The Cute Girl Guide to Carb Back-Loading


I was raised in the 1980’s, where most people’s idea of exercise was Jane Fonda attempting to give us aerobics instruction on VHS with Michael Jackson’s “Can You Feel It?” playing in the background. Back then, I watched my mother go on just about every diet there was. The entire decade was a sad era for the entire fitness industry, to be sure. 

Problem was, despite the occasional exercise video being played on our TV, nobody in my family played sports or worked out. Mom gave up on the gym because of all the creeps who’d constantly hit on her. Dad played sports in high school, but he hurt his back in his twenties and didn’t do much after that. I was a hyperactive little girl, and begged for dance and gymnastics—but received piano lessons instead. Sports and exercise simply didn’t exist for me then, especially at home.

My point? I don’t have any sports background to speak of, and I didn’t start seriously lifting weights until I was in my early thirties. Until then, I was that stereotypical yoga and Pilates person who, admittedly, thought a vegan lifestyle would get me healthy, lean, and change my shape.

I’m not a fitness competitor in any way, shape, or form. I’m just your average American girl looking for a way to have my cupcakes and my bikini body, too—and I’ve figured out a way to do that. No matter where you are in your own exercise and fat loss journey, you can do it, too.

Don’t Count Calories, But Calories Count

One mistake I often see with my clients now is when they think that removing carbs from their diet gives them a free pass to eat as much as they want. This is a mistake. If your body is used to being on a restricted diet, or you’re a [shudder] “cardio queen,” you’ll gain weight if you stop doing cardio cold turkey and start eating more food.

I often say I hate cardio, but that doesn’t mean you should just stop doing it and start eating junk just because it’s your once-per-week Carb Nite. These plans—Carb Back-Loading and The Carb Nite Solution—work like crazy, but the whole thing’s a system no matter which diet you’re on. You can’t just pick out the parts you like and ignore the rest.

No Free Foods EVER

If I tell some of my clients that something is “free”—like vegetables, for example—they’ll invariably stuff their faces with it. I’m constantly having to tell them not to do this. Keeping your overall calories in check will help you tremendously in your fat loss efforts.

In fact, you should keep your calories on the lower side as a lifestyle. I’m not suggesting under-eating here, but being hungry once in a while isn’t going to kill you. When it comes to Carb Back-Loading, I’m willing to be a little hungry in the morning in order to reward myself with Nutella on toast after dinner. In my book, that’s a fair trade.

Carb Back-Loading and The Carb Nite Solution are such elegant plans because they take away the obsession with food from which we all suffer. You don’t have to take an entire day to prepare 36 meals for the week. With some very basic changes, you can still be extremely successful with zero advance preparation. The rules that’ll get you results are very simple, and can be used by everyone, regardless of your experience level.

Easier Than You Think 

It breaks my heart when my clients and friends say this to me. Really? You can’t drink coffee with heavy cream for breakfast? You can’t eat a cobb salad for lunch, and a steak with green beans for dinner? When people say they can’t do this, they’re vastly overthinking the process. This type of eating is simple, and it keeps your blood sugar steady with no food prep involved.

Sure, you can figure out all your daily macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) down to the gram, but you don’t need to get stressed out over this if you’re following the correct principles. That’s not the secret. The thing that will give you the most wiggle room when you’re on a Carb Back-Loading plan is how hard you’re willing to push yourself in the gym.

Cupcakes and Bikinis

BWAnnaYou need to get to the gym. Now. If you seriously hate exercising and are willing to settle for a little more squish than sass, you’ll be getting only one set of treats per week on The Carb Nite Solution. That’s six months straight of an ultra-low carb diet without the results you want—and it’s not an option for me or my clients. CNS is the best program in existence for getting lean, but without moving your body against some type of resistance, you won’t be able to achieve the tight, toned look you want. Skipping resistance training is not your fast track to a hot bikini body. Using High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is better than nothing—but it’s still not your best choice.

The Training Split

If you’re new to fitness language, a “training split” means you can separate your week into training sessions, going to the gym three, four, or five times a week with great results. Here’s a training split I like to use with both beginners and advanced trainees:

Monday: Lower body push

Tuesday: Upper body push

Wednesday: HIIT

Thursday: Lower body pull

Friday: Upper body pull

You’ll notice here that you won’t be training on weekends. That’s because any smart training split gives you dedicated rest days, meaning you won’t be doing anything on those days. Your recovery days are the days your body rebuilds itself. I call these your “getting leaner days.”

Your body needs this kind of rest, because more is not always better. If you’re still sore from Monday’s leg workout, it’s a good idea to rest a little longer before you train your legs again. Maybe that’s the day to go for some yoga or Pilates, as long as it doesn’t keep your muscles from recovering properly.

The Bikini Plan

Focusing on strength training and getting stronger and more explosive with weights will do some fun things for you. You’ll be able to skip more workouts, and you’ll also be able to indulge in more treats.

This is because people who’ve moved into the advanced category with lifting weights have spent more time learning how to build muscle. They’re better at using their time in the gym, and they can get a lot more work done in a lot less time—both in terms of what they know how to do, and the amount of weight they’re lifting in total.

When I refer to an advanced level, I’m talking about the amount of weight you’re capable of lifting relative to your bodyweight. I don’t know what the “official” numbers are—or if there even are any—but I have my own goals for this with my clients. If you can squat 1.5 times your body weight for 5-10 repetitions, you’re advanced. If you don’t like squatting, see if you can do this with the deadlift.

So, if you weigh 110 pounds, you’re aiming for 160 pound squats. Sure, this sounds heavy, but I’m not trying to let you off the hook here. I’m trying to tell you the truth. These numbers are possible for you.

For upper body strength, focus on bodyweight pull-ups, chin-ups, and dips. Using Kiefer’s Shockwave Protocols is the fastest way I’ve been able to gain strength—and my clients have had fantastic results using this program, too. With Shockwave, you don’t need to spend hours “crushing it” to get what you’re after. Instead, crush the whole thing with a dedicated, organized system of training.

You Can’t Eat Like a Man

annabackNo matter how well you can perform in the gym, or how much work you do, you won’t be able to eat what the guys around you can. You can thank Mother Nature for this. Women just don’t have the muscular system for it. This doesn’t mean you have to completely deprive yourself, though. You can indulge in three or four desserts a week—and if you’re a genetic freak, you can have more. No matter who you are, however, the key is placing your carbs where they belong. Nobody’s stopping you from having them in the morning, of course, but if you choose to go this route, you can expect negative results.

For women who want to use Carb Back-Loading, our back-loads aren’t exactly the large feasts you’ll see our male counterparts enjoying. You can have an overripe banana after training, but your nightly back-loads will look more like a single serving of a starchy carb, or a high-sugar but low-fat dessert. Either way, the flow of carbs is still controlled.

Here are two tips to help you out in this department:

 1.  Be patient. Wait until you really like how your butt looks naked before you start experimenting with bigger back-loads. Stick with the basics, and let the diet do its work.

 2.  Don’t keep your back-load food in the house. Having your favorite treats in abundance at your fingertips is never a good idea. Plan to leave the house for your treats. This is also a way to get healthier choices: foods that are fresh and not full of preservatives.

Be Realistic

Consistency is the key here. Both my male and female clients are shocked when I tell them that six or seven hours of training per week is all they need to achieve amazing results. To a competitor who’s spending double or triple this amount of time lowering body fat, this is a walk in the park.

To the beginner, however, it seems like a lot, but when we add up all the yoga, CrossFit, and extracurricular stuff that isn’t getting them anywhere with their body composition goals, they begin to see the light rather quickly.

If you exercise like this while following The Carb Nite Solution, you’ll teach your body to burn more fat as fuel on a daily basis. Then, when you start timing your nutrition as outlined in Carb Back-Loading, you’ll be able to build some very pretty muscles and lower your body fat while eating the treats you love.

And it won’t be long before you’ve got the toned arms you want, and the tight legs and tush you’ll feel proud to display in your bikini. 

  • Jen

    The Cupcakes and Bikinis section needs edited. The whole line about six months straight of ULC with no results comes out and nowhere. At first it sounds like she’s bashing CNS, but that can’t possibly be the case since she praises it immediately after.

    • Jen

      “of nowhere”

      • Wayne Thomas Edwards

        I think that was more along the lines of leaner women possibly jumping on it. Every lean person I know at 12% body fat has been asking me about carbnite and I just say. Dude you’re already ripped, read up on carb back loading. That’s more for you!

        So don’t take it too out of context or as a defend our diet type of thing. It can’t be that bad if it’s up on

    • James

      I believe what is meant by “no results” is that you won’t get a firm, toned, muscular body unless you get to the gym. Shes states “CNS is the best program in existence for getting lean, but without moving your body against some type of resistance, you won’t be able to achieve the tight, toned look you want”. So she’s bashing people who are expecting to get toned and muscular by doing CNS without resistance training, not CNS itself.

  • Hnosaj

    Is the Shockwave Protocol available again? I’ve been shopping for a new program.

  • Adam Duggan

    Really great article. My wife is going to love it! I found all of the advice very applicable to men also. Calories still matter, though they’re not everything…and training hard gives you more wiggle room. Great stuff for both men and women

  • Joel Crosby

    Great article Anna! You have really helped people get to their goals and change their bodies. Keep it up. I look forward more articles from you.

  • Evan Peterson

    Great article!

  • Bodynsoil

    Thank you for this piece, I’ve shared it liberally. CNS is something that I’m am just now discovering, it has helped me tremendously thus far.. However, I wasn’t raised in the 80’s, more like the 70’s, so I’m considerably older.. This is the time in my life when battling bodyfat and retaining LBM is harder to do and more important.. Thank you for sharing.

  • Pingback: Derby City CrossFit | Louisville | Workout of the Day – Thursday 2/14/13()

  • Mich

    thanks for the article Anna – I purchased Carb Nite Solution a couple of days ago.. and lift already 3x week.. Just wondering do you combine both the Carb Nite Solution As Well as the Carb-Back loading protocols simultaneously? I’m a 47 yr old female and I’m looking to drop some (very) stubborn fat especially in the butt, thighs and abs and really firm up although I have a good base already.. I also already follow a very low carb diet and a whole foods clean diet( can’t eat any gluten or dairy due to allergies) .. So now I’ll try the CarbNite protocol but any guidance re workouts and maybe also doing the Carb Backloading protocol would be so helpful. I am a bit confused..:-).. Also.. do you take clients remotely? thanks !


    • anna

      Hi Mich, Yes a combo of CNS and CBL is actually what I use for myself and my clients. There is a lot to take into consideration – where your body fat levels are at now is one. Unless you are under 20% you will want to stick with CNS. (This not a hard rule, just what many of us have found useful as well as what Kiefer outlines in CBL) Also – for training…3 days a week of…..what is a hard workout to some may absolutely not be a good set up for CBL – so making sure you are lifting as heavy as possible is important. Shockwave Protocol (downloadable free on here) is what I recommend for many people and use it myself a LOT. You can look me up on Facebook and PM me for any coaching inquiries. :)

  • James Mavis

    Can I get some examples of the type of back load shes talking about here that some of you are using already? My girlfriend is just starting out on CBL and I only know what I eat so its hard helping her with what she should be eating.

  • Brittany

    I’ve read the pdf, it makes sense. I’m used to training heavy and I have relatively little body fat (5″6, 125lbs with moderately muscular frame). I’m all in but for one detail… I had a baby 4 months ago and am breastfeeding. I can get through the day without carbs but 5-10 days is out of the question and would be far to taxing on my already depleated energy reserves. Would begining this method without the preparation phase be disasterous for someone who is not looking to “density bulk”?

    • anna

      You can try doing only 3 days of prep phase and make sure to do some INTENSE HIIT sessions each morning to deplete glycogen. Notice I said “TRY” :) Try it and see where that gets you – if you are not able to do the full reorientation.

    • Amanda

      Did you ever end up trying this? I’m 7 months post partum and breastfeeding. I want to do this but think the same- 10 days no carbs isn’t going to be feasible…

      • Brittany

        I did try it. No prep phase was fine, but with breastfeeding you have to give yourself a lot of leeway based on your energy levels. It’s also really hard to get enough calories with less carbs so you have to plan your meals carefully and monitor how much you’re taking in. It worked for me. Good luck!

  • amirzulkafli

    Great piece Anna! Car Backloading is certainly woth the praise. I have been using this system for a while now and I can attest to the fact that it works. For those who still doesn’t really know about Carb Backloading. Visit my blog for more infoCarb Backloading Info

  • J Flo Flores

    Started this last week and your article really helped clear things up for me! Goal for next week, not eat as much as my bf :/

  • Olivia Dane Oliver

    My RMR is 1954 and my maintenance calories are 2500…I already follow the carb back loading so I have my protein and about 30 grams of fat before my workout and then my three shakes as per book and then back load after the workout, keeping the fat down. I cannot seem to eat the required amount of calories unless I eat almost 300 grams of protein. I weigh 141 pounds, 5’7′ and a BF of about 17%.

    How do I eat enough as a woman who back loads without eating to much fat or too many carbs that spill over?