Kiefer Q&A: The Carb Nite Solution For Women

In response to a line of questioning we’ve been getting a lot from you lately, here’s a Q&A segment with Kiefer addressing some common problems women run into within the first few months of starting The Carb Nite Solution:

After my first ten-day cycle of the diet, I lost a significant amount of weight. Since then, I’ve had two or three carb nites. When I weigh myself afterward, I’ll have gained three pounds or so. The problem is that I don’t take that weight off until right before my next carb nite—after a whole week with no carbs—and then I just put those same 2-3 pounds back on again afterward. I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel lately. Why is this happening?

Unfortunately, the first thing this would indicate to me is that there’s something wrong from a metabolic standpoint. Usually, when this happens to women, there’s something going on with either their sleep or stress cycles. We also have to keep in mind that this is a totally individual thing, and there can be any number of causative factors. It could be something as simple as loading up on food first thing in the morning, which means you’re essentially loading your calories backward.

When this dead-end happens for three or four weeks in a row, it’s not your period that’s causing the problem. If this happens for just a week or two, that’s usually the reason. Men are less susceptible to these kinds of stress-related stall-outs, because they’ll burn more fat when their stress hormones are increased. Women don’t, so when they’re under stress, they can gain weight.

If this starts happening to you, you need to focus on keeping your carb nites limited, and they have to be a lot cleaner.

What do you mean by “cleaner”?

One big mistake women make is taking an “anything goes” approach to carb nites. It’s possible for men to get away with this, but for women, foods like Oreos are a no-go. They have a really high amount of fat—particularly trans fats—to go along with a lot of sugar. This is not a good combination for women, nor is having a whole pizza every carb nite.

You’re better off going with something sweet and tasty that’s also low-fat. For example, if people like it, I recommend a low-fat scone and a fat-free latte. This will give you a big sugar spike, it still tastes great, and your foods that night—when you’re including fats—will be more natural. This is why I’m always recommending cherry turnovers. They’re not super-high fat, but they contain tons of carbs and tons of flour. The idea here is to stay higher protein on your carb nites while restricting fat—especially junk fat.

What about the volume of food I’m eating on my carb nites?

cheesepizzaWhen carb nites go wrong, it can literally be due to a volume problem. My theory is that this happens to women who start their carb nites with milk, cheese, or some other kind of dairy product—or they have dairy early on. If women have a pizza as their first meal, they’ll put down the whole thing, and then they’ll eat through the rest of the night, which I find amazing.

What’s really interesting about this is that I’ve worked with some clients who’ve been avid marijuana smokers. During the week—and all the time, actually—they were fine as long as they just smoked and went to bed. If they didn’t eat anything, they didn’t have any hunger problems. If they smoked and had anything to eat after that, though, they couldn’t stop eating. It didn’t matter whether what they ate contained carbs or not. They simply couldn’t stop.

What’s fascinating about this is that dairy has chemicals in it that are cannabinoid. These chemicals stimulate the same receptors in the brain that pot does. So, what I’ve noticed about people who have ice cream and pizza early in a carb nite is that they’ll eat all night long after that, whereas someone who starts with pasta will be full after that first meal. I intend to explore this further in a future article.

Okay, but I’m doing my carb nites exactly as you’ve outlined them in the book. They’re totally clean. What else could be causing this?

Most women don’t, can’t, or won’t eat enough fat during the day. If this is the case, you’re screwing yourself up and basically causing an insulin response—or enough of a glucagon response that your body won’t stay in a fat burning mode, and you’ll continue to gain.

This is a big problem I always run into when I work with someone on contest prep for the first time. Usually, their first meal consists of eggs cooked with Pam spray—which is kind of fatty, but not fatty enough. Then there’s lunch, which is a chicken breast, or extra lean ham, or lean roast beef, with a salad and a little bit of olive oil and vinegar. This won’t work. You have to get ample fats, even if this means having a cup of coffee with two tablespoons of coconut oil with every meal.

What if my period is causing this?

Usually, when your period is the culprit, you won’t even lose the weight you’re talking about during the week. Your period makes it much harder to get that water weight off, and you end up looking and feeling bloated.

nomotivationI think this is all based on estrogen, and the water your body’s trying to hold. Your body is gearing up to have a second life in it. It’s storing more fluids and minerals to prepare both for a child and for more stressful emergency situations. There may even be some fat storage in some cases—although from working with figure competitors, this doesn’t necessarily have to happen, because they’re usually right back on track the following week.

I’ll use Caroline Gick as an example here. Every time I get a call from her saying she’s had a horrible week, and that things are off, it usually turns out that her period is coming up. This happens every month, obviously, and it’s sort of funny, because it always surprises her that this throws her off. This is just a fact of life that you have to deal with, and combating it isn’t worth the effort. You’d have to intentionally dehydrate yourself, and there’s no reason to do that, because your body will eventually shed that water.

What if I’m dieting to get ready for something important, like my wedding, and my period is scheduled to arrive at the worst possible time?

That’s when you’re going to have to do something to compensate. Caroline is having that problem right now. Her period is scheduled to hit right around the day of her show. I’ve laid this out in a few articles previously, but the idea is to drink a bunch of water, then cut your water off before your event. You’ll want, then, to have a small meal of fatty meat, plus some really dry carbohydrates and some alcohol. This combination usually gets most of the water weight off in emergency situations. 

  • Mladen Stoychev

    Really useful, thank you, Kiefer.
    What do you reckon, will consistency pay, eventually, off, even with some “imperfections” in the diet?

  • Anne

    Great Article, Thank You Kiefer.

    When you say that women need to eat more fat, are your suggesting more than your recommendation of .5-1gram of fat per gram of protein?

  • Rosa

    Does calorie restriction benefit a woman trying to lose weight quickly on Carb Nite?? I’m currently 136 lbs, with a goal of 125 lbs.

    • Terry Robinson

      Short term yes, middle to long term no. It will backfire on you.

    • Dock Holliday

      Slowly the fat comes off, the longer it stays off.

  • Jennifer Coulter

    Interesting. I was one of those gain 2-3lbs on carb nite and not lose it all until right before the next carb nite. It stressed me out and as the cycle kept repeating the stress increased. I did switch my carb nite intakes, tried out totally clean ones just like Caroline’s, or ones that were just sushi rice, marshmallows, and tapioca pudding. I started suffering from symptoms of my adrenal fatigue so I’m taking a CNS break.

    I will say I’m already fairly lean and was just needing to shed that last bit of stubborn fat for competition, being at 127 and only needing to lose a few lbs is a struggle no matter what “diet” method I use. I hadn’t considered increasing fat that much since I kept reading that the fat recommendation was .5/1 ratio calorie wise not gram wise, if it’s gram wise that would make more sense, a clarification on that I think would be helpful.

    • Mike

      1g of protein per desired body lb and half a gram of fat per desired body lb.

  • amirzulkafli

    great share! Women sometimes are too worry about what bodybuilding will do their figures. Scared of being bulky and such. What nonsense! Actually from my experience carb Backloading works well for fat loss too. Read about Carb Backloading in-depth here. Carb Backloading Info

  • Damon Amato

    useful tips here.

  • frustrated

    The comment about being on your period caught my attention. I’ve been attempting CNS the last 5 weeks and have only seen a gain in weight (about 6 pounds). I have an abnormal hormone which causes irregular periods… specifically lately that I’m always on it (and have been for the last 3 months..). My bloating has gone down over the last 2 weeks as I’ve been monitoring my salt intake BUT I’m not really seeing any significant results. Are there other things I can do (keeping the period issue in mind) to jump start things?

    I do cardio for 30 minutes and strength training at least 4 times a week, keep a paleo/gluten free diet (and keep gluten-free on CN). Starting to get frustrated though..

    • gorana

      I have a similar problem – I am estrogen dominant i.e. I have very low progesterone and this makes losing weight difficult. ..

    • jgold

      Agree! I am not finding much scientific or helpful suggestions anywhere about what to do about regulating the menstrual cycle.

  • Bridgette Salcido

    I have hashimoto’s thyroiditis and can only seem to get out of the vicious cycle of loosing and regaining the same 2-3 pounds by lifting normally and doing hit about 4 times a week (usually I do this on an erg for 1 minute “sprints” followed by 2 minutes rest, repeating 6 times) and counting my macronutrients ensuring I don’t eat more than a gram of protein per pound of my desired weight and half of that is the amount of fat in grams I consume. My carb nites have to be very clean and I usually have to drink coffee to stay awake due to the lack of fat in my meals. Even after doing all of this for a couple of months at a time, I still seem to plateau. I’m not still loosing the same 2-3 pounds over and over again because I have dropped weight but, I can never seem to get leaner beyond a certain point. Do I just need to give it more time? When do I adjust the quantity of macronutrients I consume to reflect a new goal weight? Also, you mention in the beginning of this article that the fix for a poor metabolism could be as simple as loading up on breakfast, do you recommend doing that as soon as you wake up with a cup of coffee or is it best to still wait a couple of hours after drinking the first cup of coffee and then “load calories backwards” with a big meal two or three hours later? Lastly, can you elaborate on how problems with sleep/stress cycles effect metabolism and share some insight on what can be done about it? Thanks for all your hard work and information!

  • Chad

    I started carb nite on 03/14/2013, and have been ridiculously strict the whole time. I don’t cheat throughout the week and meticulously count carbs on the diet. I am a 32 year old male, and just had blood work done to see if I have a metabolism issue, because I am starting to gain weight instead of lose. I lost about 4 lbs on the orientation period, and started dropping about a 1lb or 2 for the first 4 weeks, but now have started to gain. My cholesterol from my blood work was high, and the doctor told me I had low testosterone. My thyroid was actually on the better side of things, but I am worried that issues with low testosterone are causing a hormonal issue. I do eat a lot of carbs on carb nite and junk, but I thought that’s the point. What is going wrong? For instance today started with, 3 eggs in butter, a little later, sausage and green peppers with almonds. For dinner chicken wings and a small serving of asparagus. Maybe I’m not eating enough, but I am kind of gun shy now that my doctor told me my cholesterol was high (total 258). I will fix this, but just don’t know how. Oh and I have splurged a couple weekends and drank some low carb beer (michelob ultra) like 6-7 in a sitting. If it is the booze, I will cut it, or need to eat more, or whatever let me know, open for any suggestions.

    • Terry Robinson

      Looks like you need to eat more. Your for instance day looks like an old fashion diet. Forget all that old fashion stuff, they were wrong on more than they were right. Eat more.

    • Dock Holliday

      Personally I found when I eat as little as you do, all my shit stalls out. Mentally it was hard to eat more because I always equated dieting to massive caloric restrictions.

      Also, cholesterol is not the enemy. Inflammation of the artery walls is the enemy as this causes the cholesterol to accumulate instead of flowing freely through the pipes. Inflammation of artery walls is caused by shit diet.

  • Thomas Fox

    Great info… I would love to see a how to bust through a CNS stall for guys.

  • Carol

    Not to be a downer, but “there can be any number of causative factors.” Can you do an article on more of those causative factors, because I really can’t take that statement at face value. Does nothing to help.

  • Ashleigh Gardiner

    This is great, love the new site, keep the awesome articles coming!

  • stelbel

    Trying to find part 2 of bio jacked radio #20 was listening on sound cloud and it defaulted to a different show, not part 2, just when you were getting into womens metabolism. Also the bio jacked radio podcast only give me a limited selection. What am I doing wrong. Where can I listen consistently to your radio podcasts?

  • Carol

    what I your blood sugar drops? Do you eat carbs.

  • Classic red

    In a 54 year old woman and im through the menopause Started carbnite on a wednesday 16th october the first three days I was ecstatic I was losing 1lb a day.then nothing for two days and now weight gain!!! so at day 7 my total weight lose is 1ib this a huge disappointment and my carbnite is due in 4days time I am so worried about the weight gain I may have by then . Does anyone have any advise for me .

    • Dock Holliday

      Keep working hard and stop using a scale. Do resistant training (weights or body weight) regularly. Fasted walk first thing in the morning. This works for me.
      You lose weight so fast on carb nite due to cutting carbs and hence all your water weight goes. Losing fat – real fat- is a slow process. The fact you’re weighing yourself everyday and seeing fluctuations is proof that you’re not measuring true fat/muscle mass but rather fluid differences in your body. Fluid retention is due to salts, carbs, hormones amongst other things. Buy some fat calipers off ebay and every Sunday morning do an 11 point pinch test. Monitor your % body fat rather than just weighing yourself for a while. Scales can demotivate. Use the mirror, how clothes fit and your measurements (thigh, butt, stomach, arms etc) to track progress for a month.

  • solutionseeker

    I’m starting carb nite right now and I’m having trouble keeping the protein down to 1g per body weight. I eat a lot because I do WAY too much cardio, which I am stopping for at least these first ten days. Then I will do cardio 1x per week after a carb night. But will my appetite and protein needs decrease as I go along, here? I am FINE with 20-30 carbs per day. I’ve stopped soy, aritificial sweetners, and cardio. I’m going to do the plan EXACTLY as outlined, other than keeping protein down is hard right now but I’m working on.
    I am trying to eat just protein for my first meal, fatty ones. Then maybe that will satiate me and kick it into appetite control the rest of the day? I take heavy whipping cream and coconut oil in my coffee, so the fat-protein ratio is about the same (I know, I know..ha. working on it)
    Other than taking out the intensive cardio, any other suggestions to try to keep the protein down?

  • Lee F

    Just had my first carb nite on Sunday. Need some advice on how much I should be consuming. I am a PT and female BB, who is close to 50, I train 5 days a week, resistance training with my male BB partner, I reserve 1 day for fun outdoor activities like mountain biking, kayaking, SUP, skiing, stuff like that and I have one rest day, still spent on my feet but not in the gym or in sports. I like low carb and I love the carb nite and I know I just started (CNS), not low carb in general- but I seem to have a lot of trouble loosing body fat and getting as lean as I’d like to be. Last low carb cycle I did I managed to drop some fat but it didn’t stay off long, so now I am back at it again!
    I have a big apatite, I have no problem consuming 120g of P a day, should I match that with fat too?

    When I only eat 60g. Fat, I feel hungry and I can feel my stress hormone levels rising. Just can’t seem to find the right macroN. formula to drop some fat without stressing my body out to the extream. Too little food and I have no energy to train myself and too much and I pack on the fat. I am in great shape for my age and I am going thru a lot of hormonal changes too but I still want to move to the next level.

    • Alma Esparza

      Did you find an answer to your answer?Im going through Carb Nite Solution and cant keep my energy level up and moods. Trying to get some balance to keep on track. I am losing weight but cant do much more.

  • Marian Clough

    How many grams of carbs should we have on carb nite?

  • Sadie

    Would you suggest Carb Nite or CBL safe for women who are breastfeeding? Our son is 3 months old and my husband is doing CBL. At first, I wasn’t sure about having caffeine in the morning, so I slowly started to consume caffeine in small doses. I believe our son is used to the caffeine now. Do you think I should consider one or the other? I am a group fitness instructor, so I do workout frequently, however I know that I need a considerable amount of calories while breastfeeding.

  • Martin Cline

    I have lost 10lb in 5 weeks. I am still trying to get a handle on carb nite

  • Martin Cline

    How many ounces of fat should I consume and protein

  • hsorenby

    Ok, I’ve started without reading the whole book yet (though I’m getting through it pretty quickly) and not only do I believe i hit about 100 g of net carbs on my first three days but I did cardio on one of those days. I therefore have no idea where I am in the carb emptying phase and I’m experiencing pretty bad headaches and I noticed today my urine smells like FRUITY PEBBLES! I’m on day three but since I’ve started ketosis, should I just wait three more days before my first carb nite? Or should I go the whole ten days before my first carb nite? I’ve been overweight for so long, and I used to be in very good shape due to military service so I don’t want to screw this up because it means so much to me to fit into my nice clothes again…

    • kingdavid

      I have noticed this as well.
      I have to start tracking.
      I just worked out. ate my carbs, drank some whey. went pee maybe 45 minutes after eating carbs. smelled like Sugar Crisp cereal.
      I have read that low car, high fat high protein diets can cause a “fruity” smelling pee. So is this a sign of fat being converted into glucose? is this unhealthy have glucose in my urine? isn’t that a sign of diabetes?

    • Doug

      I assume you’ve already figured out the answer to this if you’re still trying CNS, but a couple high intensity cardio sessions and/or weight training sessions the first few days of reorientation will for the most part deplete your glycogen stores. After that, your hormones will start to adapt to a fat burning metabolism, which can take several days. To be on the safe side, I think most people should go the full 10 days of reorientation to see the maximum effects. I only went 6 or 7, but I’m also a person who lost 100 pounds with straight low carb before learning about CNS and CBL. I know my body takes strongly to this style of dieting, but everyone is different. Also, CHUG the water every day and that can help with headaches. Low carb is a natural diuretic and can leave some people dehydrated easily, which can lead to headaches.

  • Gym&Run

    Just FYI – when a woman has her period or right beforehand, her body is not “gearing up to have a second life in it” nor “storing more fluids and minerals to prepare …for a child”… this is when her body sheds the lining of the uterus and gets rid of the unfertilised egg because it recognises that she has NOT conceived during that cycle. Basic biology!

    • Rebecca

      Ha, as I was reading, I was thinking the same thing…

  • Akab

    I started the diet on Monday. Worked out on Wednesday and felt very week. Is there any pointers on how to fuel before a workout on the 30grams of carbs a day? And without using up all 30gms to fuel my workout?

    • Becky

      I don’t know exactly what your workouts consist of, but you shouldn’t do intense cardio, per the book. Some lifting is ok or some walking is ok. But according to Kiefer, you risk losing muscle mass if you do cardio that is too intense, like running.

  • Melissa Hazelton

    I lost about 6 lbs give or take during the orientation period. I have since then had 3 carb nites and have yet to see weight loss. I am female and trying to lose about 10-15 more lbs of fat or so. should i try to cut out the cardio?

  • Ig

    Cherry turnovers? I only see them at supermarkets, but there is no nutritional content label. Which cherry turnovers do you have in mind, Kiefer?

  • Derision

    I actually had the same experience as some people on here who lost and gained the same three pounds after every Carb nite.
    I tried everything. At 6’3″ 288 lbs. I was 75% LBM. And nothing changed.
    I thought Carb nite was crap. Then I checked my metabolic health which I found out, via testing, was completely out of whack.

    Since then I got everything fixed on the metabolic end.
    I’m back on Carb nite. I’ve lost 10 lbs. And after the first Carb nite, I woke up tight and dry and lost 1 lbs.
    This thing works, but only if metabolism and hormones are in check.