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.
- 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.
- Daily AM Blood Ketones
- Daily AM Fasting Blood Glucose
- Daily AM Weight
- Daily AM Breath Acetone
- Weekly Abdominal Circumference Measurements
- Blood tests after 8 – 12 weeks:
- 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
- Carlson The Very Finest Liquid Fish Oil – My primary source of Omega 3s
- Jarrow Formulations Krill Oil– My source of Omega 3s on the road, recommended by Dave Asprey, The Bulletproof Exec
- Vitamin D – Because I’m way below the optimal range
- Vitamin C – Extended release capsules also recommended by Dave Asprey
- Upgraded Collagen – Used post workout and before I sleep on graveyard shifts as a sleep aid
- Upgraded Whey Protein – Protein source with colostrum and 0 carbs as a meal on the go or recovery shake
- Upgraded MCT Oil – Good source of saturated fat
- Upgraded Coffee – Mycotoxin free coffee
- Upgraded Coconut Charcoal – When I eat from uncertain sources
- Protein Factory Creatine Monohydrate – Creatine is one of the most researched supplements and Kiefer recommends it pretty much with every meal!
- Protein Factory Peptopro – Hydrolyzed casein, which according to Kiefer makes the amino acids more effectively absorbed. While it tastes terrible, Kiefer claims this is the best tasting brand there is.
- Protein Factory Leucine – A branched chain amino acid that according to Kiefer spikes insulin levels, independent of sugar and stimulates muscle growth.
- Protein Factory Rilose – A high glycemic carb derived from brown rice. This is what Kiefer himself uses.
- Beverly International Ultimate Muscle Cookies & Cream – Recommended by a friend. Tastes damn good. I don’t add it all the time, but it’s really helpful to use with the Peptopro because Peptopro tastes horrible. Sometimes I use this as a small dessert.
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.
- Precision Xtra Blood Glucose and Ketone Meter – Measures blood ketones
- FreeStyle Lite Blood Glucose Monitoring System – Measures blood glucose
- NewlineNY Step-On Mini Travel Bathroom Scale– Measures weight
- MyoTape Body Tape Measure – Easiest and most reproducible way to measure abdominal circumference
- Ketonix Acetone Breathalyzer – As I experiment with Carb Back-Loading, I’ll also be playing with this new toy to see how accurate it is and how well it correlates with my actual blood ketones… a sort of n=1 within an n=1.
- myfitnesspal.com – The website I’ll be using to track my food intake giving me a better idea of my protein, fat, and carb intake as well as total calories. If you want to see exactly what I’m eating, feel free to add me as a friend.
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. 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.
- 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: