What is carb backloading and is it for you?

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More and more BJJ and MMA athletes are using carb backloading or “carb back diet” nowadays. Here’s how you can ensure this method of weight management doesn’t backfire.

In pursuit of a fitter and more ripped body, people are quick to pass on much needed carbohydrates. But this could be a bad move as carbs serve as your main source of energy, and your overall energy and sports performance could suffer for a lack of this necessary food group. But there’s a diet that’s quickly gaining steam that allows you to get your carbs but also has a good track record in helping with weight management.

It’s called carb backloading, and it might be a good diet alternative for you.

As defined by Muscle for Life:

The basic premise of carb backloading is you use these mechanisms to your advantage by not eating carbs when your body is most able to store them as fat (early in the day). Instead, you eat carbs when your body is most likely to store them as glycogen in the muscles (later in the day, after working out).

To put it simply: You won’t eat carbs until night time, after training.

Many MMA and BJJ practitioners, like Ultimate Fitness Metrowalk’s head coach Erwin Tagle, have openly praised this kind of diet. And its premise makes sense: after all, most BJJ and MMA classes happen later in the day, and taking in carbs post-workout will help you replenish your glycogen stores for energy.

“I’ve personally tried this along with intense weight training and boxing training at night,” says Anthony Macaraeg, aka Coach Tony Max, an ACE-certified trainer and certified sports nutrition consultant. “I’ve experienced a lot of fat loss and good power output and explosiveness.”

via UFC.com
via UFC.com

While many have seen positives in using the carb back diet, Macaraeg points out that lifestyle is a big factor in whether or not it will work for you.

“The problem I found in this type of diet is the challenge to be consistent at it,” he says. “Depending on the person’s job or what time they train will determine if it will work for them. This type of diet is recommended only if you train at night at a specific time of 6-8pm, assuming you sleep around 10pm and wake up around 7-8am.”

Macaraeg also stresses that while this diet has worked for some, it might not for others. “This isn’t a one-size-fits-all diet,” he says. “I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. It really depends on the individual. Everybody will respond differently. Always best to experiment.”

Try it out for yourself. If you train at night and think you can consistently cut down on carbs before training without sacrificing sports performance, then maybe it’s worth a shot. But remember: The carb backloading diet isn’t an excuse to go crazy on fast food and pizza post-workout! “Still eat healthy carbohydrates such as potatoes, grains, and legumes,” advices Macaraeg.

Try This Sample pre- and post-workout meal plan from Coach Tony Max

“What I did was, after my weight training sessions, I would have a Snickers bar and a Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) drink before boxing training. Then after boxing, I would have a healthy balanced meal, but the same amount of carbs that I didn’t eat for my first 2-4 meals.

Looking for a healthy yet satisfying post-workout meal? Then check out Anthony Macaraeg’s restaurant FitBurger, in Eastwood City.

Photo via MMAmania.com

Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DojoDrifter.com. You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.
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