Carb Back-Loading Results After 14 Weeks

CBLCarb Back-Loading Results After 14 Weeks

I’ve concluded my Carb Back-Loading experiment after doing my best to stick with it for 14 weeks.  If you want to see what I wrote from weeks 1 through 11, you can find them here:


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.



  • 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


Protein Factory 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.



CBL Week 14

Before I start going into all of the results a couple things happened to me during this time period.  On 4/26/2014 as I was squatting 260 lbs for 5 sets of 5 reps, in the middle of my second set, I tweaked something and had to stop right away.  I was in so much pain that I had to stop my training session and couldn’t do much of anything except walk very slowly and gingerly for the next few days.  After 5 days, I was feeling pretty good again so I hit the weight room again, and after 2 or 3 reps, felt the same twinge.

Not wanting to risk further injury, I decided to stop messing around with heavy weights until I felt 100% again.  Absolutely no squats and no deadlifts until I felt 100%, so I had to terminate the Stronglifts 5×5 program.

When things started feeling a little better I was able to get in a few Crossfit workouts, but this was mainly on metabolic conditioning, since I didn’t want to start throwing any heavy weights around (also since I wasn’t lifting as much, I stopped using all the protein powders).

After this injury, for weeks 12 – 14,  I really tried to cut back on my carbs and started to do a Carb Nite style of eating, by eating ultra low carb throughout the week, with 1 or 2 Carb Nites per week.

Since I really had to dial back my weight training and I think this really impeded my progress… especially since one of the main tenets of CBL is hard training.


I started this experiment at 192.0 lbs.  The lowest point I reached was 186.8 lbs in the near the end of week 8.  By the conclusion of my experiment at the end of week 14, my final weight was 189.6 lbs, for a loss of 2.4 lbs.


Nothing much to write home about here.  I couldn’t even break 1.0 mmol/L during this period.  The highest point I was able to reach was 0.9 mmol/L.  I think because I was eating so many carbs on my back-loading days throughout this experiment I don’t think I was ever really in ketosis.  I only got to the 0.9 mmol/L level after almost 2 straight weeks of ultra low carb eating (with only one carb nite in between)… which was pretty much like another induction period.


My fasting sugars started to look better as I started decreasing the amount of back-loads I was doing, finally getting into the 80s consistently during weeks 13 and 14.  This really confirms how carb sensitive my body is!


  • Squat: 225 lbs to 265 lbs (4 weeks) to 275 lbs (8 weeks), back to 260 lbs (week 11)
  • Benchpress: 205 lbs to 220 lbs (4 weeks) to 220 lbs (8 weeks), back to 210 lbs (week 11)
  • Barbell Row: 135 lbs to 155 lbs (4 weeks) to 175 lbs (8 weeks), back to 185 lbs (week 11)
  • Over-head press: 95 lbs to 110 lbs (4 weeks) to 155 lbs (8 weeks), back to 105 lbs (week 11)
  • Deadlift: 185 lbs to 215 lbs (4 weeks) to 255 lbs (8 weeks) to 265 lbs (week 11)

During this time course I was able to max out on my Deadlift and Barbell row at 265 lbs and 185 lbs respectively.  The reason my Squats, Benchpress, and Over-head press weights went down is because with the Stronglifts 5×5 protocol, if you fail at your targeted weight by not being able to get the full 5×5 done, you drop the weight down 25%, and then incrementally increase it from there.

I honestly feel that I could have progressed a lot more with this if I hadn’t suffered this latest injury along with my prior shoulder injury.


On day 1, this measured 35.5 inches.  After 4 weeks this went down to 34.5 in, at 8 weeks this went down further to 34 in, and now after 14 weeks, it bounced back up to 34.25 inches.


The keto-rash didn’t make any appearances during this time period… which just confirmed that I was never truly in deep ketosis.


Here are the results of the blood tests that I took at the end of the 8 week mark:


After 14 weeks, I can say that I don’t think Carb Back-Loading is the correct diet for me.  First of all, we’ve already established that I have a pretty robust inner fat kid inside of me that tries to burst out whenever he can.  Being able to eat carbs during back-loads multiple times per week makes it very difficult for me to eat carbs in a restrained fashion.  With the way my mind and body are wired, it’s almost like a binary sort of reaction.  I can either (1) exert self control and eat low carb or (2) eat carbs and let my inner fat kid go wild!

I’ve tried with only mild success in eating carbs in a restrained way… but this just exposes me to too much temptation.

In my initial review of the book, I selected two quotes from it that I liked:

“Some things seem obvious and I shouldn’t have to point out that two triple cheeseburgers from a fast-food restaurant do not count as carbs for a Carb Back-Loading evening. Making food choices such as this is nothing more than using Back-Loading as an excuse to eat like shit—excuse the expletive, but that’s the most precise way to describe it.”


“People like to oversimplify—because they want an excuse to be lazy and still eat everything they want— and start finding random excuses to justify back loading.

Vacuumed the living room today? Well, that’s kind of like resistance training, all of those reps, pushing and pulling the vacuum cleaner. Obviously, this calls for a Back-Load. Walked up and down the stairs in the house several times today? Back-load. Turned page- after-page of this book or clicked mouse-button after mouse-button to get through the electronic version? Back-load!

This may sound asinine, and I am going a bit far, but not far beyond things I’ve heard in real life.”

I’m ashamed to admit that, I’m this guy!  I found it a little too easy to mentally justify a back-load… and probably back-loaded when my workout didn’t really deserve it.  Kiefer always says, if you have to ask what ‘heavy’ is, then you probably shouldn’t be doing CBL.  I even convinced myself that it was ok to have a carb back-load after certain BJJ and Crossfit sessions that definitely wouldn’t count as heavy workouts.

The other thing is that I don’t think the Stronglifts 5×5 program was the right choice for CBL since it doesn’t seem like it constitutes a heavy enough work out.  If I were a body builder who trained 2-3 hours per day for monster gainz, then sure… CBL would work fine.  But since I’m an every day Joe, desk-jockey, I don’t think this workout supported all those carbs.  I imagine that a workout combining  both Stronglifts 5×5 A and B workouts would be heavy enough for a back-load, but one of them is definitely not enough… at least in my experience.

I also don’t like the effect this had on my blood sugars, especially since my sugars always ended up higher on mornings following carb back-loads, and I’d have 3-4 back-loads per week!  This was also manifested in higher fasting insulin which bounced up to 4.6 uiU/mL from 2.8 iU/mL while doing Carb Nite.  While this is still in the optimal range of less than 5, I still like it to be as low as possible.

One of the big positives out this entire experiment is that despite my injuries, all the weight training helped me put on a little more muscle and definition in my shoulders, chests and arms.  I’ve noticed this as I walk past the mirrors at home and pause a bit to check myself out (yeah yeah… perils of vanity and what not… but I’ve never seen bulgy veins in my arms before!), and most importantly the BJJ Cave-wife has noticed the changes also, and is happy with the results.  She says I now look a lot better in fitted tees… it’s just too bad my abdominal circumference didn’t change that much.

Overall, for my purposes, I think Carb Nite works much better for me, especially since I’m primarily a desk jockey who isn’t so much a body builder or athlete, as I am someone who likes to dabble in those things.

I think it would be really good for me to continue weight training especially if I schedule it on the days following the Carb Nites when glycogen stores are replenished, as Kiefer suggests, so I can further build upon my gainz braah!


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:

24 Responses to Carb Back-Loading Results After 14 Weeks

  1. Ash Simmonds says:

    Well, kudos for properly researching, recording, applying, and sticking it out! It’s always good to have data. At least now you have a better idea what doesn’t work for you.

    I was a bit harsh on my original flippant remark when you first posted all the initial stuff about it (, but I still think protocols like these are set up to fail for the vast majority – kind of a Sysiphus Routine – and many then offer a double-down scenario.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      You’ve got a point there… and me being the weak-willed man that I am with a strong-willed-inner-fat-kid, was perfect in illustrating this point. Allowing that temptation so often definitely lead to my downfall.

      On the other hand you should see the BJJ Cave-wife’s metabolism. She can eat whatever the hell she wants and stay exactly the same!

      She’s actually been trying to put on weight while I’ve been trying to lose it…. go figure.

      • Ash Simmonds says:

        That’s just it, how does one define weak vs strong willed?

        I’ve got plenty of friends trying to fight the flab, going out 6 days a week running 5-10 miles. That’s strong willed yeah?

        I however don’t exercise whatsoever. I mean I’m not a 100% slob, I just don’t go to the gym or do stupid exercise for exercise sake. I love hiking and doing active stuff. But yeah, in the end I’m weak willed.

        But then it comes to dinner time – these same people wonder how I can push the chips and bread and sauce aside and only eat the steak and butter. See that’s me being weak willed again too.

        Go figger.

  2. Great post!

    I’m also more of a CNS / hybrid type of person. I’d rather have two Carb Nites per week and plan my work outs accordingly then play fast and loose and prolly lose to the house.

    It takes a lot to be self-aware tho, kudos on ur review!

  3. Ash Simmonds says:

    Oh BTW checking *only* your AM ketones likely won’t give the full picture, there’s plenty of feasible explanations abound, but the point is people on a ketogenic diet tend to be lower in circulating ketones first thing in the morning, you should check prior to lunch. I’ve seen mine go from 0.3 at waking to 1.3 a couple hours later, doing nothing but sitting at the computer.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      I agree. It’s just that I think it’s the most standardized way of measuring it day by day, since measuring it at any point later in the day will expose the measurement to variations in terms of diet and activity.

      Examples being if I have MCT oil with my coffee in the morning then my blood ketones will be elevated for the next few hours.. not because of my body burning it’s own fat, but because of the break down of the ketones.

      Or if I have an morning training session, this will make my ketones for the immediate 1-2 hrs low… and then 6-10 hrs later higher.

      Not sure if I explained this clearly enough though….

      But the more I’ve tested, the more it’s become clear to me that measuring blood sugar is good enough. If my blood sugar is over 90, there isn’t any reason to check my blood ketones, since 8/10 times they’ll be under 0.5 mmol

      • Ash Simmonds says:

        Well yeah, it only makes a stronger argument for MORE testing before and after each “activity”.

        The BOHB testing is too expensive and annoying to do that often, but the Ketonix I’ve found reliable enough after 6 months of use to give a good enough metric I reckon.

  4. Hemming says:

    Thanks for the summary.

    Mehdi mentions that at some point you need a more advanced program. With your lifts I think you’re close to that point.

    Kiefer has said in a couple of podcast that CBL was really designed for a 200lbs powerlifter (not a fat powerlifter) working out heavy. Those people can really slam down a big amount of carbs and do well with it.
    That said, I think you could do CBL but with a lower carb intake because you’re more sensitive to them.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Thanks, I’ve also arrived at the same conclusion and since I’m now 100% injury free (fingers crossed), that’s my current n=1.

  5. Hemming says:

    I accidentally hit the post button.

    I just wanted to add that it was a good podcast you did with Jay and Jef at Health Nuts Anonymous!

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Thanks! I haven’t publicized it yet since they haven’t made it available via itunes yet. Once that happens I’ll have a formal announcement post. But thanks anyways! I appreciate the positive feedback!

  6. NRC says:

    Great summary.

    For what it’s worth, after CBL’ing (yeah, I made CLB a verb) for eight weeks, I also switched over to CNS. I gained 6 pounds in those 8 weeks. However, I did not add any inches to my abdominal circumference and went from 14% to 12% body fat (which assumes I know how to work those darn body fat calipers correct and consistently, which is a bad assumption).

    Despite (presumably) gaining muscle without increasing body fat on CBL, I continued to feel squishy in the midsection and felt I was overdoing it in both the amount of my CBL nights (typically 3 per week) and epic’ness of those nights (typically well over 200 grams of carbs for my dainty 5’7, 150-156 lb frame).

    I figured I’d make the switch to CNS and wrap up my little experiment with 6 or so weeks of CNS to see if that would help tighten things up and otherwise reign in my own inner fat man. It was around this time that Kiefer stated on a podcast that CBL is really for serious athletes and most people on CBL should probably be on CNS, which also weighed (no pun intended) in favor of my switch.

    So far, I’m in week 2 of CNS and overall, feel pretty good. Right or wrong, CBL got me off my Paleo track. CBL could certainly be consistent with Paleo, it’s just that I’m, well, weak and jumped at the chance to indulge. CNS, so far, seems to be more consistent with a Paleo framework, at least for me.

    Looking forward to your next n=1.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Glad I’m not the only weak willed weight-lifting wanna-be out there. My inner fat kid is strong!

      As you can see in some of my prior Back-Loads, it wouldn’t be unheard of for me to get in the 300-400 gm range of carbs. I’m always surprised at how much I can actually shovel down my mouth.

      I too was influenced by Kiefer’s statement that CBL is for serious athletes, and how he refers to the pictures of the folks in his books which were all of body builders! (I plan on posting the next set of my CBL and CNS Kiefer notes soon)

  7. Giuseppe says:

    Have you attempted shockwave with CBL? I’ve had good luck with that training approach and CBL.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      You know.. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I don’t understand the shockwave protocol. I found his free e-book which was a little too… barebones for me.

      And then there are those apps that you need to buy. When I looked at the pictures of the apps via the app store, I still couldn’t figure it out…

      Do you know any good sources that provide a clear and concise explanation as to how it’s supposed to work?

      • No way! I thought I was the only person on the internet that was wondering when Shockwave would make sense!

        I’ve been around loads of programs, gyms and gym rats, still don’t understand the framework.

        While the DUP, PSR and ELECT concepts sound like familiar concepts, I think it’s the delivery of the spreadsheet that is confusing.

        So glad I’m not the only one though!

      • Giuseppe says:

        I agree about the e-book, even after reading it multiple times I didn’t know if I was doing the workouts correctly. Honestly the concepts did become more clear after I bought the app (as a side note it is well put together and find myself wishing it had had the option of keying in your own workouts). Also what helped me out was watching the videos on Keifer’s youtube channel like this one ( and What is demonstrated is ELECT the explosive contraction, pause and slow negative that you use inside the PSR set. The app asks for your 1RM (I don’t think that was in the e-book and is kind of a big detail to leave out), then breaks down each “mini” set. So for example you take the Barbell Push Press with a 1RM of 120, your first set of 3 is 30LBs, second set is 50, third is 60, fourth is 70 and first is 85. Or 27%, 40%, 50%, 60%, and 70%. The percentages are not the same for all exercises, as deadliest are 33.3% for the first set and 77.5% for the first. Hope that helps.

        I’ve seen better progress once I got the ELECT movement down, before I would keep upping my 1RM every week and it seemed really easier that what it should have been or so i thought, again until performing the ELECT movement correctly. David hope this helps you as well.

        • Giuseppe,

          Thanks for reply! I’m going to download the app tonight and figure this thing out.

          I had a martial arts buddy in college that used to grab a pair of 80s, 60s, 45s and 30s and perform dumbbell chest presses for 8, 10, 12, 15 reps.

          He was also 120 lbs and would do that rep scheme for every movement. Strong as a bull with the stamina to make it hurt.

          Thanks again for the clarification!

  8. I wouldn’t say the unstructured makeup of the diet appeals to me at all. You with your specific setup would have likely nailed just strict intermittent fasting. Thanks for this series of posts.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      If by intermittent fasting you mean fasting for 14-16 hrs… then I think you’re right.

      I’ve tried to go the full 24 hours before… and hated it!

      Really love the look of your website btw.

  9. Hemming says:

    I’m going to give this TKD/carb backloading another shot. I think it suits me better because I’ve always been lean and insulin sensitive. I think that the diet one should choose has to fit your physiology – if you’re pretty insulin sensitive, high(er) carb will be better. If you’re less insulin sensitive, go for lower carb.
    From the early stages of my experiment I can tell that I feel better and can perform better in the gym.

  10. carb backloader says:

    What is this? People wanna SEE your real rsults, as in pictures. Nobody is interested in numbers. Everyone wants to SEE it, thats how people judge if they wanna do it or not.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      I agree, I should have taken before and after pics. Definitely something I’ll keep in mind for the next time.

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