(Original post by lylem)
Day 4: Thursday PM: The carb-load
Carb-loading has been intensely studied since the 60's when it was found that depleting
muscle glycogen (with a low-carbohydrate diet and intensive exercise) followed by a high-carb
intake could increase muscle glycogen levels above normal enhancing endurance performance.
Since that time, research has continued looking at issues of type, timing and amounts of
carbohydrate as well as other factors.
As I mentioned before, the original UD took 3 days to carb-load. It started with relatively
reasonable amounts of carbs and increased over the span of 3 days ending in an all you can eat
junk food fest. If anything, this order was backwards: the high GI carbs should come first and
taper down to lower GI carbs. The Bodyopus diet compressed the carb-loading period into 48
hours and was meticulous about the amounts, types and timing of carbohydrate intake. You
started with large amounts of high GI carbohydrates and, over the length of the carb-load, you
switched to smaller amounts of low GI carbs.
The UD2 manages to compress the carb-load into just under 30 hours. Admittedly, we
might achieve slightly higher glycogen levels by extending the carb-load (actually, you'll be doing
just that over Saturday and Sunday) but there is a rapidly reached point of diminishing returns.
Recent research has shown that 100% glycogen repletion (not quite supercompensation) can be
achieved within 24 hours as long as two requirements are met. While you might achieve small
percentile increases in glycogen levels with longer carb-loads, they are out of proportion with the
time and energy invested. Since we only have 7 days, we're going to hit 100% compensation in
24-30 hours and do the rest of the carb-load over the weekend.
So what are the requirements to reach glycogen compensation within 24 hours? The first
is a high intensity workout, as this upregulates glucose transport and enzymes of glycogen
storage and synthesis. The second is sufficient carbohydrate intake. The Thursday high
intensity workout meets the first criteria, as described above. Now we need to talk about the
carb-load itself. The main issues are total intake, type, and timing of carbohydrates. Let's look
Amount of carbohydrate
For the most part, total carbohydrate intake is the key aspect, so let's look at that first.
Assuming full glycogen depletion, which you should have achieved if you followed the
recommendations, somewhere between 12 and 16 g/kg of lean body mass is the magic number
here. That works out to approximately 7-8 grams of carbs/lb of lean body mass for the metric
impaired. A lighter lifter with 70kg (154 lbs) of LBM will be eating 1000-1200 grams of
carbohydrates over this 24 hour span from Thursday night to Friday bedtime. Larger lifters
consume more and lighter lifters consume less.
In addition to all of those carbohydrates, don't forget protein at 1 gram per pound and low
to moderate amounts of dietary fat; meaning about 15% of total calories or about 50 grams or so.
Unsaturated fats such as olive oil seem to give a better carb-up but saturated fats let you eat
more garbage (donuts and pizza anyone?).
Now, if you work out the calories amounts involved, you'll realize that they are extremely
high. Even our lighter lifter might be consuming 4000-4800 calories from carbs alone, with an
additional 600 calories from protein and another 500 or so from fat. That's 5000-6000 calories
and probably double his maintenance calorie requirements. Larger individuals may be consuming
significantly more. You may be asking yourself what keeps him from getting fat. The short
answer, of course, is partitioning. With all of these machinations, we're controlling where all of
those incoming calories are going to go. With full glycogen depletion, the body's first priority is
glycogen repletion, calorie storage in fat cells is purely secondary. As I mentioned two chapters
back, the two workouts further ensure that incoming calories are shuttled primarily to muscle,
leaving less to go to fat stores.
During the Friday period, we also get to take advantage of another neat metabolic trick.
Normally when you're eating lots of carbs, they get used for energy and fat gets stored. However,
when glycogen is depleted, as it will be going into Friday, carbs go to glycogen synthesis first, and
energy production second. This effect lasts for about 24 hours (or until glycogen is restored to
normal levels) before it's gone.
This means that, for short periods, you can actually overeat carbs, and continue using fat
for fuel. Back when people were playing with the Bodyopus diet, I remember folks eating literally
7,000-10,000 calories during the first day of their carb-load and still losing bodyfat. I don't
recommend you start with something that radical but you should see how far you can push up
the calories/carbs today without putting any fat back on. One of the keys to avoiding fat gain
during this day is avoiding a high fat intake. It's not as fun, mind you, but it works better.
Type of carbohydrate
In terms of types of carbohydrates, most research suggests that as long as total amounts
are sufficient, it just doesn't matter much. Sure, if you're looking at short-time periods (6 hours
between twice daily workouts), it matters hugely what types of carbs you eat. In general, you
probably want to start with high glycemic index liquids such as glucose and glucose polymers and
move more towards starches as time passes. But, again, over 24 hours, as long as you meet
total intake requirements, it won't matter as much.
However, people sometimes do notice subjective differences in carb-load quality depending
on the types of carbs eaten. Generally, carb-loads based around large amounts of fructose or
sucrose (which is half fructose) give inferior results. Fructose is used preferentially by the liver
and tends not to be as good at refilling muscle glycogen. Unfortunately, this limits a lot of junk
foods which are either high in sucrose or fructose (usually as high fructose corn syrup). You can
eat some, but don't make them the entirety of your carb-load.
At the same time, small amounts of fructose (perhaps 50 grams over a 24 hour period) or
sucrose (100 grams over a 24 hour period) seem to improve the carb-load. I have personally had
my best (qualitatively) carb-loads eating primarily starches (bagels, milk, pasta) with small
amounts of sucrose (usually some type of sherbet or high sugar cereal). The key is to keep
starches dominant with small to moderate amounts of fructose or sucrose. This should let you
satisfy any nagging cravings you have without ruining the quality of your carb-load.
Timing of carbohydrate intake
The third issue to consider is timing. Bodyopus required dieters to eat every 2 hours; this
included waking up in the middle of the night. For the most part, assuming people got sufficient
total carbohydrates, this didn't seem to have a huge impact on results; whether people woke up in
the middle of the night or not, they got about the same level of glycogen storage. At the same
time, there is a limit to how quickly glycogen can be synthesized and spreading out your
carbohydrate intake over the 24 hour period just makes sense.
So say we have our lifter above, who needs to consume 1000 grams of carbohydrates over
a 24 hour period. There should be time for 2-3 meals after the Thursday workout and at least 6
or 7 more the following Friday. So 8-10 total meals containing 100-150 grams of
carbohydrates/meal would be sufficient. If our lifter wanted to wake up in the middle of the night
to eat, he could increase the number of meals to 12 over a 24 hour period. 75-100 grams of
carbs/meal would be sufficient.
What I personally find works best (since I hate setting an alarm) is to include some type of
liquid with each meal. For example, I might have two large bagels (50 grams of carbs each) with
a protein shake. This usually ensures that I wake up 2-3 hours later to pee at which time I'll
repeat the meal. This wakes me up again 2-3 hours later to pee and I'll eat again. Then it's time
to wake up on Friday and I start my normal eating schedule.
A sample carb-load
So let's look at a sample carb-load. Immediately following the Thursday workout, you
would want to have a post-workout shake containing about 1 g/lb of carbohydrates and 1/3rd as
much protein. For our 150 lb lifter, that's 150 grams of carbs and 50 grams of protein. The carb
sources should be from glucose or glucose polymers with some fructose. Twinlab UltraFuel or
Unipro Carboplex are some examples. Whey protein would be the best choice here since it will
get amino acids into your system the most quickly. It will also increase insulin secretion. If you're
going to creatine load, go ahead and put 5 grams of creatine in this drink.
2 hours later, either repeat the drink or have a normal meal of fairly high carbs (again,
about 1 gram per pound of lean body mass), moderate protein and low fat. If it doesn't interfere
with your bedtime, a third meal (or shake) at bedtime would be effective. As above, if you wake
up to use the bathroom anyhow, you can go ahead and eat again in the middle of the night. If not,
make sure to have a large carb-based breakfast first thing in the morning. Every 2-2.5 hours
during this day (Friday), plan to eat again. By the end of Friday night (or whenever you end your
carb-load), just make sure you've gotten the necessary 12-16 g/kg of carbohydrate.
You should be prepared for some pretty large scale energy and blood glucose swings during
the day. Coming off of low-carbs, most people get really tired and fatigued during carb-loading,
because their blood glucose is swinging up and down wildly (the increased carbs also raise
serotonin which tends to make people drowsy). This might be one reason for you to shift the
entire cycle forward one day, so that the carb-load is on Saturday, where your work performance
may not be compromised.
You don't want to use thermogenics today although small amounts of caffeine may help to
keep you awake. Thermogenics like ephedrine and clen impair insulin sensitivity which will limit
the effectiveness of your carb-load. High doses of caffeine do as well so try to limit it if at all
possible. Finally, make sure and drink lots of water today. Although you should be doing that
every day anyhow, it’s even more critical today. Each gram of glycogen you store stores 3-4
grams of water along with it, so ensuring proper water intake will make sure your muscles are as
full and hydrated as they can be. This will make you stronger for Saturday's power workout for
reasons I've described before. Increased cellular hydration may also be anabolic in its own right.
Other additions today would be creatine loading (20 grams spread out through the day),
which has been shown to increase glycogen storage by 20-25%. In fact, considering how cheap
bulk creatine is, I highly recommend creatine loading during this phase. Even if it doesn't
increase glycogen storage, it will make you stronger for the Saturday workout. One guinea pig
(who used the UD2 to prep for a powerlifting contest) found that carbohydrate + creatine loading
for 1 day made him as strong as just carb-loading for 2 days.
An insulin sensitizer such as alpha lipoic acid (200-600 mg with each meal, which gets
very pricey fast) would be useful here too. Compounds which increase insulin output could
conceivably help as well. Recent research has implicated vinegar in helping with glycogen
storage. Taking a "shot" of it with each carb meal is an extremely cheap (albeit not very tasty)
approach for the natural lifter to try.
For bodybuilders who want something a little stronger, and don't care about the high risk,
injectable insulin can be used along with much higher amounts of carbohydrates to get even
greater glycogen compensation. Humalin R or the new Humalog would be taken 10-15 minutes
before a meal at a dose of 1 IU for every 10 grams of carbs to be consumed. Alternately, one of
the biguanide drugs (a diabetic drug which increases insulin output from the pancreas) could be
used to enhance insulin secretion. Note that they are difficult to predict in terms of their effect on
blood glucose and insulin levels. A fast acting testosterone would also increase glycogen storage
as well as helping your body to re-establish optimal anabolism. Think testosterone suspension at
"Natural" lifters could try to achieve a similar effect with low-dose prohormones taken
frequently throughout the day to achieve a similar effect. Men should use one of the diols at 200-
300 mg taken every three hours during the day, women the diones at maybe 100 mg every three
hours during the day. One of the topical prohormones might be workable although they tend to
take longer to achieve steady blood concentrations.
To be honest, if you get enough carbohydrates in within 24 hours, most of the above seems
to be fairly irrelevant. I've had testers carb-up with and without insulin, vinegar, creatine and the
rest and none of it seems to impact on glycogen compensation to a great degree. Getting the
necessary carbs (12-16 g/kg lean body mass) is the most crucial aspect.
Finally, no workout today. If you worked out hard enough last night, you shouldn't want to
train anyhow. Don't be surprised if you're sore from the intensity workout from yesterday. Just
rest and eat. And eat. And eat. And enjoy the looks people give you when you tell them that
you're eating Captain Crunch on your diet.