IIFYM vs Carb Backloading

Note: This blog is based purely on my experiences and is NOT an indictment of any eat protocols.

A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of meeting Dain, Alex, and AJ who were all in Oakland for a BodyIO coach conference/ training/ seminar sort of deal. BodyIO is the extension of the previous website Athlete.IO, which was a branch off of, some of you may remember this, DangerouslyHardcore.com run by Kiefer. Kiefer of Carb Backloading and Carb Nite.

Yay for visitors at the Jon Andersen Training Complex!

I followed Kiefer and his diet and training developments pretty closely about 3 years ago. I tried CarbNite to see if I could maintain my weight for Olympic lifting and fuel my recovery for training. That didn’t work so well, because any more than about two days after a load, and I’d be faltering in my training energy level.

I did Carb Backloading for a while, but the planning and coordinating was a little crazy making for me. So you just eat whatever so long as you keep your carb intake under 50g until late in the evening where you eat your cake, donuts, baked goods, lollipops, what have you. While my training definitely felt better fueled, I still felt like I wasn’t really maintaining my weight easily.

All the specialized recipes were part of my crazy making.

Now I’m doing, basically, If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM), with my proportions changing as I move through prep and lean out cycles around competitions. And the funny thing is, Joy specifically mentioned that she wanted me to put the bulk of my carb consumption around and after dinner, since I workout later in the afternoon and in hopes of it helping me sleep better. And I’m leaning out, losing weight, and getting stronger.

So I’m basically carb backloading. Why is this working for me, but previously it wasn’t?

I think the simple answer is: volume. As in overall calories. If I get right down to it, specific volume goals for each of carbs, fat, and protein.

The thing is, once I get used to a style of eating, I can pack it away. Once I know what to eat, have my routine, know where to go that’s “compliant” to whatever scheme I’m following, I can go hog wild without ever knowing it. And many paradigms I’ve followed, from Paleo to Carb Backlaoding, encourage the participants to not count calories and consider they style of eating to be self limited.

And for many, it is. Until it isn’t.

We can get used to so many things.

So for me, I like having a framework to work in. I don’t like leaving things to guesswork and chance, especially when it comes to my training and performance. And Carb Backloading, the way it was sold and taught to me, left too many aspects to chance. And my brain took advantage of it.

It’s true…

This isn’t to say that other people don’t have much better experiences. For some, eating a diet dense in protein and fat WILL limit how much they eat. For some people, they have a better intuitive sense about how much food is an appropriate amount for their body and for their recovery. I personally may have too many latent food issues from being a dancer and then going into weight class sports.

That analysis will have to come another day.

So in conclusion, IIFYM with the bulk of my carbs in the evening, but not ONLY in the evening, keeps me feeling full, happy and sane while trying to train in a deficit.