Carb backloading is the latest fad that claims to help build muscle but it seems as though this one may have some truth to it. Carb backloading is based on a sort of timetable revolving around how sensitive our insulin levels are throughout the day. According to supporters of the theory, the higher the insulin levels in our bodies, the more likely they are to store carbs consumed, as muscle instead of fat. It is most effective if this is done shortly after your workout.
How It Works
Our insulin levels are lowest in the morning and this is when our bodies are most likely to store energy as fat.1 However, by depriving the body of carbs until insulin sensitivity is highest, that is, in the evening, after a workout, the body is more likely to
Rules To Follow
- Eat a light breakfast, preferably protein heavy with little to no carbs.
- Continue to avoid carbs until you workout in the evening.
- Alternatively, you can do your workout mid afternoon and add in carbs into your meals starting then.
- You can continue to eat a moderate amount of carbs until about 4 hours before you go to bed.
These are the only strict rules to this strategy. It sounds strange but there are some great benefits
Benefits of Carb Loading
1. Lets You Indulge
Unlike most other diets which involve a cheat day, this helps you indulge a little bit every day. This is better than going all out on a cheat
2. Makes You Feel Less Guilty
We all have those moments where we give in and feel less than proud of ourselves afterward. With carb loading, you have a little more license in the evenings to have a little leeway. You don’t have to beat yourself up over having that baked potato with a pat of butter on top, or for that helping of fried noodles or mashed potatoes.
3. Reduces Cravings
When you have the knowledge that you can eat something heavy after your workout, you’re less
4. Helps You Fall Asleep Faster
Studies show that eating carbs shortly before you go to sleep increases levels of tryptophan in the body which converts to the hormone serotonin. Serotonin helps the body fall asleep faster.2
5. Reduces Stored Fat
Of course, this is the entire point of the dieting exercise. By reducing your carb intake, your body is forced to deplete the stored fat reserves in your body during the day and during your workout. This is partly because the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, are high during the day. If you consume
Is It Right For You?
While carb loading may be an effective way to build muscle mass, it’s not the best plan to follow if you’re looking to lose weight with light or moderate exercise. You may just find yourself packing on the pounds instead. It’s great for athletes who are looking to build muscle and endurance.
Tips To Keep In Mind
- Try to stick to high-quality carbs like sweet potato or even whole grain products.
- Avoid things like potato chips, fries, and doughnuts.
- Stay away from refined sugars.
The next time you’re looking to increase your performance at the gym or for a marathon, carb loading is worth a try to get your body into performance mode.
|↑1||NIH study shows how insulin stimulates fat cells to take in glucose. National Institutes Of Health|
|↑2||Afaghi, Ahmad, Helen O’connor, and Chin Moi Chow. “High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 85, no. 2 (2007): 426-430.|