Carb-Backloading: What it is and Why we Recommend it!

If you have been to any of the presentations our Fuse coaches put on in recent weeks, you may have recalled talk about this whole “Carb Back-loading” lifestyle.  We use the word “lifestyle” in our community as opposed to “diet”, because we know that to be successful, long term, we need to incorporate permanent changes as opposed to short term fixes. 


Diets are just that. Making drastic changes and quitting things “cold turkey” is not something that is feasible long term.  Diets can set us up for failure, and we all know there is nothing worse than high fiving success and then ending up back where we started.  Carb back-loading is something for everyone in our community to consider.  Having an extra 75 pounds of fat is not a prerequisite.  Starting at a typical low-20’s body fat percentage, anyone can gain muscle, strength and reduce body fat. 


So back to our goal with FUSE Fitness Coaching.  Our goal is for YOU to make lifestyle changes that can be maintained long term, can be adjusted as you travel onward toward your goals, and can be unique to fit your needs.


Carb back-loading is not something new.  In fact, carb back-loading bucks most established norms that grew from a time before a deep understanding of metabolism and performance even existed.  Carb back-loading actually snubs most historical recommendations.  Most of us can remember the times of “breakfast being the most important meal of the day” or “eat most of your carbs early in the day” or “eat low carb at supper (meat & vegetable type of thing)”…the list could go on and on, right?



Boy have our times changed….


Let’s talk energy.  Even if you were to lay in bed all day (which sounds amazing, some days, right?!), our body requires a minimum amount of energy to complete normal body functions.  This energy is referred to as our resting metabolic rate.   Now, depending on your personal goals, we set you up on a plan that suits your needs (i.e.-are you a Fat Burner or Lean Earner?). 


Onward to macros.  Our body utilizes three macronutrients for energy:  carbohydrates, fat, and protein. We could go into more detail about the energy obtained from each individual macro, but we will save that for a later blog.  Our primary focus now is carbohydrates. 


There are two main types of carbohydrates: usable carbs and fiber.  Carbs, in general, cause a release of insulin, get burned in lieu of fat, increase blood sugar levels and get stored as fat.  These fat inducing carbs include mainly sugars and starches.  Fiber, on the other hand, does not do any of these things.  Examples of fiber includes fruit, vegetables, breads/grains, legumes and nuts. The only way for our body to get energy from fiber is through fermentation in the colon-and in fact, fiber can often enhance results when doing carb back-loading.



Carbs have caused controversy as far back as I can remember.  While some health experts and celebrity doctors battle our actual need for carbs to survive, as performance minded results coaches, our goal is to answer the more important question-how can we best use carbs to achieve our fitness goals.


Our results coaches have done a great job defining how our body utilizes food for energy.  So let’s review (or learn for the first time here): Our body is dependent upon food for energy.  We cannot survive without calories.  Our body cannot live without one of these three macronutrients (our body can create carbs from non-carb derivatives even! How cool is that?!) Our body CAN however work with the most efficiency and effectiveness depending on when we eat these macronutrients. 


When you go to sleep at night, your body does some AMAZING things!  During the next 8-12 hours (we can wish, right?!)-your body is going the longest period of time it will have to go in a 24 hour period without food.  So, some incredible things happen: (1)Your body utilizes the sugar (carbs) in your blood to sustain body functions for first couple of hours of sleep. (2) When this source of energy is depleted, your cortisol level begins to rise-telling your body that while you sleep, it will need to begin to use your stored fat for energy. Cortisol is involved in many other functions as well, but for the sake of this blog, let’s stick with it’s role in metabolism.  When you wake up in the morning, your cortisol level is at the highest level it should be at during your day. 


This begins our Carb Back loading discussion. Our primary goal is to keep our bodies burning fat for fuel.  We want to keep cortisol levels up as we break into our day.  But cortisol and insulin work together some cool ways.  When carbs are introduced into our body in the morning (think breakfast cereals, fruit-fresh or juice, bread, etc), it immediately causes an influx of sugar into our blood. This influx creates a response from our pancreas to secret insulin to meet the demands of this influx.  When insulin is beckoned, cortisol takes a back seat and our body’s fat burning abilities are diminished. 


Hence why we skip carbs at breakfast.  Protein and fat should be our primary go to for our first meal of the day-think breakfast meats, eggs, cheese, black coffee (or with heavy creamer), etc.  But minimize carbs in the morning (Non-starchy vegetables are okay!). 

The goals remain the same for mid-morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack (depending on which of these pertain to you).  By limiting carbs at these meals, and consuming foods that are high in protein and fat, you meet your calorie needs and continue your body’s ability to burn fat for fuel.


Let’s talk carbs for supper!  Eating carbs at night sounds like a horrible idea, right?  With the normal American diet and lifestyle, which often includes overeating, I agree--eating carbs at night can be a bad idea.  But if you’re reading this article, you’re not normal.  We may not be able to control our daily rhythm of insulin sensitivity, but we can do things that can help us to use carbs to our benefit! 


So what should a typical dinner look like?  It includes most of the same things that you have eaten during the day-a diet higher in protein and fat, but now with the addition of those beautiful carboydrates!  The primary source of carbs in the evening should be starches, grains, fruit, etc. 


Doesn’t sound so bad, right?  Our goal is to make things clear, realistic, and duplicatable.  The recommendations for carb backloading can be adjusted based on your needs and goals.  If you have any preexisting conditions (diabetes, hormone conditions), these recommendations may not be appropriate for you.  We have a great team, including a Registered Dietitian that can work with you on your unique plan.


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