First off, carbohydrates are not the enemy. The right carbs — beans, veggies and unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains — can provide lasting energy. Secondly, timing your carb intake may be a key to burning fat and building muscle for those of us who train hard and consistently.
Carb-back loading is a dietary strategy that, when paired with resistance exercise and an overall clean diet, calls on you to limit carbohydrate consumption until late in the day. The downside: Doing this can leave you feeling drowsy and low on energy.
However, after you get used to it, by shifting when you consume your carbs you’ll be more in control as to whether muscle or fat cell tissue grows. In the a.m. you’re more sensitive to insulin (in the afternoon the sensitivity is lowest), which is why it is often suggested to eat carbs in the morning as a way to keep blood sugar in check. But going overboard on the carbs — more than 40 grams per serving — has been shown to limit fat burning. And that’s doubly true when cortisol (a stress hormone) is present.
It might look something like this in someone’s meal plan: Take in up to 30 grams of carbs until 5-6 p.m. On the days that you hit the gym, take in carbs from then until you hit the sack. On the days you don’t train, eat one carb meal in the evening.
Back to resistance exercises: Knocking out a hard training sesh pre-carb consumption can maximize your ability to store those cards in muscle tissue instead of fat tissue. Some studies have shown that the lift will allow your body to use the sugar (carbs) for hours after your last rep to help you repair and grow.
What’s even cooler: this method allows you to eat some tasty and deliciously carby basically every day. Pretty sweet for a “diet,” right? And you’re granted permission to sip on Energy (25 grams of carbs) during your workout and Recovery Formula (24 grams of carbs) post-workout on the evenings you train. The NSF Certified for Sport formula features electrolytes, BCAAs, a quick-digesting carb to help muscle repair quickly.