Author Archive | eattoperform

“Meet the Girls” Infographic

This image provided by East Dallas Crossfit
“The Girls” workouts are something all of us are familiar with.  This graphic shows the men’s Rx weight.  For the women’s Rx weight, you would multiply by .68.  If you are looking for the newest Reebok gear to help you in your WOD’s, click the link below to support this site.

Our hidden gem, Janelle Deeds


This is a comment from Janelle talking to someone in the forums.  She has a lot of experience working with people on a one to one basis and along with myself and James we monitor “the groups”.  The groups are set in the Science Lab for people’s specific goals.  This is actually the topic Mike will be doing his update on this month in Met Flex for Fat Loss.  (Also Janelle’s profile is in that link) She is a rock star in the forums and does a great job working people through their hurdles.

This is Janelle

I cannot stress highly enough the ‘gradually awesome approach’ here! Resetting the metabolism and keeping it healthy is very important.

Key points to keep things reigned in:

  1. Know where you are now. You have to know what your intake is and what changes if you want to know what is working and what is not. That means a little tracking up front. Don’t go crazy but know.
  2. Make the changes regular. Meaning, don’t add in 3 different carb sources all in one day and then if you feel lousy, you don’t know which one you might have had a reaction to. Start with one thing and use it for 3 days, then add something else.
  3. Don’t wait until you are freaked out to dial it back a little. Being up 3-5 lbs is re-feeding, don’t wait until you are up so far that you can’t make a course correction without getting down on yourself. Listen to your body, make some tweaks, ask for help (that’s what we are here for).
  4. Sometimes you need to rest. Yes, we are here to Eat To Perform. But your body just might need a short reset. Take a de-load week or even some real rest days. Take care of yourself! Your body will like it.  (this is Paul, if the Omegawave app has taught me anything it’s that more rest is actually better for performance, there isn’t just one way to Eat To Perform)

Strength Tip from Julia: Breathing at Low Repetitions

Julia is the coach of our women’s classes and is one of the best strength coaches around.  Gaining and maintaining muscle is one of the cornerstones of Met Flex for Fat Loss.

“If you are doing five reps or less try to hold your breath for each rep. Keep the air/pressure until the rep is complete then reset your position. Treat each rep as an individual single rep. This will allow you to stay tight and maintain your position during the lift (squat, deadlift, clean, overhead press), and by resetting and taking another deep breath for the next rep, you’re positioning yourself to be SET every time.”

Adrenal Fatigue Mistakes

Steve Omegawave


This is a guest post from one of our Science Lab members.  He is sharing his story in hopes that someone can benefit from his mistakes.  If you think you aren’t susceptible to this you are probably wrong.  In Met Flex for Fat Loss (our book that gets updated monthly) a big theme is to fuel your workouts, specifically fueling them with carbohydrates.  Another big theme is rest.  The app is Omegawave, it is an HRV monitor that allows you to check various metrics to keep you working out at your peak.

Here is Steve’s story:

I started training like a madman at the age of 12 years old after a dude I worshipped told me I had man tits.  I was crushed.  I vowed to do whatever it took to become a beast.    At the time I listened to a band called Molly Hatchet.   (Remember them?)   They had the coolest album covers of gigantic warriors.    That’s what I wanted to look like.   So I set up shop in my basement and followed the body building routines in all the mags.    I’d work out for hours;   The problem was I wasn’t blessed with lean man genes.    I was dang strong, but I couldn’t figure out how to get lean.

In steps my buddy’s uncle:  Ken Waller.   Some of you may remember him from “Pumping Iron.”    He said the trick was to cut carbs out, so I did…And I got really freaking lean.   I remember passing out at the pool one day because I hadn’t eaten one gram of carbohydrate.     But I was lean!

That was the start of my battle against looking ripped vs. feeling good.    To this day, I think I’d rather be ripped and feel like dog turds, but that’s another story.     For years, it was a constant battle of training for hours and not eating carbs (other than the crazy binges I’d go on).      Consuming 2 large pizzas in one sitting was nothing for me.    My weight would go up and down every few months.  To counter the weight gain I’d just train longer and harder; the problem was fatigue got in the way.   At the time, I’d tell myself I was being weak and I’d just keep grinding away.   Type A personalities are good at that.

In about 1992 I found the holy grail.   Ephedra!!   For any of you who haven’t taken this stuff, it’s like crack!    Now I was in business!    I could train all day and not be hungry!

Fast forward to 2000.    After years of training and eating this way, the wheels fell off the bus.   I literally couldn’t get out of bed and I gained 75 lbs. of fat in 6 months.  175 up to 250!      I’ve been on a quest to find “the answer” ever since.    Deep down, I knew it was my diet because every time I binged on pizza I felt great for about 3 days.     God forbid I keep eating carbs though, because I didn’t want to get fat.     Oh wait, I did get fat.    Oh well, back to the no carb diet and training like crazy again.    This cycle has continued, until about 2 months ago when I found ETP.

I decided nothing else was working and started eating carbs every day.    I gained about 10 lbs. quickly but felt sooooo much better.    In the process, I met Mike T Nelson.   He looked at my training logs and had me start monitoring myself with the ithlete and OmegaWave software.    He knew I was severely overtraining by looking at my logs, but I needed proof.    The software doesn’t lie.    As you can see from my measurement, I’m fried…And that was after two weeks of doing nothing!

What’s the point?    

Too many of us are chasing after the “lean, hard” look we see in magazines at the expense of eating to perform and feeling good.    The problem is most of the folks we see in magazines that look like Greek gods and goddesses are juicing.    And BTW, I did that too.    When people look like that and tell me they are clean I’m like yea right.    Whatever.    Been there done that.

What’s the answer?

Put the carbs back in, cycle your calories up and down, train and sleep hard and I believe you can maintain YOUR ultimate body year round.   I’m stuck on the sidelines for now, recuperating.    But, with some rest and proper eating, I’ll come back stronger and better than ever.

Hope this helps those of you who are battling the same demons.    Everyone has their own perfect body.   Go find it.

Met Flex Tip 5: Evil Carbs and Performance

sweet potato

We recently introduced Private Forums to go along with our webinars we do four times a week.  Both of which give you the opportunity to walk through your changes using the info you get when you buy Met Flex for Fat Loss.

It seems that many people are afraid of carbs.  The media has convinced them that they are bad.  I disagree.  Remember that the media once said all fats were bad too, so are eggs, milk, etc.  Bah!

Carbs are the preferred fuel source for high intensity exercise.  It is a bioengertic fact that you can NOT produce the same levels of power by only using fat as an energy source.   This is in every basic exercise physiology textbook.

I am a big fan of having some carbs before training if at all possible.  I know some lift in the AM fasted as it is impossible to get anything down beforehand, and that is fine.    If you have time though, take in some starchy carbs before your training session, starting at around 50 grams.     Good choices are sweet potatoes, bananas or prepackaged carb sources like Vitargo.

Not only will you have the fuel to use during training, they promote the release of insulin by your body.  Insulin is not the devil it has been portrayed and higher levels of insulin actually push the body to use more carbs. This is exactly what you want to do during training.

If you have not tried this before, please try it first on a non training day or time to see how your body reacts.


Try adding some starchy carbs pretraining if at all possible.  If you are training in the AM fasted, push your carb intake to the night before.     Most people see a nice bump in their performance

Mike T Nelson

Met Flex Tip 4: “Shape Shifting Nutrition”

Lisa Cartwright

We recently introduced Private Forums to go along with our webinars we do four times a week.  Both of which give you the opportunity to walk through your changes using the info you get when you buy Met Flex for Fat Loss.

I may be dating myself here, but one of the coolest movie bad guys was the shape-shifting cyborg sent back in time to kill John Connor in Terminator 2.   He was so scary due to his ability to change and take on almost any form, and he almost beat Arnold!

This concept can be applied to your body too, but with a slight tweak for more fat loss and performance.

When we eat food, our body breaks it down into fuel.  The main fuels are  carbs and fats (protein is generally not used directly for fuel).

We can measure this in the lab with fancy equipment called a metabolic cart that will tell us what “fuel mixture” your body is using at that time via the respiratory exchange ratio (RER).

Both fuels are needed for optimal body composition and performance.   When you are doing high intensity exercise, carbs are the best fuel.    The rest of the day you want to be a fat burning machine, thus your overall RER is low (pushed towards using fats).

Metabolic flexibility is the process of turning your body into a fuel shape-shifter.   Carbs can be used or stored as glycogen for later use during exercise, while fat (both dietary fat and body fat) can be burned at a higher rate the rest of the time.   This way you get the performance you want in the gym, but the body composition you want at the beach.

Mike T Nelson

Danielle Horan, someone you will know very soon

Danielle Horan

Crossfit Games athletes have it most right already.  Danielle smoked the North East Region coming in first and then contacted me afterwards.  Many of you haven’t heard of Danielle but you will.  If Vegas had odds on the Crossfit Games I would have a lot of money on Danielle because she is going to be ready in July and she has all the tools to win the Crossfit Games.  Today we will be rooting on Erica Livett in the Canada West division.  In a very short time our book (Met Flex for Fat Loss) and the seminars and private group have made a big difference for a lot of people.  Let me just caution you though, this is a FAT LOSS group with performance first.  Our women are led by Elisabeth Akinwale, Danielle Horan and Erica Livett.  Work Capacity is our model.  The goal is to be better and Crossfit, eat appropriate amounts to fuel athleticism and let body composition come naturally.

To buy Met Flex for Fat Loss click here

This is a post Danielle put up in the private forums for our members:

Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 8.08.19 AM

For Proteins I have Danielle using Hydrolyzed Whey Isolates (the stuff in Recovery and More Muscle) and Beta Alanine (one of the ingredients in Force).  I am going to be honest with you, this stuff isn’t cheap because it’s really good and works.  That is why we promote Progenex on this site and if you buy clicking this banner you get 10% off.


For carbs Danielle is using Vitargo.  If you click the banner the article goes over the benefits and how to use it.  It is a fast acting and quick absorbing carbohydrate that you drink.

Vitargo Image

Changing Your Relationship with Yourself

CrossFit it just different, plain and simple.  I am convinced that we are adding a significant piece to the puzzle.  You become a Science Lab member free of charge when you buy our book Met Flex for Fat Loss.

These are the comments of a member that has been doing the program for a while talking to a member that just signed up. (I’ve also included her response to me at the end.)

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 6.59.30 AM


This was her response to me when I messaged her asking if I could use her post:

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 7.14.28 AM

Strength Tip from Julia on Deadlift

Marshall Johnson


Julia Ladewski is one of the most respected strength coaches and powerlifters.  She does the Women’s Seminars in the Science Lab which is a free perk you get when you purchase Met Flex for High Intensity Athletes.  Here are the details.

Deadlift – If you are looking for maximal strength and miss off the floor turn your feet out just a bit, drive through your heels and push your knees out to activate the hips and glutes more. This will give you a lot more speed off the ground and allow you to get through that sticking point.

(you can see the feet turned out a hair, but really watch the knees as I pull. The knees push out to get the hips involved. Also notice how my hips don’t pop up first. This allows me to use my hips the entire pull.)

Keeping Fat off while Eating To Perform (Control Days)


I believe this article is the missing ingredient for most people.  I wrote it based on information I was receiving from Science Lab members.  The “Science Lab” has basically three main components: the seminars, the private group, and of course the book you purchase, “Metabolic Flexibility for High Intensity Athletes”.  Click here for details.

I refer to “control days” a lot.  They’re part of developing a flexible, intuitive style of eating, as well as a high-functioning metabolism.  At the most basic level, control days are days where you rely mostly on fats; it’s that simple, yet people tend to over-think the subject quite a bit.

As a 165 lb. male, I have two personal versions of the control day:  A “low carb” day that comes in around 125g of carbs, and another day (which I use very sparingly) where I modify down to 75g of carbs.  The 125g day comes up fairly often, but I might only utilize the 75g day after holiday’s or (as an example) weekends in Vegas.  I have been eating like this for almost three years now, so my body is relatively flexible as it relates to moving from one energy system (fats) to another energy system (carbs).  As someone who CrossFits and stays pretty active, I’m never very concerned about “spillover” or holding too much water due to excess carbohydrate consumption (I actually think the concept of fat spillover one any one given day is a bit silly).  In truth, men have it a little bit easier as far as carb loading goes, but women need to be a bit more cautious.  As an example, my wife’s control days are pretty similar to mine, but she uses 100g of carbs.  It’s not a hard-and-fast rule where we are counting calories, but more of an intuitive approach where the goal is to simply eat less carbs.

For people struggling to meet their protein or carbohydrate needs, check out this article I released on the “Supplements I put in my body”.

How to Schedule Control Days around your Training 

Hopefully, you take a few rest days here and there.  I am talking to way too many people that have active recovery days in an attempt to screw themselves into the ground and lose that last bit of abdominal fat.  Not only is this ineffective, but it’s counter-productive and it puts you at risk for injury.  If you want to get rid of that last bit of fat, there are two ways to do that:  add more rest days (which will add more control days) and start focusing on building/maintaining your muscle.  Allow performance to be the driver and stay away from very low carb, extreme deficit dieting.  It’s a trap!

The logic behind implementing control days goes like this:  When you’re not deliberately trying to gain weight, or if you feel “watery”, you throw in a day where you eat fewer carbs.

Yes, you read that right; to control inflammation, you eat fewer carbs.  It can get a bit confusing, so here’s a primer:

  • If you WOD today, and also WOD tomorrow, eat carbs around your workouts.  You could optionally eat carbs tonight depending upon your goals.  This will ensure that you’re fueled for your workout tomorrow morning.
  • If you did not WOD today, but you do WOD tomorrow, eat some carbs tonight. (Again, this is optional depending on your goals.)  Even though you didn’t train, you may need some carbohydrate to fuel your training the next day.
  • If you WOD today but do not WOD tomorrow, try a control day.  Eat fewer carbs (mostly in the evening) and more fat/protein (throughout the day), as you do not need to fuel strenuous training today nor do you need to prepare for the next day.  This will all go hand-in-hand to help you clear up inflammation.

Here are a few weekly schedules to help clarify the concept.  This first example is for someone who CF’s 3x a week with no back-to-back training days:

  • Sunday:  Rest.  Eat some (*this is optional) carbs in the evening for tomorrow’s WOD.
  • Monday:  WOD.  Eat carbs around your WOD’s since you rest tomorrow (possibly using pre-workout carbs but avoiding post workout carbs).
  • Tuesday:  Rest.  Eat less carbs since you rest tomorrow.
  • Wednesday:  Rest.  Eat some (*this is optional) carbs in the evening for tomorrow’s WOD.
  • Thursday:  WOD.  Eat carbs around your WOD’s since you rest tomorrow (possibly using pre-workout carbs but avoiding post workout carbs).
  • Friday:  Rest.  Eat some (*this is optional) carbs to fuel tomorrow’s WOD.
  • Saturday:  WOD.  Eat carbs around your WOD’s since you rest tomorrow (possibly using pre-workout carbs but avoiding post workout carbs).

Here’s another example; in this case, the hypothetical individual has some back-to-back training days and WODs 4x a week:

  • Sunday:  Rest.  Eat some (*this is optional) carbs in the evening for tomorrow’s WOD.
  • Monday:  WOD.  Eat carbs around your WOD’s since you rest tomorrow (possibly using pre-workout carbs but avoiding post workout carbs).
  • Tuesday:  Rest.  Eat some (*this is optional) carbs in the evening for tomorrow’s WOD.
  • Wednesday:  WOD.  Eat carbs around your WOD’s AND eat some (*optional) carbs in the evening to set up tomorrows WOD.
  • Thursday:  WOD.  Eat carbs around your WOD’s since you rest tomorrow (possibly using pre-workout carbs but avoiding post workout carbs).
  • Friday:  Rest.  Eat some (*this is optional) carbs in the evening for tomorrow’s WOD.
  • Saturday:  WOD.  Eat carbs around your WOD’s since you rest tomorrow (possibly using pre-workout carbs but avoiding post workout carbs).

In this final example, we’re training 3x a week with 2 consecutive rest days.  Fewer training days equate to more control days:

  • Sunday:  Rest.  Eat less carbs.
  • Monday:  Rest.  Eat less carbs.
  • Tuesday:  Rest.  Eat some (*this is optional) carbs in the evening for tomorrow’s WOD.
  • Wednesday:  WOD.  Eat carbs around your WOD’s since you rest tomorrow (possibly using pre-workout carbs but avoiding post workout carbs).
  • Thursday:  Rest.  Eat some (*this is optional) carbs in the evening for tomorrow’s WOD.
  • Friday:  WOD.  Eat carbs around your WOD’s AND eat some (*optional) carbs in the evening to set up tomorrows WOD.
  • Saturday:  WOD.  Eat carbs around your WOD’s since you rest tomorrow (possibly using pre-workout carbs but avoiding post workout carbs).

NOTE:  We go over this a bit in the next section, but the goal of each workout is to be at 100% capacity and that requires you to eat some carbs around your training.  This isn’t always consistent with fat loss goals, so you are always looking for a reasonable compromise to fuel your activity while getting aggressive with fat loss occasionally.  If, as an example, you take all of the situations above with optional carbs and just remove carbs, that is pretty much the same thing that probably landed you at this site in the first place (i.e. your fat loss and weight loss will plateau).  Remember, these are guidelines and templates; it is up to you to find the sweet spot and hammer that as it relates to your goals.

Why you still Need Carbs on Control Days

This is a cyclical approach, and if you can dial it in, basically have the secret to optimal health.  There are no “reefed” days because at no point are we limiting carbohydrates in an extreme manner.  We’re never dropping to 15-30g of carbs.  CrossFitting usually doesn’t require a tremendous amount of carbs, but going very low carb is a recipe for disaster.

If you need a “guide” or a place to start, I suggest that women go with 200g on days you WOD (possibly lower where the next day is a rest day to mobilize some fat) and 100g on control days and/or rest days.  Men can start at 1g/lb. and add 50g.  That’s usually a pretty safe place to start, and then you systematically adjust it to what feels most right.  That is different for each person, but I will caution you:  you should be adjusting up (not down) in most cases.  I talk a lot about how underfeeding affect things like thyroid function (Pimstone).  Artificially lowering your carbohydrate intake will more than likely result in under eating.  Compounded with extreme exercise, this is almost always bad for your health.

My recommendations are not extreme; I prefer to take a moderate approach in both directions.  I believe that relying mostly on fats, most of the time, is the way to go.  However, I rarely prescribe less than 75g of carbohydrate, even for women.  If you think it’s kind of outlandish for me to suggest that athletic people eat 150-200g of carbohydrate on training days, I’d like you to take a look at the FDA’s Daily Values.  You’ve probably seen them before, but please, refresh your memory.  Most of us can agree that 300g of carbohydrate, as a baseline recommendation for a sedentary person, is pretty ridiculous.  To make matters worse, most of the people eating a “Standard American Diet” are sedentary; they’re not at the gym burning up glycogen all day, and they certainly aren’t CrossFitting 5x a week.  There’s a reason it’s abbreviated as S.A.D.; these recommendations have failed the majority of us and that’s why we’re having this conversation.  I hope that clears things up.

Low Carb Does NOT = Low Calorie

The biggest mistake a lot of people make with control days is that they lower their overall intake too dramatically.  This is a surefire way to lower your work capacity and subject yourself to illness as well as stalled fat loss.  When you decrease your carbohydrate intake, you need to make up for the calories with a concomitant increase in fat or protein.  It doesn’t need to equal the same calories each day; control days are good days to “eat less occasionally” and speed up fat loss.  Just  don’t take it to  an extreme where the calories are so low it affects you for days to come.

Here’s how I suggest you approach this:  on control days, eat a bit more protein.  Do not be obsessive about tracking, but keep the amount a lot closer to 1 gram per lb. of body weight.  On higher carb days, I would still like to see you get close to 1g per lb. of body weight.  If you are going to be conservative with calories, subtract them from fat.  Tracking this should take all but 5 minutes of your day; it’s a general rule.  You’re not obsessively counting, you’re just getting yourself in the right ballpark.  To round out my calories, you add in more or less fat.   Somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-50g on your lower carb days should make up the difference.

(Special note to the calorie counter: when we initially wrote this article, we did not expect people to use such extreme amounts of fat.  If you are using the calculator, I suggest women set their fats at 80g-100g and men 125g-150g.  That is based on size.  The goal isn’t to add loads of fat WHILE also adding more carbs to your diet.  Despite what you may have heard, fat can store as fat without the presence of insulin.  Besides, 100g or 125g of fat is still a good amount of fat to remain fat adapted.)

Can you expect your weight to go down or up as you cycle carbs and fats?  Yes, and this is a good thing!  You’ll tend to weigh in lower after the control days, but not by a lot.  Having full muscles is not the same thing as having inflamed muscles.  People on excessively low carbohydrate diets systematically render their cells inflexible as it relates to using carbohydrate as an energy system.  This is why when someone goes on vacation after being relatively low carb for a long time, they gain ten pounds and panic.  While there may be some fat gain, the majority of this extra weight comes from simply rehydrating the cells and replenishing glycogen.

There is no need to excessively restrict calories when you eat in a manner similar to this.  Every now and again, I have days where it just becomes inconvenient to eat.  My energy levels are high so I just roll with it.  Typically this is a rest day.  Once I get hungry, I have a small fat/protein meal, and then that night I have carbs to prepare for the next day’s workout.  Overuse of low carbohydrate diets, or even these “control days”, leads to a form of insulin and leptin resistance, and that is a contributing factor to a repressed hormonal system.  Please, don’t turn control days into a version of the “Eat Less Do Less” diets I often admonish.

Can I Use Control Days on Day That I Work Out?

Training without loading carbs can suck, but if you do it right, you can use these days to deplete glycogen and accelerate fat loss.  I was tempted to say “No.” when I asked myself this hypothetical question but the reality is that on occasion, it is useful.

Here is what I suggest, especially for people new to this with relatively inflexible bodily systems:  on days you WOD without carbs, modify your workouts down and get in some metcon.  For men, do the women’s weight.  Women should drop the weight about 25%.  Remember that without fully replenished glycogen stores, your performance may suffer.  Be cautious and approach the situation with my Eustress Training article in mind.  Get in a good workout and don’t stress yourself out.

Here’s an example of what this could look like:

  • Sunday:  Rest.  Eat fewer carbs.
  • Monday:  WOD.  Potentially modify the workout down so that it’s more of a metcon, loading before your WOD.  Potentially avoid carbs-post workout.
  • Tuesday:  Rest.  Eat some carbs for tomorrow’s WOD (*optional, see above).
  • Wednesday:  WOD.  Potentially modify the workout down so that it’s more of a metcon, loading before your WOD, and potentially avoiding carbs post workout.
  • Thursday:  Rest.  Eat some carbs for tomorrow’s WOD (*optional, see above).
  • Friday:  WOD.  Eat carbs around your WOD’s AND eat some (*optional) carbs in the evening to set up tomorrows WOD.
  • Saturday:  WOD.  Eat less carbs since you rest tomorrow bet load before your workout.

There Are No Big Mistakes

When you are recovering from a repressed endocrine system brought on by chronic underfeeding, seeing the scale going up is frightening.  Sure, it was easy to keep the scale down when you sucked all of the water out of your body and your hormones were broken, but that way of life wasn’t getting you where you wanted to go or you wouldn’t be reading this article.  Think of your body like a lawnmower that’s been sitting in the garage all winter long:  the first few pulls of the cord are tough, and you may need a new spark plug, but it’s not broken.  The next few pulls are easier, and by the end of the summer, all is well.

That is what the “gradually awesome” approach is like; there are no big mistakes.  In short time, you’ll see that the fear of eating carbohydrates (and for a lot of people, appropriate amounts of food) to fuel your athletic performance is unjustified.  Your anxiety was based on limited experience with a new approach to eating that is quite easy to implement, and you can always control whatever minor mistakes you’ve made.  Contrary to what you may have been taught your whole life, it’s really hard to mess up a diet.  As an athlete (and yes, if you CrossFit you are an athlete) you need to take the reins and do some self-experimentation.  In the end, that’s the path to health and an optimal hormonal profile.

Works Cited

Pimstone, Bernard. “Endocrine Function in Protein-Calorie Malnutriton.” Clinical Endocrinology (1976): 83-84.


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