Today, I’m bringing you a short interview with Scott Paltos, owner and operator of PUMP Crossfit & Performance in East Hanover, NJ. Scott has a great background in sports ranging from baseball to powerlifting. He’s worked as a Strength & Conditioning coach for over a decade and as of late, he’s become a top-level CrossFit Games competitor. This interview focuses mostly on Scott’s experiences with Carb Back-Loading where he works with John Kiefer (the author of the book) in creating custom plans so he can perform better as a Crossfit athlete. To download a copy of the book click here. (using this link supports this site and gets you into the Q&A sessions where we dial in some of the concepts in the book)
Paul (Eat To Perform): So tell us; how did you meet Kiefer, and why did you think Carb Back-Loading would be a good fit for you as a CrossFitter?
Scott Paltos: You have to understand, I come from a true strength background. So a lot of my online reading was with EliteFTS, T-Nation, and other more performance-related sites. I read a little about Kiefer, and was kind of floored by his approach. My whole performance career was based on small meals, frequency, balance, etc. So when this guy came out with CBL, I had to reach out. I reached out, and reached out, and reached out. He responded after me being a pest for a little. We spoke on the phone for a while. We clicked with what we were looking to do (to raise my performance)…and bam, we are going into our third year. Kiefer is a SMART dude, as well as a good friend.
As far as me thinking CBL would be good…it was not my first reason. I wanted to get leaner and keep strength. We not only did that, but also improved a good deal of my performance with it. Since Kiefer and I started, we have done some form of CBL or CN. Yes, we adjust me personally, but I think that is because I like ice cream and turnovers too much. Haha!!!! Remember CBL is not based on some theory; it is science, and Kiefer proves that in his protocol (this is Paul, and highly referenced scientific principles, you could spend a year reading the research Kiefer devoured to put this book out).
Paul: I feel like your experience is different than mine. When I first heard about CBL, I was just coming off of a year of Leangains, which leaned me out, but killed my performance in the gym. Since then, I’ve taken CBL and added 15 pounds of muscle. I suspect that building mass wasn’t a big priority for you considering your background. Can you shed some light on what you’d hoped for, and ultimately what you gained from CBL?
Scott: Listen, I am not as lean as I should be, and I don’t always perform like I can. That’s sport…well the first part, is because I eat too much. Like I mentioned above, I needed to get leaner. Strength in the sport of CrossFit, for me, is not an issue. I don’t really need to pull 600 for reps anymore…I don’t need to bench 500, but what I needed was a way to manipulate energy systems. CBL has helped me create a better environment for my body to burn fat. It has also helped me recover better. Look, in this sport I am NO spring chicken. My 36th birthday is in a few weeks. I need that assistance. Pure volume alone, it takes its toll on me. Now, I can’t reverse the aging process, but I can help make sure it doesn’t get bad too fast. With Kiefer, we have been able to do that.
Carb Back Loading is the only book we promote on this site and on the Facebook page because I think it’s the ultimate performance way of eating. People always ask me, is it really worth the $53? Meanwhile they walked into the gym with $109 Nanos, carrying $139 Olympic lifting shoes and $47 custom jump rope. From an athletic progress standpoint I think it’s patentedly ridiculous that people would spend that much money on gear and then balk at the price of this book. Thoughts?
I agree 100%
Paul: I am not a huge diet guy. I don’t count calories, but I tend to have a pretty good idea where I’m at most days as far as how much I expend and consume. I don’t consider CBL a diet; I consider it a strategy to integrate into my lifestyle, because (from my experience) a strategy as it relates to carbs is favorable related to metabolism and athletic progress. What are your thoughts?
Scott: Great point!!!! It’s a lifestyle for performance. Do I recommend my PUMPsters to do CBL or CN…Hell yeah. But I also will cycle their lifestyle off of it for a periods of time too. You are manipulating hormones, metabolism, and chemically stimulating yourself with CBL. It’s not just a ho-dunk methodology….BUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTTTT, you need to train correctly as well. That whole concept sometimes gets lost. Intensity is something that most CrossFitters are not missing, but knowing when and how much is key. Let’s just say I am not always a fan of how some CrossFitters train, or think what they are doing is right. The two (nutrition AND programming) have to coincide synergistically.
And the “D” word, diet…I have been on a diet since I was 12 years old and had to make weight for junior football. Then I was on a diet to get bigger for football, then on a diet to get smaller, bigger….It is a horrible word. I like “Lifestyle” or like you mentioned, “Strategy”.
Paul: This is my last question, so I’d like to thank you for taking the time to do this Scott. In the book, Kiefer is openly critical of CrossFit and paleo. Many CrossFitters prefer to eat in a paleo style (which I believe is very realistic in combination with CBL and have written many articles on this very topic). I read Kiefer’s jabs at CrossFit like this: “Carb Back-Loading isn’t the ideal nutrition protocol for CrossFit.” It might not be the perfect fit for soccer either. With that said, it is BY FAR the best alternative I have come upon (aside from having your own personal Kiefer design a diet specifically for you like you did). How would you describe his criticism, and how did you reconcile that once you started working with him? Also, do you follow a mostly paleo approach to CBL, or are your energy needs just so high that it’s almost impossible?
Scott: This is a good one. One: Kiefer’s issues with CrossFit, from my view, is more of improper coaching, methodology of programming, and overall safety. Guess what: those are my issues with it as well. So he and I are not far from it. My gym, “PUMP CrossFit & Performance” in East Hanover, is a TRAINING FACILITY…not just a CrossFit. A lot of people have seen, I do not program typical WODs from mainsite. Not to say, that they are bad, they are just not for me or my PUMPsters. Kiefer has caught slack, and really could not care less, for being critical of CrossFit. The funny thing is, it’s not a rant he or I will go on. It is strictly based on things that are seen and overviewed. I believe a good deal of coaches in CrossFit feel entitled. Just like a good deal of MMA coaches feel entitled. “Well we are certified, so we can teach.” SHIT, that is not it. It takes years to become a great blacksmith or iron worker…What, it only takes a weekend or a few months to become a great coach or trainer? No F’ing way…it takes time. It takes the ability to work with people. It takes effort and hours to work with groups. Kiefer and I are on the same page. You cannot just get a piece of paper and consider yourself an expert. Do I know about Kiefer’s methodology, yes. Do I preach it scientifically like he does? Hell no. There are good coaches out there, the individual needs to search for them. Just because CrossFit is in the name, doesn’t mean it’s going to be right.
Sorry, I got off target. Back on now…Paleo…great in theory, but not for me. I have done CBL in a paleo mindset, I have done strict Paleo, I have done adjusted Paleo…Whatever, I have not had personal success for it in long periods. I followed it for a while; my joints hurt more, my body recovered less…and that’s when I was in my off-season and training volume was low. Kiefer adjusts me when I need it, but I have a pretty good grasp on when we will make changes. If you really look at Paleo, most of the CBL meals, if done right are similar. So there are some similarities. As far as my energy levels? I am hyped up all day long. Whether it’s the caffeine, or just me, I am usually pretty animated. Around competition time there is a definite need for more intake, but I am getting better and not over regulating. Again, my main focus right now is the season, staying healthy, and just having a good time.
I appreciate the opportunity to be in front of everybody with this, and I am always welcome to answer questions or chat. Please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me. I do my best to answer stuff if they are general, but if it gets to the “I need to know” then I usually do ask for it to become a consultation. Oh, and as far as the other question you asked. “If I know any other CBL followers?” Hell yeah…but they don’t call it CBL. They just call it paleo with refeeds and paleo with “anything I can eat at night”. Haha. CrossFit followers who watch some of the personal videos of others, or read blogs from athletes, should understand what I am talking about. There are a good deal of TOP athletes who follow a similar if not exact system of CBL. They just don’t say it. Good Stuff….good luck to all in the Open.
PUMP CrossFit & Performance