21 June 2013

Time To Stir The Pot- A Refutation Of The Science Behind Carb Backloading

For fans of the podcast (which is being resurrected soon and will likely involve video), you know Paul and I spoke with Kiefer, the progenitor of Carb Backloading.  As I stated on the podcast, I'm generally of the opinion that CBL is perfect for getting fat and contracting Type II diabetes, and I'm skeptical of its real-world applicability.  The majority of the people I know who tried it either felt like Gary Busey after a week-long Jack and coke (Columbian marching powder, not the Beetus-bringer) binge the majority of the time but leaned out a bit or felt like Busey and got fat.  No one I've seen, however, thrived off the diet.  As such, my skepticism seems to have been justified.  When I learned of a Duke grad in strength training world who shared my psychotic, balls to the wall training approach and had the credentials to back his opinion of CBL, I felt compelled to drop an interview bomb in his lap to hash this whole thing out.  Thus, without further adieu, the interview:

Alex, looking perfectly ridiculous on a bicycle.

Alrighty, it's interview time.  In the interest of dogmatic adherence to the typical structure of an interview, why don't you brag about yourself a bit.

My name’s Alex Viada, and I run a company called Complete Human Performance.  We’re a small coaching company with one primary focus- building world class strength AND top level endurance in ALL our athletes. We’ve never felt those two goals are mutually exclusive, just damn difficult to put together. There are a lot of guys and girls out there who love throwing around huge piles of iron, but either for professional reasons (military, police, fire, etc.) or personal reasons (enjoy mountain biking, trail running, marathons, etc.) need excellent endurance.  Most of the crap you read out there either tells you that you can’t do both, or throws out this minimalist garbage that says you can train for Ultramarathons and Ironmans by doing 30 minute sprints and metcons.  The former is flat out wrong, the latter, well, let’s just say one of the best known founders of one of those systems has successfully DNFed every race he’s done since switching to a minimalist program. For us, everything we do is proven- based on solid, no BS training routines that are backed by actual sports science and plenty of results.  Basically, we take on people who want to do it all, but have been told they can’t… and help them shut the naysayers up.

Personally speaking, well, I’m a lousy athlete [ed.- yes, all 4:20 milers are terrible athletes], genetically speaking (sorry dad).  Never been very strong or fast, was quite honestly just a “smart kid” growing up.  Played a lot of sports in high school and succeeded mostly on determination, and I never had much of that. When I tried to gain weight, I ended up fat.  When I tried to cut, I ended up skinny fat.  Currently, at 33 years old and 220 pounds, my best raw squat is 615 (695 single ply currently), best bench is 445 raw (485 shirted currently), and deadlift 705 in gear or without (as of five weeks ago).  I currently run a 4:23 mile, have done 4 marathons, 1 Ultramarathon, 1 Ironman triathlon, and 1 half Ironman in the last three years, regularly compete in mountain centuries (100 mile bike rides through the mountains), and drink entirely too much high gravity beer.  On the education side, graduated from Duke University with a degree in biochemistry, am a USA Triathlon certified coach, and an NSCA-CSCS.  Eleven years of coaching experience, but worked in the clinical trial world for 8 years as well, which gave me an excellent bullshit detector and made me a real skeptic.

Seems to me the average marathoner weighs about 130lbs and would struggle to bench their bodyweight.

Careful with the jogging- I hear joggers have had a problem with spontaneous combustion up North.  For some reason I thought you were a grad student- I guess because you still lift in Duke's gym, where the next strongest person is my 130 lb girlfriend.

I was going after my Msc in physiology from NC State, but honestly the program was pretty mediocre.  Either switching to biomechanics or transferring to UNC when I got the time to reapply.  Work and life gets in the way, man.  Either way, wasn't going to mention something in progress.

Understandable, I suppose.  Now, I've heard a rumor that you rock a supertotal that's even more ridiculous than combining real lifting with clog-wearing trick lifting.  What's your version of a supertotal- what I heard about you doing passed the Carrot Top-on-angel-dust-fellating-a-rabid-badger level of insanity.  

My supertotals (and there are a few I use to judge progress) are always zero.  In other words, take a measure of strength (weight) and pit it against a measure of speed and endurance (time), with the goal of them canceling each other out.  My most frequently used supertotal- run a marathon in less than your bench press.  Bench 400?  Run a sub 4:00.  Bench 350?  Run a sub 3:30.  For the ladies, it’s 2.5 times your bench versus your marathon.  Most people, with proper training, should be able to do this.  My personal goal this next year or two is run a 100 mile ultra in less than my PL total, but this will take some serious work…  for now I’d like to be the only guy who’s qualified for Kona (Ironman world championship) with a 700 pound deadlift.

That's fucking ridiculous.  I would rather masturbate using Freddy Krueger's glove than run a marathon.  I heard you recently did a meet, tore your quad, and still did the marathon anyway.  Why the fuck would you do that?  How'd it turn out?

Ha.  It went pretty damn badly.  I sustained a pretty serious quad tear on my opening squat during a meet three weeks out from a 50 mile ultramarathon.  Missed what was supposed to be my longest training run…  8 days out from the race I was thrilled that I could finally walk without limping and that the swelling had gone down enough for me to wear regular pants.  6 days out I successfully jogged a mile.  The race itself was brutal- I couldn’t run or walk downhill, (I had to sidestep slowly), and by the end of it there was so much swelling in my calves and ankles (from pooled blood and fluid) that I couldn’t feel my right foot. Finished about 2.5 hours slower than I’d planned, but got it done.  As for why, well, look at it this way- You learn more about yourself and your tolerances pushing through and competing under crap conditions than when things are perfect. Most folks who’ve been at this long enough are always injured in some form or another, and if you let it hold you back, you’ll never leave the house.  Besides, I work with disabled athletes as well- some of these people have less than half an intact limb and they’re out there running a hundred miles.  I can suck it up for 50 with a bit of swelling. Finally, I’m a cheap, stubborn son of a bitch, and having folks tell me that A) I should just stay home, and B) No, I couldn’t get a refund on the entry fee, meant I had really no choice.
This picture makes more sense, and is less uncomfortable, than jogging.

I don't give a shit if disabled people can hop on one foot and sing the national anthem for an entire marathon- I'm still not fucking running.  Alas, down to the meat and potatoes-  I hear you and Kiefer have heat.  How'd this happen?

Man, truthfully speaking the guy probably has no idea who I am- I don’t have heat with him in particular, just with bullshit science and those who make a buck off it.  All these diet and health gurus are interchangeable, whether they be dangerously hardcore or bulletproof executives- they learn just enough about a topic to sound authoritative, then put down half-baked theories that would get torn apart by a first year biochem major, back it with a whole bunch of references that they either haven’t read or don’t really understand, then say shit like “This works, and you can’t disagree because I know science and I’m over 200 pounds.”  My real beef with this is that nobody seems to question this stuff- they just fall into the pack and go “wow, this works”.  Of course it works- eat next to nothing all day except some eggs and protein powder, pound coffee until you’re tweaked to shit, then only stuff yourself with sugar after your evening workout?  I know a whole bunch of sorority girls who went all through college like this.  Controlling cravings through fasting then binge eating at night makes it hard to take in enough calories for most folks, so they lose weight.  Miraculous.

Look, I have nothing against the guy personally- I don’t know him.  Could be the nicest guy on earth, and he’s certainly earnest about the field.  What I don’t like is bad bullshit science being repackaged and sold.  I’ve picked apart a lot of his stuff, but…  hey, it’s the internet, what are the odds he’s seen any of it and felt the need to respond?  Pretty low.  It’s not about debunking anyhow- most of what I write isn’t an attack on people trying to come up with new ideas, it’s just stating the facts.  People can draw their own conclusions from there.  If that makes some popular diet or amazing new underground renegade magic bullet systemic manipulation whatever the crap sound like bullshit, then, hey, maybe it is bullshit.

This picture has nothing whatsoever to do with Carb Backloading.

Goddamn, you're going strong to the hoop.  So you're saying the idea of carb backloading is, in essence, bullshit?

The concept might have some merit when it comes to helping people restrict calories, control cravings and take in an overall solid nutrient profile, but there’s no magic to it.  The concept of clinically significant modulated tissue response using your body’s natural hormones is bullshit.  Which, yes, basically undercuts the entire premise. If the tagline was “CBL- it’ll make you less hungry during the day and you’ll lose weight”, I’d say GREAT.  But no, it’s pages and pages of hyperbole and in-text citations to 20 year old studies on diabetics.

Christ almighty, I'm sure half of my audience has already rage-quit this article and has some half-formed, incoherent, all-caps diatribe against you and your family forming on their fingertips.  Half of Supertraining now wants you dead.  As such, it might behoove you to tell us with what, specifically, you disagree?

Oh man, I’d be doing you (and myself) a disservice if I tried to condense this into anything shorter than a novella.  We’re talking basic, basic stuff, things like the clinical insignificance of morning growth hormone pulses (i.e., the pulses are far too low to really affect muscle gain or fat loss in any meaningful way), a seeming lack of comprehension regarding digestion times and insulin peaks (particularly digestion of large meals- CBL as designed will have most people waking up with carbohydrates still digesting in their small intestine), flaws in understanding receptor kinetics and response to hormones (i.e. the entire concept of Modulated Tissue Response…and I’m not dignifying that with the trademark symbol, assumes you can cause selective expression of certain receptors in muscle as opposed to fat via resistance training and insulin regulation, but fails to understand that this selective expression is upended the moment you ingest ANY glucose.. unless you’re diabetic….  Which is why most of that cited research on diabetics here is not really relevant.).  This last part is the biggest problem, for me.  Any entire system based on a shaky foundation is, to me, completely suspect… and the foundation simply doesn’t hold water. Sort of like chiropractors.  Sure, you can seem to know what you’re talking about and can be right about a lot of things, but your entire field is based on quackery bullshit… so I’m not trusting you over a more reputable source.

Mexican chiropractic medicine seems a tad extreme.

You're the only other person of whom I know who knows that the founder of chiropractic/osteopathy was a med school dropout and out-and-out quack.  Mention that in some circles and people get very stabby in a hurry.  That motherfucker thought he could cure cancer by cracking the joints in peoples' skulls... nevermind the fact that they fuse when you're a child.  That science shit is SCARY.

Oh man.  The founder claimed you could heal people with magnets.  There are some good chiropractors out there who are really trying hard to become more scientific and restrict their practice to conditions that they might actually be able to treat, but… if they really wanted to be legit, they’d go into orthopedics. I think about it a little like Scientologists- you might seem like a rational, reasonable person who might occasionally have some good insights on life, but underneath it all your beliefs are batshit crazy. The only things I’d have a chiropractor treat outside of lower back pain are fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme disease [ed. aka Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever / Valley Fever for those of you outside of the NE United States.  I've no clue what they call it overseas, but I don't even know if they have ticks overseas].  Because nonexistent illnesses respond well to useless treatments...  (I’m going to catch some heat for this one).

Ok, so now just about half of the women in the United States want you dead, too.  You're making a lot of friends here.  So, in your opinion, is there any fact behind Kiefer's work, or do you just consider Carb Backloading to be a work of fiction?

There’s fact behind it somewhere.  Look, the guy did some homework.  Problem is, he did what most first year bio grad students do before they figure out how to really examine research- he looked at a few mechanisms in isolation, then figured these would translate to the real world.  Problem is, this ignores the reality of the human body.  I spent enough time in pharma to know that out of every 10,000 “can’t fail” perfect mechanisms discovered by some very very smart people (driven by money, so they got incentive), only 1 of them turns out to be applicable in the real world.  Most of these ideas sound great in theory, but when the systems involved are examined in more detail and all the body’s various homeostatic safeguards kick in, the ideas fall apart.  When you read this stuff (CBL), it’s really a lot of selective interpretation of data (Hell, his own references contract his statements and conclusions), hand-waving about MTR, and other “Trust me, I’m a scientist and I’ve read 40,000 studies”.  Bullshit.
A) Your PhD is in an entirely unrelated field, probably about as diametrically opposed to biochemistry as you can get.
B) Really READING a study, understanding it, analyzing it, reading its references, examining the mechanisms in question, cross referencing its conclusions, and otherwise being able to draw YOUR OWN conclusions from it takes HOURS and HOURS- there’s a reason that post docs have journal clubs to help them understand new research.  You do the math here.  If the 40,000 figure is true, then this most likely equates to about two or three minutes spent scanning each abstract and looking at pretty graphs.  

AAAAANNNNNNND now physicists want you dead as well, which is not all that awesome because they've apparently been building death rays with which to kill Obama.  Soon, the Japanese will send giant robots after you and you'll have to hide in the Nazi base on the dark side of the Moon.  Before you depart this Earth in a fiery blast of physicist-fueled rage, could you expand a bit on the insulin peaks?  I've been arguing this point with people since I first saw a powerlifting face those cookie sandwiches with the frosting in between the cookies postworkout.  To me, that shit seems like a recipe for the beetus.

Yeah, absolutely.  I think selective citation of clinical studies have done people in this community a tremendous disservice.  When people think insulin peaks, they think insulin spike, post workout anabolic windows, thirty minute periods of high levels that can be taken advantage of to shuttle nutrients into the body, etc.  The major problem- this is NOT how the body works the majority of the time.  Insulin spikes, followed by a return to baseline, are the norm in studies that test insulin response to foods because these are conducted on FASTED SUBJECTS.  These are people who have ZERO food in their guts who then take in small quantities of carbohydrates, which allows researchers to study the dynamics of glucose and insulin response.  For MOST of us, our insulin levels look like a sine wave that’s always above zero- they’re constantly rising and falling throughout the day in response to a semi-constant release of nutrients in the gut (insulin oscillation).  And it is a semi-constant release- very few of us are EVER in a truly fasted state, since food digestion is measured in multiple hours, not minutes.  Look at it this way- say I take in 500 grams of PURE sugar, as would be an ideal post workout carb meal as per CBL.  What ACTUALLY happens?  First of all, most of that will sit in the gut for hours- transporting sugar across the intestinal lining requires both ample amounts of water and ample amounts of sodium- too little of each and it just sits in the stomach (ever seen a distance runner puke up pure Gatorade even when totally dehydrated?  This is why- that sugar’s just sitting in the stomach sloshing around for hours, holding water there to maintain osmotic balance).  What then happens is a relatively slow absorption of sugar for the next 8-10 HOURS.  Yes, you get a huge insulin spike that then REMAINS elevated all night. Fact is, post-training is one of the WORST times to take in huge amounts of sugar, since not only are you probably slightly dehydrated, but your gut is also operating on low power mode (since your muscles are receiving most of the blood), further delaying gut emptying time.  Hence, you get a fat insulin spike that lasts for hours and hours.    You want a recipe for insulin resistance?  There you go.

I am not a fan of the post-workout carb-up either, but I imagine the hordes of people screaming for your blood are calling bullshit for lack of citations while stuffing their faces with Twinkies.  While you're pissing everyone off, though, would you mind expanding on Modulated Tissue Response as well?

Sure.  So the general idea here is that you can, and I quote, “give each tissue of the body a specific instruction, either through diet, activity or both.”  Generally speaking, this is a natural part of how the body works- each system operates under a set of rules and feedback mechanisms, and depending on the conditions it can operate in different ways.

Now there are two primary mechanisms that CBL discusses:
  1. The overnight increase in insulin sensitivity, and 
  2. non-insulin mediated glucose transport into muscle cells.  
First, just to recap, insulin has MANY purposes in the human body, but the most significant one here is its ability to cause glucose uptake by the cell.  Basically, when insulin encounters any nutrient storing cell (muscle, liver, fat, etc.), it binds to the insulin receptor, which then (simplify simplify) causes a glucose transporter receptor to come to the surface. It’s essentially telling these cells to “open their gates” to glucose.

For keto dieters, gates for glucose might as well be the gates of hell.

There’s a problem with number 1.  The CBL book states “Both fat and muscle cells react strongly to insulin in the morning and less so as the day goes on, i.e. insulin sensitivity is high in the morning.”  …this is actually completely, 100% INcorrect.  Even his own references state the exact opposite (as does every biochemistry textbook ever written).  The body is insulin RESISTANT in the morning (the well documented “dawn phenomenon”), which means it is LESS capable of quickly storing excess glucose.  So, no, your fat cells won’t “soak up sugar like a fat kid with a gallon of melted ice cream and a straw” as the book states- quite the opposite., Now, the data supporting a few other claims based around this (Including all-day suppression of fat burning) is not really supported by any references- there is a SINGLE study done on ten volunteers where the researchers make this claim, but they themselves state it’s a theory, with more research needed.  At least somebody’s being responsible here.

As for number 2, there’s an even bigger problem with this.  When you’re exercising, your body is burning glycogen (even at low intensities, some is being used).  At high intensities (as when weight training), your muscles are using glycogen as its primary fuel source. In response, your body releases small amounts from your liver as glucose and dumps it into the bloodstream, with the goal of getting this sugar to the working muscles.  This is a small amount of sugar- not enough to cause an insulin response.  Now, as an adaptation, your muscles themselves, when stimulated by high intensity activity, signal their OWN cells to “open their gates” to glucose WITHOUT needing insulin to tell them to- this is precisely to facilitate uptake of this liver-sourced glucose by the muscles that need it most. The CBL argument is then, post exercise, you can take advantage of this selective response by flooding the system with sugar, and the muscles will take up a huge amount of it before insulin is released…  thus avoiding an insulin spike and minimizing fat storage.  Bzzt.  False.  The reason this is so studied for diabetics is because they do NOT release insulin naturally (or, in the case of type 2 diabetics, do not respond to it), so ANY non-insulin related expression of glucose receptors is beneficial- it’s one of the few ways the body can clear sugar from the system (which is toxic in high amounts).  For NON-diabetics, this isn’t a concern.  And, in fact, within SECONDS after taking in simple sugars, whether post workout or otherwise, your body releases JUST AS MUCH insulin as any other time of day. Insulin expression is not governed by the amount of receptors open on muscle cells, it is released a) by high levels of glucose in the blood, and b) on its own in pulses throughout the day. The few seconds that a handful of muscles have their glucose transporters open before the floodgates open are in no way clinically significant… you’d be talking maybe a few extra grams shunted into muscles as opposed to fat cells.  The reason is simple- there’s only so much glycogen storage capacity in your muscle cells, and even prolonged high intensity weight training won’t do much to drain these stores.  All they really need is a few grams to fill them up again, and any extra glucose simply floats on by, right to the fat cells it was destined for all along.

These are basic, BASIC fallacies.  It makes the book hard to read.

She mad.

Well then.  Fatties are wheezing with rage and conspiring to kill you.  Before they heave their sweaty bulks out of their chairs and begin their labored-breath struggle towards their front door and vans equipped with chair lifts, I figure we can cover your endurance stuff.  You kind of sound like a powerlifting version of J. Stanton from Gnolls.org.  He's a huge fan of doing shit like hiking a mountain fasted and then going directly into the gym to deadlift to max.  Frankly, I think it's lunacy, but more power to you guys.  After all of the nonsense about the SEAL who ran a bunch of marathons while looking muscular, your take is refreshing in that you actually lift serious weights.  Since people are going to ask, how do you combine training for the two sports?

Funny you asked!  I actually have a series up about it on my website (So you want to run and be strong parts 1 and 2) that outline the framework.  I basically use a complex/parallel form of periodization for my lifting (alternating upper and lower max effort and dynamic effort/hypertrophy days), similar to Westside, but with more emphasis on straight weight and the competition lifts as opposed to frequent rotation.  For the endurance training, it’s basic block periodization (a la Verkhoshansky).  What really makes the system work, though, is that the programming is all integrated- the lifting and endurance pieces are not treated like separate components, every workout is programmed in with full consideration to the others.  This is usually the downfall of most combination attempts- few coaches or trainees are accustomed to, say, taking the duration or intensity of last week’s trail run (with ten minutes of hill repeats) into full consideration when deciding on the intensity and rep range of the second accessory lift during the next lower body day.  Lastly, I try to keep the systems as separate as possible- there is ZERO reason for me to incorporate barbell complexes or high intensity conditioning into my lifting workouts (as these do not benefit my endurance training as much as, say, running or biking), and there is zero reason for me to incorporate “strength” intervals into my running or cycling. (Pedaling in a high gear may increase leg strength for a typical cyclist, but I’d rather squat 600 for a few reps).

Cycling appears to be working for Lokelani McMichael, however.

Agreed on the squatting.  Frankly, I'm still confused by your psychotic obsession with "endurance", but everyone has their faults.  How off base did you think I was, then, in my "Run and You Will Only Die Tired" series?

I thought it was pretty damn excellent- one of the best systematic breakdowns of the limitations of steady state LSD type training, any why the costs FAR outweigh the often limited benefits.  I definitely agree with most of your points- I would NOT recommend long duration steady state cardiovascular work for most folks.  It makes it hard to maintain muscle, harder to gain strength, and it’s not ideal for staying lean (you’re taking in huge amounts of calories to fuel energy…  take in too few, and you’ll drop muscle.  Take in too many, and you’ll just get fat.  Long distance training doesn’t make your body want to add on lean mass).  Add on to the fact that I agree most of us aren’t “born to run”… neither you nor I is built much like a Tarahumara.

There are still a few cases where I DO recommend low intensity steady state cardio, though, which tends to spark some disagreement.

  1. First is, surprise, if low intensity steady state activity is the goal.  Put simply, if you’re looking to run a marathon, you have to run long distances.  Doing nothing but high intensity training may improve peripheral vascularity, stroke capacity, etc. etc., but doing enough volume here would result in ANY athlete burning out.  The long slow distance work is actually relatively easy to recover from, provided energy intake is high enough, and still results in a number of these same adaptations.  Much like you can’t go balls out with heavy max attempts and sets to failure every time you lift, you can’t trash your body every time you hit the track.  Other side of this is, if you don’t run long distances, you’ll never know what it’s like to run long distances.  There’s a reason why CrossFit Endurance’s founder didn’t finish a single ultra for years after adopting his own routine- there’s NO way 30-60 minutes of cardio can prepare you for what happens to your body after 15 hours on the trail.  You need to learn what you can eat, you need to learn pacing, you need to learn how to run after you’re bonked, you need to learn stride efficiency, etc.
  2. The second is if you’re a top level powerlifter or strength athlete already pushing the ragged edge of your training envelope.  If your routine is designed to give you JUST ENOUGH time to recover from your workouts, you can’t afford to throw in additional high intensity work without experiencing some diminishing returns.  If you’re tearing your hamstrings to pieces three times a week in the weight room, and every time you get back in there you’re JUST recovered enough to push a little more weight, throwing in sprints or extra prowler pushes will do nothing but hinder that recovery (and if you find you CAN handle additional work, then squat more, you lazy bitch).  Far better for this type of guy to do a nice steady walk or slow jog for thirty minutes to get the heart rate up and improve cardiovascular endurance somewhat.  The impact to maximum strength and recovery will be absolutely minimal.
Lifters who jog are still weird.

I generally don't stroke my cock as hard as you just stroked my ego.  In any event, I figure we ought to wrap this bitch up by having you divulge what diet to you recommend to your clients, and why.

If it fits your macros.  I tell them all to basically come up with a diet framework that accounts for about half their calories and gets in the basics of what they need- enough protein, enough good fats, and enough carbs.  What they do beyond that, as long as they don’t go batshit crazy high on the calories or starve themselves, is up to them. Calories, macronutrients, and training is 95% percent of this all.  Diet timing and hormone manipulation is the other 5%... I make sure they worry about the bigger things first.  The only time I really tell them to worry about exact macros and timing is either when they’re trying to make weight or during contest prep.  Period, full stop.  Thing is, no matter what you end up doing, there’s some diet system out there that probably has, at some point, claimed it’s the absolute best way to do things.  Between “8 small meals” old school bodybuilding lore, intermittent fasting, CBL, paleo, Mediterranean diets, the Warrior Diet, etc. etc., you’ve pretty much got the bases covered no matter what your eating habits are.

As I'm sure you know, my diet (the Apex Predator Diet) and Kiefer's Carbnite Diets are similar, and I think they're generally a far saner approach to fat loss.

Agreed.  What I read of your diet, it uses ACTUAL well-documented systemic processes to suppress appetite, minimize muscle loss, and still allow you a few days of normal eating to both maintain sanity and account for ANY micronutrients you could be eating.  I also like the fact that you recommend cycling calories- between that and the higher protein (which also keeps people eating a bit more), you definitely managed to fix some of the biggest problems I have with CKDs…  mainly that people starve themselves and wind up looking and feeling like shit when all is said and done.  I have to be honest, I haven’t read nearly as much on Carbnite- after reading CBL I sat under my kitchen table rocking back and forth alternately weeping and screaming at the cats for three days, I don’t think I could handle that again.  Neither could the cats.

Goddamn, I am awesome.  Well, guys, there you have it- a Duke biochemist powerlifter-endurance athlete's take on CBL.  I'm sure you guys will have 11,000 follow up questions, so feel free to bring the heat in the comments.  I'll shoot Kiefer an email to see if he feels like making this a debate, and if he does, I'll get you guys front row seats to the battle royale.  In the meantime, check out Alex's website here and direct your hatemail to alex.viada@completehumanperformance.com.


  1. The podcast is coming back? My body is ready.
    Will it feature Paul "Em 'n' Ems" Carter?

    1. Nice, those podcasts were awesome!

    2. @ unknown - You mean Paul ''Blues'' Carter. I respect his work, but man that guy is so depressed about life and shit.

    3. Those podcasts are really fucking awesome. I'm glad you're bringing it back, not just for the lifting/nutrition talk, but women, life, etc

  2. Have you made a post without the word "progenitor" in it?

  3. Kiefer making up citations? You don't say: http://gokaleo.com/2013/06/11/women-and-running

  4. I remember Martin Berkhan saying he was gonna write an article a while back discrediting his bullshit, but he never got round to it.
    Tim Ferriss once gave CBL the thumbs up in a tweet, strange, considering that Kiefer gets some of the fundamentals wrong. To boot, his 20lb muscle gain article seemed a bit scammy as well. Regained muscle, water and carbs is what it seemed like to me, considering he lost 10lb 2 weeks after he stopped. I watch Tim Ferriss through a skeptical lens these days.
    Good informative article though, would be cool to see articles of similar ilk, exposing or discussing current health/fitness trends.

  5. I did keto for about 3 months, then basically switched to the Apex Predator Diet since you wrote those articles up until now.

    I haven't since noticed anything incredibly awesome in terms of insulin spikey/growth producey/test pumpy/mega fat burning/ caused by cheat meal (rampage day) timings.
    Any body composition changes seem to be only affected by total calories as long as protein is high and the others are 'inversely proportional' (ie. calories in/calories out).
    I've been sticking out the diet just because I like the simplicity of shakes and red meat with the occasional boost of a pasta/pizza night. Any advantages of cheat meals/carb back loading seems to be psychological.
    That's been my experience and it sounds like what Alex is talking about too, thanks for asking.

  6. Next you guys are going to say Homeopathy is bullshit...

    1. Put silver on it! PUT SILVER ON IT! MOAR SILVER!

      I'm surprised no hippies have claimed colloidial silver's cured supercanceraids yet.

    2. I never could understand how people who used colloidal silver because it "cured everything" didnt understand that it, at the very least, didn't seem to do anything when it came to curing THE FACT THAT YOUR SKIN TURNED BLUE.

    3. In Xombies, that meant you were dead.

  7. I wonder what path in life you and your "buddies" would have followed if steroids hadn't been invented.....

    1. Goddamn, you are a boring motherfucker.

    2. If steroids weren't invented, I wonder how many burn patients would have died from infection from prolonged injuries and how many people with asthma attacks would have choked to death on their own airways.

    3. Be careful Poozles, if you're taking steroids you might start sprouting a cock. Then you might have the problem of Jaime asking you to marry him.

    4. Is that really all you have to say? What are you looking to do by posting comments on this blog? I am legitimately curious.

    5. Anyone else wonder why "buddies" is in quotations?

    6. I think he is implying fagshenanigans.

    7. Actually now you ask, i'm not sure why i put quotation marks around buddies. It just looks right. I think i was using them to clarify certain buddies, not all buddies. But, it's English, and i'm from fucking England so I think I can write how I want and it's "correct".

    8. Jesus christ Rant what exactly are you trying to accomplish with these comments? Are you so weak that you have to try and aggravate someone stronger than you as if that gives you some kind of power over him? If you enjoy the articles read them and shut up if not fuck off. You're a piece if shit dude.

  8. Has Jamie ever admitted to steroid use?

    1. I do, or I wouldn't have asked.

    2. How in the fuck did this get turned into yet another lame-ass steroid conversation? Steroids have nothing whatsoever to do with Carb backloading. Do you idiots ask this shit of anyone else? If so, why do you think you're entitled to have that information?

    3. Because your blog is a bit like someone giving skydiving instruction, but forgetting to mention the need for a parachute.

    4. Pretty sure he has mentioned he takes pro hormones a whole fuckload of times

    5. Jeesh, you guys are obsessed with steroids. Most guys have low T nowadays (not me), it makes sense to correct it. Nobody is natural today, you're all being poisoned by enviromental estrogens etc, lowering your test levels. Get over it.

    6. Sorry if the steroid question is off topic. I was just curious as to whether or not someone could train with such frequency/intensity while abstaining from steroid use.

    7. Dazz- Nope. All of the examples I've given of people training with much higher intensity than modern lifters and much more frequency were fairy tales. We're all one set away from death!

      I'm starting to wonder why I even bother opening my mouth in public or typing anything at all.

      Rant, that was the worst analogy you've used yet. If it held, there'd be no records of decent lifts prior to the 1940s, as everyone who'd attempted to pick up something heavy would be dead before they completed the lift.

    8. oh FFS Jamie! Just admit that Arthur Saxon was mainlining ground testicles and children's pituitary glands, we all know it's true!

    9. @Jamie- So you're saying that you don't use steroids?

    10. He's not natty, he takes some of dat der celltech.

    11. Dazz- I feel like I was pretty clear, but to clarify- go fuck yourself. While you're at it, tell your friends and family I said to fuck themselves. Stop reading the blog and go eat some fucking aspirin.

      Goddamn, Millennials are mealy-mouthed, entitled bitches.

    12. A simple yes or no would have sufficed.

    13. Didn't I tell you to fuck off? Go fail to understand the words of someone else.

    14. Steroids are illegal. Admitting to doing something illegal on a public forum is fucking retarded. If you ask someone to do something fucking retarded do not be surprised if they tell you to go fuck yourself.

    15. @Dazz- take it as a fuck yourself. As I stated, I'm under no obligation to answer the question in the first place, and the fact you have the gall to demand an answer is astonishing. The anonymity of the internet makes you feel like a big swinging dick, huh?

    16. Not feeling like that at all, nor do I wish to. I just find it odd that a guy who admitted to occasional cocaine use on one of the podcasts gets all bent out of shape about copping to steroid use.

  9. In the interests of pot stirring:
    1) "Scientists find source of Fibromyalgia" http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112877149/fibromyalgia-tissue-pain-hands-feet-fatigue-061813/

    2) As someone who got bored of all the claims and *Bought* the book to see what's what, I have access to the private forums so I've posted this article up and will see what (if any) response I get.

    1. Man, there's an official forum? That must be an awesome place.

    2. I bought it as well, and had a second person buy it for me as a gift. I'd no idea it gave access to a forum though.

    3. The main issue about fibromyalgia is that people just love to bitch about them having it when in reality it's typically a bullshit diagnosis tagged when doctors don't really know what else to do or don't want to deal with those personalities so they can kick them to a rheumatologist.

    4. Ah yeah, I remember you saying something on about someone giving you a copy... you have good friends.

      Buying the book allows you to log into the "official Q & A" forums when you register (I think there's a unique code on each book?) which is the only forum guaranteed to be seen by the CBL staff. It's no better or worse than any other nutrition/fitness forum TBH - but there is a lot less "noise" to deal with.

      Personally I can't speak for the scientific validity of the Glut4 & Glut12 transmission - and I have no idea if Alex's claims here are correct or not. I suspect, like most complicated interactions the answers much more complicated than on/off mechanism both he and Keiffer describe. I'd like to see it argued out with links to sources and so on. Or, you know, a bare fisted cage match.

      For me, personally, I like the style of eating as it has allowed me to lean out and put on muscle without feeling starving hungry or miserable. I've tried keto style and I tolerate zero carbs *very* badly (I suffer from depression, and several days of zero carbs makes feel like topping myself). However I don't use it just as excuse to ram donuts in every orifice after doing some dumbbell curls with 4kg. I just eat no carbs on non training days, and on training days I eat them in the evening... in fact, almost exactly as Joe - the C&P prodigy: http://www.chaosandpain.blogspot.co.uk/2013_04_01_archive.html

      PS it seems that Keiffer's site is suffering an outtage. I CALL CONSPIRACY!

    5. "I'd like to see it argued out with links to sources and so on. Or, you know, a bare fisted cage match. "

      I'd be down for either.

      If you want to check my claims, btw, you can either look at a textbook ...or Kiefer's own sources. :)

    6. You could beat each other with peer reviewed journals...

      Check sources? No-one got time for that!
      In all seriousness, I simply don't have the science knowledge anyway. So with the best will in the world I'd just be staring at a bunch of graphs and data that I don't understand. Which is why having people who *do* have the knowledge explaining things is really really helpful.
      Annoyingly if you look up "Insulin Resistence in the morning", it's pretty much all on diabetics.

    7. We could... if there were more peer reviewed articles on this stuff. The real issue (and danger) with this sort of "primary source only" theory discussion is that there IS no new research on most of this stuff in the last 30 years because, quite frankly, it hasn't changed much.

      Think about it- to conduct a study, there has to be a compelling reason to study a given topic. Either a financial incentive needs to be in place (drug or device development), or the findings would need to contribute to our collective understanding of the field... every researcher wants to be cited, so they want to research something useful.

      Daily circadian insulin fluctuations in healthy normals is, quite frankly, uninteresting and irrelevant to most researchers. There are no real disease state that they're known to cause, there's no room for treatment or therapy... and we quite frankly have no reason to doubt the fact that the occasionally observed higher insulin to glucose ratio in the morning in healthy normals (indicating insulin resistance) is anything other than a curiosity (clinically speaking)... as mentioned elsewhere, a single meal completely changes the situation, so it's completely irrelevant. We have plausible mechanisms to explain it, and that's really where the interest ends (for now).

      For diabetics, of course, this is important, so it's well documented and studied.

      This is, again, my main issue with a lot of this "scientific" internet writing- it's based purely on primary research, studies conducted in the last 20-30 years (max) that attempt to either study mechanisms in novel patients or under novel circumstances. When I say "read a textbook", it's NOT meant to be condescending or dismissive, it's simply a way of saying "This mechanism is well studied and easily explained". Even if a piece of primary research can't be found on pubmed, it doesn't mean it never existed- it may simply be so old and moldy that it's nearly impossible to find, but there may be plenty of information on it in "Biochemistry 3rd Edition" or some similarly un-sexy sounding secondary/tertiary source.

      Nearly all of my arguments are based on what I've learned from both my coursework and from individuals who've worked in the field and have decades and decades of collective experience, and it didn't take much time to realize that the systems involved are infinitely more complex than single-mechanism studies would make you believe- yes, you can learn a great deal from self-teaching online, but studies can be terribly misleading (as they're often conducted in special populations under special circumstances), and can lead to wildly off-base conclusions. This is why I try to avoid (under most circumstances) these sorts of "smack each other with pubmed links" discussions- they're worth as much as the virtual paper they're written on.

  10. Thanks for doing this interview. The way Kiefer presented himself always set off my bullshit detector, but I never really had the field knowledge to actually figure out what was wrong with his claims. (I never believed his hyperbole because I've eaten carbs at night plenty of times and nothing magical happened.)

    Glad to hear that the podcast is coming back, I really enjoyed those.

  11. Why are appetite suppression and psychological effects being thrown out? If calories-in/calories-out is what dominates fat (and muscle) loss (and gain), then a diet that lets you easily cut calories and feel good is a good diet to lose weight. And the high protein focus hrlps spare muscle loss. Having done some bastardized CBL/CKD, I'm a fan. To be fair, though, I didn't read the book (why the fuck would I pay for such a simple idea), and I can believe Keifer's more scientific claims are bullshit. I'm just saying: it's a decent diet because A) it's simple and B) it's pretty easy to follow.

    1. Zero disagreement if you like a diet because it's simple, it lets you control calories, and it's easy to follow. I definitely admitted as much in response to one of Jamie's first questions- it's the portrayal of these things as scientific revolutions that bothers me, especially when the science is flat out wrong.

      I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater- if a diet helps you control cravings and lose weight, great. If it helps you do so in a moderately healthy way, even better (500 grams of sugar after workouts at night ISN'T healthy, btw). Just recognize it for what it is- simple appetite control and keeping energy levels fairly consistent. This isn't something anybody should have to pay for, and it's certainly not something that merits 1,000 out of context false citations.

  12. "Problem is, he did what most first year bio grad students do before they figure out how to really examine the research" I agree with most of what he said but this quote made me scratch my head as this guy isn't even a grad student. Crazy as Kiefer is he has a ton of education.

    1. He's a grad student on hiatus. Additionally, I'd posit that most Duke biochem undergrads are more knowledgeable than grad students at less prestigious schools.

    2. Its not really so much about where you study but how and what and how much you continue to. Having said that, this guy's a breath of fresh air, and I'll be the first to admit that I need to research a bit more deeply and carefully, great interview. I feel like i just hit the reset button, frankly. Was much needed and this is probably your best interview article to date.

    3. You would assume a Duke student to be knowledgable, but then how did he get insulin sensitivity thing wrong while claiming it common knowledge?

      Insulin sensitivity is higher in the morning. Common knowledge. Also shown in studies. The only case in which an individual is likely to be more insulin resistant in the morning is in the case of diabetics, and overly obese individuals. Also, Dawn Phenomenon presents only in diabetics. Pretty shitty to bring up considering he was just talking about how you can't use research on diabetics.

      Never mind his assertion that insulin remains elevated for 8 hours after ingesting sugar.

      This guy seems no better than Keifer.

    4. Not remotely shown in studies. The dawn phenomenon is not strictly for diabetics- it is labeled as such for diabetics, but the basic underlying physical processes are the same. I cannot link the full studies, but this is well understood. Since apparently simply picking up a biochemistry textbook or endocrinology reference is too challenging, here are a few that Kiefer himself cited (and didn't understand).



      If you have access to a university or research account, I do encourage you to read the full documents. The mechanism is still not completely understood, but basal insulin levels are higher in all individuals in the morning- whether this is a function of elevated cortisol, glucagon, or growth hormone we still do not know. But please, don't insult me or the other readers by saying "common knowledge" to something that EVERY SINGLE ENDOCRINOLOGIST you speak to (and several of whom I've consulted with) will agree is incorrect.

      Insulin will remain elevated for 1-2 hours after a high sugar meal. As I've mentioned elsewhere- to a large high carbohydrate meal, the initial spike may only last 1-2 hours. However, given the massive size of the CBL meals, what you'll see is a much larger pulsatile release of insulin over the course of the night (The normal peaks that you see with standard insulin oscillation will be elevated), and even in the morning glucose levels will be higher (as will, therefore, be those aforementioned peaks).

      So while you won't have a single massive peak lasting 8 hours, you'll have an overall much higher concentration of blood glucose and irregular insulin levels until the entire meal is digested. Which could take a long, long time. Quite honestly, there's NOT a lot of primary data on what actually happens if you take in 500 grams of sugar right before bed because no nutritionist or endocrinologist I've ever spoken to would ever suggest something so insane, so what we're left with is the basic biochemistry of digestion and glucose/insulin response. I apologize for implying that the spike itself lasts for 8-10 hours- my intended statement was that overall insulin is irregular/elevated.

      I encourage you to keep replying, but in the future, I encourage you to better understand topics before comparing me to a hack.

    5. And I HATE doing this, but again, can't post the full journal articles.



      Now- for full disclosure, there ARE several endocrinologists out there who call this into question- there is some debate as to whether or not these circadian rhythms are consistent across all populations, or whether or not modern lifestyles have more or less blown this up (which would mean this may not be clinically significant in healthy individuals anymore). HOWEVER- the last conclusion you could then come to is the complete opposite- the topic for debate is either this:

      1) Non-diabetics share the dawn phenomenon with diabetics- whether it be due to elevated morning cortisol (known mechanism for insulin resistance), elevated morning epinephrine (known mechanism for insulin resistance), or some yet undiscovered mechanism- and are insulin resistant in the morning.

      2) Non-diabetics do not share the dawn phenomenon, and are therefore no more insulin resistant in the morning than later in the day.

      Whether the final answer turns out to be 1 or 2 (and 1 is the current prevailing opinion), the answer is NOT 3, which is "None of this matters and it's opposite day- we're insulin sensitive in the morning".

    6. The first study uses high carb meals at 3 times. Yes, it shows a reduction in insulin sensitivity. This is the well known "eat a fuck-ton of sugar & you're gunna develop insulin resistance" phenomenon, and is why we are insulin sensitive in the morning. Yes, if you eat insulin secreting meals throughout the day, you're going to become more insulin resistant by night time. Don't eat insulin secreting meals, insulin sensitivity will most likely increase.

      The second study is in individuals with hyperinsulinemia. Again, completely useless, since in eating low carb all day, an individual on CBL would be in the complete opposite state. They literally pumped those guys full of pure glucose. Same principle as before, and the reason Keifer says not to have carbs throughout the day.

      Shitty references? Yes. Keifer never should have included them, he's a hack. But you just did the same thing.

      Fortunately, they study insulin sensitivity seperate from sugar intake and diabetes (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10456206.

      On a regular American diet, insulin sensitivity may be greatest in the morning, these 2 studies show that. I believe Keifer mentions that. If not, I'm thinking of Poliquin, who's been recommending a backloading approach for longer than Keifer has been around. But if you're low carb all day, by the end of the day, you're going to be more insulin sensitive, just like a fasted subject. This is one case in which it's appropriate to use a fasted subject.

      Further, insulin levels and sensitivity, while correlated, are NOT the same thing. In the Dawn Phenom, glucose levels go up, and so insulin levels go up. This doesn't mean we're insulin resistant. Because the mechanism is unknown, it means nothing at all.

      The point being, you can't just assume something that happens in diabetics (and sort of happens in non-diabetics), that may or may not be the effect of insulin resistance, automatically causes insulin resistance in healthy people. You talk about this yourself in this interview.

      And besides that, Dawn Phenomenon quickly comes to an end after waking, so why are we talking about it in context of morning vs evening? Even if you are right, it still wouldn't matter unless you were eating while still asleep or within minutes of waking.
      Also, Keifer never claims insulin doesn't happen PWO just because of GLUT4, in fact, he says this is beneficial. In carb-night, he recommends leucine for it's ability to spike insulin PWO on nights people aren't having carbs.

      As for the 8 hour comment, it's still off-base. Unless taken with a fuck-ton of fat and casein and the like, you're gunna absorb 500g of sugar faster than 8 hours. No way you don't. Further, Keifer doesn't recommend "huge" meals, he recommends eating "junk", which most people think means "eat as much of whatever I want". It means eat fast absorbing carbs. He talks about this a bit, saying that people that get in fast absorbing carbs always did better than those that ate a bunch of whole grains.

      All that aside, let's see if we can agree on something:

      The only real benefit to carb backloading (aside from ease) is that in abstaining from carbs except for 3-4 times per week, you increase OVERALL insulin sensitivity. Right? An insulin spike resulting from the PWO carb intake aids in recovery, common knowledge. It's none of the 30 different mechanisms Keifer pretends to understand, it's probably just insulin doing it's job, with maybe, maybe a bit of GLUT4 translocation. It's not magic, Keifer's not a fucking wizard. He's just a guy that figured out a way to market PWO insulin spikes. Holy shit, carbs PWO and making yourself more insulin sensitive works.

      IMO, it's really that simple. Make yourself more insulin sensitive by abstaining from carbs except for 3 nights a week. Then, have a bunch of carbs post-workout, reap the rewards of insulin when you need it most.

    7. Stephen,

      Thank you for the thoughtful and detailed reply.

      I think we may have to agree to disagree on a few things (or not), but first I think it's relevant to clarify why these issues were brought up at all- they are both classic examples of when theories or issues that are under debate are presented as absolutes. The fact that we have found conflicting evidence AT ALL means that NOBODY should be stating either side as scientific proof.

      That aside- the current state of "conventional wisdom", as indicated by what is presented in most medical texts (even current editions), is that insulin sensitivity is low upon waking, increases for the next few hours, then decreases throughout the day (with variations depending on meal intake, activity, etc.). Research into this topic has come up with several plausible mechanisms by which this may occur (mentioned above), which in my mind is enough to call it the state of current understanding. In no arena other than the fitness industry (in articles on IF, CBL, and the like) do you see "insulin sensitivity is highest upon waking" EVER stated.

      Regarding glucose levels versus insulin sensitivity, you're absolutely correct. However, in the second post, the first study I referenced specifically measures glucose levels against insulin levels. Though not as precise as a glucose clamp, it nevertheless demonstrates that in normal individuals eating a regular diet (3 meals a day, evening snack), maintaining stable morning glucose levels requires marginally higher insulin levels, which is the definition of insulin sensitivity. So when referencing the DP (I'm not writing it out anymore, it's pissing me off), it's precisely this ratio that is relevant, not just absolute levels.

      Looping back- Kiefer's statement was "first thing in the morning, insulin sensitivity is highest". This is absolutely, demonstrably false. The DP was mentioned not because it is clinically significant in fat gain or loss, but because it flat out demonstrates that an incorrect statement was made that flies in the face of current medical understanding, with no proof (or plausible mechanism) to back it. This is irresponsible at best, but truthfully many of us are guilty of it. What makes this worse, however, is that this baseless assertion was used to draw conclusions and make recommendations, which is laughable.

    8. Regarding digestion and transit times, sugar was used because it digests faster than pure junk. As you yourself stated, pure junk will contain fats and other compounds which will further slow digestion. He DOES repeatedly emphasize high glycemic carbs, and if you look at his charts at the end of the book, you'll see the amount of carbs recommended at night. The amounts involved are somewhere between a shit load and metric fuck ton.

      For sugar, you say "no way you don't absorb a half kilo of pure sugar faster than 8 hours". I'm not sure what you're basing this off of- yes, it will be absorbed fairly quickly initially, but the amount of sodium and water this would take to be transported across the lining is extreme. Chances are, quite frankly, you'd vomit a few hours later because the hyperosmotic solution in your gut was preventing digestion. There are a few flow studies here and there which show maximum glucose absorption rates by the gut, but none I've seen which administer it in a large bolus. Either way, intestinal rate of glucose absorption is not infinite- simply because sugars are present in the gut does not mean they are absorbing... sugars are a component of GI contents even in the ileum, so they are not ALL absorbed in the jejunum. The dynamics of nutrient absorption change RAPIDLY at higher concentrations- once active transporters are overwhelmed or lack the proper substrates, they can no longer speed absorption. 50g of sugar may not be a problem. An order of magnitude higher certainly will.

      This is still academic- after a truly massive gorging of carbohydrates, whether they be simple sugars or mixed macronutrients, absorption will be delayed beyond an hour or two (which is really just the amount of time the stomach takes to empty, hence nothing has been absorbed.) The initial insulin spike following either meal WILL subside after an hour or two, but the release of nutrients into the bloodstream will continue at a reduced rate until the meal passes through the ileum, which on average takes 6-12 hours, depending on meal type. There WILL be a glucose response to this release, and therefore a significant insulin response. Again, this is the current understanding of human digestion. If we cannot produce data showing far faster absorption of half kilo feedings of simple sugars (non-infused, and therefore not in an ideal solution), then we cannot draw other conclusions. To do so is irresponsible. We don't need any data to show that a meal takes 8 hours to digest- this IS documented to the point that it is common knowledge.

      And again, this is the point. Claims are made that run counter to what we currently understand, they are not backed (except by hand waving or statements like "no way they don't"), and conclusions are drawn. This is not science.

      On the final point- yes, I believe we can at least call a truce there. He's basically created a system founded on 99% smoke and mirrors, and 1% well understood mechanisms. Controlling carbohydrate intake on a regular basis and increasing it following activity to maximize skeletal muscle uptake can improve performance and body composition. CBL is taking what is a good idea and turning it into a horrible abomination through a combination of "leap of faith" style extrapolations of selectively presented clinical data and flat out misinterpretation of other's conclusions.

    9. >Though not as precise as a glucose clamp, it nevertheless demonstrates that in normal individuals eating a regular diet (3 meals a day, evening snack), maintaining stable morning glucose levels requires marginally higher insulin levels, which is the definition of insulin sensitivity. So when referencing the DP (I'm not writing it out anymore, it's pissing me off), it's precisely this ratio that is relevant, not just absolute levels.

      That's the problem I have with your statement. You CAN'T extrapolate insulin sensitivity from DP, if anything the opposite. We don't know what causes glucose levels to rise in the first place. If there's a mechanism causing them to rise that is still in place, this is obviously going to skew the ratio of insulin-glucose, so we have to throw out anything done in the morning in a diabetic.

      >For sugar, you say "no way you don't absorb a half kilo of pure sugar faster than 8 hours". I'm not sure what you're basing this off of- yes, it will be absorbed fairly quickly initially, but the amount of sodium and water this would take to be transported across the lining is extreme.

      I'm basing it off everything I know about how glucose levels respond to meals in fasted (or low carb) states. I know that eating a whole pizza leaves insulin levels elevated 6-8 hours later, but that's probably because of the casein and fat content, as well as the fact that they aren't entirely simple sugars being absorbed.

      I tend to get at least 500g of carbs in the 3-4 hours after weigh-ins. Now granted this is in a dehydrated state (during which I'm rehydrating), but if it'll suffice, I'll take glucose levels 8 hours after this. I'm willing to bet that while I'm still above baseline, it's within 20% of the overall spike WRT baseline.

      >CBL is taking what is a good idea and turning it into a horrible abomination through a combination of "leap of faith" style extrapolations of selectively presented clinical data and flat out misinterpretation of other's conclusions.

      Let me correct you here and point out that KEIFER'S version of CBL is what you're refering to. He is far from the only one espousing low carb diets sans PWO, and he is far from the first to do so. He only claims this in his book.

    10. "That's the problem I have with your statement. You CAN'T extrapolate insulin sensitivity from DP, if anything the opposite. We don't know what causes glucose levels to rise in the first place. If there's a mechanism causing them to rise that is still in place, this is obviously going to skew the ratio of insulin-glucose, so we have to throw out anything done in the morning in a diabetic."

      There was nothing here related to diabetics- the ratio was skewed in healthy normals.

      "I tend to get at least 500g of carbs in the 3-4 hours after weigh-ins. Now granted this is in a dehydrated state (during which I'm rehydrating), but if it'll suffice, I'll take glucose levels 8 hours after this. I'm willing to bet that while I'm still above baseline, it's within 20% of the overall spike WRT baseline."

      Truthfully speaking, I would LOVE to see this sort of data- it's precisely what doesn't exist right now. I would wager that your overall oscillations would not be in line with what you'd consider baseline, but at this point we're both speaking based off what we know of mechanisms, not hard data. This is open to interpretation either way. The information I'm going off of is primarily what I know through both clinical trials and clinical experience.

      "Let me correct you here and point out that KEIFER'S version of CBL is what you're refering to. He is far from the only one espousing low carb diets sans PWO, and he is far from the first to do so. He only claims this in his book."

      When I said CBL, I do mean Kiefer. I've no problem with low carb diets, post workout carbohydrate ingestion, etc. etc. etc. What I have a problem with is how his science (or lack thereof) is presented, and how extreme his recommendations are (based on these shoddy conclusions).

    11. Small point, but re-reading the book now, Kiefer seems to make more a deal out of the fact that Cortisol levels are higher in the morning, making you primed for burning fat than he does about the insulin thing, which is why he recommends skipping breakfast.

      Out of interest (and ignoring the Glut4 "TMR" idea*) Do you think there's much point in trying to spike insulin levels PWO to maximise muscle growth? ie will a sharp spike in insulin post workout be a good way to get big *without* piling on fat, or is it much of a muchness so long as you take in the correct macros over the day/week?

      *though I'd love to fully understand that.

    12. Dave- There's conflicting evidence (as with all of this shit) on the necessity of spiking insulin levels to maximize muscle growth. Whether or not you consume high levels of carbohydrates (in or without the presence of fat), insulin levels still seem to be elevated post workout. Further, if you look at the biggest and strongest guys at the turn of the century, particularly the Germans, their focus was on the consumption of fats and proteins rather than carbohydrates post workout. I think it's safe to say Hermann Goerner's/Maxick's/the Saxon trio's physique didn't suffer as a result.

      I know for a fact taht Alex will agree with this- you guys worry far too much about post- and peri-workout nutrition. Eat a shitload of protein and break your ass in the gym and victory will follow.

    13. Cool. I kinda assumed it would be a "it depends" kinda deal.

      I don't really worry about it but given it's so easy to do (chuck some dextrose & protien in a PWO shake), I figure there's no reason *not* to do it if there's evidence behind it. Though, obviously, if it's a bag of shite I'll stop wasting my money.

    14. J Stanton does the dextrose thing. I don't, as there's enough evidence this will fuck me on fat loss that I don't experiment with it unless I'm eating low fat. On a low fat diet, however, I lack the energy I have on high fat, so we're back at the beginning.

  13. My bullshit detector went off when he said something about Diet Coke causing insulin spikes and to abstain from drinking it.

    I was like, Fuck that shit. And stopped right there. I didn't need to read any further. Luckily, I didn't buy the book.

  14. I have a PhD in physics and I am not offended.

    Oh BTW- Kiefer does not have a PhD in physics, or at least he didn't when he wrote Carb Back-loading 1.0. He had an Masters in physics.

  15. Wow. I´ve been following CBL for almost one year and to my shame, I looked up for maybe only two researches from the book. I hope the debate will get going as this interview seem to bring relevant point for discussion.

  16. Fuck Jamie, you are the best (again) for doing this interview! I dit CBL for 5 days and stoped because I started to gain too much fat!

    I was almost going to ask you to take on IF, but then you came with this. Are you planning any interview/article about IF soon?

    1. I started one a while back and quit out of boredom. I might pick it up again, though I'm not sure when.

    2. Make sure martin berkhan doesn't notice or he will troll your ass lik he did with lyle.

    3. Anthony Colpo gave intermittent fasting a bit of a raping if i remember (check it out), him and Martin had a little spat on bb.com i think. Berkhan came of worse.

  17. Hi Alex,
    Thanks for the Q&A. I could use your advices on something if you have a minute.
    I've just bought a bike for the purposes of a daily commute (for reasons which have nothing to do with fitness). Round trip each day is 10km. I've also been squatting 4-5 times per week for the last month or so, very low volume and high intensity (up to a daily max with a couple of back-off sets.)
    Question- is it fucking retarded to try and cycle ~50km per week while also doing high frequency squatting? Or will it have no impact/maybe even help with recovery once my body is used to it?
    The obvious thing to do is to try it but I'm curious to see what you think first.
    many thanks,

    1. If it helps, Tom Platz used to ride his bike to and from the gym for around 10km if I recall correctly, and trained with insane volume twice a week. I don't think it hurt his squatting capacity. Chinese Oly weightlifters run a couple miles every orning and squat daily. As such, it can be done. I'd venture to guess you'll see an initial dropoff in performance with your proposed regimen.

    2. I bike 5-7 miles to work every day. I squat every damn day, at least once. In the last year, I have put on over 12 lbs and I'm leaner and stronger. Eat more and you'll be fine.

    3. Thanks Jamie and b3b0p. I seem to remember Lamar Gant rode around all over the place too.
      Makes sense that I might go backwards to start with, but hopefully I will adapt to it especially with more food.
      Will give it a good crack and then reassess if everything goes to hell.

    4. What they said- you're probably not doing time trial cycling where you're going balls out for miles and miles, so really you're just introducing a bit of extra volume into your routine. Just up your calories to match, take a bit of extra care to do a bit of a cooldown after your ride (post-ride hamstring tightness is the single biggest issue I've had when it comes to riding then lifting), and you should be more than fine. The body isn't that fragile when it comes to recovery. Hell, Forstemann (the Olympic cyclist) is hammering it on his bike for hours a day, and can still squat close to 600 at a bodyweight of 195.

    5. It will positively melt your legs away!

      Look up Jamie's BMF'er on Bert Asirati....

  18. Great interview and discussion, thanks for doing this. I have read some of your (Alex Viada) stuff before on other websites and really like those too. Have seen a few of your comments on CBL/CNS/Kiefer on wannabebig and was interested in hearing more about it, so was really surprised and happy to see this.

    "I’ve picked apart a lot of his stuff, but… hey, it’s the internet, what are the odds he’s seen any of it and felt the need to respond?"

    Was wondering where I can find some of these posts (or articles)?

  19. 100% agree that CBL is overrated as hell. For me, carbs at night mean I sleep better, so I eat them then. The "cutting edge science" behind it is bullshit. Especially considering Kiefer has yet to definitively state whether carbs should be consumed the night before a workout or the night after. If the mechanism he details (and Alex rips apart in this interview) is significant, then carbs should only be consumed the night after training. Yet, everybody getting any results at all is having them the night before training.

    Also worth mentioning that Carb-nite is pretty much Palumbo's ketogenic diet with a new name.

  20. So I've read the CBL book (whoo).

    I tried looking at Kiefer's university background in more detail but couldn't find any information, however reading the comments above it seems others have been able to find more information.

    What I've been able to find is really basic - he completed Bachelor of Physics and Masters of Physics. He then started a PhD in the field of whoknowswhat and I presumed he dropped out as I haven't seen any further progress on that account. So would I be correct in saying both the initial degree and Masters were both coursework (and not research) based? I ask this because I'm not from the US and so I don't know what the norm is. If this is correct then Kiefer's education has not only been in a completely unrelated field but also not completely coursework (lectures and so on) and no research based. And when he did commence research based educated (the PhD) he dropped out or halted his studies for some reason.

    These question came up in my mind after I read the book and noticed it was quite poorly written and working at a university I got the chance to look up some of the references as I got interested in certain chapters. Suffice to say I found the referencing horrible, especially from someone who's claim to fame in the nutrition world is being a scientist.

  21. Hey Alex, This is Paulo Santos from the CrossFit Forum. I have tried Carb Backloading for a while and initially, I got fat because I was eating too much. The recommended Carbs is way off and Kiefer has indicated that on a podcast where he said that wasn't the actual recommended carbs. Like many others, I was also confused as to when to carb backload. Night before or day of training. His book was poorly written. After I cut down on eating so many carbs at night, the diet actually started working well.

    I was recently introduced to the Renegade Diet which is written much, much better, and it actually has recommended protein, cars, and fats, depending on your goals.

    I'm just trying the Renegade Diet out for a few months to see if it works and then Ill re-evaluate. I'm definitely liking it better than CBL. Maybe I can chat with you to see what you recommend.

  22. Paulo, I've noticed from a few places that what CBL says in the book isn't really what CBL says. I give up, really. Definitely let me know how the Renegade diet is working out- always interested to see results. Drop me a line if you get the chance.

    Cheers mate.

  23. Let me just say a big Fuck you to Alex V and Chaos & Pain.....

    I really just wanted to chill out for a bit - and spent time doing other things.....Yet now, it appears I will have to re-read, review and participate in this proceeding.

    Excellent, Excellent, Excellent discussion fellas!!! This is what it is all about. Fuck the ego, Fuck ad hominem, Fuck non sequiturs, false equivalencies, cliches, shit-ass metaphors and the rest....

    What the audience needs more than anything is critical exchange....the fruitful building of a critical framework....if this is done correctly - the audience benefits.....If dicks swing in the way - the audience loses....

    Good times, irie. irie.

    I will stay turned - let's get to some real "higher-ground" here....No being right for the sake of being right....but for the sake of progressing just one step closer to what is.....and not what we want it to be...

    Thanks guys, great content. Invite the folks that can sit at the adult table....if you are not one of these folks...sit your punk ass down at the fold out kiddie table....

  24. One more thing. Its great you're a biochem undergrad, so you will know a significantly higher amount of details about metabolism and such, but you really outta keep your opinions about disease and diagnosis to yourself until you've gotten through med school. Otherwise you're not being much better than keifer. Stage III lyme disease and fibromyalgia do occur. Just because a significant portion of the population are bullshiting about them to get out of effort does not mean you can go around considering them as fake. Before you start talking about how you would treat what, you should probably put yourself through the educational and examination prerequisites to make such decisions or give such advice.

    1. Hey man, no disagreement from me there. My opinion on Fibro, Chiropractic, etc. is worth exactly what you paid to read it. I could say my wife is a physician who specializes in pain management (who influences my opinion more than I'll ever admit). I could say that I worked on six clinical trials over four years on Fibro. But that wouldn't change the fact that it's just an opinion and isn't worth much at all.

      Which is why the moment I put a dollar sign on something that I say, you'd better well believe that A) I've got the training in that field, and B) I'll back up every word that I say. I'd never advise a client/athlete on back pain or chronic pain outside my scope of practice, or call myself a highly sought after authority in the field, or write a book on Fibro and charge $50 for it. That'd make me a charlatan/hack, and I'd expect the world to tear me a new one for it.

    2. That's a very refreshing thing to hear.

  25. I think he said he's worked on the research side for years, and graduated a long time ago. I DID go through medical school, and I completely agree with him on both Chronic Lyme and Fibromyalgia, not that they don't exist as conditions but that they're really somatoform disorders, most often treated via antidepressants.

    As an Internal Medicine Resident, I might not necessarily be an expert in all fields, but I can definitely say we rely on a LOT of non-physicians for advice and information- researchers and individuals working on and around clinical trials are great sources of knowledge, and we definitely give them more respect than you seem to.

    1. Fibromyalgia is today's "go-to" condition for the crafty, life long pill-popper.

    2. No resident of anything could be an expert in all field man. I can still remember my ortho head making a wise crack about a double blind test being "two orthopedicians looking at a chest x-ray"

      When I wrote it, it came out as med school, which was a douchey thing for me let slip, but I mean qualified. Those researchers and individuals working on clinical trials are very specifically educated, with well formed opinions based on sound knowledge and logic. But its the internet, and there was no way to know why and how he formulated his opinion. It rubbed me the wrong way.

      Anyways cheers

  26. Kiefer's emailed me and let me know he'll be posting a video response to this. Keep an eye out for that.

    1. Right on C&P....

      I can't speak for the rest of the audience, but I would love to see a critical exchange that strictly deals with specific points of accord or discord.

      Please, stick with critical points.....Those of us who seek actual knowledge and benefit - CANNOT STAND to hear another shit-ass, ego-on-sleeve exchange....It does get VERY, VERY, VERY tiring hearing someone constantly bitch about "haters" or "gurus" or how the other guy doesn't get it. If those folks would spend the same amount of time in critical pursuit, they may actually have something of value to add. Nobody gives a shit about your ego or those trainers/gurus/blog commenters who don't get it.....Welcome to the real world - where 99.8% of folks don't get it.

      It also gets VERY, VERY, VERY tiring to listen to someone either highlight their CV or another's CV - for social proof. Just because you have letters following your name - doesn't mean you don't succumb to cognitive folly/error(s). In fact, I have yet to meet an "expert" an any field that is above and beyond approach.

      Christopher Hitchens put it best, "Picture all experts as if they were mammals."

    2. If it can stick to that, I'll be very impressed. I'd love to engage in a real debate. As long as it's a real debate. :)

    3. Alex,

      Exactly. Sincere, debate is outstanding exchange. Unfortunately, most people outside of academia or professional litigation do not enjoy a good working knowledge of critical exchange.

      It's incredibly beneficial to the audience and to society in general - when two or more intelligent individuals armed with advanced market-specific-knowledge get together to exchange perspectives
      in a solution oriented manner.

      After all, what the fuck good is there in being right? I'll take truth, authenticity, and best-available evidence positions - all day long over being right.

      I observe mostly the opposite with....well most everyone. Men especially, when defined by profession, skill-set, advanced knowledge - will warp their intake and perspective to suit their narrative, i.e. position, ideology, framework, etc. If the ego is unchecked, familiarity, selectivity and confirmation (heuristics) bias will reign supreme.

      I would love to see - a point by point specific, back and forth with any and all individuals that actually have value to add. If the exchange is not restricted to point-by-point - while also accounting for how that specific element integrates into the whole, then much potential knowledge will be lost.....as folks will simply gravitate toward their bias - that is, they will side up with the individual who offers them the least amount of effort to reach their mental comfort zone...

      Fuck all that - that game is for losers, unchecked egos and little bitches....Hopefully, we can proceed with hopes of significant gain.

      Alex, my time is limited - yet I would love to get your opinion on several points of interest. I will have to spend a little more time reading and reviewing the elements you highlighted above.

      Very interesting discussion....I feel for the first time in human history - we are VERY close to deciphering the code and the interplay within....And the more WE ALL exchange in a critical, honest - solution-oriented manner - the faster we get to quality knowledge.

  27. Before I make this comment, let me just say this was a great interview, and I really loved Alex's insight. I'm planning on trying out some of the templates he lays out on his website.

    With that being said, the whole, "yeah, I deadlift 705 lbs and run a 4:23 mile, but I'm a lousy athlete," thing is irritating as hell. If those numbers are accurate (and I'm not a call-you-out-on-the-Internet guy, so I'll take him at his word), then he is probably the only person in the world who can accomplish such a feat, which makes him, by definition, a world class athlete.

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. HANG ON A MINUTE... CBL doesn't recommend pounding down 500 grams of sugar! Where the hell does it say that? I've read through the book, and listened to lots of what Kiefer has said in podcasts and interviews and on YouTube, and I agree there are a few mixed messages going on. Ultimately though, he does seem to suggest that 'clean' carbs, but still high GI ones, see people get the best results... so white rice, sweet potatoes etc. (but also including veges in your diet). The whole ice cream, donuts and turnover thing is a massive marketing gimmick in my view, and NOT what CBL is about. It's a real shame, as I think that's done it a massive disservice. At its core there isn't anything really groundbreaking about CBL... it follows a process than some people have been doing for years, even if they haven't realised it, and as mentioned the carbs PWO idea that is well established.

    You can literally argue the science FOREVER... there will be no end to that debate. People DO seem to get results with CBL though, when they follow it CORRECTLY and don't go mad with the sugar. Just read the forums, plenty of people are getting on really well with it. This isn't a one size fits all plan though, that's a really important factor. You have to tinker with the carb amount PWO, the number of days you backload etc. Everyone is different.

  30. I have to agree with Olly D's post above and add to it a little - You have basically used several statements to discredit Kiefer (and in doing so adding fuel to your argument), but these statements are entirely incorrect.

    I'm not arguing about the scientific references being valid / invalid, you may well have good points here and I'd like to see them countered, but it makes it hard to take your points seriously when you appear to have fundamental issues understanding Kiefers CLB.

    The points I'm referencing are

    "Of course it works- eat next to nothing all day except some eggs and protein powder, pound coffee until you’re tweaked to shit, then only stuff yourself with sugar after your evening workout?
    Controlling cravings through fasting then binge eating at night makes it hard to take in enough calories for most folks, so they lose weight. Miraculous"

    Nowhere in Kiefers CBL book, online articles or tube-casts does he actually recommend fasting.
    What he does say is, that if you want optimal fat loss results you should delay eating breakfast for an hour or two after waking to let cortisol levels to settle down (you can argue the science behind this) - That hardly counts as fasting does it?
    If you're more focused on performance then simply eat a protein / fat meal as breakfast.
    When pushed for an answer on how long is an ideal 'fast period', he's again stated that there is no need to fast but if you're hell bent on doing it to limit it to 12 hours

    Also, there is nothing about starving yourself during the day (or only eating eggs and protein powder) - Simply eat protein and fat meals upto a couple of hours before you train.

    You have also made reference to eating 500g of sugar right before bed - Again this is not part of CLB. Sugar content is actually to be monitored (due to the fructose content) and nobody is dumping all their carbs in a single meal before bed.
    Typically people will load up on carbs for a 3-4 hour period starting around 7pm (assuming they train atr around 5pm).

    Another point to make is that the charts in the back of the book are not target levels of carbs to eat on each backload - They are approximations of the maximum number of carbs your body can store from being fully depleted (a start point for your carb intake is to take this number and multiply it be 1.5 - This is your carb total for the week, spilt if between your backloading days)
    This point is not well made in the book though, so it's no wonder people get confused.

    I'd love to see the science stuff argued out, but arguing your point of view using inaccurate statements really doesn't help

    Peace out!


    1. Macca- the example of 500 grams of pure sugar was, quite frankly, used as a BEST CASE scenario for absorption. The idea (which I admit, I did not illustrate well), was that even under the best possible circumstances (focusing on the ULTIMATE high GI carbs), your body will not return to equilibrium overnight with a massive carb feeding like that. Forget "junk" and donuts- those things will delay gastric emptying even further- they'll still be halfway through the small intestine at 6 AM. THEN the argument becomes, well, what if you truly DO focus on, say, pure refined carbohydrates with minimal adjuncts? Even that would have its issues... hence the half kilo of sugar.

      This is a bit like the "fasting" point- I did mention eggs and protein powder- a lot of the specific recommendations are around certain protein blends and mega dosing of caffeine. Yes, technically there's food intake during the day, but the specifics are mentioned so little, and quite honestly the majority of adherents I know simply minimize their caloric intake outside of these few target meals. The section on skipping breakfast talks about hunger control strategies (including coffee), and the calorie recommendations are a bit nuts. I would consider 600-800 calories total before training, including a whole lot of caffeine, to be borderline starving onesself in such a manner that this WOULD make a sorority girl proud.

      The issue here is that a good bit of the "science" (certainly with regards to claims regarding morning hormone levels) rely on the body being back to baseline, a nearly fasted state, long before waking (which is the only way you'd get the natural GH and cortisol spikes being referenced). With the diet design as it is, this is nearly impossible. Then, the daily feeding recommendations DO more or less keep daily calories so low (before the binge) that it's nearly impossible to take in enough garbage food before bed to really gain weight. Fundamentally, THIS is why it works, NOT because of hormonal magic.

      Olly- I couldn't agree with you more that a good bit of this is a marketing gimmick- that's my biggest problem. The FUNDAMENTALS of this diet are very old, but "CBL" as written puts layers of bad science on top of a fundamentally decent concept, and in an effort to differentiate, introduces ideas that are essentially bankrupt. The issue here is that these differentiators are the major reason this diet doesn't seem to work for many people- they're simply NOT good additions, and they're based on (as I said), bad science.

      Again, post workout insulin spike, fine. Moderating cravings throughout the day by minimizing carbs, fine. GLUT4 receptors causing MTR? False. Morning insulin sensitivity? False. Massive junk food feedings after workouts not affecting overnight growth hormone release? False.

      That is the point. I'm honestly considering writing an actual paper here, rather than an interview, since the conversational format doesn't really lend itself as well to scientific writing. :)

      Cheers guys, thanks for the responses. (Seriously- I always appreciate critiques and engagement).

    2. Well, if you read the forums on athlete.io and see what people have been doing on CBL, you won't see many people restricting calories to that extent during the day. Personally (and I know I'm not alone in this) I'm getting at least half of my cals in before workout, and the rest post. 600-800 cals? NO WAY! I couldn't go that low if I tried!

      If you follow a rough guidelines of 0.5/1g fat per lb of bodyweight, at least 1g protein per 1lb and then figuring out carbs based on how you do in the prep phase... but sticking to the 'cleaner' ones, such as white rice, potatoes, some dextrose etc. then you'll do well. The idea is to spread out the backload over several meals, not pound it all down at once. There's room for some 'junk' in there (depending how you tolerate it really), but in my view (and many others) if you keep the pure refined carbs such as sucrose to a minimum, cut out wheat/gluten, you'll see good results. It's not that complicated. Common sense really!

      Again though, CBL does not advocate an all out pure refined carbs PWO eating plan... it is absolutely not about trying to wolf down 2 pizzas, 3 tubs of ice cream and a dozen donuts every night lol! That seems to be the view of many people, and I'm not sure why. It's not what the book says and it's certainly not what people who've had success using it have done.

    3. Olly- what you're describing sounds more reasonable, but I did pull the calorie recs straight out of the book, as well as the "eat JUNK" rec.

      So there are either two explanations as I see it... either the book itself is so misleading that the two aforementioned items are not what they appear to be, or CBL as written in the book and the CBL that gets results are two different beasts. If it's the latter, then what on earth is the point of the book, since you just outlined a pretty damn good diet framework in a single paragraph in your above post, no references or mechanisms required? :)

  31. I stopped reading when this guys arrogance revealed his ignorance(fibro/lyme).

    1. Great! Then neither of us had to waste our time on one another.


  32. After I posted the above about my experience with CBL, I decided to go back to Paleo to see how things changed. The only thing I'm doing different is that after I workout, I have a PWO meal of Protein + creatine + 2 bananas, like I did on CBL. Then I have some more carbs when I get home. Like this:

    Breakfast:3-4 hard boiled eggs.

    Morning Snack:
    Smoothie: 1 banana, 1 scoop of protein, 1 TBSP of MCT Oil, Ice

    Salad with meat or just meat and veggies.

    Afternoon Snack:
    Smoothie: 1 banana, 1 scoop of protein, 1 TBSP of MCT Oil, Ice

    Salad with meat or just meat and veggies. (on a day that I workout, I'll have some carbs like Sweet Potatoes or Rice).

    Protein + Creatine + 2 bananas.

    So far, the only thing that I notice different is that I'm not starving in the morning and I night I'm not stuffed like a pig. So I'm starting to question the CBL claims. The one thing that I agree with is the PWO meal. Everything else is just marketing and BS.

  33. I'll bet you can't guess what muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and burns fat.

    If this "secret" super powerful primal muscle is healthy, you are healthy.