was in nutritional ketosis range (0.6 mmol) after only 5 days!  I guess this means that since I’ve been ketoadapted for so long, my mitochondria and ketogenic enzymes are upregulated enough that they will remain ketoadapted for quite a while despite prolonged carbohydrate consumption.  I wonder how long I have to eat carbs before I lose this adaptation?

As you can see, once I started introducing carbs regularly on CBL days, my ketones levels remained relatively suppressed, with the highest point being 0.7 mmol on the day following a Crossfit workout.


As you would expect, my sugars would be higher on post CBL days and come back down on days following my ultra low carb days.


I collected a lot of great data points with which to review the Ketonix device, so stay tuned for a full review…


I really like this program.  I didn’t start at the very bottom with a barbell as prescribed for two reasons.  First, because  I have plenty of weight training experience, I’m comfortable with my form in each of the exercises.  Second, because CBL requires heavy resistance training, if I worked my way up from the barbell I wouldn’t be throwing enough weight to generate the physiologic response needed with CBL.

  • Squat: 225 lbs to 265 lbs
  • Bechpress: 205 lbs to 220 lbs
  • Barbell Row: 135 lbs to 155 lbs
  • Overheadpress: 95 lbs to 110 lbs
  • Deadlift 185 lbs to 215 lbs

It’s pretty amazing.  I would hit personal bests with each training session with the progressions built into this program.  The main downside is that I’ve become one of those guys in the gym that grunts/yells when I lift.  I used to hate these guys… and now I’m one of them.  I’ve found that yelling allows me to both release a bit of intra-abdominal pressure and at the same time pumps me up with that little bit of energy needed to lift a weight I’ve never lifted before.

I’m curious to see how far I can push this!


When I finished Carb Nite, my abdominal circumference was 33.75 in.  At the start of this experiment I went back up to 35.25 in.   As you can see, when I was flailing around during weeks 2 and 3 and my inner fat man was running the show, my abdominal circumference ballooned up to 35.5 in!  After 4 weeks, I was able to bring it back down to 34.5 in for a total loss of 0.75 in.


I wasn’t surprised to see that the keto-rash reintroduced itself at the exact moment my ketones jumped over 0.5 mmol/L.  It took over a week for it to finally disappear.  After my Crossfit session when my ketones went back up to 0.7 mmol/L it briefly reappeared again, but this time all it took was one CBL to get it to re-disappear.

I can tell that when this rash shows up, it means that I didn’t eat enough carbs during my most recent CBL.  Now that I have my carbs dialed in at 100-250 gm, it’s enough to keep the rash to stay away.


In each of his podcasts, Kiefer always likes to mention how ‘easy’ this diet is and emphasizes how ‘fool-proof’ it is saying that you don’t really have to be that militant over your macronutrient ratios and caloric intake.  This wasn’t the case for me.  It required a fair bit of trial and error (lots of error) for me to figure things out.  Even now I still feel like I need to continue fine tuning with these things.

I’m very pleased with the results of the Stronglifts 5×5 program and feel much stronger now compared to week 1, and have the numbers to support this.

Hopefully now that I’ve gotten things more figured out, the following 4 weeks will yield greater changes!

If you’re interested in reading more about Carb Back-Loading, you can pick it up directly from his website here.

18 Responses to Carb Back-Loading Results After 4 Weeks

  1. Jimmythechin says:

    Really interesting read and very detailed. Your strength went up well. I tried carb back loading a while ago and while I enjoyed strength gains I really put on some weight. But then I have a bad time adhering to good and bad carbs.

    I’m currently experimenting with full time low carb and weight training. I’ll blog about it soon.

  2. Hemming says:

    Even though your weight might not have changed you saw some pretty good strength gains. Personally I would rate that higher.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      I’m very happy with the strength gains. I have to admit, a small part of me feels pretty badass that I squat more than most guys in the gym.

      I’m also grunting a lot more…. so that kinda cancels some of that badass-edness out.

  3. sootedninjas says:

    do you use dirty carbs ?

    Check your BG before and after workouts. Mine drops to around mid-70’s after heavy lift ?

    Are you doing any sprints ? Like maybe recumbent bike sprints of 8 sets of 30 sec all out with 90 sec slow recovery.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      I don’t try to use dirty carbs… but I admit they find themselves in there sometimes.

      Funny you should ask about the BG before and after work outs. I have a series of posts coming up that look into this. Keep an eye out.

      No sprints. I’m pretty beat after the SL5x5s. I usually end with some foam folling and lacross balling and some core work (planks and whatnot).

      I may play around with doing sprints though now that you bring it up, as a good way to burn through more glycogen.

      Why do you like to use sprints?

      • sootedninjas says:

        sprints…. active recovery on day off. and I find the it brought down my HR in days to follow and higher HRV too. anaerobic workout for your mitochondria. I do it fasted. you can just imagine what it does to adipose tissue specially if you are already glycogen depleted. check out Dr. Doug Mcguff’s (Body of Science) presentation.

        • BJJ Caveman says:

          Great. will check it out.

          My only concern is that let’s say I do a sprint workout between SL5x5 days… that it would kill my legs for the subsequent SL5x5 session. Especially since the purpose of the CBL is to replenish muscle glycogen for the next work out.

          Maybe I can throw in some sprints like you said at the end of my SL5x5 work out.. to ensure my glycogen is depleted… and then CBL after that.

          I also find it hard to believe that sprints are low enough activity to count as active recovery… since sprints require all out effort by definition right?

          I’ll play around with this and let you know how it goes…

          • sootedninjas says:

            that is why HRV tracking I think is very important. you can quantify what is appropriate physical training for yourself and for yourself alone since everyone really is an n=1. right ? HRV is also affected by the food you eat. Your recovery and how much sleep you have to help on recovery plus the daily life stress. How can you quantify all of these ? My feeling is that the closest quantification you can make is by tracking your HRV.

            anyway, I do heavy lift 2x weekly. 2, 3 or 4 days apart depending on what my HRV is indicating. lower body & upper body split

            Lower body session includes SL5x5 deadlift, SL5x5 Squat Pause Ass to the grass and other leg isolation exercises.

            Upper Body session includes to start Sprint 30x90x8 and various upper body exercise the I rotate weekly.

            I’ll sneak in a day of just sprint depending on when my last heavy lift and my HRV.

            Because of shoulder issues, bench press and overhead press kills me BUT I think my shoulder is now rehab enough that prolly include those into my next rotation albeit starting with a very lightweight

          • BJJ Caveman says:

            you’re making really want to pick up the HRV toy…

            Actually the way I know when I’m over trained is when I fail at SL5x5. I’ve found that as the weights get higher and higher… I need at least 2 days to recover instead of the 1. I guess this is a more inexact way to tell.

          • sootedninjas says:

            “Maybe I can throw in some sprints like you said at the end of my SL5x5 work out.. to ensure my glycogen is depleted… and then CBL after that.”

            yes. that could work too.

            “I also find it hard to believe that sprints are low enough activity to count as active recovery… since sprints require all out effort by definition right?”

            there is only one way to find out. you have to test it for yourself and adjust accordingly.

          • sootedninjas says:

            you already got an HRV toy. you said you have an emwave2. right ? just get the data from emwave2 and input it over to Kubios HRV which is a free app for windows. let me know if you wanna go this way and I’ll show you how. however, there will be some manual data input that you need to do if you wanna use emwave2 and Kubios. If you like to have it a little bit more automated then use your iphone or android, get a Polar h7 Heart rate monitor strap and download the app ithlete or sweetbeat. since the app is cheap enough get both.

      • sootedninjas says:

        i try to use clean carbs. starchy tubers and veggies, very ripe banana, cooked/cooled garlic fried rice. I do ice cream but the simplest flavor of them all so that it minimizes non-essential ingredients. basically I look for chocolate ice cream which usually only have milk, cream, cacao and sugar (NO HFCS) compared to the other flavored ice cream.

  4. Clayton says:

    Very interesting posts you have here. I am very close to you in body fat and weight. I also really enjoyed SL5x5 and make great gains on it. Am actually thinking of going back to it as I’m not all that happy with 5/3/1 although I am going to give it a little while longer. I am in my 3rd week of Carb Nite and have been looking into Carb Backloading so reading this has been very beneficial.

  5. Mike says:

    Very interesting experiment. I am using a modified hypertrophy version of 5/3/1 – its actually 11/9/7/5/3/1 mixed with John Meadows Mountain Dog type assistance work while following CBL and I am seeing great results! I can’t wait to see another progress update. When should we expect it? I am also curious if you are following the CBL DB protocol or the SA protocol? Are you using the AM Accelerator shake? Also, what kind of whey are you using? Isolate or Upgraded Whey?

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      8 week progress report almost done being written up… just have a few edits and finishing touches to put on it. Should be out in next few days! Thanks for the interest.

      Im doing the Strength Accumulation protocol.

      Started strong using the AM accelerator shake, now only using it occasionally.

      The whey I’m using is whey isolate (upgraded whey) AND whey hydrolysate (peptopro from protein factory) in my post work out shakes… (haven’t been using these with much regularity now too).

      • Mike says:

        Great to hear. I am kind of doing the Density Bulking protocol. Wish he would release CBL 2.0 soon. It sounds like a lot of his views have changed since CBL 1.0. I believe Upgraded Whey is exclusively whey protein concentrate not isolate. I am also using DSM PeptoPro. I get mine from True Nutrition and its hydrolyzed caseinate. Once I started using PeptoPro and branched cyclic dextrins in my PWO shake my muscle soreness completely went away and my recovery increased dramatically while doing 5/3/1. Can’t wait to see your 8 week progress report.

        • BJJ Caveman says:

          Ah, I haven’t looked too deeply into Upgraded Whey, so you’re probably right.

          The only thing that has affected my soreness is consistent work outs… the more I do it the less sore I feel, at least for me, the supplements don’t make that much of a difference.

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