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Carb Backloading: Eating Carbohydrates to Get Lean, Muscular and Strong

Turning carbohydrates into powerful muscle-building, fat-burning weapons is a lot easier than you think.

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Until now, you haven’t had many options. If you wanted to get lean, you had to diet strictly— and weeks of food deprivation stripped a little fat but also left you smaller and weaker. If your goal was to get bigger, you had to eat like a pig. Then, of course, you’d pack on not only muscle but fat as well.

The reason why both strategies lead to less than satisfying results can be answered in one word: carbs. Consuming large amounts of carbs (particularly the sugary and starchy kind) raises your blood sugar. This triggers the release of the hormone insulin to bring your blood sugar level back down. If you’ve just finished weight training, that’s good, because insulin will take the calories you’re consuming straight to the muscle cells for rebuilding. At any other time of day, however, insulin will store those calories as fat.

Manipulating this effect is the key to getting the perfect body—lean, muscular, and strong.

I’m going to outline two methods of carb manipulation I have researched, road tested, and ultimately trademarked: the Carb Nite system to lose fat and carb back-loading to pack on lean mass. You can alternate them throughout the year to stay big and lean simultaneously.

While you’ll still have to choose whether you want to focus on losing fat or primarily gaining size, you won’t have to give up muscle or a trim waist to achieve either one. You also won’t have to count calories or forsake your favorite foods. In other words, you have options—at last. As a former obese kid, I thought I’d never be able to stay muscular without being a little fat. Using these two strategies, I now maintain 6% body fat year-round without much effort and without giving up any of the junk food I love. Here’s how it works.

Carb Nite If you want to get shredded and strong, use Carb Nite, which takes advantage of your body’s weekly hormonal rhythms to help you lose fat, maintain muscle, and increase strength. You can cut significant fat without even working out.

1) Start With a 10-Day Recalibration Prime your body to use fat for energy instead of carbs and stop all the processes that make it easy to store carbs as fat. You do this by following an ultra-low-carb diet for 10 days. Eat 30 grams of carbs or fewer per day (approximately one piece of fruit or a small serving of oatmeal). Any starches and sweets in your meals must be extremely limited.

2) Enjoy a Carb Nite On the evening of your 10th day, starting around 5 p.m., begin eating carbs. Your discipline can take a hiatus: eat pasta, pizza, french fries, or any other sugary/starchy carbs you can get your hands on. Want brownies or Krispy Kreme doughnuts? Go for it. High-glycemic carb sources like these are actually better choices than sweet potatoes and rice. You need to refill your carb stores, crank up your metabolism, and give your mind a break. You’ll get the best results if Carb Nite falls on a day you lift weights, so try to time it accordingly. Don’t worry about getting fat. Several studies show that because of the change in enzyme production that occurs in your body throughout your low-carb days, gaining fat on a Carb Nite is nearly impossible.

3) Lean Out At this point, you’ve gotten your body to switch over from using carbs to fat as fuel. Return to the menu you used during recalibration, but this time you won’t have to follow it as long. Eat 30 grams of carbs per day and, once per week, have a Carb Nite. Note that this is a six- to eight-hour “night,” not a daylong carb binge.

4) Maintenance This is where you get to look ripped all the time. Once you drop below 10% body fat, you’ll probably need two Carb Nites per week to keep your metabolism going and spare muscle mass. So you could have your first Carb Nite on Wednesday and your second that Saturday.

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