More Carb Nite and Carb Back-Loading Tips

Carb Night SolutionCBLOver the past few weeks I’ve been listening to a steady stream of some of John Kiefer’s podcasts, some of which are from his own site, and some from when he appears as a guest on other folks’ podcasts.  For those that don’t know, Kiefer is the author of both The Carb Nite Solution and Carb Back-Loading, both ways of eating that I’ve been playing around with recently.

Each time interview or discussion I listen to I end up coming away with another tidbit of information that he reveals that wasn’t quite written in either of his books, so I wanted to aggregate some of these nuggets here.  I did a similar thing a few posts back covering a couple other podcasts he appeared in.  If you want to see all the other podcasts in which Kiefer has guest appeared, check them out here.

From the Promoting Real Women Radio: MMA Moms podcast:

  • On Carb Nite, protein intake should be 30% of total calories.
  • A protein intake 50% or greater will make it difficult to become ketotic.
  • Athletes however can tolerate and may require a protein intake greater than 50%, of course depending on the individual and their training regimen.

From the Garage Warrior podcast:

  • Protein should be eaten later in the day
  • Diet should be mainly fat, and most fat should be eaten earlier in the day.
  • As ketoadaptation takes place, the muscle usage of ketones goes down due to down regulation of 3 beta hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase activity, preserving ketones to be used by other organs
  • Heart muscle use of ketones goes up
  • This is why ketosis is great for endurance athletes, but terrible for power athletes.
  • MMA fighters are considered power athletes.
  • Low insulin levels are more important for fat loss than ketogenesis.

From the Propane Fitness podcast:

  • The body appearing ‘full’ and amount of ‘water retention’ in the body can be used as a guide for increasing or decreasing carb intake

From the Lift Run Bang podcast:

  • First off I just have to say that this was a pretty hilarious podcast and I actually laughed out loud multiple times.  Things get quite a bit raunchy, and the damn podcast is 2 hours long!  But it was 2 hours of pure gold!  Also it’s probably the only podcast in which you hear Kiefer actually cut loose and really get comfortable, since he usually speaks with more decorum…. and it’s refreshing!
  • Recommends Carlson’s Fish Oil 15 gm per day.
  • Interesting discussion of a study in which they examined the different hormonal responses between a fast food burger vs a grass fed burger with same macronutrient content.
  • They also discuss which super hero or villainess they would each choose to bang
  • And of course they address the age old dilemma of who they would rather have with them on a desert island… a mermaid in which the upper half is human and bottom half a fish or one that is upper half fish and bottom half human…

From the Ben Coombs Show podcast:

  • Galacto-oligosaccharides and fructo-oligosaccharides, which are both prebiotics, can increase ketone levels.
  • Kiefer prefers those to potato starch when discussing resistant starch and the gut biome.
  • Kiefer has backed off on his support of caffeine.  In the Carb Back-Loading shakes he recommends up to 200 mg in both the pre and post workout shakes (since I didn’t want to screw up my sleep too much, I decided not to use any caffeine when using shakes).
  • He says he only uses caffeine with super high intense athletes… which is definitely not me.
  • Noticed that performance and fat loss improved with removal of evening caffeine.

From Kiefer’s own Body IO FM podcast interview with Ben Greenfield:

  • Ben Greenfield discussed his recent participation in Jeff Volek’s lab examining the differences between high carb and low carb endurance athletes (people in documented ketosis)
  • They ran at 65% VO2 Max for 3 hrs.
  • Muscle and fat biopsies were performed throughout the day, before the run, after the run, immediately after a post workout meal, and then a few hours after the post workout meal, to analyze changes in glycogen and other enzymes and what-nots (biopsies are no joke!  this a serious study!).
  • Dexa scans were also done.
  • They also collected urine samples to look at nitrogen utilization
  • Stool samples were studied to look at microbiome and other gut stuff.
  • They also measured RMR before, during 60 minutes after, and 120 minutes after workout.
  • Of course they did blood draws to look at various blood markers.
  • Cheek swabs were collected to look at membrane fatty acids and free radicals.
  • One of the preliminary results for Ben Greenfield was that he was able to oxidize fat at 1.4 – 1.5 gm per minute (he was in ketosis for this experiment).  Previously the maximal theoretical rate of fat oxidation was though to be 1.1 gm per minute, and it turns out the Ben Greenfield was only in the middle of the range for this study.  This will literally change the paradigm for endurance athletes.
  • Ben’s inflammation levels were low throughout the experiment.
  • At least the preliminarily, the results show that ketosis is great for endurance athletes…
  • and that we can oxidize way more fat than the current research states if we become fat adapted.
  • They also go into the changes of Ben’s thyroid and how he addressed it with thyroid extract and organ meats.

From the Body IO FM podcast research review:

  • They’ve noticed in a subset of people doing Carb Nite that it can be difficult to raise ketone levels above the 1 mmol/L, let alone the ideal 3 – 5 mmol/L range.
  • Kiefer found a paper showing that ketogenic diets shut down the MTOR pathway, which is an important path for growing new tissue, especially muscle mass.
  • MTOR is upregulated by resistance training, insulin, leucine, and nictoine.
  • Aging suppresses MTOR.
  • Intermittent fasting beyond 12 hrs also suppresses MTOR, which is why Kiefer recommends against fasts lasting longer than 12 hrs.
  • He posits that this may be why it is difficult for people to become ripped and muscular when following a strict ketogenic diet.
  • There also appears to be a feedback mechanism in which MTOR is needed by the liver to produce ketones, but once you are in ketosis for a long time, there is a down regulation of MTOR in the liver, which decreases the production if ketones.
  • This can explain why it’s so hard for people to get their ketones up.
  • Another highlight is their discussion on the Bulletproof butter in coffee thing.
  • They first bring up the idea that casein can neutralize the catechins in coffee.  Casein is a protein found in milk, cream, and butter.  Catechins are antioxidants (the importance of these catechins are still up for debate).
  • Kiefer thinks heavy whipping cream is the best thing to add to coffee for a few reasons, one being that cream mixes better with coffee.
  • Cream mixes better because the proteins in the cream form a bilayered membrane called a milk fat globule membrane (one of the main components is phosphatidyl choline which is a precursor to acetylcholine).
  • These membranes have casein bound to them tightly so when digested, the casein is released very slowy where as with butter, the casein is free floating and is released immediately.
  • It’s the milk fat globule membrane that has been shown to be beneficial for digestion, brain function, and other stuff.
  • When butter is formed, the churning process destroys the milk fat globule membranes, so of all things to add to coffee, butter should be at the bottom of the list.
  • The homogenization process of cream will also increase casein content, so its best to use raw, unhomogenized cream (which has lowest casein content).
  • MCT oil and coconut oil are also better options as opposed to butter.
  • Another one of the purported benefits of butter is the ‘butyric acid’ which is a short chain fatty acid.
  • The main issue with this is that all the benefits of butyric acid occur when it is produced by gut flora… not when it is taken directly as in the form of butter (gut bacteria digest fiber and resistant starches into butyric acid which feed other good gut bacteria).

From the Body IO FM podcast with Dominic D’Agostino part 2:

  • Ketogenic diets can inhibit MTOR and may be a reason why it can be hard to gain muscle mass while in ketosis.
  • Low carb diets suppress insulin secretion and it is the eventual depletion of hepatic glycogen that triggers ketogenesis.
  • Muscles become more sensitive to resistance training while in ketosis.
  • Muscles have been shown to recover faster between workouts while in ketosis with documented improvements in inflammation markers.
  • D’Agostino has preliminary data showing that it is in fact possible to gain muscle and lose fat on a ketogenic diet.
  • In the absence of carbs, muscles are more sensitive to adrenaline, enabling people to get stronger with Carb Back-Loading.
  • Carb Back-Loading is also good for MMA.
  • Ketones cause vasodilation in skin wound studies as well as in the brain increasing blood flow and oxygenation.  This induced vasodilation may be the biggest benefit of ketones.
  • Kiefer wonders if increased blood flow to fat cells when ketotic can actually help to burn more fat.
  • To fund a study examining a specific question they would like to answer would cost upwards of $4 million!

And in the latest Body IO FM podcast summarizing their Paleo FX experience:

  • They noticed a lot of paleo convenience foods and pre-packaged bars which Kiefer thinks signals the end of the paleo movement.
  • He noticed this same pattern with the Zone Diet, Southbeach Diet, and Atkins Diet, when various pre-packaged bars and shakes were marketed to squeeze even more money out of the population and people became disenchanted.
  • Andrea Jengle discusses a story where her avoidance of gluten caused her to become extremely sensitive to gluten… so much so that just cutting bread elicited a reaction!
  • Kiefer believes you need some exposure to gluten to keep your body resilient rather than complete avoidance.
  • They all think that there is now too much pre-occupation with measuring ketones, whether via urine dip sticks, blood ketones, or breath ketones.
  • Instead the focus should just be in controlling insulin.  They all agreed that having lower insulin is more important than having higher ketones.


22 Responses to More Carb Nite and Carb Back-Loading Tips

  1. mike says:

    I have also heard him changing and updating things all over the podcast world, while offering no updates to his own forums. While I do still find him more to be smarter and more science driven than most, I am still losing faith. He even contradicts himself often, while giving no specific reasons! I heard this morning he is starting his own supplement line. This has me thinking it’s time to start to wonder about his motives and end game. He bashed the Paleo movement also, saying it has been co-opted by supplement and processed food makers..

    Aside from that, I am still on Carb Nite. I don’t count calories and choose to eat junk every week on Carb Nite. I still lose about a pound or just under a week, sometimes it slows. Rocky Patel admitted Carb Nite, without counting calories, leads a to a glacially slow fat loss. For himself personally, he talked about eating as low as 1400 calories a day.

    Keifer seems to not think calories count, Rocky disagrees. My opinion? They do count in the end, but obsessing over them is a stressor and not the way to live. For me I have put my goal at one year. I am down 22-28 pounds and feel ok. If I feel beat up and tired, I will Carb Nite one night early.

    This way of eating has taught me just how much sugar and foods that digest as sugar, we consume everyday. It has helped me curb my sweet tooth. Many processed foods taste awful to me now. Crispy Crème tastes like Chemical Crème, Diet Coke is like weed killer and bread tastes like dry cardboard.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Great to see you checking in with such amazing results!

      I’m glad to see that your taste buds have changed…. unfortunately I can’t say the same for me. Junk foods still taste damn good to me and my inner fat kid! And while my sweet tooth has abated… it definitely lets me know when it’s time for a carb nite too!

  2. Ash Simmonds says:

    Lots of interesting stuff in there!

    I’ll give you the hot tip on one thing though – ANY system that is called something like “ADJECTIVE CARB/STARCH/SUGAR/ETC ADJECTIVE” is a scam.

    Not maybe, not it might work, not it’s it good some such person, not sometimes – EVERY SINGLE TIME IT’S A SCAM, a waste of time.

    There’s no such thing as an essential carb. There never has been. There never will be.

    Any program promoting such a thing is just a method to help the weak find a way to eat the junk they grew up on with some kind of father overlord system they can obey.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Agree that no such thing as an essential carb.

      However I don’t feel this applies to strength/power athletes… or MMA and BJJ or Crossfit (my areas of interest). I know I need some carb up days to get me to the level where I can perform at the level I want to be.

      Also in my experience, for the standard person, carbs are necessary at least once a week … possibly once every 2 weeks. I saw my thyroid levels take a big hit when I was doing strict keto, so for sure in my case, carbs are needed occasionally.

      *** Carb *** – I don’t think these are all scams. Like Carb Nite is more of a marketing thing than anything. If he named it what it truly is, ‘Cyclic Ketogenic Diet’ then it wouldn’t appeal to the general masses. Carb Nite is a term that can appeal to the masses, and that isn’t a bad thing.

      Now one thing he may have done is oversold how much you can eat junk and still do well… and he’s said as much on recent pod casts, that he now favors backing off all that junk in favor of rice/potatoes etc…

  3. MB says:

    Great review of the latest CNS and CBL tips! Keep up the great information. I can’t wait for CBL 2.0.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Ya, I too am looking forward to CBL 2.0, I know he’s said in a few podcasts that its porbably coming 3rd or 4th quarter 2014.

      • Slim934 says:

        Has he ever said if he intends to update CNS? That book is I think almost 10 years old now. Given the in some cases vastly different advice he now gives I feel that book needs an update as well.

        • BJJ Caveman says:

          No mention of an update to the Carb Nite book. I agree it’d be nice… but since he’s been working on CBL 2, everything else is probably on the back burner.

  4. NN says:

    I enjoy listening to Kiefer but my biggest beef with his preachings are these two things,

    1. It almost makes me furious how he so casually expects people to get into full-blown ketosis just a few days after a carb meal. Or every AM when they are eating carbs every PM. 1/2 day ketosis, 1/2 day carb burner, what?!!! It just doesn’t happen, and I don’t get why he completely ignores this fact.

    2. How the hell have none of his followers suffered from the low carb-flu, especially the Carb-Niters? I would imagine they’d be fighting the flu 4-5 out of 7 days. Not once have I heard him acknowledge the need for sodium and potassium supplementation especially when you are eating very low carb 6.5 days on CarbNite. I don’t even do Carb-Nite but backload 2-3 times / week, and if I don’t supplement with potassium and actively monitor sodium intake, the muscle cramps and brain fog come chasing.

    • primalsteve says:

      As for carb-flu, once someone gets adapted to a low carb diet, carb-flu isn’t an issue. I was low carb for 2 years before discovering carb nite. I’ve had 4 carb nights, and no carb-flu…

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      #1 – Good point. With Carb Back-Loading, getting back into ketosis immediately is not possible, at least in my experience. This is feasible however with Carb Nite, since in my experience I can easily get back into ketosis within 2-4 days. Again this point however is probably moot according his latest thoughts since he feels that it’s more likely the lack of carbs and low insulin rather than the level of ketones that is responsible for the benefits.

      #2 – I myself have never experienced the low carb flu. This is probably since I’ve been in and out of ketosis for over a year now. My understanding is the keto-flu is mainly applicable during the initial phases of ketoadaptation as your body is generating the cellular machinery and upgregulating the necessary enzymes and proteins needed process fat and generate ketones.

      Once these things are activated it’ll be easier to enter ketosis without the effects of the low carb flu.

      • NN says:

        BJJ, Mike, PrimalSteve,

        When you say you’re low-carbing cyclically (CBL, CNS), how many grams of carbs /day is that?

        Are you able to do ~50 gms of carbs / day, not supplement sodium/potassium and still keep the flu at bay? How about muscle cramps?

        • Mike says:

          Fairly low on carbs – under 35 most days. I use salt whenever I can, I don’t fear it. If I start to feel lightheaded or weak, I will take some salt in water or on the tongue. I have not been using salt tabs or cubes or anything.

        • primalsteve says:

          I wasn’t “keto”, just low carb (usually 50 or less), I never tracked it, but only ate veggies (most of the time), if I ate carbs at all. I only recently discover CNS…

          The only supplements I take are D3 and Zinc(winter only)… I eat a lot off eggs since i don’t eat organ meat…

          I have had 2 -3 Leg cramps in the past 2 years (sleeping), but haven’t found it necessary to supplement yet. Still researching that…

        • BJJ Caveman says:

          You can see in my latest CBL post,, that when I’m doing low carb, it’s in the 30gm range, give or take a few.

          No cramps. No sodium supplementation. No carb flu.

  5. primalsteve says:

    Great review, I’ve been trying to catch up on all his Podcasts.

  6. Gawain says:

    Better late than never, but I’ve just discovered your awesome blog, and it’s right up my street. I’ve been very low carb for too long now, and realised last winter that I’ve become hypothyroid, and am now on the road back to warm hands and feet! My training is Doug McGuff’s Body by Science approach, which fits perfectly with my early 40’s goal of strength with injury prevention. I read Keifer’s books over a year ago, but got sidetracked into thinking that carbs were evil…but it’s all about context. Very excited to be backloading again, and have already noticed that I’ve regained some definition along with fullness after a couple of weeks.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Using McGuff’s protocol, are you just doing once a week and back-loading on the workout day?

      • Gawain says:

        I’m not following the BBS plan to the letter at the moment, but doing 2 intense evening workouts a week. First workout of 4 upper body compound movements, and a second workout of a lower body compound movement (usually squats) followed by a couple of isolation sets for neck and grip, then some 30 sec HIIT – alternating between stationary bike and incline treadmill sprints for about 6 rounds.

        I’m backloading after both workouts, but keeping it clean with rice, potatoes etc after an insulin spike of whey and dextrose. Also upping my evening carbs on non-workout days, but not to the level of backloads of course.

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