Carb Back-Loading Results After 8 Weeks

CBLCarb Back-Loading Results After 8 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. If you want to see my results from the first 4 weeks, you can check them out here.

OBJECTIVE: Burn fat while increasing muscle mass and strength.

METHODS:

  • 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.

BIOMARKERS:

EXERCISE:

  • 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.
  • 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

MATERIALS: SUPPLEMENTS:

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. TOOLS:

RESULTS: I’ve decided to include the total calories consumed as well as total carbs consumed as additional columns to give you a better sense as to what my macros are.  Again, if you want to see in detail what I’m eating, add me as a friend on myfitnesspal.  I know things are starting to look a little cluttered, but I wanted to give you access to as much data as possible!  If it’s too small, just click on the tables themselves and that should bring up the original, un-shrunken image which will be a bit easier to read. CBL Results Week 4 CBL Results Week 8 WEIGHT: At the start of my experiment I weighed 192 lbs.  After 4 weeks, it dropped a bit to 189 lbs.  After 8 total weeks, I’m down to 187.2 lbs for a total loss of 4.8 lbs.  Not too shabby.

AM BLOOD KETONES: With the frequent timing of the carbs with every carb back-load, it was much harder to stay in ketosis.  In fact I pretty much gave up measuring my blood ketones with any regularity since they were guaranteed to be in the 0.2 – 0.3 mmol range on the 1-3 days after every carb back-load. I did notice that it was easier to get back above 0.5 mmol within 1-2 days of a CBL when I kept the total carb intake to less than 150 gm (see 4/4/14 and 3/8/14). I’m not entirely sure what to make of these numbers, except that maybe it’s telling me that I’m still very sensitive to carbs and that 150 gm is definitely my upper limit, at least with this protocol.  One thing I know for certain is that there is no way I can do this protocol AND keep my ketones at 3 mmol at the same time, which is what Kiefer has said is ideal.  Maybe it has something to do with my MTOR pathway?

AM FASTING BLOOD GLUCOSE: After the induction week when my blood sugars where in the 70s to 80s, you can see now that they’re now bouncing around the high 90s and sometimes low 100s.  This seems to further support the fact that my body is pretty carb sensitive!  I’m not entirely sure this is optimal for me in the long run, and further supports my inclination to cut my carbs back to 150 gm max… or even less!

AM BREATH KETONES:

The new sport version of the ketonix has been shipped out, so I’m waiting for it in the mail… but until then, I’ve still been playing around with the original one.  Can’t really report any useful data here since it looks like the correlation between blood ketones and breath acetone is still all over the place, ie on 4/5/2014 a value 0.3 mmol blood ketones corresponding to a ‘high’ for breath acetones.

STRONGLIFTS 5x5:

  • Squat: 225 lbs to 265 lbs (4 weeks) to 275 lbs (8 weeks)
  • Bechpress: 205 lbs to 220 lbs (4 weeks) to 220 lbs (8 weeks)
  • Barbell Row: 135 lbs to 155 lbs (4 weeks) to 175 lbs (8 weeks)
  • Over-head press: 95 lbs to 110 lbs (4 weeks) to 155 lbs (8 weeks)
  • Deadlift 185 lbs to 215 lbs (4 weeks) to 255 lbs (8 weeks)

My weights didn’t progress very much for a few reasons.  First, I really hit a wall at the 275 lbs failing 3 consecutive times to hit 5×5 at that weight.  Failure is part of the program and I was scheduled to deload back down to 245 lbs.  Secondly I injured my right shoulder on 3/21/14… and because of the injury I couldn’t comfortably get into the squat position, nor could I do the benchpress or overhead press.  So my weights for those movements also stalled. I was however able to continue with the deadlift and barbell row and have made steady but slow progress with those movements. Instead of squatting, I incorporated leg-presses which put zero strain on my shoulder and was able to work up to a 5×5 at 500 lbs, which is giving me some confidence in knowing that I won’t lose too much of my squat gains after not doing it for so long. I documented my workouts as ‘weight lifting’ instead of the typical SL 5×5 A or B because I wasn’t able to do the full SL 5×5 work out.  I was still able to use the app to help me track my progress with the deadlifts and barbell rows which was helpful.

CROSSFIT AND BJJ: Really didn’t do much of either because of the shoulder thing.  :(  It’s been said before that Father Time is undefeated…. and it’s undeniably true… 2014 is definitely the year in which he’s announcing his presence to me!

ABDOMINAL CIRCUMFERENCE: On day 1, this measured 35.5 in, after 4 weeks this went down to 34.5 in, and now after 8 weeks I’m at 34 in.  While the circumference still does bounce around a bit when I take multiple measurements in a week, it’s staying closer to 34 in now, which is a good sign.  Hopefully I’ll be able to break through 34 soon!

PRURIGO PIGMENTOSA KETO-RASH: The keto-rash made a brief appearance after I went 5 days without carbs from 3/31 – 4/3, however all it took was a hit of 110 gm of carbs on 4/4 to make it disappear.  It’s interesting, that I can now tell when the rash is coming on before a single red spot appears.  I notice my skin gets more sensitive, slightly itchy, and feels a tad tingly. I’m still not sure if it’s the lack of carbs or the insulin or both that elicit the appearance of this rash for me, but I think I’ll experiment with this.  Since leucine has the ability to stimulate an insulin response, if I took 5-10 gm of leucine without any carbs, this may shed some light on the causes of the rash… assuming I could stimulate enough insulin release.

BLOOD TESTS: I just drew blood for the following tests and will post the results shortly!

DISCUSSION: Overall I’ve lost weight, lost abdominal circumference, and gained strength!  This is a pretty successful experiment thus far and I’m eager to keep it going in order to see just how far it will take me. As compared to Carb Nite, CBL is doing a better job of keeping the rash at bay.  It will be interesting to see how CBL affects my blood markers. If you’re interested in reading more about Carb Nite or Carb Back-Loading you can pick them up directly from Kiefer’s site here:

 

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22 Responses to Carb Back-Loading Results After 8 Weeks

  1. NRC says:

    This is really interesting. Thanks for posting. I’m thinking of giving CBL a whirl. I’m a recovering fat @$$ who is looking to build strength but, at the same time, lean out (at least in the midsection, which is proving to be particularly stubborn) Because my weight training has been a bit of a learn on the fly, the StrongLift 5×5 program looks appealing. A couple of quick questions for you, if you don’t mind:

    1. I’ve seen some random references to a CBL 2.0 coming out. Have you heard anything about that?

    2. How did you feel during the 10 day low carb period and days in which you don’t CBL? During this low car period (or low carb days), Were you able to roll in BJJ w/out bonking and/or lift effectively?

    3. I reserve all rights to circle back and pick more of your brain.

    Thanks!

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      First off, welcome! thanks for stopping by.

      1. CBL 2.0 – Kiefer has said in a few places that he’s currently working on it and intends to release it Q3 or Q4 this year.. so fingers crossed.

      2. 10 day induction – No problem. No keto flu, but this is probably because I’ve been tinkering with ketosis for over a year now. If this is your first time dabbling with ketosis, then you will be more susceptible to the keto flu. During this period, I could lift effectively… but this was doing the normal weights I worked with before using Stronglifts 5×5 to push myself.

      I don’t think my BJJ bonking during this time was so much related to my ketosis as it was my being sore as hell from the weight lifting. Also I didn’t do much BJJ during the induction phase because I was coming off a finger fracture, http://bjjcaveman.com/2014/01/09/minor-setback/

      What I do remember from when I was doing strict keto, was that I would bonk in BJJ during the free-rolling sessions when I’m going full bore with my partner. Now I’m trying more to flow and conserve energy and am finding that this is helping to save a bit in the tank for those times I need to go full force.

      3. Please come back and pick away!

  2. NRC says:

    Thanks.

    I’m eager to jump into CBL and Stronglifts 5×5 so I’ll probably just get 1.0 and hope if a 2.0 is released there’s some kind of discounted update.

    Keto has never been a goal, per se, but I’ve been Paleo’ish since around August 2013. By simply virtue of giving up the bread, pasta, etc… my carb intake has been much lower than before. More recently I’ve been tinkering with intermittent fasting and, while not adhering to CBL strictly, timing my carbs post evening workout so almost by accident I assume I’ve been in and out of ketosis and have felt pretty good in doing so.

    I may find out the answer to this question once I get CBL but, in the meantime, do you have any thoughts regarding how late is too late to have a post workout meal, whether it be a CBL night or otherwise? I ask because by the time I’m done lifting in the evening or BJJ, I may not eat until 9:00-9:30 p.m. I’ve played around with eating prior to and after lifting/BJJ and, I think, feel better eating after, even if it is only an hour or so before I try to get my old butt to bed.

    Thanks again.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Never too late to CBL, as long as the training session is in the afternoon, preferably after 4 pm.

      The issue is if you train earlier in the day… then the CBL session may have to come in the night before.

  3. NN says:

    How often do you get DEXA scans done? I would be curious how the DEXA results compare with your waist measurements, weight, etc.

    Do you experience any bloating on carbs? Even the supposedly clean carbs (White rice, sweet potatoes) in moderate amounts (8 oz servings) will have me cutting gassers on CBL. I might have to follow Sarah Strange’s approach and introduce carbs very gradually.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      I only got it done that one time. I don’t think it’s something I’ll continue, since I don’t want to re-expose myself to unnecessary radiation.

      As for comparisons with waist measurements and weight, you can see here that the DEXA was done on 11/23/13.

      Then you can cross reference that date with the table here and see what my measurements were in and around that time.

      I don’t experience much bloating with carbs… unless I really go off the deep end and eat 300-400 gm…. which I’ve done. Then I just feel sick.

      But when I’m in the 100-200 gm range and it’s with white rice or potatoes, no bloating or gassiness.

  4. Mikey says:

    Hey, cool blog man.

    I’m a former bulletproof dude who does BJJ and still trying to be low carb paleo. I still drink bulletproof coffee sometimes, but I notice that when I drink too much MCT I get keto rash pretty quick.

    Anyways, it’s cool that your blog is addressing a lot of what I’m wondering about, and it saves me having to experiment totally blind myself.

    I wanted to ask you though, cause I roll BJJ 5 or 6 times a week at varying intensities – if you didn’t do cross fit or strong lifts would you recommend the carb back loading book still?

    Have you found a diet that fully suits your needs?

    Thanks,
    Mikey

    • Mikey says:

      Also, what do you do during double training days? Do you CBL after each session? Like I train at noon and at 6:30pm, sometimes.

      Maybe I can make the noon one light and the night one really intense and CBL with that one.

      • BJJ Caveman says:

        On days like that, I try to carb up the night before to make sure I have enough glycogen for the next day, since my first training session is typically earlier in the day, like at 12 am or 2pm… something like that.

        So you can experiment with that and see how it goes. The options would be:

        1. Carb up the night before
        2. Carb up after the last training session.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      I guess that would depend on your goals and how you prioritize them.

      If your primary goal is BJJ and performing well, then I don’t think this is the best diet for it. BJJ is pretty glycolytic at times, so it’s a good idea to make sure your glycogen levels are topped up if performance is your main priority.

      If your primary goal is body recomposition, then Carb Nite would be fantastic. I’m not sure how well carb back-loading would be since you’d be taking in carbs after almost every training session up to 5x per week, and I’m not sure BJJ provides enough muscle stimulus to benefit from carb back loading.

      you can always play around with it and start by down carb back-loading after every training session, (say 5 x per week). The if you feel like you’re gaining weight or not losing weight, then cut back one or two back-loads, and then see how you feel.

      if you’re still not losing enough weight, then you can cut it back again, and so on, and you may find you benefit more from a Carb Nite type of protocol with a heavy carb up once or twice a week, while staying keto the rest of time.

      It would be something you can play with, and hopefully find what works best for you after 1-2 months.

      At this point, which is around week 13 (will do a post soon, hopefully) I’m probably at the point where I need to cut back some carbs, and then see how I do, ending closer to Carb Nite rather than CBL.

      My goal is primarily body recomp, since I’m still not close enough to the point hwere I want to compete in BJJ quite yet…

      • Mikey says:

        Thanks!

        I will try CNS and see how I go.

        How long have you been doing BJJ?

        • BJJ Caveman says:

          A little over two years now. I’m still a blue belt… And anticipate being one for a long time at the rate I’m going…

          • Mikey says:

            You should compete, cause everyone you’ll be competing with will be at your level anyway, so if you wait, you’re only delaying yourself from gaining comp experience.

            I’m a white belt with 1 stripe, and I will be competing this year against other white belts. The longer you wait, the harder it will be.

          • BJJ Caveman says:

            Good that you’re competing so early on. Keep it up! You’re definitely right. Everyone keeps telling me that you never feel ready for competition… You just go do it!

  5. NRC says:

    So, not that the BJJ Caveman has asked, but I’m throwing this out there. I’ve completed about 4 weeks of CBL and about 3 weeks of Stronglifts 5×5. I actually started the Stronglifts program at the same time as I began the low carb intro period of CBL, but quickly realized I began with too much weight, scrapped the whole thing, de-loaded, and started again with less weight closer to my 50% of 5×5 max at the beginning of about week 2 of CBL. I’m seeing some nice strength gains and, regardless, it’s just nice to be on a “dummy proof” (even for me) program with structure and goals. I love it.

    Regarding CBL, so far, like you, my inner fat man totally came out after the 10 low carb intro and I’m realizing that I need to reign in my CBL nights. Your chart detailing your calories/carbs etc. has really helped me realize this. Thank you. I’m only 5’7 and, when I started, weighed 151 (down from 200 lbs, hooray Paloe). I’m up to 155 easy (maybe a tad more) so the whole “let me lean out for the summer” thing isn’t quite working out. That said, a a few epic 3,000 calorie/400 gram carb nights were worth it. Nah, not really. I know now that I just need to have a nice big paleo meal on CBL nights, throw in a giant sweet potato or some white rice, and a reasonable “cheat” like a bowl of ice cream, and I think I’ll be dialed. In other words, a slice of pizza, 18 pieces of sushi, a giant bowl of ice cream with Rice Krispies and chocolate sauce on top and a sleeve or two of chocolate chip cookies later on before bed probably isn’t going to lead to fat loss, regardless of what Kiefer says (at least for me).

    Anyway, I’d love your feedback on a few things.

    1. Re: Stronglifts, any tips for not being “that guy” and dropping the weight on yourself during bench presses? I’m getting to some really challenging weights on the bench press at this point – – definitively my weakest of the 5 lifts – – and would prefer not to kill myself (literally) at the gym.

    2. Partly due to the above, I just started adding the pre-workout shake. I’ve actually just been adding the Whey, creatine and MCT oil to a big iced coffee. I was hoping a jolt of creatine would help me get that last rep or two of benches done. Anyway, would there be any benefit to adding the pre-workout drink in before BJJ, as opposed to just lifting? I go to BJJ at nights, prior to dinner but it could be some 5-6 hours after lunch so I’m looking to add something pre-BJJ that gives me some energy.

    Thanks for any insight.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Thanks for the feedback, glad what I’m writing is helping you out! I’m also happy to know that I’m not the only one with an inner fat kid that really knows how to throw down when he’s unleashed.. I’ve definitely had the pizza ice cream, rice krispies, and cookies etc thing happen to me… on quite a few occasions!

      Regarding your questions:

      1. Stronglifts Benchpress – Be ok with failing. If you can’t hit the set cleanly, it’s ok. This is something I’ve been struggling with recently… I pushed myself too hard trying to get that last rep in so that I wouldn’t have to face my “stronglifts failure” and I tweaked something. Causing me to have to back off of everything for a while.

      I’m recently getting back on the program again after all the travel. I think for me at least, and I get the sense that this may apply to you, the important thing is to be ok with failing reps in Stronglifts. If you can’t hit the rep cleanly, with perfect form and control, that’s the time to let yourself fail. Otherwise you will end up with an injury.

      Even the Stronglifts APP says “Failure is a normal part of the program.”

      Especially with Squats, when I’m getting close to my upper limits I find form starts to go a little bit when I’m in the 3rd or 4th rep of the 3rd set, I used to push myself through this just to hit my goal of 5×5…. now I just let myself fail. This is better than injury.

      Hope this helps.

      2. Preworkout shake for BJJ – I personally haven’t found any benefit to pre-BJJ shake. My only suggestion would be to experiment. Try going a few days without it and then try going one day with it and see how you feel. Did you notice a change in energy? In performance? How did it affect your blood sugar / ketones / weight?

      Let’s say you train BJJ 3 times a week. If you add a pre-workout shake each of those times and you feel awesome performance afterwards.. but the end of the week the extra calories caused you to gain weight then it becomes decision time for you on figuring what’s more important for you…

      Hope this helps!

    • MITBeta says:

      Get a spotter, or do your bench press in a cage.

  6. Hemming says:

    How did you decide on your macros? Was it based on your current weight or goal weight? Did you follow the advice of 1g/lbs with a 1:1 fat ratio? How many carbs did you have on off days and on back loading days?

    I’ve read part of CBL and it does come with some reference ranges but I just think that some of them doesn’t make sense. I would have liked more guidance for how much to eat on off days.

    I think I mentioned it in the other post too, it’s some pretty impressive results you’ve had!

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      let’s see, for macros:

      Carbs: 30 gm or less on ULC days.

      Protein: up to 30% of daily caloric requirement (since I’m weight training), so if my daily caloric goal is 2000 cal, then this would be aound 600cal which comes out to 150 gm of protein as the upper limit.

      Fat: Whatever is left, so in a 2000 cal diet, if 30 gm is carbs (120 cal) , and 150 gm is protein (600 cal), that leaves about 1280 cal left = 140 gm fat.

      I was initially operating with a goal of 2400 cal, but wanted to see if I could get better results if I pushed it down to 2000 cal.

      On carb days, I’ve found that I can’t let my fat man out each time… maybe only once a week. Rest of the time, need to be more restrained…

      • Hemming says:

        Thanks a lot, that was quite helpful.

        I’m surprised how you can keep calories so low. I’m at 126lbs wanting to gain to 140lbs. If I use Lyle McDonald’s recommendation I end up at 2600-2700 kcals.

        How did you find out how many carbs to eat on a CBL day? Was is just using the feel you had the day after or the next workout, i.e. if you felt you gassed out you increased carbs?

        • BJJ Caveman says:

          Regarding carbs, I tried to follow my weekly trends. If my weight and/or my abd circumference went up… then that means that I overdid it…. and the longer I went in the program the more dialed in I could get… which for me meant ~200 gm carbs.

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