the "New School" of Strength and Conditioning

Carb Backloading: Use Carbs Like Drugs

A new dietary strategy stormed onto the scene several months ago. It defied all logic. Promised muscle gain and fat loss simultaneously from copious amounts of refined carbs at the back end of the day. Some were intrigued, many were outraged. I gave it a try.

Formulated by John Kiefer, Carb Backloading had supposedly cracked the code to simultaneous fat loss and muscle maintenance, and even muscle gain. Every magazine and online article makes this promise about every new diet. However, reading this guy Kiefer’s stuff made him seem angry, bitter, mean, and overall hateful towards the general “nutrition-knowledgeable” community. I liked that.

Coming off an intentional winter weight gain, I decided to give backloading a try to recompose and lean out after the winter gluttony. Re-composition is apparently Backloading’s forte. Once I figured it out, it worked. Fast. Morning weigh in’s were consistent, and bodyfat percentages consistently dropped.

Backloading as I understand it so far:

Skip breakfast. First meal is 3+ hours after waking.
Fat and Protein meals only until post workout.
Workout should occur between 3pm and 5pm.
Carb and Protein until last meal by 9pm.
Carb heavy, consume the whole day’s worth of carbs in the time after workout until last meal of the day.
Supplement with Leucine, Whey, Creatine, and Caffeine.

Why does it work?
Something about hormones, circadian rhythm, using carbs like drugs.. Read ALL of Kiefer’s stuff. Then try it.

Here are links to Kiefer’s articles relating to Backloading. Bookmark his blog: Dangerously Hardcore.

What it is:
Carb Back-loading

How to:
Return from Vienna: Fixing the Damage, Part 1
Fixing the Damage, Part 2: Backloading
From EliteFTS, Back Loading: Follow Up
Carb Back-Loading: The Final Follow Up

Caffeine Therapy
The Secret of Leucine

Logic Does Not Apply Part 1: Meal Frequency

Logic Does Not Apply Part 2: Breakfast

Read it. Read it ALL!!!
After another month I’ll post a before and after.


14 responses

  1. Jason

    I have a busy life….im in a metal band and sometimes dont get to training until like 6:30 almost 7 sometimes….

    Basically just keep it low carb 30 grams of carbs or less a day….work out…THEN load up on carbs until 9-10 at night?

    August 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    • SJ

      hey jason, from what I understand you want to keep it proteins and fats until after your workout and some people can tolerate up to 50g of carbs preworkout according to Kiefer. i’ve found what works best for me is to have some berries or greens with pre workout meals. then carb up post workout until 830-9. The introduction of coconut oil for my fats pre workout also helped increase results.

      Kiefer also suggests ingesting carbs during your workout if needed. What youre saying should be fine, if you want to know for sure, do some reading on the forums at Kiefer’s website Or try to get in touch with Kiefer himself. Or get his book. All I know of this stuff is what he posts on his site and elitefts. Good luck dude. Thanks for the comment!

      August 19, 2011 at 6:28 am

  2. ratsystem


    Do you know how to get in touch with Kiefer? I posted a question to him on the and am waiting to hear back. The forums on his dangerouslyhardcore site are down. Also how is the progress coming along? I will post the question here as well and maybe you can help me out or someone else will chime in? My situation is a bit different but I think I am really interested in this way of eating but I cant figure out how to contact Kiefer and I havent found the answer yet while doing extensive research on the internet.

    My post is as follows:

    Question regarding Kiefers Carb Backloading – Any help is appreciated

    I recently learned of Kiefers backloading diet and have been trying to do as much research as I can so I can understand how to do it properly. Kiefers website doesnt seem to be updated much any longer (the forums are closed) and I havent been able to find an email address for him but I did find this forum.

    My questions are rather simple but I have not been able to find the answers to them so hopefully someone on this forum can help out.

    I am 35 years old 5 8 and weigh about 133lbs. I am not interested in losing weight at all, I am pretty lean and that is how I like to look. What I am interested in is gaining muscle while not having to gain too much fat (or any). I have read my whole life that this isnt really possible but reading kiefers work seems to put that argument to rest.

    My diet the past few months has been mainly paleo like, very clean foods, low carbs (as in breads/white rice etc). I do eat plenty of veggies and yams etc. The reason I have done this is because I am noticing as I age I seem to be more carb sensitive and I dont like feeling fat and not looking lean. I WOULD like to put on more muscle though and honestly I would like to pound some carbs down because I do enjoy them occasionally. I also like when my muscles feel full/strong and it seems like right now I am just working out but it really doesnt do much besides maintain.

    So my question is how do I use Kiefers “diets” (if you want to call them that) to achieve my goal. The carb nite diet is definitely not for me as I dont want to lose weight. It seems like the carb back loading plan would be the way for me to go. I resistance train 2-3x a week and the remaining days I do a “smart core trigger point therapy work out”. I also do all my training in the afternoon which Kiefer suggests. My understanding is that on training days I can go low carb all day and then basically pig out after my workouts and eat whatever I want. My question is how do I eat on the other days when I dont resistance train keeping in mind that I dont necessarily want to lose weight but I dont want to gain fat, I just want to gain muscle and get as ripped as I can.

    Is this possible? Reading as MUCH as I can of Kiefers work makes me believe it is I am just confused on what to eat on those non training days (the ones where I just do a 20 min quick/hard smart core work out). I was basically eating no carbs almost all the time but honestly I seem to just be losing weight or staying lean but I am not gaining anything at all doing this. On the non training days do I still eat carbs and if so how much and when. I am “guessing” I could eat carbs at night still but just not as much and maybe make them a little cleaner (brown rice, wheat pasta etc)? This is where I am confused. Oh yea, the other simple question is, do I skip breakfast or can I just eat a low carb breakfast (eggs etc) or does it even matter? I have always read that “breakfast is SO important” guess that is not so true. I am basically trying to put this all together for me, a person who is already lean and wants to gain muscle mass only and get strong/ripped without having to gain fat only to have to shed it.

    I have ordered the proteins and leucine and rilose that Kiefer recommends so I can am going to be adding that to my daily eating.

    I would LOVE if Kiefer could chime in here, he is a hard guy to track down! Thats basically why I joined this forum so I could get input on this.

    Thanks in advance to everyone,

    October 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    • SJ


      hey man, thanks for the comment. First, I do not personally know, nor have I ever met Kiefer. All I know of Carb Backloading is what I could piece together from, and his posts on
      I heard rumors he may be releasing a book or manual regarding Backloading which I would readily buy.
      The methods you tried to contact him are probably best. Good luck. His blog updates are few and far between, and he is a highly sought after nurtitionist.

      The method of backloading that worked for me was this: Stay pretty much paleo (proteins, berries, greens) until workout around 4pm, then carb up until 9.

      Progress was going very well for a few months, then I cut back too much on post workout carbs and started losing weight, which was also about the 4 month mark. I had read something of Kiefer’s around this time that alluded to 2-3months being the longest time one should backload for. And have since switched back to an all real foods diet, eating when I am hungry, that is working very well for me, as real foods always will.

      Let me know how things go for you. -SJ

      October 3, 2011 at 2:34 pm

  3. ratsystem

    Thank you SJ, I really appreciate you taking the time to post. I still have had no response on that forum that I paid for which I find a bit frustrating as its private paid for forum but oh well at least I tried. His website (dangerouslyhardcore) is down right now so it looks like its undergoing some changes. I will basically do what you described above and just monitor how much fat and muscle I gain. My question really was how MUCH carb back loading should I be doing. Obviously on workout days I know I can pretty much eat whatever I wanted (after my work out etc) but my question to Keifer was what do I do on non work out days? I will try the same approach but just go cleaner carbs at night (and less than the work out days).

    Would still love to hear from Kiefer but for now all I can do is experiment. Once again I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.

    Talk soon hopefully!

    October 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    • Juan Pla

      Hi! I was reading the posts regarding back-loading and I thought I’d help. Basically, on non-workout days (or core/cardio days) you follow the same principles as you would a workout day (protein and fats during the day). Then, you finish the day with a much more controlled carb intake at dinner, either with your typical rice, pasta, potatoes…..or a controlled dessert of choice, preferrably things like ice cream, pie or cookies. Do not do both……most likely best sticking with a serving of “good carbs” at dinner. The whole premise of the diet is to use your natural hormonal system to your advantage rather than against your efforts, and seeing how your goal is muscle gain, eating carbs on an off day is fine…..the body grows outside the gym.

      December 12, 2011 at 5:15 pm

  4. Hey SJ,

    Thanks for writing about your experiences and thoughts about Carb Backloading. I realize this is an old-ish post, but since we had to reboot the site after some database craziness and a new webdesign, Kiefer and I are just now catching up with the rest of the interwebs.

    (And by the way, the forums are coming back, hopefully this week.)

    I wanted to clarify that Kiefer actually recommends COFFEE specifically, not just caffeine. Look up “cholinomimetics”. Even decaf has them, so it will give you the same effect.

    And now I want to know, how did things work out for you? Are you going to post a follow-up?

    November 6, 2011 at 2:37 am

    • SJ

      thanks Naomi, things went mostly well, I messed it up a little towards the end. I may post a follow up if I can find my ‘before’ picture. It is most probably lost forever. I am however planning another phase of backloading, and will document it more carefully, after how well the first one went.

      November 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm

  5. Pingback: Success, Failure, and Doughnuts on Carb Backloading | Dangerously Hardcore

  6. alex

    SJ! Thanx for writing about your experience, man — the mistakes and the corrections made useful reading!

    Do you have before/after stats, and even better, pics? Do you still follow CBL?

    I’m curious about CBL myself … but my hesitancy to jump into it is because I don’t want to bulk, if at all I want to lean out some, and I’m already down to sub-10% BF (with the usual frequent feedings of bird-sized meals, but that’s another matter!)

    Thus far in my online reading-around, it’s the I-want-to-be-big-and-jacked crowd I see taking it up. Whereas my own (current) aesthetics lean to a Cam Gigandet whippet-leanness both in subcutaneous fat *and* in overall shape.

    Do you know whether CBL is a recommended approach for this? Kiefer hints yes in an article (rats, now can’t find article URL), mentions a “slight modification but doesn’t specify. Can you confirm? Is it in the book, perhaps? I’d be happy to buy the book if so, but don’t want to if not addressed.

    Anyway, thanx again for your initial review, man — it read, and came across, both informative and sincere.

    Be well!


    December 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    • alex

      (Here’s the article; see item “5”: Thx! )

      December 13, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    • SJ

      Hi Ax,

      I do not have pics or stats from the first go ’round. As my mistakes with the diet caused me to lose weight rapidly, that I did not intend to lose. After a couple months I got back to CBL with great success. I will probably be posting some pics of my, and my clients, results in the near future.

      I think you should be able to achieve your goals with CBL, admittedly after reading your comment a few times I still don’t really understand what your goals are. I HIGHLY suggest buying the book and reading it through a few times. Kiefer lays out all the pieces and with a little experimentation you can pretty easily make it work for you. I would also check out the forums on

      Hope that helps,

      December 17, 2012 at 10:27 am

  7. Kadester

    What pisses me off is in the PDF of carb backloading 1.0 is specifically says stay away from processed foods, orio’s, McFrakenfoods so double cheeseburgers dont make the diet. I get it! thats cool but WHAT THE HELL kind of foods is he talking about. home made cheeseburgers, cookies and donuts etc… dont boast eating like an idiot then at the end of the pdf start talking health. or at least give options to non home cooked pastries / donuts etc. who the hell makes healthy donuts at home?

    January 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    • SJ

      Kadester, you seem angry. Anger, I’ve found, is an extremely common reaction to hearing/learning about CBL. My advice to you would be to take a deep breath, and read the ebook again. I’ve read it 3 times and have picked up on points I missed with each read through. This has helped me to get a better understanding of the logic behind CBL. Good luck, and the forums over at are a fantastic resource.

      January 28, 2013 at 5:15 pm

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