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What is the best method of carb cylcing?

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  • What is the best method of carb cylcing?

    Nearly all bodybuilding programs incorporate a process of calorie and/or macronutrient cycling. Two currently popular methods are outlined in Leangains and Carb Backloading (CBL).

    In Leangains, carbs and calories are kept low until after a workout. Then a high carb, high protein meal is ingested post-workout. Subsequent meals for that day are progressively lower in carbs and calories. Rest days are oppostie: high fat and low carb.

    I am not as familiar with Carb Backloading, so if I am off in my description, someone please correct me. From what I have heard, the ideal protocol is to eat minimal carbs and fairly low calories until you workout in the afternoon/evening, then have a post-workout carb feast. If you have an additional meal, I believe it is recommended to be lower carb. If you train in the morning, you similarly fast until postworkout, then have a not-gigantic carb meal, then stay low carb until evening when you can then eat a large amount of carbohydrate.

    This mouse study (Time-of-Day-Dependent Dietary Fat Consumption Influences Multiple Cardiometabolic Syndrome Parameters in Mice) that was cited in a J. Stanton ( article suggests that eating a high-fat meal as your "breakfast" (whatever time of day that happens to be) will help you maintain your metabolic flexibility. This seems to lend credence to the CBL way of doing things more than the Leangains method.

    My question pertains to my particular situation. I train at noon and have been following the Leangains method outlined above, where I eat the majority of my carbs post-workout and then a somewhat higher fat meal later in the evening.

    Would I be better served to have a less carbolicious meal post-workout and then have a carb feast for dinner?

    Is the slightly higher fat meal in the evening detrimental since my fat metabolism is "messed up" from the high-carb post workout meal?

    Does the ~16 hour fast negate the potential downside of breaking my fast with a high-carb meal or not? Does fasting simulate eating a high-fat meal from a metabolic standpoint? If not, would it then be beneficial to have a small high-fat meal pre-workout?

    On the flipside, is eating high fat and then switching to high carb bad? How long does it take for low carb eating to downregulate insulin sensitivity as described by Peter here? And does a moderate carb intake negate this effect: http:/

    I know the best way to determine what works for me is to test this out for myself, which I may do. I just wanted to get some different viewpoints on the matter.
    Last edited by yodiewan; 12-20-2012, 10:05 AM.

  • #2


    • #3
      I wouldn't worry about the physiological insulin resistance that peter at hyperlipid is talking about with either program. What he is referring to will not occur with moderate carb intake or with frequent re-feeds such as you are talking about. Its an adaptation that takes several weeks at ketogenic levels of carbs to occur.

      Seems to me that there is little credence to meal timing with working out except that insulin sensitivity is improved and you should have burned enough glycogen to increase carbs with a bit more impunity if you so wish.

      I do see several reasons why working out in a fasted state is beneficial though.


      • #4
        What is your body telling you? I know that on days I lift (and I'm by no means a pro...!) I find that I really WANT the carby meal I eat it then. I'm not usually craving the carbs as much later in the day. However I tend to work out in the mornings and then have a carbalicious lunch if so.
        Check out my blog on nature and nurture!


        • #5
          Thanks for the replies.

          @Neckhammer: Good to know that I don't have to worry about the keto-induced insulin resistance.

          @solstice: I also want carbs after a hard workout if I want to eat anything at all. Fat is just not very appetizing at that time. But rest days? Bring it on!


          • #6
            CBL is not low calorie at any time. The calories are dependent on your goals.

            But it is very low carb on off days, and up to the workout. Then, immediately post-workout, you have protein and a simple sugar (they prefer a shake but whatever - protein and some dates work fine too) then for the PWO meals (up to bedtime) high carb and high protein. They advise to workout in the evening around 5-6 pm for best results. There's a reason for this and too much to get into here, but suffice it to say, it's best that way.

            I'm going to be doing CBL very soon. Looking forward to it!


            • #7
              I use Carb backloading and I've seen great results with it.
              It's easy to follow, it broke my bad relationship with food and carbs.
              Once you learn your body it's easy to use while hardly tracking calories or macros and still achieve results.

              Plus, despite Kiefer's talk of hate people, he's a pretty nice guy and he is crazy smart.


              • #8
                i agree with you, CBL is not low calorie at any time. The calories are dependent on your goals. thank you