Carb Loading – Paleo Women of Crossfit Version

8 Mar

Tomorrow we are releasing our Metabolic Flexibility chapters that you get when you purchase a year long subscription for $49.95.  These chapters are written by Mike T Nelson who is considered to be the authority on the topic.  When I wrote this article Carb Back Loading was the only book that closely resembled what I teach.  With two volumes of Foundations and now Mike’s chapters on MetFlex I can safely say this is NOW the best information you can purchase specific to our sport (that being high intensity weight lifting and OLY lifting).  Not only do you get that but you get seminars and a private group with other doctors and Crossfit athletes to support your new performance journey (how cool is that?).

(Click here to jump to a summary of this article)

This is a big topic for the seminars:  “How can a woman keep a healthy amount of carbs in her diet while also mobilizing fat?”  I realize that it’s all very confusing at this point, because there’s been a lot of buzz over the past few years surrounding fat loss on a ketogenic diet.  There are certainly a lot of women who’ve made dramatic transformations by cutting carbs, but the results may have come at a cost; for a small percentage of women, symptoms like irregular menstrual cycles and compromised fertility go hand in hand with calorie deprivation and maintaining a low body fat percentage.  If this doesn’t apply to you, you probably can’t relate, but for a few of the ladies out there, a bell just went off in their heads.  Another group of relatively lean ladies have taken a less restrictive approach to eating, and most are quite happy with their body composition.

Exercise Differences Between Men and Women

Aside from the obvious differences, men and women are biologically quite different and respond differently to exercise in a few important ways.  For instance, women burn fat more easily than men do while CrossFitting; due to a significantly decreased oxidative work capacity, women have been shown to use up glycogen more slowly than men do.  They rely upon alternate pathways to supply ATP to the muscle cells during intense activity.  So if women burn more fat while exercising, why are some of them struggling to rid themselves of what they consider to be excess body fat?  Although it has something to do with neurotransmitters and adrenergic receptors in adipose tissue, we’ll just say that each person stores and mobilizes fat differently; it’s dependent upon so many factors that it would take an entire book to adequately explain.  Once again, this is a complicated question that is largely individual, but I have and will continue to argue that there is a process of analysis that must occur.  In the long run, the results are enlightening and will lead to important discoveries about your unique metabolism.

What about Carb Back-Loading?  That Seems Like a Lot of Carbs…

Later, you will read three testimonies from women who Eat to Perform.  Not all of them are CrossFitters, nor are they CBL zealots, but that makes their experiences much more informative and broadly applicable.  Each of these women has formulated a conscious approach to carbohydrate intake that works for them.

Once you hear from them, you’ll agree that the contrasts between these various athletes are eye-opening.  All of them do some version of what I describe in this article, adjusted for their activity level, at various times.  Some do it by feel, some count calories and some carb cycle BUT every single one of them agrees that a high-functioning metabolism involves some amount of carbohydrates.

Adjusting CBL for Women

Back-loading can be intimidating.  Kiefer talks about “slamming the carbs”; images of doughnuts and turnovers dance before your eyes.  This rubs people the wrong way sometimes, because it doesn’t jive with what they consider a basic tenant of human nutrition; it seems insane (and unhealthy) to suggest that eating baked goods and pizza could help you lose fat.  When I started this site, I wanted to start women down the path of thinking more openly as far as carbohydrates are concerned.  That started a discussion and here we are with almost 200,000 people participating (it will probably be more if you read this down the road).  That discussion led to experiments for a lot of people and better performance while eating moderate carbohydrates.  I think I can safely say that women trying to lose fat might do well to try something out of their comfort zone and add some carbs/starches to their meal plans.

This Is a “Non-Standard” Recommendation

It’s important that everyone understands that no recommendation works for everyone.  You have to take the reins, but this is a safe spot for most active women to start.  I just posted an article with a link and explanation of how to calculate your energy requirements based upon your activity level.  It’s very informative so you should give it a quick read.  In the articles coming up you will see examples of women using vastly different approaches as it relates to carb strategies that all make sense.  We’ll go over this more during the seminars as well, so don’t sweat it if these numbers don’t work for you.

  • For our example, we’ll use a woman in her mid-twenties, 5’4”, 125lbs who CrossFits a few times a week.
  • We’ll start her on 125g of protein a day.  If you are particularly light (under 125 pounds) then you can get away with 100g.
  • 125g of carbs (ideally eaten in a small window post workout at the end of the day, similar to the way it is described in the book).  Again, if you weigh less than 125 pounds, 100g is a good place to start.  If you’re particularly active (or you train in the morning), you may want to add 25-50g of carbs to your post workout nutrition.
  • 125g of fat.  This will provide the bulk of your energy throughout the day and turn you into a veritable furnace of fat burning.

Starch Sources in Your Evening Meals

Part of the problem with very active women following a Paleo-esque diet is that they struggle to find energy dense sources that come from mostly whole unprocessed foods.  Fibrous vegetables don’t count; eat as much of them as you want throughout the day but leave them out of your evening meals.  While they may be packed with vitamins and minerals, they will fill you up and you may have a tendency to under eat when it comes time to “slam the carbs”.  This is one of the reasons I recommend having dessert on your back-loading days (ideally, the day before a workout).  My coconut milk smoothies are a great choice; I have also seen women get very favorable results adding dark chocolate and wine into the mix (as long as it’s in moderation).

As far as more traditional options go, we’ll keep this simple: sweet potatoes, squash (kabocha squash pictured above) are great carbohydrate sources.  If you’re open-minded, you could occasionally try some white rice too.  Starches are important, as they provide a quick source of glucose to spur muscle tone (really muscle growth but I digress) and trigger the hormonal cascade responsible for fat burning.  I think you’ll get a great response from these.  Finally, variety is the spice of life, so try different things and don’t be afraid to have a cinnamon roll before bed to prepare for a particularly brutal workout the following day.

Workout Days Followed by Rest Days

Because men burn through sugar like there’s no tomorrow, they can get away with back-loading every day.  Women have things a little harder due to their decreased usage of glycogen as fuel during exercise.  If your goal is to mobilize fat, I would suggest reducing your carbohydrate intake on these days, while simultaneously increasing your fat intake.  It may seem like it contradicts the entire ideology of back-loading, but by eating relatively low carb after training, you will ensure a glycogen debt and maximize fat burning hormones.  Using the example from above, stay with 125g protein, 100g of carbs and add roughly 22g of fat (preferably from sources like coconut oil and grass-fed butter) to make up for the loss of calories incurred by lowering carbohydrate intake.  That would shift your macros to 125p/150f/100c.

These are just my thoughts; you can play with this many different ways.  My goal is to convey a more clear understanding that a reckless approach is unnecessary; you don’t need to eat turnovers and pizza to back-load.  I hope this helps a bit in clarifying that.  As always, these are guidelines and not rules.

Summary

  • Men and women utilize carbohydrate differently.  Women are, in general, better at burning fat than men so they need fewer carbohydrates in their nutrition plans.
  • Ketogenic/low carb diets can cause fast weight loss but they are rarely ideal for optimal performance.
  • While it may not be extremely common, some women suffer some unfortunate side effects when they get really lean and/or deprive their bodies of carbohydrates.  For this reason, it’s better to adopt a less restrictive approach to carbs.
  • Women should strive to hit their protein goals first, and then focus on carbs and fat; in general, women seem to do well on 100-125g of carbs on training days.
  • Rest days can be modified to include more fat and less carbs; 75-100g may be appropriate.
  • As with most things, experimenting with more or less carbs will help you arrive at a balance that works for you and allows you to look and perform the way you want to.
  • You don’t need to eat pizza and turnovers to carb back-load; go for starches like potatoes and rice, and be sure to include some vegetables.  Coconut milk smoothies are also a great option.

 

101 Responses to “Carb Loading – Paleo Women of Crossfit Version”

  1. Becky Bercis March 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Hello! I have been following your posts and bought the book on Wednesday through your link. I was hooked from the first chapter. I finished the book last night and have a couple questions on how best to implement. Keifer mentioned that he is going to do another book geared towards endurance athletes, do you have any suggestions until then for someone that weight trains and also does a good amount of cardio? Trying to determine if I need to wait until the end of tri season to start.

  2. Debbie March 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    On workout days you are saying a female at that height/weight should be eating 125 Protein/125 Carbs/ 125 fat… but then you say on rest days she should decrease carbs and increase fat to come out to 125/75/50… I’m confused how the fast increased but actually decreased?

    • Paul Nobles March 9, 2013 at 9:43 am #

      typo, I fixed it, check again. Really sorry about that.

  3. Didi March 8, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    I am so confused after reading this post several times. I am still trying to understand the calculations part. It just isn’t sinking in and I am not usually bad with Math. At 158 lbs I can’t understand how to calculate the carbs and fat. I get hte protein part of 158 g protein = 632 calories, I just can’t get hte carbs and fat. Took a while to get up the nerve to actually ask

    • Paul Nobles March 9, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      What is your height weight and age? At 158 I would start you at 125g protein (which represents closer to your lean body mass number) with 125g of carbs and the rest of your calories coming from fat (just going to guess based on an average of a 30 year old woman at 5’4″). The calc gave me 2458 but I would be comfortable with the standard recommendation from the article for you, so 125g of fat a day. This starts you off at 2125 calories a day and you adjust from there (count for a few days just to get a feel for it and then once you aren’t counting simply adjust fats and carbs ratios up or down based on various factors, honestly I base it off of the mirror and a little off of the scale but for some women that is tricky).

  4. Kim March 8, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    The last section really confuses me. Do you mean that women shouldn’t carb load on the days they work out? I feel like it contradicts everything you said in the sections before. If you could help me understand that would be great! Thanks

    • Paul Nobles March 9, 2013 at 4:44 am #

      You carb load the day before you workout, most often for Crossfitters those are also workout days. Let’s however say that you workout and the following day is a rest day, that would be a day to rely mostly on dietary fats. I did have a typo that I fixed and that confused things a bit. Should have been 125p/150f/50c. Sorry about that. Does that make more sense?

      • Kim March 9, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

        Yes much more sense! Thank you

  5. Afra March 8, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    Once again – thx for the info! I’m a little confused though on fat mobilization – I thought in a different post it said to eat carbs the night before a workout and up the fat intake the night before a rest day. But this says lower your carbs and up your fat before a workout day. If the goal is fat mobilization should for the example above just stay at 125/75/150 (I’m assuming you meant 150 vs 50)

    • Paul Nobles March 9, 2013 at 4:42 am #

      I fixed a typo that confused this issue 125p/150f/50c, this would be on a workout day where the following day is a rest day. Does this make sense now?

      • Afra March 9, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

        Absolutely! Thx again… love this stuff and just got the book. The science of how this works is addictive. As an avid crossfitter it’s so exciting to try new things to help performance.

  6. Jess March 10, 2013 at 12:59 am #

    Thanks for all the great info- I am an active female and weigh about 120-125lbs and hang out around 20% body fat. I was looking at some of the differences between “Carb Nite” and CBL. Do you have insight into the differences/benefits of the two? I workout about 5 days a week, mostly Crossfit but am looking to take off a few stubborn lbs before summer. Thanks!

    • Paul Nobles March 10, 2013 at 2:18 am #

      CNS would be a mistake in your situation because you are relatively lean, also as a Crossfitter it is a hormonal nightmare and would likely lead to fat storage. Essentially though the scenario I am presenting is similar to CNS when you adjust for activity. I reserve CNS advice for people with twice your body fat.

      • Jess March 10, 2013 at 3:40 am #

        Gotcha, that makes sense with the difference in what cross fitters do vs. powerlifters. Thanks again.

      • Jess March 10, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

        The video you posted today addressing this was awesome and a huge help. Thanks again. I ate an Udi’s chocolate chip muffin before bed and felt great this morning.

  7. Souki March 10, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    Hi, thanks for another great article! I’ve just started eating Paleo (still eat oatmeal and some whole wheat bread sometimes, but trying to cut back), and I Crossfit 4-6 times a week, depending on the week, and I also have some Olympic weightlifting classes every 3 weeks. I’ve been doing good on Paleo, but sometimes it feels like I’m not getting as stronger as I could be getting, considering all the work I put in. I workout early in the morning for the most part, and whatever cardio stuff we do is usually fine, but weightlifting seems to be taking its toll. I often wonder if I’m eating too little in general, and certainly too little carbs (I’ll have the occasional sweet potato, but twice a week at most). Would you recommend that I CBL the night before I CF the next day in the morning? Do you still recommend going through the cleansing phase even though I’ve been (mostly) Paleo for a couple of weeks already? Thanks so much in advance!

    • Souki March 10, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

      Forgot to mention that I’m 5’4″, around 144 lbs. (last time I checked, maybe a week ago), and my BF% is pretty high at around 30% (I look leaner than I am, apparently, so I have a lot of body fat to burn through). Thanks!

    • Paul Nobles March 10, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

      No need for prep phase if you are doing Paleo. Eat your occasional oatmeal and wheat bread at night, eating it during the day can stall fat loss for the entire day and that sounds like a goal for you. Yes, carb up the night before a workout. Also you consider supplementing with Creatine.

      • Souki March 10, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

        Thanks! That makes sense. I’ve been having whey before my early morning workouts, would you recommend adding the Creatine or doing it instead of the whey protein? (I sometimes use whey to make Paleo-friendly pancakes – though whey is not actually Paleo, but everything else on them is; maybe I should use Creatine instead? I know some people who do at least.)

  8. Becca March 11, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    I just started reading your articles and really enjoy this because it hits super close to home. I started crossfit about 2 years ago and went basically without carbs right away for about a year. I lost nearly 25 pounds, but still have a decent amount of fat around my mid-section for how clean I eat and the level of training I do. I just bought the book, but was wondering if you do personal consulting and how to get information on that?

    • Paul Nobles March 12, 2013 at 8:56 am #

      It’s virtually impossible for me to do one on one counseling with the type of scale I work with. This is why I am starting virtual classroom settings. Be on the lookout an announcement about that today.

  9. Linds March 11, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    Hi, good article.
    So you said to carb load before a work out day. In your comments you said for CrossFitters that is also commonly a work out day, so do you have advice for that? If I am CrossFitting 6 days a week with one rest day, how often should I be carb loading? I am 5’7″ 24 yr old female at 170 lbs – wanting to lean out

    • Paul Nobles March 12, 2013 at 8:54 am #

      I also do 6 days a week, in the book Kiefer talks about this. Basically no days off and you control with adjusting amounts of carbs (and subsequently upping fats) after days where you might have over done it a bit. Don’t necessarily eat less, just cycle carbs and fats for exact response.

  10. Amber March 12, 2013 at 3:19 am #

    From the sounds of it, seems like women take on the same approach as men as far as not having carbs throughout the day, then CBL maybe within 1-2 meals in the evening if you plan to workout the following day. I’m still not sure where the difference between resistance training and crossfit come to play. I feel like crossfit is a mixture of the resistance training plus the HIIT cardio you recommend women do since we don’t have the muscle build to support the all out carb binge.

    Also, what are your thoughts on women who want to maintain their physique but are trying to become pregnant or they are pregnant?

    Any insight would be appreciated!

    • Paul Nobles March 12, 2013 at 8:50 am #

      Honestly I think Kiefer made a big deal of that in the book and I have too many examples, especially for women, that Crossfit is possibly the perfect protocol for CBL. One thing he has talked about is the “all out binge” is something women should be conscious of more than men.

      I am familiar with a hand full of these types of situations where period cycles and fertility get compromised for women that get “too lean”. By too lean I mean lower teens or single digits. If someone was sitting around say 20% and then started to do this it could lean them out. So adjustments can be made to get lean but not too lean.

      • Amber March 12, 2013 at 10:01 am #

        Thanks! I appreciate your insight.

  11. Megan March 12, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    also does this article suggest consuming fats after a workout and then carbs later??? Is this any day or only when a rest day is to folow!

    • Paul Nobles March 12, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

      it depends on the time of day you workout. Early AM WOD yes to fats and proteins throughout the day, carbs are always later as a suggestion with the day before a WOD being a bit higher than the day before a rest day. Does that help?

  12. Melissa March 16, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    Great post, I just have a quick question. Should I CBL on rest days that are going to be followed by WOD days, or should I do low carb? Ok I lied, two questions actually. If one “rest day” is full of a lot of strictly cardio exercise, should I still CBl the night before or only CBL the nights before an actual WOD with elements of resistance training? If it helps, I’m 155 lbs about 28% bf and I wod 5-6 times a week along with cardio heavy martial arts most days. Thanks a lot.

    • Paul Nobles March 17, 2013 at 11:07 am #

      It depends on how often you WOD, in your case you basically adjust the carbs lower. Interestingly though you adjust them lower ON your workouts days in some instances. Rest days are typically the days you want to load your carb for the following days WOD. Mostly you want to be fueled for workouts but dont forget that you need to have fats rolling. As long as fats and proteins are keeping you close to what is your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) you shouldn’t completely lack energy but the days your carbs are reduced may make that days WOD slightly more difficult. That just means you had to work a bit harder and possibly mobilized fat as a result. Does that help?

      • Melissa March 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

        That helps a lot, thanks!

  13. Lonnie March 17, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Hi Paul,
    ok, so I have been doing CBL for a couple weeks now and my jeans are def bigger. My question is the shakes for a woman. There are like three different shakes and all say 5g creatine and 10g whey isolate. do I take the same dose on these shakes as men? Also the creatine I take is the one you have. its 750mg a serving. so how much do I take in my shakes? Im 5′ 124lbs. Do I need all these shakes? The Lucene is already in my whey isolate, so Im assuming that is fine.
    Im still trying to figure out how to eat all the calories i need through the day. I am definately not eating enough right now. I do two a days with one rest day. my two a days would be eithier heavy lifting in the am then crossfit, or crossfit in the am then at night hot yoga, I also try to fit in running when I can. I get full so easy, Its hard to eat what I need.
    thanks,
    Lonnie 🙂

    • Paul Nobles March 17, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

      the shakes help, I can’t say I do the shakes the way Kiefer suggests but you sound more active than I tend to be. I here it a lot though, people who eat mostly whole foods struggle to get close to their TDEE and it sort of goes against what most of us have been told but this simply means adding more energy dense foods like carbs and fats.

      • Lonnie March 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

        ok, so I wont over think the shakes. Thanks for all the great info!

  14. Becca March 18, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Hey Paul,

    I was looking at your coconut milk smoothies and I know the main focuses are carbs/fats/proteins, but the smoothies seem to have a lot of sugar. Is sugar sort of a ‘comes with the territory and we don’t worry about it’ thing? I have been Paleo about 2 years and I’m sure you know how fearful of sugar we can become. I’m totally willing to give this all a go, but just wondering your thoughts about how sugar factors into the carb loading at night.

    I did all of my calculations based off of your articles, and it looks like I’m getting plenty of protein, and almost enough fat, but not enough carbs. Im off my TDEE by almost 700 calories. I’m 5’8 and 165, with about 25% body fat. I’ve been stuck here, after losing about 20 lbs going low carb a year and a half ago. I’m trying to lean out just a little bit more. I do 2 a days basically squeezed into one workout at night 5-6 days a week, so I’d consider myself very active.

    I’ve bought the book and am about 1/2 way through. So I’m going to start adding more sweet potatoes at night and make my dessert a banana with sunbutter when I WOD the next day. Hopefully the adding more calories vs. restricting them will bring me better results.

    • Paul Nobles March 18, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

      I appreciate the concern with sugar but it’s not the devil it’s been made out to be. In the example of pineapple and cherries as an example you have great micro-nutrients (vitamins) that accompany the sugar. Not to mention the fact that the fat from the coconut milk blunts the insulin response from the sugar. Additionally sweet potatoes as a starch break down to glucose easily, that is why they are good, glucose is sugar, carbs in effect break down to sugar. When you don’t get enough carbs your body breaks down your protein and turns it into glucose. So excess protein turns into sugar through a process called glucongenesis. Sugar was never the problem, over consumption of sugar related to activity levels was. If you want a healthy functioning metabolism knowing how to eat sugar a bit gets you a long way down that road. I hope that helps.

  15. kiddoxfit March 19, 2013 at 3:36 am #

    I have read Keifer’s book on cbl and have a question… how important is the caffeine in the morning? Caffeine makes me sick and I’m wondering if I can skip it and still get the benefits of cbl.

    • Paul Nobles March 19, 2013 at 7:52 am #

      You will be fine. The science on that is actually kind of marginal because your body adjusts, if you haven’t been to examine.com you should check these guys out. http://examine.com/supplements/Caffeine/

  16. Kassandra March 19, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Ok, I just found your blog a few days ago. I haven’t bought the book yet because honestly I am not “sold”. I have always believed that you need to have a deficit in calories to have fat loss. I am a new mom of twins (4 ½ months), crossfit 5-6 a week, attempting a Wendler’s strength program 4x a week and running if I am up to it (which honestly isn’t often). I am pretty active and pretty tired. I do a paleo version of zone eating about 11-13 blocks at 5 meals a day. I have lost 10 pounds and 3 inches on my waist in the last 2 months. Currently I weight 143 and I am 5”4. I am thinking I am around 30% body fat. The BMR calculator says I should be eating about 3,100 calories. Currently it is about half of that. My appetite is minimal: I am just not hungry, force food and get full fast. My energy level is low (in my opinion) I find myself needing caffeine in order to perform in my WODs, which is also why I said attempting a strength program! In reading your blog I am wondering if it is all related to not eating enough. My goal is to have more energy, lean out and gain some strength. All of that to ask is my metabolism jacked up or what?!?!

    • Paul Nobles March 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

      We agree on the deficit part we just don’t agree on how to get there. What I teach is to eat to your level of performance or slightly below -10. Many people are eating sometimes half and that’s why they end up being stalled or fatigued. I am not really sure what you disagree with related to the book. A common misconception is that it’s a book on carbs. It’s a book on mostly fat consumption so you can use your carbohydrate to keep your metabolism fired up. Your appetite is minimal because you are overly reliant on nutrient dense food and your energy level is low because you need more energy dense options.

      • Kassandra March 19, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

        Thank you for taking the time to respond. I apologize that I was not clear. I don’t disagree with the book at all it’s just a new school of thought for me (which is why I said I haven’t been “sold” yet). However, listening to the live chat put it into perspective. I have been stalled and I have been fatigued. I am also looking to fire up my metabolism because I do believe that is the source of my problem. I am goal driven and will do what it takes to get there. Even if that means eating 3,000 calories a day!!! One last question I read in a previous post that there would be a paleo/crossfit friendly version of the book can you tell me when that is projected to be out? I understand if not….

      • Paul Nobles March 19, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

        I don’t want to over promise on this one but I am hoping to have something next week. It’s pretty exciting. It’s a different idea than a book really but I am relatively certain people will like it. I am getting a lot of feedback that the information is good they just aren’t able to put all of the puzzle pieces together. That is what this product will do.

  17. Marie March 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Could CBL work for women with hashimoto’s/hypothyroidism and PCOS? I cannot seem to lean out at all. I eat a paleo diet (for over a year now) and am actually gaining weight. Not sure what I’m doing wrong. I CF M-W and on F in the morning. How would the CBL work with that schedule?

    • Paul Nobles March 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

      It would look like mostly whole foods with some sweet potatoes or squash as your carbs and possibly coconut milk smoothies for dessert. As an example. In terms of the hypothyroidism, I was diagnosed with that as well. A conscious approach to carbohydrate got my metabolism fired up but that isn’t advice, I am not a doctor but I do think more strategic carbs would help.

  18. Laura March 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    This is such great information!! Thank you so much. Could you touch on what to do for breakfast as far as protein/carbs/fat ratio, especially if we have to train the in the morning? I have 2 days per week I have to train in the morning and I’m not sure how to tackle what my breakfast should be or if I should have breakfast?

    • Paul Nobles March 19, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

      I typically train fasted in the AM because of the carb load from the night before. For noon workouts I will have a small meal like eggs cooked in ghee and bacon, like 2 eggs. I don’t eat carbs in the AM as a general rule. 2 eggs, 6-8 slices of bacon and a tsp ghee. Not sure macros but I don’t really consider it a meal, more like a snack.

  19. Alyssa March 19, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    Hi. this may be a stupid question (sorry). I do Paleo, but I have been tracking my carbs–trying to match it with my activity (and failing). I had been aiming for a 50-100g/day total, usually ending up at around 75 (however, some days I feel I consumed too low, which REALLY affected my recovery and overall energy). I am looking at CBL as a way for me to add in the carbs I need for my activity (and ONLY for that, i.e. no fat storage! haha). I know in this article you recommend 100g if you weigh less than 125, which I do. I am a petite person. I was wondering if the veggies that you have during the day counts towards the 100g total? I ask because currently veggies are my only source of carbs, which I count towards my carb intake.

    • Paul Nobles March 19, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

      great question, fibrous veggies do not count. Also the 100g I mentioned is a starting point to add additional carbs to really get your metabolism fired up.

      • Alyssa March 20, 2013 at 5:03 am #

        Ok. so what does count? I have been seeing posts in which you say we don’t have to eat the turnovers Kiefer suggests. I’d rather eat whole, nonprocessed foods anyway.
        And 100g is the starting point? (eek). Wow, I am really confused with how to implement the carbs and use CBL. Today, I took a rest day, went to my box’s mobility class and went low carb (testing out the prep phase pretty much). I am pretty sure I don’t need the prep phase, though I am not sure…I thought it would be helpful to at least get used to the scheduling that CBL calls for (i.e. delaying breakfast, very low calorie at the beginning of the day).
        I am really hesitant about going into a WOD without sufficient energy stores. I mean, I have no problem finding fat and protein sources for calories, I do that quite well (I have ditched conventional wisdom in that regard).
        I am sorry if you have answered most of these questions already in other posts, I don’t see anywhere that you can go to older posts easily. or like a FAQ section..Definitely trying what I can with the search though.
        Thanks for the help btw!

      • Paul Nobles March 20, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

        I don’t recommend the prep phase for Crossfitters in general but for low carbers it’s unnecessary. What does count for you would be things like Sweet Potatoes, Squash and Ripe Bananas (fruit). Does that help?

      • Alyssa March 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

        Yes. I see what I need to do with my style of eating. It basically involves shifting my carbs to at night. Makes sense to me. By chance, do you have a post about differing your crossfit training times from what keifer has in his book? his is so scientifically logical that I am going to shift my training to 5/6. The only thing is that on the weekends, the WODs are only in the morning. I know he gives advice as to how to accomodate for this, but he doesn’t explain how people might still get the tGLUT/MTR benefit even though you worked out way earlier in the day.

      • Paul Nobles March 21, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

        I run through some of those thoughts in this article. http://eattoperform.com/2013/03/03/screw-the-switch-lets-torch-some-body-fat/

  20. Meg March 20, 2013 at 5:32 am #

    Hi. Great info! This is definitely something I want to try as I still have some extra fat to lose around my midsection. I am a registered nurse who switches from 12 hour day shifts and night shifts. I crossfit 5 times a week, I’m 5″4 and 125lbs. How should I implement CBL when working a night shift. I sometimes WOD at noon and start work at 7pm then I usually WOD the next day at noon or after 4pm. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Paul Nobles March 20, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

      Your question is quite detailed and unfortunately I am going to be out of pocket the next few days. Would you mind bringing it up again on Saturday?

    • Alyssa March 22, 2013 at 5:01 am #

      Hi Meg, I came across this article on the CBL forum site, it addresses the night shift person. http://www.seanhyson.com/blog/carb-backloading-qs-kiefer-as-part-i

  21. Alyssa March 22, 2013 at 5:15 am #

    Thanks for sharing the post. I understand the actions of carbing up the night before a WOD day. I guess I am such a science-based person that when he explained the tGLUT being available for glucose absorption without insulin, I was wondering if this benefit also occurs if you train in the AM? He doesn’t go into the science of AM training, which I would be interested in reading. (also related to carbing up at night either for AM training or on rest days, I feel like there are holes as far as to why carbing up at night wouldn’t lead to fat gain)

    • Paul Nobles March 23, 2013 at 11:17 am #

      You certainly can add carbs after AM workouts and I did it for about 4 months and still do it occasionally now. It isn’t necessary though. If the scale is a bit light for me I add them, if I am feeling a bit watery and I have had adequate carbs from meals the previous few days. No point.

  22. Alyssa March 24, 2013 at 5:23 am #

    Hi again, i am trying to set a macro ratio for me as a way to track my progress. However, I am slightly confused between this article and the deficit article. For this article it seems the macros are the same across the board. 125 for this example. However, for the day she works out, in which the next day is a rest day, she is only supposed to consume 50 g of carbs? Wouldn’t it be 75 g? What would you recommend her macros to be on a rest day? the same as for the day that was a workout day (125/150/75)?

    Now for the deficit article, you put a 150 lb person at a baseline of 100 g. I am assuming this would be a typical off day goal? Additionally, it seems like a rest day correlates with a higher fat day, in order to meet energy requirements, is this correct?
    And for a typical workout day, in which the next day is not a rest day, it seems that higher carbs are involved, and correlating lower protein and fat (in order to stay within energy expenditure), is this correct?

    I know what you provide are examples. Again, just trying to set a baseline for myself to see how I do. First trying to make sense of some things though (don’t want to arbitrarily make goals without any reasoning behind it)

    • Paul Nobles March 24, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      great question, I don’t write all of the articles at one time but they all have a common theme. That theme is that everybody and EVERY BODY is different. You simply find a good spot to start and then adjust your fats and carbs to meet your needs. Which is funny because today’s article will address your question in yet another way.

      • Alyssa March 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

        I understand that everyone is different. I am more trying to find out how to optimize my metabolism. I have literally gone from a high carb (prob considered low fat too, probably not enough protein diet. I didn’t track what I ate at this point in my life). Then I went to Paleo, which is low carb. However, you seem to stress the importance of carbs. Care to go into the science of how this would play into our nutrition–maybe it’ll provide some clues with how to dials things in. For the past few weeks, it seems that if I was anywhere in the 50-100 g range for a few days, it would set me back. At this point I am thinking to stay out of that range permanently..at least as much as I can. I was thinking a baseline for me would be 100g (that’s why when you said the 50 g in the other article, I was like WOW, maybe I’m taking in too much?)

      • Paul Nobles March 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

        100g is probably too low but it’s a good cautious starting point. The science basically is that your body holds onto and adds tissue best when your glycogen levels are close to full occasionally. If you can keep an adequate amount of protein rolling it’s favorable as it relates to amino turnover, that’s part of the science as well. You might need to be closer to 200-250g in the end but that is personal, you will have to adjust your fats down as your carbs go up.

  23. maureen March 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    LOVE kobacha squash but I’m guessing it doesn’t have enough carbs for a backload night..am I correct?

    • Paul Nobles March 25, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

      alone you would probably need more but it’s a good start

  24. Sara Donohue March 26, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Ok, I may be a little confused of when to eat my carbs now. I WOD 3-4 days a week with heavy weight and circuit training thrown into the mix 2-3 days a week, so essentially I workout 5-6 days a week and walk on my rest days. Due to my work schedule, I work out at all hours. Some days I hit the gym around noon and some days I cannot go until 4 pm or anywhere in between. To be perfectly honest, I have a hard time controlling my eating. I find myself starving around 7 and wanting to eat everything in sight. I am 5’4, 142 pounds and would also like to shed a few more pounds before the dredded swimsuit season makes its appearance. Any help would be appreciated! And p.s. – so thankful that I found your blog! Love it ❤

    • Paul Nobles March 26, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

      You can load every single day and Kiefer talks about it in the book. One of the main advantages of eating your carbs in a smaller window is it provides a level of self control. You know that you don’t have to avoid foods, you just eat them after 5pm or 6pm, mentally that is very easy to do. Just stick to fats and proteins during the day. Probably want to stick around 150g of carbs maybe occasionally allowing for a moment of joy. Does that help?

      • Sara Donohue March 27, 2013 at 2:39 am #

        ahhhh yes, this is the best news ever!! I tend to crave carbs at night, so switching my intake to dinner as opposed to morning sounds fabulous. Thanks 🙂

  25. JT March 26, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Hi,
    Very interesting article. I apologize in advance if my questions have already been answered but I would like to clarify a few things in order for it to make complete sense.
    I am 5’2, 123lbs and I Crossfit 5-6 times a week. I typically take 1-2 rest days. My body fat % is around 20%. I have really been up and down with trying out different sorts of diets to see what would fit my body and haven’t been seeing results that I want.
    I am quiet lean already as it is, but would like to loose more body fat where muscle tone is more prominent. Particularly in the midsection.

    I typically work out every afternoon around 430pm. From what I have been reading, you carb load the night before you wod the following morning.

    What about those like myself who wod in the late afternoon? Do I still carb load the night before? What should my fat/protein/carb intake look like throughout the day before I work out in the afternoon?

    On the day of me working out my fat and protein and carb intake should be the same?
    But on my rest day, my fat and protein should be the same but my carb intake should be lower?
    I’m just a little confused and need some clarification.

  26. Jayme C. March 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    If my daily routine consists of a WOD at about 3:30 p.m followed by a protein shake and dinner doesn’t come until around 7:30 would the delay in CBL be an issue? Should I add some carbs to my post workout protein shake to start the back load immediatly or just wait until dinner and beyond? Also I am new so I am trying to catch up on all of the articles but I noticed it doesn’t seem like you recommend the prep phase for crossfitters? I eat pretty low carb as is so I am wondering if it is necessary?

    • Paul Nobles March 26, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

      It depends on where you are for males you want to be under 15% before adding carbs to your workout drink IMO and for women it would be 25%. It is necessary but start off cautious, probably something like 100g to get rolling and adjust up from there. I really don’t find a whole lot of women that need much more than say 150g or extreme example of 200g. Fibrous veggies don’t count for this.

      • Jayme C. March 26, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

        Luckily for me the example you stated in this article pretty much sums me up. Female, 123, 5’4″ with 18% BF last time I checked. So I can get a good idea from this what my daily allotments for protein/carbs/fat should look like, just want to make sure my timing is right with the post WOD/evening carb intake. So would it be safe to throw in some rolled oats with my pre workout protein shake?

      • Paul Nobles March 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

        save the oats for after if you can, that would be more optimal but not best. Rolled oats would be best before bed.

  27. Ronnie March 26, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    Great article! I am 5’2″, 120lbs & around 20% bf. I know that I currently do not eat enough calories, carbs & fats — it’s really starting to affect my performance & strength gains. I strength train 3X a week, Crossfit 2-3X a week & do some kind of HIIT 2X a week along with hiking on weekends. How should I transition from low carbs & a calorie deficit into carb back loading? And as a paleo female athlete, is Kiefer’s book still valuable for my needs?

    • Paul Nobles March 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

      Yes, it’s extremely valuable, especially for women because it illustrates that you need to keep your muscle when you get your level of lean. At your weight and height you probably want to aim for 150g but start at 100g. Definitely do a 2/1 carb drink similar to the sweet potato recovery fuel and consider supplementing creatine strongly. It’s muscle preserving and favorable as it relates to body comp goals. http://eattoperform.com/2013/03/05/bulking-series-the-skinny-on-creatine/

      http://eattoperform.com/2013/03/15/simply-pure-nutrients-special-eat-to-perform-offer/

      • Ronnie March 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

        I appreciate your response and will definitely be starting on supplements. In the last few days, I’ve implemented a paleo CBL plan, eating more calories in general and more carbs on backloading nights. Because of this increase in calories, am I going to be seeing a lot of initial weight gain? If so, do you have any idea when that will taper off?

      • Paul Nobles March 30, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

        If you see more than say 3-5 pull back but honestly it will probably just be depleted muscles filling up. Your workouts will likely be a lot better and eventually your work capacity will get the train headed in the right direction.

  28. Brianne Creamer March 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Could you provide your thoughts on the risks (if any) of CBL practice by a breastfeeding mother? Are there any precautions one should take to ensure supply is maintained? In theory, should all continue as normal with the increase in fat intake?

    • Paul Nobles March 27, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

      Let’s say you are eating 150g of carbs and adjusting fats to make up the difference keeping protein high. The baby wants you to be fed. So while I am not a doctor and this doesn’t rise to the level of advice I think any doctor would agree that would be fine.

      • Brianne Creamer March 28, 2013 at 11:19 am #

        I really appreciate your input. Forgive me if this is discussed elsewhere, but how long should you give the protocol before deciding if a) you are getting the results you desired and b) adjusting your macros accordingly? I only ask because I have been doing CBL for one week, and I’ve found myself somewhat lethargic during the day. I was never a large starchy-carbohydrate indulger before, so I think it may be too quick to assume that it is simply because I am shifting my carbohydrate consumption to the evenings. Does this regimen seem okay to you?

        4:00 AM (pre-workout) – 1 cup of coffee, BCAAs.
        6:30 AM (post-workout) – 1 cup of coffee, 1 tbsp of coconut oil, 35g of lactose-free whey.
        9:00 AM – 1 lb of shredded cabbage, 4 ounces of chicken, mustard as needed, 1 whole avocado.
        12:00 PM – 2 lbs of green beans, 1 tbsp of coconut oil, 1 egg, 4 egg whites.
        3:00 PM – 8 ounces of greek yogurt, 1 whole avocado.
        6:00 PM – 4 ounces of meat, 1.5 sweet potatoes worth of fries, organic ketchup.
        Dessert – Either my homemade carrot cake (zucchini, carrots, almond flour, overly ripe bananas, almond milk, and seasonings), or Paleo-fied chocolate chip cookies (almond flour, dairy free chocolate chips, maple syrup, etc).

        I have quite the appetite on my 5’5, 135lb frame which is why I have opted to utilize volume on my fibrous veggies — but when in these copious amounts, am I doing CBL a disservice? I think 2 lbs of green beans amounts to roughly 30g of net carbs… Would you tweak anything on this preliminary plan?

      • Paul Nobles March 28, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

        I like a nutrient dense salad over the green beans. Any idea on the specifics related to carb intake? If your goal is purely weight loss this is the slow and steady approach but you are right, it sometimes takes more than a week before you start cruising through WOD’s. One thing that might help would be eating 85/15 grass fed ground beef instead of chicken, it took me a while to dial in the lethargy though. Are your WOD’s fine? Also this seems kind of light calorically, does it match up with your TDEE numbers or is this something like a -10 approach?

      • Brianne Creamer March 28, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

        I am not 100% on the carbohydrate portion.. I assumed that 1+ sweet potatoes and a carb-heavy dessert would get me to where I had to be but perhaps that’s naive of me. Speaking of dessert, are almond flour based desserts still acceptable for CBL? I was hoping the overly ripe bananas, maple syrup, chocolate chips, etc would make up for the fact I’m not exactly using pastry flour.

        In terms of calories, I’m fairly precise till dinner time. 300 calories per avocado, 120 or so per tbsp of coconut oil… I really thought this amount of fat would help make up the difference. What would you add? As a new mother, I need simple – meat, veggie, fat; period… I used to have 3 salads a day and boy do I miss that. 😦

      • Paul Nobles March 28, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

        honestly I think you are fine. You don’t need apeshit carbs so just listen to your instincts. Like I said it took me a while to dial in my approach with coffee, kombucha tea and occasional pre-WOD snack meals. You seem really close but remember you have nature keeping you “fat” as a measure of protecting your child.

      • Brianne Creamer March 28, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

        I guess I should add that the calculator probably doesn’t take into consideration my additional caloric needs as a result of breast feeding so I now am second guessing my caloric intake/how macros should be divvied up. Oy.

        My WODs seem to be ok but I’d like to do away with the coffee if possible. I appreciate the jolt but I also had a bout of adrenal fatigue and I swore to myself I’d lay off the stimulants.

  29. carrie March 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    I wouldnt say I am confused however, just trying to put this to use for my situation. I crossfit 6x week. Sometimes double WOD monday and wed. Cutting out carbs to drop lbs. Where should i CBL. Or should i? I am by no means 125 or small.

  30. Kristen March 27, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Great article! I am an avid crossfitter (6x a week) and have been doing Carbnite for about 5 weeks now. I’m 5’6, 145lbs, 28% bodyfat and would like to lean out. Would you suggest doing carb backloading over CN?

    • Kristen March 28, 2013 at 4:02 am #

      I should add that I haven’t really seen any results from CN yet, but not sure if I should after only 5 weeks. If you think a switch to CBL would benefit me, how many grams would I want to start at? 100? Thanks!

      • Paul Nobles March 28, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

        yes, 100g is a good safe spot and go up gradually from there. Calories need to be close to -10 using the calculator otherwise I think you will continue to struggle.

    • Paul Nobles March 29, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      Yes, I don’t recommend CNS for Crossfitters and I explain why in this video http://eattoperform.com/2013/03/27/science-lab-womens-seminar-march-26th/

  31. nickie doyal March 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Hi-
    My daughter has put me onto your site. She does cross fit several times a week. I don’t. I walk 2-3 miles a day some times with weights around my ankles along with lunges and some planks. I am 66 years old, 5’3 and weigh 132 but have a roll around my waist and plump tummy. I am just getting into your posts and trying to make sense of everything. I along with my daughter are gluten free and try to eat paleo. I don’t see any posts for mildly active older people. What is your suggestion?

    • Paul Nobles March 29, 2013 at 11:37 am #

      the basis for what I teach people doesn’t change it just requires dialing in for relatively sedentary people. For those that aren’t trying to be a WOD Killer they too can be overly cautious as it relates to their food intake and that really is detrimental. Even though you probably aren’t obese this is a good article to read but you should add activity, with more food though I suspect you will feel that need no matter what.
      http://eattoperform.com/2013/03/18/the-gradually-awesome-approach-to-extreme-fat-loss/

  32. Kristen March 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Thanks so much for your input! So do you think Carbnite is the wrong way to go for the amount that I am crossfitting? According to the calculator and assuming I switch to CBL, it says my calories should be 2,904 and fat should be 136 (does that sound right?). I’ve been eating around 1,400 calories and 85g of fat while on Carbnite (low carb days).

    • Paul Nobles March 28, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

      right, I think you could do it correct if you were in the right ballpark related to calories but at that point why restrict carbs? There is no magic to that part really.

      • Kristen March 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

        Just to clarify- you mean do CBL correct? Do you think I should just gradually increase my calories since I’ve been at around 1400 for awhile now? I have come to the realization that I shouldn’t restrict carbs anymore, just want to make sure I do it the right way.

      • Paul Nobles March 29, 2013 at 11:21 am #

        Yes, no reason to just drop the reigns and start main lining Ben and Jerry’s. This article goes through various carb suggestions, start at 100g and honestly for most gals they may never feel a need for over 150g. Even that small amount of carbs (trust me, it’s a small amount) will get your metabolism rolling and will be favorable in the long run. In the beginning however your body needs to adjust. That can take a week or two so just take the gradual approach.

  33. Shanna April 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    Sorry if this has been discussed already, but my question is about post A.M. Wod. Should I push my carbs back til dinner time, or is it ok to have an over ripe banana in a Pwo shake if I am doing a 5:30 am wod?
    I currently wake at 4:30 am, drink coffee with cream and train fasted. Afterwards, I have a pwo shake which includes a banana. The only other carbs I take in until dinner come from fibrous veggies. I reserve all other carbs for dinner time. Just curious if I’m doing this right? Thanks in advance.

    • Paul Nobles April 4, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      Depends on your goals, it’s probably not killing you but I would take it out occasionally and see what that looks like in the mirror the next day. If your pwo shake is protein and a banana basically that’s an insulin cocktail and it’s probably not helping your fat loss goals. Try protein in coconut milk or no shake at all, just eat real food pwo.

      http://eattoperform.com/2013/03/23/eat-to-perform-science-lab/

      • Shanna April 5, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

        Thanks for the reply. I’m not looking to lose any weight really. My goal is to ultimately gain some lean muscle…get stronger. I will play around with your suggestions and see what works best for me.
        I am on the fence about all of the supplements Kiefer recommends. I have tried that route and I feel like I’m making shakes all day. Other days I have been able to meet all of my fat, protein, carb needs with whole foods alone. I actually enjoy eating so its not a problem to get rid of the shakes.
        Should I still incorporate the Leucine and Creatine into the whole foods approach, and if so, what is the optimal time?
        Thanks again for all of the information. I can honestly say that I have improved a lot thanks to the information I receive on your site.

  34. Marcee April 7, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    Thank you for breaking it down so it makes more sense 🙂

  35. Kelly Wright April 8, 2013 at 1:43 am #

    Hello Paul!! I’ve been doing CrossFit for almost a year and a half now and have been eating (mostly) Paleo since. I recently told my coach that I’m always hungry, even right after I’ve eaten and she suggested that I look into CBL. I’m 32 years old, 5’2″, 130 pounds, and 20% bodyfat, and CrossFit (with lifting) 5 days/week, so I was going to start with the numbers you suggested. I definitely still have a belly pooch so I am looking to lean down in the tummy area. I’ve never weighed out my food before, so I was wondering if you could give a breakdown of what 125g Protein/125g Fat/125g Carb might look like in real food. Also, in a lot of the reading I see it is suggested to eat super ripe bananas. Why is that? And are there other good options for carbs for backloading other than sweet potatoes, rice, and squash? Thank you so much!!! I’m really learning a lot from this, but it also brings up so many more questions!!!

    • Paul Nobles April 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

      I honestly can’t do that easily, did you buy CBL through us? If so I could probably do a better job answering this in the private group.

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