Carb backloading is a word that is increasingly bandied about these days. It’s a sort of diet, but one where you lose fat and keep your muscles fuelled with carb “backloading”. Clear? No, well let’s go into more detail:
You eat little during the morning (and that may mean skipping breakfast) and again little in the early afternoon hours, but then feast at night. You eat little-to-no carbs (no carbohydrates is better) until after your late afternoon or early evening workout. So your carb intake begins with your post-workout meal and it can continue throughout the evening.
This style of dieting takes advantage of the natural daily fluctuations in insulin sensitivity in muscle and fat cells, as well as the exercise-induced increase in insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. So what? Well, research has demonstrated that insulin sensitivity in both muscle and fat cells is higher in the morning than the evening, which means that both muscle and fat cells will be more receptive to glucose earlier in the day. This is good in the case of muscle (because more glucose absorbed into the muscles will produce a better performance in the gym), and bad in the case of fat (the glucose will be absorbed into the fat cells and so more fat storage).
So you use this understanding by not eating carbs when your body is best able to store them (morning and afternoon), but you eat them later in the day, after working out, when your body will store them as glycogen in your muscles: You don’t gain weight but you build your muscles.
You have to have some commitment to carb backloading to make it work. You may have a busy lifestyle- and up until now have been going to the gym in the morning or at lunchtime. That’s not going to work if you want to pursue carb backloading. Also, you need some energy during the day in order not to faint with exhaustion when you turn up at the gym at 6pm! Obviously no carbs, but you’ll need to get some energy into your body. The other things as that whilst you can have your carb backload feast after your workout, you should still only consume your daily limit of carbohydrates. A sackful of potatoes and doughnuts will ruin the whole thing!
So here’s a one day mini-programme for you to try. Obviously you’ll need to vary your carb backloading diet for the rest of the week and onwards, but this is a taster so you can see what’s involved.
This one is based on the facts that: Chicken is a great source of vitamin B3, which prevents fat storage. Prawns contain protein and vitamin B12, to help you build muscles with exercise. Rice is carb central to help you build muscle after your evening workout,whiletomatoes will give you a dose of bone-strengthening vitamin K.That all adds up to a great paella dinner. Here’s your food routine through the day-
For Breakfast
A mushroom and spinach omelette will providefibre and essential amino acids to start your day off. No full English breakfast obviously! I assume you know how to cook and omelette?
For Lunch
Tuna salad with avocado and black olives and maybe a little sweetcorn will be packed with protein to build muscles and unsaturated fats to keep your heart healthy ready for your workout, which comes later in the afternoon- say between 5pm and 7pm
For Dinner
Paella (this serves 3-4 adjust portions appropriately if you’re only cooking for yourself)
1tbsp olive oil / 2 chicken breasts / 4-6 chicken wings / 2 cloves garlic, crushed / 1 red pepper, sliced / ½tsp smoked paprika / 300g paella rice / 200g chorizo / 1 litre chicken stock / 8 cherry tomatoes, halved / Pinch of saffron / 400g can cannellini beans / 50g frozen peas / 12 prawns / 12 mussels
Warm the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the chicken and fry, turning occasionally, until it’s lightly browned on all sides.
Add the garlic, peppers, paprika and rice and fry for two to three minutes.
Add the chorizo, stock, cherry tomatoes and saffron and cook for ten minutes.
Add the cannellini beans and peas and cook for a further ten minutes.
Add the seafood and cook for an additional ten minutes. If the liquid fully reduces, top up with boiling water to ensure the paella doesn’t dry out and stick.