Carb Backloading FAQ

carb backloading faq

Marc’s Carb Backloading FAQ for those who still seeking answers.
carb backloading faq
With every bodybuilding program that hits the market, over time people have a slew of questions that the book or forums might not answer.  While the carb backloading pdf is filled with science references and a complete table of contents, the one thing missing is organization.
While this is such a simple protocol to follow, there’s hidden gems in single sentences strewn throughout the book.  You will have to re-read it several times to catch these eye-opening observations.
This carb backloading FAQ is an attempt to answer some of your questions that might be found in the manual or just thru my own 4 month usage of the protocol.

The Carb Backloading FAQ:

Q:  I’m overweight.  Can fat guys do carb back loading? Does carb backloading work on fat people?
A:  Depends on what you mean by “fat.”  If you are 20% body fat or higher, I’d suggest the Carb Nite Solution (same author) and really focus on fat loss.  While you can use the Strength Accumulation phase to shed fat, if you are what most would consider beyond lean, try the Carb Nite Solution.  Burn off body fat and when you lean up, I’d try Carb Backloading.
Q:  Does carb back loading work if you have a low body fat percentage?
A:  Yes it will work if your body fat is already low.  If you want to keep it low and stay lean, you’ll want to do the Strength Accumulation phase and adjust based on that protocol.
Q:  How many hours can you Carb Back Load?
A:  If you are doing the Strength Accumulation phase, keep your back load window to 2 hours after your workout.  If you are doing the Density Bulk, your window can be up to 4 hours after your workout.
Q:  Can I drink milk while Carb Back Loading?
A:  You can.  While you probably won’t drink a lot of it, you might add it to your post workout shake.  You might add it to some cereal (my favorite is frosted flakes) or maybe on of the protein shakes during your carb meals after dinner.
Q:  Is it okay to have protein shakes while Carb Backloading?
A:  Yes.  Keifer recommends his components but you will have protein shakes during this protocol.
Q:  Do you Carb Backload on non training days?
A:  If you are Density Bulking and below 15% body fat, Keifer puts you into the lucky category of being able to back load every day even on non training days!  However, that will be up to you.  During my 4 months of Density Bulking, I did backload every day.  In essence  I was going for maximum muscle gains and wanted a surplus every day.
Q:  Can I use creatine on Carb Back Loading?
A:  YES!  And the author, John Keifer highly recommends you do.  There’s many benefits to creatine beyond just the building muscle that most people seek.
Q:  Can you drink coconut oil on Carb Back Loading?
A:  Yes.  Again, it’s highly recommended as coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT).  This healthy fat can be used as energy.  You will use it quite often in the plan upon waking and again before training.  It’s part of the AM Accelerator Shake and the Ignition Formula.  You can use this for cooking too.
Q:  Do you take the Accelerator Shake (referred to as the morning shake) on Off-Days?
A:  You sure do.  The Accelerator Shake is used to break the fast but keep you in prime fat burning mode.  It can be used on your non-training days.
Q:  How much coconut oil do you put in your coffee for Carb Backloading?
A:  For the AM Accelerator Shake, you put in 1 TBSP.  For the Ignition Formula, you’ll use 1 TBSP for the Strength Accumulation phase (fat loss) and 2-3 TBSP if you are on Density Bulking (weight gain).
Q:  Is Carb Back Loading a program for people who workout in the morning?  What about if I workout late or mid-day?
A:  I’ll admit the author is biased towards late afternoon workouts but there are specific tweaks called “Nobody’s Perfect” that allow you to use the carb back loading principles to your advantage no matter what time you workout.  While it may not be ideal, the changes out outlined for whatever your workout schedule allows.
Q:  Do you eat breakfast on Carb Backloading or the Carb Nite Solution?
A:  Without going into the fine details, let’s just say you post-pone breakfast.  If you are seeking the most muscle, you won’t postpone it for long (2 hours after waking up; 12 hours since the last meal) and maybe longer if fat loss is your primary goal.  You’ll just eat breakfast later and not right after waking up.
Q:  Do I need to do 10 Low Carb days before Carb Back Loading?
A:  If you are already a low percentage of body fat, 10% or lower, then you do not need to do this phase.  If you are above 10%, it’s suggested that you do the 10 day prep phase for the best results.  I did the 10 day prep phase when I started Carb Back Loading and it was a valuable experience and helped me fine tune the number of carbs I would use.
Q:  How many calories should I eat with Carb Backloading?
A:  I really have no idea.  There’s no reason to count calories on this program and there’s never any mention of it or formulas.  You will get instructions on how many grams of fats and protein before training and how many carbs, fats and protein to eat after but the concept of counting calories is not used in this program.  When you design your meal plan based on your macronutrients, you will see how many calories it adds up to which may or may not be way over what traditional formulas recommend.  It’s quite an eye-opening experience.
Q:  Does Carb Backloading by John Keifer really work?
A:  See my Carb Backloading review.
Q:  What are usable carbs for Carb Back Loading?
A:  From the body’s point of view, only two types of carb exist: usable carbs and fiber.  These burnable, fat-inducing carbs include sugar, starch, glycerine and sugar alcohols are what make up the term usable carbs.
Q:  How many carbs (grams) will break the ULC (ultra low carb) portion of Carb Backloading?
A:  During your ULC days (pre workout or prep phase) as little as 30g can change the fuel source that your body will burn.  The reason ULC is recommended is to keep your body burning as much fat as possible.  By eating carbs, you can drop out of fat burning and use those carbs for energy.  This doesn’t mean you will gain fat!  It just means 30g or more of carbs can break the theory proposed with the ULC phase.
Q:  What do you eat on Carb Back-Loading?  Can I eat celery on a Carb Backload day?
A:  See my Carb Back Loading meal plan.  Things like celery (vegetable; fiber) are encouraged and part of the many list of items you can eat on the ultra-low carb portion of the day.  The appendix in the book lists out many vegetables that you may want to try to broaden your outlook.
Q:  Can I use Carb BackLoading for Fat Loss?
A:  If you are over 20% body fat, I’d recommend the Carb Nite Solution but you can use the Strenght Accmulation phase of the program to focus on fat loss while increasing strength.  It’s the body composition portion of the guide that just has some changes from the basic mass gaining plan.
Q:  Can I have carbs during my training while using Carb Backloading?
A:  If your workouts go over and hour, you can include some carbs in your intra-training shake.  This comes from a podcast and won’t be found anywhere in the book.
Q:  When Carb Back Loading, when should you have your first meal after waking?
A:  The answer to this question depends on if your primary goal is Density Bulking (weight and muscle) or Strength Accumulation (fat loss).  If you are Density Bulking, you will want your Accelerator Shake upon waking and about an hour before eating your first real food meal.  If you are doing Strength Accumulation  you might do just black coffee to prolong the fasting period and then use the Accelerator Shake more than once to push your first meal out even further.
Q:  Is 350g of carbs too much to build muscle?
A:  It might be or it might be too little.  That’s what the 10 Day Prep helps to determine.  The weight you lose during this phase is nearly all glycogen.  The total number of carbs is determined on a chart from the weight lost over this short time period.  If you opted to do the prep phase, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how many carbs per day it will take for you to gain mass and build muscle.
Q:  What are you supposed to eat on the ultra low carb prep phase of Carb Back Loading?
A:  I’ve outlined what I eat during the early part of the day while Carb Back Loading.  The same foods I eat pre-training are similar to what you can eat during the prep phase.  Both are just ultra-low carb prior to training.  The only difference is, during the 10 day prep phase, you stay ultra-low carb and when on the full program, after training is where the fun begins!
Here is what I used for my 10 Day ULC Prep Phase.
Non Training Day
* Upon Waking
* Coffee
* Whey Isolate (10g protein)
* Coconut Oil (1 tbsp)
* Multivitamin
* 1 x Fish Oils
* 5g creatine
* Lunch
* Chicken Breast
* Lettuce (2-3 cups)
* Olive Oil (2 tbsp)
* Vinegar to taste
* Veggies (e.g tomatoes, cucumber, olives, onion)
* 1 x Fish Oils
* 5g creatine
* Snack
* Hard Boiled Eggs x 2
* Almonds (1/4 cup)
* 5g creatine
* Dinner
* Steak (or other protein source substitute)
* Asparagus (1-2 cups or other veggie)
* Butter (2 tbsp)
* 1 x Fish Oils
* 5g creatine
* Before Bed
* Cottage Cheese (1-2 cups)
Training Day
* Upon Waking
* Coffee
* Coconut Oil (1 tbsp)
* Whey Isolate (10g protein)
* Multivitamin
* 1 x Fish Oils
* 5g creatine
* Lunch
* Chicken Breast
* Lettuce (2-3 cups)
* Olive Oil (2 tbsp)
* Vinegar to taste
* Veggies (e.g tomatoes, cucumber, olives, onion)
* 1 x Fish Oils
* 5g creatine
* Snack
* Hard Boiled Eggs x 2
* Almonds (1/2 cup)
* Pre-Training (30 mins before)
* Coffee
* Whey Isolate (10g protein)
* 5g creatine
* During Training
* Whey Isolate (10g protein)
* Casein Hydrolyzed (20 g)
* Leucine (5 grams)
* Post Training (20 mins after)
* Coffee
* Whey Isolate (30g)
* Casein (20g)
* Whey Hydrolyzed (25g)
* 5g Leucine
* 5g creatine
* Dinner
* Grass Fed Beef
* Broccoli (2 cups)
* 1 x Fish Oils
* 5g creatine
* Before Bed
* Cottage Cheese (1-2 cups)
* Almond Butter
Be Fit, Stay Strong!
Marc David – CPT
P.S – If you have a question not answered here, please contact me and I will try and get it added to the Carb Backloading FAQ.

81 Replies to “Carb Backloading FAQ”

  1. I saw your diet during non-training and training day.
    I can see that you consume about 20g of creatine everyday, is that necessary or can I go with the normal 5g creatine a day recommended intake?

    1. Thanks for all the information you are giving.
      I have a question also. I want to lose some more fat, i’m @ 13% bodyfat right now and want to go to 9% bodyfat.
      I train from monday tot saturday, so i backload everyday then?
      And on saturday i backload just a little amount of carbs?
      And is it ok to do HIIT cardio every morning for like 20 minutes?

      1. You backload if you are training the next day.
        In your example, don’t backload on Saturday night.
        But if you feel otherwise, feel free to experiment.
        Maybe a 50% backload. The real difference between SA and DA in the program is the time you start eating a real food meal.
        In Density Bulking you start off with the coffee drink (keeps the fast going) but you eat a real food meal shortly after.
        With Strength Accumulation, the fasting period is longer. In either case, you’ll notice you will get leaner as you cut carbs.
        Not idea for gaining maximum muscle, but that’s not the point right?
        I’d keep the HIIT to a minimum. That’s a workout in itself. You can start off with less cardio days
        and use HIIT sparingly. When you are cutting, your main goal is to preserve as much muscle as possible.
        Doing HIIT, manipulating carbs, all can eat away at that. So use it like a tool and do as little as necessary.
        Bump up the steady state days and do 1 or 2 HIIT sessions a week. If you do that style in the morning, be sure to have a little
        protein before hand along with some coffee!

        1. Hi Marc,
          Great information, thanks for that!
          I have some more questions.
          When I dont train the next day I don’t backload right? So if i lift friday and have a restday on saturday I don’t backload that friday after my workout? So does this mean that I take 0 zero carbs post workout then? So also no Carbs in the post workout shake?
          Doesn’t this mess with my recovery from that training?
          Then I have another question about the type of carbs post workout. I understand that you have to eat carbs that are high glycemic. There are high glycemic carbs with and without a lot of sugar. For example white rice vs cookies.
          I’m someone that gains weight very easily (endo i think), so is it better for me to take the high glycemic without a lot of sugar like white rice and potatoes etc?
          Or is it no problem to take the carbs with a lot of sugars?
          I don’t try to eat a lot of fat during my backloads.
          Thanks again!

          1. If you don’t train the next day, in theory you don’t backload.
            Post workout carbs are 20-40g for the Strength Accumulation (fat loss) phase. You absolutely get your carbs in at this junction.
            You’d only skip carbs if you are super sensitive to them as a few people might be. If not, 20-40g goes in that post workout meal.
            High Glycemic carbs do not have to be loaded with sugar.
            White rice, potatoes, etc.. “clean high glycemic” are absolutely fine. This protocol allows you to eat junk food and be lazy but that’s not to say you must or have to do it. You do not. You can eat clean and follow CBL to the letter.

  2. Hi Marc. This is a great page. The only thing I’m ever so slightly confused about is whether the accelerator shake is counted as breakfast or if it is used to stave off hunger UNTIL breakfast.
    Here and in the book, the shake is there to prolong fat burning until breakfast but in my mind, as there are calories in it, this is actually breaking the fast.
    Basically, I’m used to doing a water/no calorie fast until lunch time but after reading Kiefer’s opinions this shouldn’t go on for more than 12 hours. Am I ok to have a shake as ‘breakfast’ after 12 hours and then wait until lunch (usually 16 hours after dinner the night before)?
    I’m doing the Strength Accumulation.
    I feel like I’ve already answered my own question, I’m just wondering why there is this clear distinction between the shake and ‘breakfast’.
    Thanks for your help!

    1. You did indeed answer your own question. The shake is to break the fast but it prolongs ketosis and keeps you in a fat burning mode. His theory is.. the carbs in breakfast upon waking is what turns off fat burning. By having some whey isolate and coconut oil, you give your body energy and help stave off catabolism.
      12 hours is correct. I’ve gone much longer (mistake in my experimentations). I have a couple of shakes and then an ultra-low carb meal 12 hours from the last time I ate any food. On average, I go to bed around 9-10pm so I eat about 9-10am. Some would say this is just a late breakfast.
      You’ve made a really clear distinction between the shake and breakfast.

  3. Thanks for your speedy reply! Much appreciated. Just a quick follow up about the whey isolate. I’m about to start my ten day prep phase and, although I saw your meal plans above, a lot of people advise against whey isolate on a keto diet as it spikes insulin. I was just wondering what your thoughts on this were or if you could point me to any reading on the matter?
    Should I stick to 10g at a time to be safe or do you see no problem later in the day as it contains 0 carbs?

    1. All I can comment on is that the actual eBook (Carb Backloading) makes mention that Whey can spike insulin and that Whey Isolate is the preferred protein to use in small amounts. The shakes contain about 10g of whey isolate.
      Personally without some raw data to back this up, it’s hard to really know if it does and if so, would it even make a difference? I read in the book that eggs can spike insulin but the only data point I found was hard to understand and I only found one study.
      I’m a bit more of a fan of whey isolates vs blended proteins anyway so to me, it was easier using an isolate. In any case, it’s important to keep the protein supply coming to combat catabolism especially if you are in a deficit.
      As long as you keep track of your progress (visually) you’ll know if there is a problem. I wouldn’t let this derail any plans you may have. It potentially is so minor it’s outcome would be insignificant.

      1. Excellent, thanks a lot. Yeah I’m pretty new to this so it can be quite confusing! Will check out the post and watch to see how I react to whey!

  4. Hi there,
    Thanks for taking time to publish these helpful FAQs.
    I am on currently ULC prep, As per recommendation, I am trying to keep my carbs less than 30g. However I am just wondering if this should include the carbs from green veggies such as garden green peas?
    Pls advise!

    1. The carbs from most garden green peas would be from fiber. It’s not a starchy carb and it is a low glycemic index food. The profile I looked at shows good protein and fiber content. Those carbs should not matter.

    2. Hi there
      I train at 5am and I have seen some conflicting info regarding preworkout protocol. Some suggests just two cups of coffee and some say include whey isolate at 10grams. Which is the best practice? Also if Thursday is my non training day. Can I eat carbs wednesday night still but in a smaller amount rather than just doing a ulc day as I hate not eating carbs before bed. On my normal days I find my sweet spot at aroind 300grams. Went up to 500grams but picked up fat so cut down. I’m 6ft5 or 198cm at 96kilos or 209 lbs at around 18% bf. Goal is lean gains and strength while slowly dropping fat. More concerned though around gains and strength.

      1. If you workout in the morning, carb backload the night before… do your Morning Accelerator shake (which includes the 10g of whey isolate) and train (hard). Then do a shake that contains your carbs… and go ultra-low carb for the rest of the day. Essentially “replenishing” any muscle glycogen lost during your morning training but not so much as to start storing fat. I’ve been fine waking up, having that shake 30 minutes before weights and having a great morning workout. The key is to have the coffee for fat acceleration, the coconut oil for energy and that 10g of so of whey isolate for an anti-catabolic effect.
        If Thursday is your non-training day, then you can either skip carbs on Wednesday (full bore fat burning mode) or backload (mass mode) or cut it in half (that’s sort of what I do). As you start to go for fat burning as a goal, you will have more ultra low carb days and you’ll want to skip carb backloading after training if you do not train the next day. I started off at 409g and eventually cut down to 300g. That was my sweet spot as well. Tapering off the backloads will keep your strength high and help with fat burning. As you start to tweak it, you might want to experiment with 2-3 days ULC and then a backload. Rinse and Repeat.

  5. Just a quick question if I was to have more than 10g of whey protein isolate will this spike insulin and stop fat burning? Likewise for having more than 10g of isolate in the morning or after workout

    1. Any type of food can spike insulin the key is not to spike it so much that you start going into the cycles of high and low blood sugar. The 10g is enough to be anti-catabolic but not enough to really drive up blood sugar and start to cause hunger issues. But I took this more on faith as in truth, you’d need to read studies about how much does whey isolate spike insulin and how much would stop ketosis. What I tend to do is have a couple of those Morning Accelerator shakes spaced out in a 2 hour period. So I’m getting a 20g feeding of whey isolate over a 2 hour period. I’ve not seen any negative effects in my own physique. But who knows. I took this piece more on faith then raw science.

  6. Thanks Marc
    Another important thing I learned from trial and error is that my protein was just way too high. I was essentially splitting half my protein for my ulc and the other half during the backload after 6pm. I still do that but instead of doing 1gram/pound I now do around 1 gram per kilo or roughly 100 to 120 grams at 209 lbs.
    Last night I backloaded 300 grams of carbs and ended on roughly 120 protein and similar fat and woke up this morning looking leaner than ever although muscles didn’t look as full as they normally do. I’m going to bump up to 400grams tonight as tomorrow is a training morning and see. My carbs sources last night weren’t very clean. Did like 15 slices of white bread, ice cream and chocolate sauce etc. I’m also counting the protein from the carbs as well. I know mist don’t because of their incomplete amino acid profile but who cares as that’s just theory right?
    Ellington Darden who trained some great bodybuilders in the day suggests only 0.76g/lb of bodyweight for protein as he believes that muscles are made up of 70% water and as we know nothing holds water in muscle better than good ol carbs
    What’s your thoughts around lower protein intake Marc. Have we been led to believe that we need the 1g/lb by supplement companies to get at our hard earned Rands ( or dollars in your case)
    Many thanks
    Nik (South Africa)

    1. The 1g per 1 lb of body weight has been pretty well researched. None of it comes from supplement companies. The RDA is too low for us trying to build muscle. But the 2+g that I’ve seen some sites preach has no scientific bearing on building additional muscle. Your body needs a certain amount and anything to excess will be stored or disposed of. When you see some people on extremely low carb diets, they bump up the protein simply for the required calories to retain body weight.
      Dr. Lemon did a series of studies through the 1980’s and 1990’s showing that the needs for bodybuilding athletes not taking any anabolic agents were on the order of about 1.6 to 1.8 grams per kg of body mass.
      The Optimal Amount of Protein for the Bodybuilder is…
      Approximately 1.6 to 1.8 grams per kg of body mass per day. You’ve probably heard on this blog or several others, to take 1g of protein per 1 lb of body weight. Here’s what Dr. Lemon says…
      “That’s in the same range because, of course, there’s just a little over two pounds in a kilogram. So, one gram per pound of bodyweight would be a little over 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, which is probably in the range where most people will be fine.”
      Take for example a 200 lb male.
      We have to do some converting as most studies (done by scientists) will use the metric system. A kilogram weighs 2.2lbs. So, 200 divided by 2.2 gives us 90.9. Multiply that times 1.8 (the high end of Dr. Lemon’s research) and you get 163.6 grams of protein per day. That’s a bit less than 1 g of protein per pound of body weight right?
      So should the average bodybuilder reduce his protein intake a bit from this data?
      I don’t think so. If you look for the optimal amount and adjust for biochemical differences and the variation in food sources and add in a margin of safety (rather be a bit high in protein than too low), the 1g per 1lb of body weight fits the bill.

  7. I understand ya just wanna say thanks alot for the reply back this whole new diet is incredible just hoping to put on some serious mass now as I’ve struggled in the previous years!

    1. Not sure I’d call this a diet as more of a old school twist on timing. A diet to me is something temporary. Like doing low carb for life. Or some fasting, water only, etc. Carb Backloading is more of the timing of nutrients for optimal performance. If it doesn’t ever become comfortable to do it, then I guess for some it would be a diet.

  8. Sorry also if someone was doing strength accumulation would the diet be exactly the same as the bulk density after a workout? Like still being strict with carbs just having protein and bit of good essential fats
    Sorry to be a pain thanks again

    1. When doing the SA Phase, breakfast is postponed 12 hours and upon waking you have coffee (not the accelerator shake). I’ve found it helpful to really not backload on the days you don’t train the next day and to limit the grams per backload. Being strict with carbs depends on your goal (when I did the Density Bulk I had the foot on the floor!). During SA, you tighten things up a bit.

      1. Marc
        During the low carb part of the day does one have to do protein fat on a 1:1 ratio. I normally do 100 g of protein and matching 100g of fat is an excess of 900 calories. Im not saying ommit fat altogether but what if i did like 30 grams of fat during this part of the day.
        Thoughts please

        1. If you don’t do the 1:1 ratio during the low carb portion of the day, you end up loading all your meals after your workouts with fat. The first meal (dinner in this example) should be relatively clean. The 2nd carb meal can contain some fats as they tend to help with sleep. But I’d not try and load up all that fat from the 1:1 ratio during this time. If you are worried, tapper it down to a 1: .5 ratio. 30g of fat during your low carb portion of the day seems too low. But you could adjust the overall total fats to be lower if you are concerned (calories, etc) so that you don’t go overboard playing catchup at the end of the day. The biggest load comes from carbs after your workouts. You should have enough protein up to that point so it’s not a huge deal to get in another 50g or so. Same with the fat.

  9. Hi
    Great info here.
    I have one question.
    I do crossfit so i do 3-2 workouts per day.
    Usualy skill or oly lifts in the morning.
    Resistance in 4-5 afternoon
    And every 2-3 days add a metcon.
    So i almost dont have rest days with no activity.
    Should i have ulc day with no carb back if i dont haveresistance train the day after or should i carb load every night.
    Also i know the prep stage will damage my workouts cuase i cant hold the carbs for ten days and workout like that. Is it a big deal to skip the prep even if i am not below 15%?
    Tnx in advane

    1. My advice is:
      * no weights the next day, then no backloading. This includes Crossfit, even though it has weight elements to it.
      * if you are density bulking, you can back load every day! (be careful as it can get out of control)
      * you will be surprised that the 10 day ULC prep really won’t effect your overall workouts as much as you believe them to
      * prep phase is highly recommended as I felt the recommendations in the book without it were way too high for me
      The ultra-low carb for those 10 days should feel pretty good until Day 8. I didn’t lack energy and in fact felt much stronger on almost all my lifts. While I would recommend not going for personal bests during this time. If you opt to skip, just start off with half the book’s recommendations. And ramp up if necessary. What it told me I needed without doing the prep phase was about 100g a day too much. I would personally have put on way too much fat. I tapered it down from my findings from the prep phase.
      While it appears to be an exact science, it is not. It’s just a strongly worded guide. You’ll have to experiment along the way to ensure your success.

  10. Hey there marc some serious answers to some seriouss questions loving it, erm I weigh about 65kg and eat on average 4/5 meals a day. When I wake a shake wid whey isolate, peanut butter, flaxseeds and 5g creatine with milk. 1st meals at 12 which consists of protien such as susage egg and veg and then snack on nuts like almonds b4 my work out after which I have another shake and I backload till I go bed I’m trying to density bulk does it have to be a 4 hour widow after a work out or can I back load 4 longer. Ps I also try not look to much into portion control also when would be the best time to eat fruits during CBL. I’m sorry 4 all the questions I’ve bin on this protocol 4 about 2 months n even tho I haven’t been following it faithfully I’ve made some nice gains jus want to know if this anything else I may need doin thankss

    1. Upon waking, if doing Density Bulking, you should be having the Accelerator Formula (coffee, whey isolate, coconut oil). Your first meal looks good. If you have the time, you should have another meal about 1-2 hours before your workout that is protein and fat. Pre-workout is the Ignition Formula and if you wanted, you could do an intra-workout shake. Although I never felt the need but any small advantage is an advantage and it could help, won’t hurt.
      The 4 hour window is a recommendation if you wanted to keep as lean as possible during this period. Otherwise, game on!
      Best time to eat fruits during CBL is placed into one of your backloading meals. Keep the carbs from fructose low but if there is a time to add in fruit, this is the ideal time.
      During my CBL time, I only watched my carb intake. I knew my meals provided enough protein and fat. It’s the carbs that can and should be heavily manipulated. Too much fat? Tapper down the carbs. Not enough weight gain, bump carbs up. That’s the only thing I tracked during my entire CBL period and it sure made life easy.

      1. what would the ignition formula consist of, or is that jus a meal i would eat before my work out containing fats and protein. im about 65kg so how many carbs would you recommend i took if i was density bulking. would you also recommend i keep my meal frequency to 4-5 meals a day or more.

        1. The Ignition Formula consists of 200-800mg of caffeine, 10-30g of whey isolate, 1-3 tbsp of coconut oil and 5g of creatine. The amounts depend on if you are doing the strength or density bulking phases. I never used caffeine beyond what is in a k-cup of coffee. I also opted out of the creatine as I didn’t feel it necessary. Post workout for sure but pre-workout doesn’t have too much current research behind it. 1 tbsp of coconut oil hit the spot! 10g of whey was perfect for strength accumulation but I did go to top end when I was on my bulking phase.

  11. Hi, I’m Just about to start backloading, and was planning on density bulking. I am currently 175cm and about 15%bf.IO stead of coconut or mct oil in the morning, can I have a mixture of nuts? (almonds and penuts) and can I have milk in my coffee or do have it black with no sugar?
    Thanks alot

    1. Instead of coconut oil use heavy whipping cream. 1/2 to 1tbsp. The coconut oil is there for the medium chain triglycerides (fat). While cream isn’t the exact same, it gives you the fat you need for energy in the short term and helps with hunger. It’s a good substitute.
      Forget the nuts… not the same thing and you might experience an overload of calories. I’ve never run across anything that would suggest another fat source would work in this particular instance.
      Black coffee, heavy whipping cream and whey isolate. Perfect wake me up, end the fast but keep ketosis going, curb the hunger drink. I’ve used this for an early morning flight and been able to go hours where other people I fly with are starving and struggling to stay awake (low blood sugar).
      Hope this helps.

  12. That’s for the quick reply! At 15%bf should I be stretching my first meal out to 12 noon? As I normally have dinner at around 7-8pm? And that’s a long time between feeds, as I still want muscle growth, as I don’t have much mass 175cm 72kg. I am doing a 5×5 bulking routine 3 days a week with hiit sessions on most of the non lifting days. And before lifting would u recomend some nuts and a coffee w/cream and whey, or just whey?
    Thanks alot. Aaron

    1. I personally wouldn’t do the Density Bulking protocol at 15% body fat. I didn’t catch that in your last reply. You’d be better off doing the Strength Accumulation option until you were 10-12% body fat. You tend to gain less fat when starting off lean eating a surplus of calories.
      Keifer doesn’t recommend going without food for more than 12-14 hours. So whatever time that might be, that’s when you have your first “meal.” Which can be the coffee concoction or a real ultra low carb meal. In any case, don’t “fast” beyond 12 to 14 hours.
      I tended to space out my meals so that I the majority of my calories came after training. Meaning, I had about 3 meals prior to hitting the weights. Typically 3 hours easy between feedings. I was never really that hungry but I followed the guidelines to get my pre workout protein, fiber and such so that by the end of the day, I’d hit my overall macros.
      Prior to lifting, about 30 minutes, you can have a similar coffee drink. You are training fasted at that point but the fats and proteins will do wonders. After training, it’s CARB time! Ideally it’s whey isolate in those coffee mixes. But I’ve had a heck of a time finding whey isolate that tastes good and mixes well. The unflavored stuff I have, did not mix at all in coffee. I’m attempting to find an alternative source.

  13. I have just been sculling my coffee, and drinking the shake separate, buy right after each other in the morning. So ur coffee/protein in the morning is classed as a meal? About 60% of my calories come at/after dinner. Even when when on strength acc, can I create a surpluss of 200cal after training?

  14. Hi Marc.
    What would you recommend for fat intake grams wise on ULC day if on SA program?
    Im about a 5 weeks into CBL program. Lost about 13lb thus far was 231lb down to 218lb. I started doing German Volume program 1.5 weeks ago to change up my workouts. Works great.
    Starting to get turned away of eating meat everyday. Eating Chicken and Beef and sometimes pork. What type of sauces do you use on your meat to give it flavor? Eating it plain after awhile is death. Trying to find new things.
    Thanks a lot.

    1. Can’t answer that as it’s specific to the person. Fats are higher on CBL in either phase. What I’ve read is about 1/2 your protein intake is your fat intake. So if you needed 200g of protein, your fat would be 100g or somewhere higher. The carbohydrate grams are really what you are counting. So on those ULC days, it’s all about protein and fat. Fat will be about half the grams. I tend to keep it no more than 30% of my daily macros.
      Carb Back-Loading Strength Accumulation Basics:
      Include the AM Accelerator Shake 2-3 times before eating any substance around noon or 1pm.
      Skip the Intra-Workout option for maximum fat burning
      Total carbs are lower in the post workout shake
      Total fat and whey isolate are lower in the pre-training shake
      Caffeine is higher in the post workout shake and pre-training shake
      Don’t back load on off days
      Checkout Loads and loads of spice, glazes and other methods to spruce up chicken, fish and beef. I like to use just salt and pepper on my steaks. I do the same for chicken. But last night I made a wicked spicy blackened salmon. It was a bit too wicked but it was quick and easy. I’d just look at a recipe site and look for spice type mixtures. Adds flavor without the excessive calories.

  15. Hi
    I am on my CBL prep phase.
    Can I use whey & milk Protein (40:60) for my post work out supplements and in any other CBL shakes?
    I am not sure if milk has high GI or not .

  16. Hi
    I have been researching the strength accumalation method of cbl. I have read keifers book but there are some points that confuse me.
    1. On the chart that detemines the amount of carbs you should intake should you split those up throughout the week or is that daily intake?
    2. I ususlly train at night so should I eat low carb all day then postwokrout eat most of my carbs? .. I AM confused by this because of the sample meal plan in the back of the book thats givin it says if you train at 6pm to have protein shake upon waking but wouldnt this throw you out of the fasted state?
    3. I usually train everyday except Saturday so can I still cbl on Friday night?
    4. When using the strength accumalation method is it best to train fasted in the morning or at night? I Am asking this because I feel like in one part of the book it says for that method its better to train in the morning but in another part says its better to at night.
    5. And lastly I am a female so do you think this program would be okay for me to use ?

    1. I’ll do my best to answer your questions. Look for the # followed by the letter.
      1a: That is the amount of carbs you want post workout on a backloading day spread thru the meals after the workout. Up until the workout, you keep total usable carbs to 30g or less.
      2a: If you train at night (late afternoon is best says keifer), you eat low carb all day and then postworkout eat the rest of the carbs. The protein shake he mentions is actually a coconut oil/protein combo to “not break the fast” but keep you satisfied and to prolong the fast in some respect. The amount of protein in that shake is 20g so it’s not really enough to spike your insulin the change how you utilize food during the day. At least that is how I understood the theory.
      3a: If you are trying to gain weight and are under I’d say 14% body fat, you can CBL every day! It’s up to you. If you feel you are putting on too much weight or feel soft, take a couple of days and just go ultra low carb to deplete the glycogen stores.
      4a: When using any of Keifer’s theories.. he says it’s best to train in the late afternoon. He has laid out ways to modify the program if you must train the morning but his ideal situation is later in the afternoon.
      5a: Male or female, it shouldn’t matter. He’s had females use the program very successfully. I’ve seen a lot of b.s. in this industry trying to sell male and female diets and workouts. As long as you are human, and are looking to become stronger and more fit, you can use anybody’s program to make progress. CBL isn’t for guys but it’s packaged as such. I understand why you’d ask. Go for it!

      1. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my many questions!! It has helped clear up a lot for me 🙂

  17. “There’s no reason to count calories on this program and there’s never any mention of it or formulas. ”
    What are you talking about? There are specific calorie tables for bodyweight etc. for the pre-backload portion of the day!! It’s all over the book!

  18. Hi Marc, quick question I hope your able to answer.
    When using the Prep-Phase of CBL. Even on training days, you still do not exceed 30g carb daily correct?

  19. Marc,
    Quick question, during the ULC Prep-phase for CBL is recommended or necessary to train in the evening? Or does it matter since you wont be backloading?

    1. Good question!
      In theory it won’t matter much. Given the point of the ULC phase is simply to deplete glycogen stores.
      You won’t be training super hard. Just enough to use up your stored “carbs” so you can determine the # of carbs to backload with via the recommendations in the book.
      I’d say it won’t matter. As the point of the ULC isn’t about optimal hormonal training times or anything but glycogen depletion.

  20. How do I CBL on a 3 day split? I am doing Strength Accumulation. Tuesdays Thursdays and Saturdays I work out. I am confused. Going by the book I guess I would only Backload on my workout days and Mondays because Monday would be 2 consecutive days off from training. So Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays?
    I just want to make sure I am right because I want to do this as strictly correct as possible.
    Thanx in advance for the response.

    1. Simple rule.. if you are going to weight train the next day, you backload in preparation for that session. If you are not going to train, you get 80-100g of post workout carbs and skip the backload. The only exception is for those on the bulking phase starting off leaner who can backload every night regardless of the next day’s activity. So you backload Monday, Wednesday and Friday in prep for the workouts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If you don’t train the following day, you don’t do the backloads.

  21. Say I perform strictly the CBL diet throughout the week but on the weekend I kinda do my own thing, eating a typical breakfast lunch and dinner but still watching the quality of the foods I consume. When Monday rolls around do I need to do a 1 day recalibration day or can I get right back on the CBL diet plan like nothing happened?

    1. You are doing a hybrid. I can’t answer that. In my experience, 5-2=0 Meaning.. 5 strict days and be destroyed by 2 free for all days and you end up the week at zero progress. I say this regarding weight loss but it’s utterly amazing what 1 or 2 binge days will do. In your case, I don’t think you mentioned binging. If I had to guess, I’d say get back on CBL like nothing happened. The more complicated any nutrition program becomes, the higher chances of failure. Keep it simple.

      1. Thanks for the response. Got another question just to make sure I’ve comprehended all the information I’ve sifted through. I am 5’10 175 and trying to gain a few more lbs of muscle. My workout plan is training 5 days a week while resting on Mondays and Saturdays. Am I correct in saying that the only days that I BACKLOAD are the days in which I will be resistance training the following day? With my workout schedule, for example, I would BACKLOAD Tues, Wed, Thurs., and Sat? Also, if this is correct, then it would mean that even though I would be doing a heavy resistance training on Friday, I wouldn’t backload because I would be taking Saturday off? And the sam thing for Sunday (taking Mon off?)
        Last question, on those days in which I am not CBL (Friday, Sunday) am I still keeping my carb intake <30 g even though I will still be working out? And on my off days (Sat, Mon), will I still be CBL for that day in preparation for the next day even though I didn't go through any resistance training? Kinda seems counterproductive to CBL on days that I'm not working out? Sorry for all the questions but hope it makes sense.

        1. –> The only days I BACKLOAD are the days in which I will be training the following day? —< BINGO! If you do not CBL, you keep your carb intake <30g prior to training and after, 80-100g of post workout carbs skipping the backloading you'd do if you were training the next day. Carbs are still important after the workout. You still need them. You just aren't going to over supply glycogen to muscles when they technically have some and you won't be training the next day. CBL is like living on the edge in a way. Keeping your muscles fueled prior to training and under stocked when you aren't.

          1. Hi
            1. I have gotten this diet all wrong.
            The first part – not eating carbs until evening i got, but I thought I should eat the carbs post training but now i understand that its actually carb FRONT loading, not BACK loading since you load up with carbs BEFORE the training. So I was obviously totally wrong (except the hypertrophic shake post training but thats only about 40g carbs)
            2. My target BW is 94Kg (207lbs) and what amazes me is the INSANE amounts of carbs I shall eat the day before training. I lost about 4Kg at the first 10 day period – that translates to 795g of carbs.Its also very close to the weight table value of my wright after the period that was 95Kg = 730g carbs.
            I never thought that I should eat about 2900kcal of carbs but just eating about 840kcal of food before the backload. Is this really correctly interpreted by me?
            3. I have listened to a lot of podcasts of kiefter where says
            1g OR MORE of fat for each 2g of protein, but the tables tells a different story.
            The tables say 1.25-4g of protein for each gram of fat so basically 0.5g-1,6g of fat per 2 gram of protein.
            4. How about fat content at the carb backloading part? Should it be close to zero to prevent storage due to insulin jolt? Then I dont get the recommendation of cherry turnovers, fries, cookies part of the story since they all contain a lot of fat?
            A lot of questions but right now I am confused.
            I have basically been doing LCHF on 2400 kcal for the entire day (to acomplish weight loss 0.5Kg/week) then adding the hypertrophich shake + about 100g of carbs from “crap” like cake and candy post training on top of that amount of kcalk.
            Still I have managed to keep muscle mass intact and loose about 1% of body fat per month (from 15% to 13% in about 6 weeks), but that is far from what I could get from the correct CBL as i read from the book.

  22. hey marc, in the strength accumulation phase im a little lost in how to maintain strength while cutting fat would I do cbl just 2-3 times a week or would you recommend something else im 6ft 217lbs 9% bodyfat I want to get to 205-208 without losing my strength and muscles and would you recommend a clean diet thanks,

  23. Hey Marc,
    So after my 10 day prep phase, and on the 10th day after i workout should i have a bunch of carbs like a cheat for the rest of the night or just jump into CBL the next day without introducing carbs on that 10th day, after my workout.

    1. @Joe – Once you finish that 10th day, you’d need to weight yourself and see overall weight lost and then use the CBL guide to determine how many grams of carbs you’re looking for per backload. I’d advise you to use 50% of what it recommends to start and then move upwards until you see positive changes. I think a mistake I initially made was.. “oh the book says I need 400g? Okay.” Frankly that was too high for me. I think 300 would have been just fine. Maybe 320. So take it easy to start and work your way up if you don’t see results week by week. After that 10th day, if you are going to workout the next day, you can jump into CBL as long as you have your targets. The prep phase is merely to determine how many grams of carbs to backload with. 10 days is about what Keifer is suggesting that it takes on the ultra low carb phase to deplete your glycogen stores. In your situation, I’d skip the CBL that night… take my measurements in the morning and get my target carbs.. and from then on I’d CBL depending on your goals. If it’s pure bulking, all day every day is CBL. Otherwise, you backload that night IF you are training the next day.

  24. Hi! I have a question. So if you are doing the 10 day recalibration and you are suppose to eat under 30grams of carbs right? What happens if you eat more than 30 grams of carbs? Do I have to redo the 10 day recalibration? I am also skipping breakfast and training on heavy weights. Thanks!

    1. Under 30g of “usable” carbs (so fibrous stuff like broccoli, cauliflower, vegetables are great). Not a big deal if you go a bit over but the purpose of the ULC phase is to deplete glycogen over a period of 10 days. If you were to really slip up, to the point you might replenish your stores (say you had a 400g opps moment) then yes. You’d probably start over as your end results would be skewed.

  25. I am wondering what you thought about whey concentrate? I have a Whey iso (couldn’t afford the hydrolysates) and was wondering if I could use both sources of protein?
    If so, when would be best to use the isolate/concentrate? (Post training, in morning etc..)

    1. Whey concentrate is just a mixture of proteins. It’s fine. I think the whey iso is a better option for CBL if I had to pick. But you can use both sources. No need to get picky unless you have a very sub-par protein like 100% soy or something.
      Best time to use? Post training and in your morning coffee!

  26. So I recently injured my achilles tendon and I can’t workout for couple of weeks. I was wondering if I can still lose weight without working out if I do carb nite.

    1. Quite possibly. If you eat less than you burn, you’ll lose weight. Just keep track of your nutrition especially since you won’t have the added calorie burn of exercise. I’d be cautious on Carb Nite just so you don’t go to excess.

  27. 1) Should i do the prep phase when switching from DB to SA ?
    2) Will the prep phase be shorter because i did it once before?
    3) I am a teenager, Can lifting heavy and being on this diet affect my growth in a bad way?
    Thanks in advance, you are very helpful!

    1. 1) You could to try and be as exact as possible. After a successful DB protocol, I’d assume your body composition has changed. In which case, your numbers will be different. I don’t think the book mentions this but it’s not a bad idea. Always nice to re-evaluate your position.
      2) Probably not. Once you’ve filled up your muscles with glycogen, it takes ~7-10 days to deplete them. Adding in some sessions of HIT might get you there faster.
      3) Not unless you are still growing and you do excessively heavy weight very frequently, enough to change the growth plates in your body. So probably not. I’m not a dietician so I can’t speak to the question if this diet will be good or bad for you. Not knowing you or your history, it’s not question I could answer. It’s just a plan that is different from the mainstream stuff you hear. It’s neither good or bad. There’s nothing crazy about it though.

  28. Hi Marc, I’m a bit confused about DB and SA. I’m 160 lbs with %13 bf i want to gain some lean muscle mass while maintaining my bf percentage or lowering it. But I’m scared of doing DB because i gain fat really easily so i don’t want to get any body fat while gaining some muscle mass. Do you have any advices?

    1. I started the DB phase when I was 11% and went to 14%. Granted, I could have toned down the backloads. In your case, 13% and you say you gain fat easily, I’d opt for the SA phase. In theory, you should get stronger (gain some muscle) and lose fat. It’s more of a body composition than a true bulking but well worth it. I’d go with SA and if that doesn’t pan out, you can up the ante with more carbs if you wish.

  29. hi marc, i have some questions for you. i trained in the morning. is it okay to have protein shake+low fat milk+banana as my post workout shake??? I’m getting confused about when to consume milk because it also contain carb.. can i consume it throughout the day to replace my protein and fat?? i want to try the carb back loading by tomorrow..

  30. i have been on carb backloading for 4 weeks now. I am a powerlifter and weighed in at 108 kg at the start of the diet. after week 3 i had lost 5kg, bringing me down to 103kg. this week has saw me increase weight up to 106kg. i have been pretty strict at following the diet and i am fitting into smaller sized clothing. surely this isnt muscle gain or is it fat? water?

  31. Is there a certain fat range people to stay in for the carb back loading part of the day? Or don’t wory about fat and just hit the carbs recommended

    1. It’s about a 2:1 ratio for protein to fats… 200 grams of protein a day… 100 grams of fats. Carbs was my primary objective but I kept an eye on my other macro consumption as well.

  32. I’ve been researching CBL and overall diet solutions for me in regards to my work/ weightlifting. I am 44, 6-1, 185lbs roughly 15% body fat and I own and operate my own roofing company where I do all my own work. I’m currently lifting 4x / week and have tweaked things numerous times to try to optimize my work recovery as well as workout recovery. This is not a stand around and look busy kind of job, this is me doing every phase of re roofing completely by myself for about 20 years now. I’ve been backloading carbs recently but I’m not a 100% I should be backing off of carbs w my job. I mostly want to build muscle instead of shed fat but don’t want my love handles growing either. This morning I tracked my calories and came up with abou 900 by about noon which seems low especially for my job. The problem is that carbs are the calorie dense foods. Let me know how you might tweak this. Here’s what I ate, breakfast-whey ISO shake 25g protein, coffee w tblsp coc oil and heavy cream, 1 cup full fat cottage cheese about 7-8 am, 40 nuts/almond cashew mix 945-10am, two slices turkey and no sugar added pure cranberry juice drink at 11. I was full and not hungry by this point and my calories ended up around 900-1000 and wasn’t hungry for lunch until almost 1. I could have shoveled in some carbs pretty easily and added 500 more calories but am going with this low carb day diet and backload them later. Am I robbing my muscle development or energy by not giving myself some oats, rice or sweet potatoes. Overall I’m functioning fine but would love to find the right mix to build while killing my body at work every week. Any advice would be fantastic! Thx, Randy

  33. Hello Sir,
    My BF levels are below 10%. But I am skeptical about consuming simple carbs like dates, figs or even chocolates post workout (keeping in mind the Carb back loading principle) fearing I’ll put on unnecessary fat. I do Intermittent Fasting and eat my first meal as lunch. Till I train, I do not eat little to no carbs. Post that I am contemplating to add some simple/complex carbs to my diet. Is it advisable. I believe though I am loading carbs post meal, Calorie in v Calorie out is all that matters. Let me know your thoughts on this please

    1. “Calories in vs Calories out” does equate to a change in body mass depending on what you do. Time of day does matter which is why eating simple sugars say in the morning and sitting around all day is entirely from after an intense workout where your glycogen stores are reduced. You’ll put on fat if you consume more than you need. My biggest problem was, I let the calories in vs out get away from me. It’s worthwhile to track your carb intake and error on the side of caution. If you start to put on weight (fat) tapper it back. If you feel tired, losing weight and strength, increase. Timing matters to in this case but from the sounds of it, you have that covered. Your concerns are valid, just keep tracking your progress and you might be surprised. All carbs eventually break down to simple sugars anyway. And if you don’t want to consume simple carbs, then by all means, keep it on the healthier side. Just be aware that eating say 250 g of cupcakes to hit your target is by far easier than 250 g of a baked potato. Satiety-wise (if that’s even a word). However, on that note, it’s all too easy to over-consume simple carbs quickly and just break that law in the beginning of my reply. Add some, but keep track of what you look like in the morning, how you feel, your workouts and such and adjust as necessary.

  34. How to maintain strength in carb back loading as I am losing strength the all I gained before

    1. Losing strength is a sign of potential muscle loss. If that’s happening, you should ensure you’re eating enough calories (getting enough protein for sure) to support muscle maintenance. I’d recommend lifting as heavy as possible to preserve muscle (this is more for people in a calorie deficit). But losing strength can be as simple as a bad day, a bad week, not enough water, not enough sleep but if you notice it’s persistent, it means your body might be losing muscle which means you may be in a calorie deficit without knowing it and you aren’t lifting heavy enough to preserve. That’s just some thoughts. Strength loss is a big deal but try and see if you can figure out why before jumping to conclusions. I use it as an indicator myself. And some workouts, I’m weaker than others but overall, I’m maintaining. So it’s a long term indicator not a single workout.

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