Chances are good that you’ve heard (and may even practice) carb loading. This is when you flood your body with carbs after a workout to help facilitate muscle growth. Carb backloading is a bit different which includes the effect. It involves a little more planning, but it’s easy to do.
Carb Loading vs. Carb Backloading
Carb loading is a practice that many, many athletes and fitness enthusiasts use to trigger muscle growth. Once you’ve finished working out, your muscles are primed to absorb nutrients and proteins to rebuild themselves. If you load up on carbs, the carbs turn to sugar in your bloodstream. In turn, the increased amount of sugar stimulates the production of insulin, and insulin is the perfect way to get the calories you eat directly to your muscles to help them grow.
The trouble is that carb loading only works after a workout. If you load up on carbs at any other time – first thing in the morning, or even in the evening before bed – the insulin will store those calories as fat. Carb backloading, then, is the process of fine-tuning this process to perfection so you can develop a lean, muscular, strong body. Learning how to do it properly is simple.
Stage 1 – Recalibrate Your Body
First things first, you’ll need to teach your body how to use fat for energy instead of carbs. When you can do this, you’ll essentially recalibrate the hormones and processes that are responsible for converting the carbs you eat to fat. For 10 days, eat a diet that has very few, if any, carbohydrates. The Atkins diet is a great choice for fitness buffs since it cuts the carbs but allows plenty of protein, but you can have up to 30 grams of carbs per day. This deprivation of carbs forces your body to start burning fat as energy.
Stage 2 – Binge on Carbs
At the end of the 10th day, you can let all hell break loose. All of the things you craved for the last 10 days are no longer taboo, and you can eat your fill of everything from brownies to ice cream to an entire loaf of bread. This is probably the only time anyone will ever tell you that processed, ultra-sweet foods are a better option than complex carbs like rice or even whole grains. During this stage, the goal is to refuel the carb stores you’ve depleted. Make sure you’ve lifted the 10th day, too. This is even better as it puts the carbs you eat during your binge to work.
Stage 3 – Slow Down Again
By the time you’ve made it to the 11th day, your body has learned how to use carbs for fuel rather than storing them as fat. This is exactly where you want to be. You’ll need to go back to the first stage again, but you’ll only need to follow it for about half the original time – six days. Eat up to 30 grams of carbs per day for those six days. Then, on the end of the sixth day, enjoy a carb binge once again. The binge should last no more than six to eight hours; if you do it all day, you’ll reverse your progress.
Stage 4 – The Maintenance Phase
For the most part, you’ll simply follow stage three for several weeks until you start to get the ripped, toned look you want. However, you’ll need to keep an eye on things, because your metabolism starts to change again once you get below about 10% body fat. At this point, your body might try to start using your muscle mass as fuel, so you’ll need to up your carb binges to twice per week, or once every third or fourth day. This helps keep your metabolism where it needs to be and prevents muscle atrophy.
Carb backloading is designed to help train your body to burn carbs as fuel rather than store them as fat. Although it’s great for anyone who wants to shed body fat, it’s especially helpful for athletes and bodybuilders who want the shredded, ripped appearance they crave – all without sacrificing their favorite foods.