Author Archive | eattoperform

Cilantro Lime Shrimp “Tacos”

I just returned from a weekend in Kansas City where it was 65 degrees and sunny.  The grass was green and the tulips were up.  I even got a bit of a sunburn during my son’s last soccer game…and now I am back to 30 degrees with a chance of snow again in Minnesota.  Seriously????  Well, I refuse to go back to winter!  I am done making the stews, soups and comfort foods that go hand in hand with snowy days and will be focusing more on grilling, fresh fruits and veggies.  You’ll be amazed at what you can do on your grill.  My goal is to not turn my oven on for the next several months…

This recipe is one of my favorites, especially during the summer because it tastes so fresh!  If you don’t like shrimp, you can replace it with any protein – chicken, beef, fish…even tofu!

shrimp tacos

Cilantro Lime Shrimp “Tacos”


  • 1 pound raw shrimp (deveined, tails removed)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Wooden or metal skewers (optional – it makes it much easier to flip your shrimp)
  • 1 head of bibb lettuce
  • Shannon’s Fruit Salsa
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Lime wedges

Preheat your grill to a medium to medium/high heat.

In a small bowl, combine the juice of one lime, garlic, olive oil and cilantro.  Place the shrimp in a ziplock bag and add the marinade to the shrimp.  Squeeze as much air out of the bag and seal so the shrimp can marinate.  While the shrimp is absorbing all that citrusy goodness, prepare your bibb lettuce leaves (taco shells).  Carefully remove the leaves from the head and rinse.  I usually discard the first couple outer leaves as they can be a little floppy.  You’ll see the crisp leaves are the perfect vessels for your fillings!

Only let the shrimp marinate 10-15 minutes, otherwise they will become ceviche and that is a whole different recipe!  Remove the shrimp from the marinade and place them on skewers being sure to stick the skewer both through the tail and body of the shrimp so they don’t’ fall off.  Grill for 1-2 minutes per side or until the shrimp are nice and pinkish/white with some delicious looking grill marks.

Slide the shrimp off your skewer directly into your lettuce shells, top with fruit salsa, an avocado slice and a squeeze of lime and enjoy!   A margarita pairs perfectly with this meal!

Five ways to adjust for the Paleo Diet


This video is so good and shows EXACTLY why “just eat more” is bad advice.  It will always amaze me that we know our numbers for everything and we ignore numbers for the scale, body fat or whatever else it is.  I get it, knowing what you are doing isn’t working sucks but if you want to get better you need to have data.  That’s why the calculator is so helpful for so many people and that’s why everyone should be a Science Lab member.

Also I did talk John from Simply Pure Nutrients to keep the “free shipping” thing going until tomorrow night.  Click this link for info.’s Barbell Shrugged podcast (You definitely want to check out!) mentioned Eat To Perform in a recent episode.  It’s an extremely entertaining video full of a lot of useful information on adjusting your diet to improve your performance, and it really makes us happy that we’re getting through to people!  You can check out episode #54 “5 Ways to Adjust Paleo for High Volume CrossFit Training” below.  We’ve also provided a short excerpt of the section where they talk about Eat To Perform and “the lightbulb moment”.

Laura:  So I started researching on the internet and I ran across a couple of different blogs that were interesting, like Eat To Perform.  I think that’s Paul Nobles; have y’all heard of him?

Michael:  Nuh uh.

Laura:  He’s one of the guys that does the LeanGains/Carb Back-Loading thing.  I can’t remember the LeanGains guy…John somebody.

Michael:  I remember his name, I remember you were talking about him.

Chris:  There’s like 800 carb loading guys so…

Laura:  I know.  He’s one of the ones that works with a lot of powerlifters.  Anyway, his blog is actually really informative.  It’s called Eat To Perform.  When I started reading about it, I was like, “Ah, Eat To Perform.  I never actually thought of it like that…”  I know Michael told me a thousand times.

Michael:  He wants to like grab you and shake you like a baby.

Laura:  Again, I guess maybe I wasn’t ready to hear it…Maybe I just wasn’t getting in the way you were saying it.

Chris:  Maybe you’re just…A dummie…

Laura:  I know, I’m sorry!

Michael:  I’m a terrible communicator.

Laura:  Doug’s just like, “God I hate you!”

Doug:  I just have this vision of Mike shaking you.


Laura:  Like a ragdoll…But on his blog, he was talking about your metabolic function and how your muscles obviously can’t grow if you’re not eating enough calories.  I was like, “Holy shit!  I might not be eating enough calories!”

Chris:  The mind blown moment.

Laura:  I know right?  And I’m a brunette; I promise I’m not a blonde!  I was like, “Holy shit!” So I started researching metabolic function.  He has this crazy calculator on his website.  It’s like a BMR calculator; it calculates your total number of energy expenditures you give in a day.  I was like, through the roof.  I was like 1,500 calories short of what I should be taking in.

Chris:  That’s a lot to be short by.

Laura:  That’s a lot!

Michael:  And where’s the calculator at?
Laura:  On  It’s just a simple BMR calculator:  height, weight, age, your level of activity.  He does this for CrossFitters; this is a CrossFit thing.

Michael:  Something like that is gonna give you good general information.  It’s a starting point.

Laura:  It’s a starting point.  Exactly.

Chris:  If you’re way off, you’re probably way off.

Laura:  Exactly; 1,500 calories…I mean, that’s quite a bit to be off.

Chris:  That’s a lot.  The standard error around that…You can probably safely assume you could eat more food.

Laura:  Exactly.  I can safely assume I need to be ingesting 2000-2400 calories a day.  I mean, I wake up at 5 a.m., I go all day long at work, then I train.  I have a kid at home.  There’s a lot going on.  I need a lot of calories to keep going, and to keep building muscle.

So anyway, I found that on his blog and I was like, “Well, what the hell.  I’m already feeling like shit, I might as well just give it a shot.  I know Mike and Doug have preached this forever…”

Michael:  Let me give this food a chance!


Laura:  I know!  I texted your wife, and I told her.  She’s like, “How many times have I told you this!?”  I was like, “I’m sorry.”


Laura:  I know, I’m fired as a CrossFitter.

Chris:  But most people listening to this, I can guarantee you.  You are doing something right now…

Laura:  Lightbulbs are going off!

Chris:  That’s super simple to overlook and it’s undermining your performance.  You can fix it easily.  You’ve gotta look at the obvious things.  Don’t look towards radical programming shifts and manipulations.  Don’t look towards fancy supplements.  Until you know you’ve addressed every key thing, it’s right here in front of your face.  It’s so close it’s hard to miss it!

Laura:  But it’s so close you do miss it.

Chris:  “I need a fancy supplement!”  How much do you sleep?  “About two hours a night.”

Michael:  that’s an excellent point.  I think people are quick to take a supplement, because it’s easy.  Changing your lifestyle is NOT easy, so people want the supplement to be the answer.  But more than likely, it’s not the supplement.

Chris:  It’s just you and your screwed up life.

Laura:  I changed just a hair of my supplement…It wasn’t enough to make a big difference.  My diet has completely changed though.  It was like literally 24 hours later; I came in like bouncing in the gym.  Mike was like, “Oh my gosh.  What is wrong with you!?  What’re you on!?

Michael:  I remember.
Chris:  My body works!

Mike:  I wasn’t nearly as excited about it as she was.

Chris:  It’s like when you go through school your whole life, and you’ve been squinting at the board for years and years.  Somebody says, “You should go to the fucking eye doctor dude.”  You can’t see.  You put on glasses and you go, “Oh my god, I can see what leaves look like!  What’s that!?  A word!?”  Your whole life just changes ‘cause you did something obvious to everybody else.

Laura:  The angels come out and play their harps.  The clouds open up.  It’s amazing.  But women don’t think that they need to eat more to feel good.

Doug:  You’re gonna be afraid of getting fat right?

Laura:  YES.  And I’ll tell you this: every single day, I eat twice as much as I was eating.  And it’s a struggle.  I will not lie.  Mentally, I’m like, “OK.  I’m not gonna get fat because I’m eating this!”  It’s funny how you have to reprogram your mind.  I don’t want people to think I’m shoving McDonalds down my throat.  It’s still very clean, Paleo-esque food.

A Day In The Life: April Blackford

I have mentioned this before that April’s approach is how we set up the ladies class.  Starting people off gradually and then moving up to improve performance, adjusting and testing along the way.  There has been a lot of talk about control days and carbohydrate intake, April ingests an average of 185 grams of carbohydrate on her control days.  So maybe what you think you know might be wrong.  For information on how to join the Science Lab click this link.

April’s “gradually awesome” approach in pictures

Some of you may (or may not) remember me from my previous article about my gradual approach to increasing carbs.  That was a while back and yet, let me say, this is still the best thing I have mentally gotten over and consistently stuck with.

This is what a 134-135 lb.-ish, 5’5 & 1/2″ (Yes, I want that 1/2 inch!) female who Eats To Perform looks like:

April Simmons Blackford
My morning started with a cup of coffee, then at around 7:30am a second cup, as well as a big bowl of chocolate protein oatmeal that I had with my creatine monohydrate. I love this oatmeal; it is so warm and filling and really hits the spot!
I headed to the gym, and during my workout I had this yummy berry pomegranate Vitamin Water. I will drink either this or a Gatorade during my WO.  My Saturdays are always my high volume workout days. What’s so high volume about them?  Well, I do deads first, and although the actual weight part isn’t a ton of reps, I do include a lot more recovery and mobility on these days than I do on the others.  My WO started around 9:30 a.m. and finished at 11:30 a.m. I am currently doing a modified version of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1. This week, I worked up to my top set of deads (based off the percentages) at 210lbs for 5 reps. My WO also included a lot of other kick ass stuff like split squats, single leg RDLs, side lunges, and a ton of calf work.

After the gym, I had to run some errands and do some shopping, so I had a  banana & a chocolate brownie Quest Bar. The banana wasn’t as spotty as I normally eat post-workout, but I had just picked these up the day before and was the best I had. The Quest Bar is not only delicious, but provides pretty decent nutrition for a protein bar.  (The best, in my opinion, compared to just making your own.)
Shopping took a little longer than planned, and I finally got home around 2:00. I wasn’t feeling like having anything heavy to eat, since dinner wouldn’t be too far off, so I had a big-ass salad with grilled chicken, lots of veggies, some raw hemp seed hearts, nutritional yeast flakes (yes, surprisingly these are very tasty and a heck of a lot good for you), and some pomegranate Balsamic vinegar.  This really hit the spot.
After this I had to go back out and run more errands (No, I’m not lying.) and come home to do some housework.  With all the running around and the big WO this morning, I was getting a little hungry.  I was excited, because I eat the majority of my carbs at night, and this was when the trip to Pleasure Town would begin. I made dinner around 6:00 p.m. and had this:April6
It’s some grilled fish with fresh made mango salsa, blackened shrimp, sautéed garlic kale and a TON of potatoes.  I also had a baked sweet potato(yam) with 2 tbsp. of peanut butter melted on top, along with two Okinawan sweet potatoes.  I swear, I’m addicted to these purple Okinawan potatoes. They seriously taste like birthday cake; who the hell doesn’t like birthday cake?
After dinner, I relaxed and spent time with my family, mostly outside on the back patio since it was such an awesome day weather-wise.  At round 9:00 p.m. (after I had retired to my robe to lie around and watched TV), I was a little under on my carbs. (Duh this was planned!)  I had two servings of golden Oreo ice cream and one serving of Snickers ice cream. It was yummy, and just what I needed to drift off into some much-deserved, deep sleep for the night.


By the way, my final carb count for the day ended up at 287 g.  I was over my 2 g but I think that’s pretty darn close to awesome for me! Oh, and I snapped a quick bathroom pic at the gym (Sorry, its semi blurry-someone was coming.) to show the my upper body muscles. They  continue to grow and get leaner every week, and I know this is partly due to me consistently feeding them!


Meat and Potatoes Reinvented – Horseradish Crusted Roast Beef with German Sweet Potato & Carmelized Onion Salad

meat & potatoes

Grassfed beef….all I can say is WOW!  We got our first bundle of grassfed beef just recently and I was very curious to see if I noticed a difference from our supermarket bought beef.  I am not gonna lie – I didn’t expect a big difference, but I was so wrong!  Not only is the flavor leaps and bounds better than our hormone filled supermarket beef, but the texture is what really got me.  If you haven’t tried grassfed beef, you MUST!  In our bundle, we got a beef roast…a beautiful, deep red, juicy grassfed beef roast.  I had to do this beautiful hunk of beef justice. No crock pot for this baby – we are making a gorgeous roast beef with this one!  Not just any roast beef either – we’re going hardcore…horseradish crusted roast beef is the only recipe that could do this piece of meat justice!  Now…what to make with this glorious main dish….

My husband, Andy, is 100% German and has a great Mom who cooks some AMAZING delicious and very unhealthy dishes.  I always told her how much we love going to her house for Thanksgiving because everything was so traditional and yummy.  During one visit in the summertime, she made her German potato salad and I fell in LOVE!  It was a warm potato salad with a tang from vinegar and saltiness from bacon and bacon fat.  I have had this idea to make my own version of this salad for a while now, and finally today, I found the perfect pairing…meat and potatoes!  This is a perfect Sunday meal as it does take some time to prepare and cook, but SO worth it!


Horseradish Crusted Roast Beef


  • 5-6 pound beef roast (preferably grass fed)
  • 1/3 cup prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons course ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt (I use the unground sea salt granules)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Horseradish yogurt sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place the beef on a rack inside of a deep roasting pan.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients into a thick paste and rub all over the top and sides of the beef roast.  Place the roasting pan into the bottom half of the oven and roast until the middle of the roast reads 125 degrees on a meat thermometer.  Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let rest for at least 20 minutes to let the juices redistribute (this is a MUST if you want juicy beef!)  Slice thinly against the grain and transfer to a serving platter.  This is delicious by itself or served with horseradish yogurt sauce.

Horseradish Yogurt Sauce


  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives or green onion

Combine the ingredients and enjoy!

German Sweet Potato Salad

German Sweet Potato Salad with Carmelized Onions


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch rounds
  • 1 large red onion, cut in half and sliced into thin slices
  • 1/3 cup bacon fat
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 3 slices of bacon, cooked and diced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the sweet potatoes in a pot of salted boiling water and cook for 8 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and let cool.  While the potatoes are cooling, heat 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in large frying pan over medium high heat.  Add onions and cook until carmelized (about 30 minutes) stirring frequently.  The onions will be a rich brown and tender when complete.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining bacon fat, vinegar and mustard and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.  In a casserole dish, arrange the sweet potato rounds in a single layer, overlapping them slightly.  Evenly pour the onion mixture over the top of the sweet potato layer and sprinkle the diced bacon on top.  Cook uncovered for about 25 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Turn your oven broiler onto high heat and broil the potatoes for a couple minutes just to crisp up the top a bit.

And here we go…………

Well I am glad to see that Paul has given into his whole “recipe” aversion and welcomed me to share my love for cooking and food.


Let me begin by telling you that I am not a chef, just a Mom who loves to cook and experiment with different foods and flavors.  Sometimes these experiments turn out great and sometimes they are epic fails.  Luckily, the more I try, the more successes I have.  I encourage everyone to do the same (not only in the kitchen, but life in general).  You should also know that until just recently, the majority of my recipes and meals were far from health conscious.  I LOVE comfort foods!  Sundays would be my day of making some sort of stew, soup, casserole that would end up being lunch for the week as well.  I didn’t pay much attention to the health value of my ingredients or what those ingredients could do or not do for my body…until I found Paul Nobles Jr. and Crossfit…

My 15 year old son Dalton (who you may have seen pictures of on this site) began Crossfitting in October of 2012.  My brother had been doing Crossfit for over a year and had incredible results.  We knew that Crossfit would help Dalton’s soccer game (he’s a keeper) and finally convinced him to do CF (he was hooked after one class).  At his first class, I met Paul and his wife Vicki.  I knew nothing about Paul or what he did, but he was happy to share vast amounts of information with me immediately.  I wasn’t sure who this guy was or why he felt the need to keep talking to me, but I was somewhat entertained by him.  Almost every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I would get to hear more and more of the food and nutrition facts that filled his head and began to believe he knew what he was talking about.  Three months later, my husband and I began drinking the Crossfit kool-aid and all of the information that Paul had been sharing with us finally mattered!

We gradually began trying to incorporate more clean eating into our diets and cooking.  The cleaner we ate, the better our performances would be.  After years and years of dieting and counting calories, my world had been turned upside down by the fact that I have been doing it all WRONG!  Three months later, I am 15 pounds lighter, eating more than I ever have and feeling strong.  Gone are the comfort food recipes that had little to no benefit to my body…now I have what I like to call power recipes.  I am happy to be able to share them with you.

Fruit Salsa

This is a new staple in my house – fruit salsa.  It is good on ANYTHING – chicken, fish, pork or just to eat by the spoonful!  When you have a supply of this on hand, meals are easy!  Cook up your protein and pile this on top!  It will be in many of my recipes to come…


Combine the following ingredients in a bowl.

1/3 fresh pineapple, diced

1 mango, diced

1/2 English cucumber, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1 jalapeno, diced (I keep the seeds to add a little spice!)

1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

4 tbsp honey

Salt to taste


This is delicious right after combining, but gets better and better as the flavors meld together.


Eat and Run

Jill D Ultra Marathoner

(Click here to jump to a summary of this article)

First of all, I’d just like to state that I am no different than most of you reading this.  I am a single mom of 2 teenagers, I have a full time job, and I have been given just 24 hours in each day to get it all done; just your average woman who loves to run!  I was not a track star, nor did I compete cross country in high school or college.  In fact, I did not start running until I was 35 years old, and I ran my first marathon on my 37th birthday.  Since then I have completed over 20 organized marathons, four 50 mile ultras, a few triathlons, the Madison Ironman, and two Leadville 100 mile ultra marathons. While I love to keep challenging myself and improving, my approach towards running is that if it ever becomes a job rather than a hobby, I’ll just quit.  I use running as an escape from all of the stresses in my life.

Ultra-Marathon Training Paradigms

One would say that I didn’t know what I was doing when I started running.  I didn’t research anything about the subject of running.  I just ran.  So when a friend of mine suggested that I run a marathon, I thought it sounded like a good idea and signed up.  I was so ignorant; it didn’t even occur to me that I should be on any sort of a training schedule.  I’m almost embarrassed to say that I didn’t even know what the Boston Marathon was.  In fact, I ran my first 20 miler, running a two mile loop 10 times, and used a drinking fountain to hydrate myself; no gels, no sports drinks, just water.  I’m not suggesting that this is a good idea.  I just want everyone to know that most of my knowledge about fueling and training is coming from personal experience, not from research.

I also get a lot of my training info from athletes who have already completed (or failed) at that particular ultra event. I truly feel that this is why I succeeded at Leadville on my first attempt.  When I went out to the training camp, I met Marge.  Marge is over 60 years old and has finished the Leadville 100 more than any other woman – I believe she has 15 finishes.  I learned so much from her in the three days I was at training camp.  She may be a little older, and maybe a little slower than she was 20 years ago, but she is a complete wealth of knowledge.  She is still running and finishing that race!  Never let your age stop you from attempting something.  I have numerous friends who are getting faster and stronger in their 50’s than they were in their 40’s. This is just the opposite of what the research suggests.

While my passion is running, I have also always enjoyed other gym activities.  I loved the classes at the gym that included weights and cardio.  My thoughts were that the stronger the muscles, are the more efficient they will become.  Most of my friends who were runners just ran. They couldn’t do a sit up or a push up to save their life.  Some people believe that if you want to be a great runner, then that is what you should do a lot of:  run.  I received affirmation of my belief that cross training is a big factor when I was running my first ultra, the American River 50 mile, out in Sacramento, CA.  When you are running on the trails, you encounter many obstacles:  roots, and a lot of loose rock, not to mention uneven terrain and hills.  I remember coming upon a woman standing in the middle of the trail.  There was a large step up on the trail and her arms and legs were not strong enough to pull her up and over it.  There’s no telling how long she had been standing there waiting for someone to help her; she needed a few guys to help push her over.

A few months later, I ran the Voyageur 50 mile ultra in Minnesota.  There are five 350 foot climbs, done consecutively, twice. They are referred to as the “power lines”. They’re pretty steep, and you need strong legs to get over them.  But the real challenge comes if it starts to rain; the single-track trail turns into slick clay.  In order to get over the power line hills, you have to grab onto the weeds at the side of the trail and pull yourself up the hill.  The runners who are not strong lose a lot of time here, and in many cases do not finish because they can’t make the next cut-off.  Bottom line:  if you want to succeed at ultras, you’d better have strong legs, strong arms, and an amazing core.  This increases your odds of finishing.  This is why CrossFit is so important in my training.

Beginning CrossFit and how Paleo Changed My Life

I remember the first time I walked into a CrossFit gym.  I knew immediately that CrossFit was going to be a key element in my training for my upcoming ultra marathon schedule.  CF develops every muscle in your body, and I knew I would be ready for any obstacle that I encountered on the mountains.

CrossFit has also changed the way I eat.  Before I continue, you should know that about 7 years ago, I began to have some serious gastrointestinal problems.  Not to go into too much detail, but they immediately set me up for a colonoscopy.  My mother had died at the age of 56 from colon cancer.  They didn’t see any problems, so they told me to cut back on my fiber intake.  My issues continued to get worse over the next few years, so they performed another colonoscopy and also tested me for Celiac disease, as well as other allergies.  All the tests came back normal.  The doctor told me to take a Prilocec every day, and maybe that would help.  I just thought that it was going to be something I would have to live with the rest of my life.

In January of 2012 the CrossFit gym offered what they called a “Paleo Challenge”.   It seemed to me that the gym owners kept pushing this Paleo diet on everyone.  I decided to do it, to prove to them how an ultra marathon runner could not survive on this type of diet; we runners need a lot of carbs!  Anyway, within a couple weeks my intestinal problems began to disappear.  I quietly took note, thinking that perhaps it was just a fluke or a coincidence.  After all, I was trying to disprove the fact that this diet could benefit me in any way.  Within a month, all of my problems were gone and I had NEVER had so much energy!  I had been proven wrong!  The longer I stuck to the Paleo diet, the better a lot of my issues got.  In the past when I ran, I needed to wear knee straps to help take the pressure off my knees. My knees would swell up after my runs.  All of my knee pain went away on Paleo.  Other notable changes:

  • My hair grew in fuller
  • My skin cleared up
  • The quality of my sleep got better
  • My muscle recovery was faster

After a few months on the Paleo diet, I knew I would never go back.

Event Nutrition Strategies Before and After Paleo

At the time, I was coming into my heavy training for my 2nd Leadville 100 race.  I knew that the way I ate when I ran needed to be changed.  I believe I had an easier time with this compared to most runners.  Most use gels to fuel with, but I have never used gels.  Ultra marathoners typically have a better success rate if they use real food instead.  In fact, at the training camp for Leadville, they tell you to use real food as much as possible.  When you are tossing back so many gels, you stomach tends to get very sick from all the sugar.  You typically get nauseous anyway from being at altitude for so many hours, so the less you can add to it, the better.  It’s not unusual at all to see runners standing at the side of the trail puking their guts out.  I am lucky to say that I have never been to that point.

My first Leadville, I used peanut butter sandwiches, chips, Power Bars, chicken broth, and sport beans.  I also used Heed for my electrolyte drink. Let me just say that I never liked Heed, but felt pressure from other endurance athletes to use it.  During Leadville, I couldn’t wait to see my crew so I could suck down a Vitamin Water.  At mile 50, I was not feeling well at all, and barely had any energy left.  I couldn’t stomach the Heed anymore so I switched over to Coca-Cola.  My pacers were feeding me a lot of salt tabs. Thus, I swelled up so badly my fingers looked like sausages at the end of the race, and I had gained 4 pounds as well. Honestly, how can someone weigh 4 pounds more after running 100 miles?  At least I didn’t throw up…Right?

My second Leadville, I looked at fueling differently.  I never liked the taste of Heed when I was not running, so why was I trying to choke it down?  I decided to stick with Vitamin Waters because they never gave me a sick feeling, and they always “sounded good”.  When you are running continually at altitude without sleep for many hours, you really need to look at it from the point of “what sounds good and what will go down without making me vomit?”  It’s kind of like when you’re pregnant.  During my training, I tried different foods and found that my stomach could tolerate Kind bars, Lara bars, Old Dutch potato chips (no weird ingredients), sweet potato chips, bananas, oranges, popsicles, and chicken broth.  During the Leadville run, I had my crew set up a TV tray with an assortment of items; I would grab whatever I thought would taste good, but more importantly wouldn’t come back up.   The Leadville race does supply an assortment of items as well.  They are really good at putting a variety of items on the tables at the check points: sandwiches/wraps, pretzels, candy, banana, oranges, watermelon, etc.  Because I have a gluten intolerance I prefer to bring my own stuff.

Also, with my second Leadville, I talked more with my pacers and crew about my hydration and fueling.  I typically never use the salt/electrolyte tablets – I might take 2 during a 50 mile run if it’s 80 degrees or higher.  So this time I talked to my pacers and crew beforehand, so that they were not constantly trying to push things down my throat that my body really didn’t need.  In the end, with my 2nd Leadville, I had only lost one ounce from start to finish and my body was not completely swollen like after the first race.  One big piece of advice I have is that you know your body better than anyone; what one body needs another might not.  I’m little (5’1”) and I am an efficient runner.  I typically only burn 50-70 cals per eight and a half minute mile, less if I am running a 10 minute mile.  I am not going to need as much fuel as the 6’, 180 lb. runner next to me. I constantly have to remind my pacers of this.

Fueling Before a Run and Listening to Your Body

I also had to look at how I was fueling myself before and after my long runs.  I wear a heart rate monitor and I pretty much know how many calories I expend during a run.  Typically, when training for an ultra, you do back-to-back long runs.  For example:  26 miles on Saturday and 16 miles on Sunday.  You are expending a lot of energy, and being fueled before you start running is very important.  In the past I used carbs from grains, but now this was not going to happen.  I had already discovered the secrets of the sweet potato, so I really diverted to that.  When I wake up at 2am starving, I know that I have not fueled enough.  Every nutritionist and personal trainer would tell me that 2am is NOT the time to eat; I don’t care.  Sleep is important for my recovery, so I always eat at 2am if it’s keeping me awake. I played around with food to see what my body responded best to.

Being a single working mom, I like to keep things pretty simple.  I am lucky that my kids do not like the fast food junk.  I tend to make large quantities of different food items and freeze them.  For example, soups, red sauces and egg dishes. This works best for my busy schedule.  I use the Crock Pot a lot as well.  That way the food is ready immediately after a workout.  We typically eat steak, salmon or chicken with a salad in the evenings.  If I have a long run the next day, I will eat a sweet potato with mine.  For lunches, I eat a thick butternut squash soup with turkey or sausage in it, or a salad with chicken.  I snack on nuts, fruit, or dried fruit and Lara bars. Breakfast is usually something quick like an apple or banana with almond butter, Paleo pancakes, or Paleo muffins.  I have my best long runs when I eat grilled chicken, salad, and a sweet potato for dinner the night before.  Not sure why that combo works for me, but it does.

I perform and feel my best when I make my own food and don’t consume items from a box.  Even gluten-free items tend to inhibit my performance.  I’m realistic and I know how difficult it is to be perfect all the time.  I’m not perfect, but two weeks before a big race, I am pretty spot-on with my diet and will make ALL of my own food.   Because I do my CrossFit workouts in the evening and then follow it up with a 3-9 mile run, I do need a good lunch.  My body responds best to the thick butternut squash soup with turkey or sausage, rather than a salad.  Sometimes if it’s a longer run, about 90 minutes before a workout I will microwave a sweet potato and top it with cinnamon, nutmeg, natural applesauce, and walnuts.  It fuels better than any Power Bar.

Butternut Squash Recipe

You could say that CrossFit has been a game changer for me.  It has not only helped me become a better runner, but it has improved my quality of life.  Not only am I stronger, but I am healthier than ever before.


  • Strength is important, even for endurance athletes
  • Age is no reason to slow down and learning from others with more experience is vital
  • Paleo-style nutrition can help alleviate many symptoms of disease and improve performance in ultra endurance athletes
  • Everyone responds differently to intra-event nutrition so listening to your body is important
  • Whole foods are a great option to fuel your runs
  • Eating and hydrating properly before, after, and during an event is an important part of success

Intermittent Fasting: Paul’s Experience


James and I tend to avoid writing in the first person.  While reading about individual trials can be inspiring, our experience with a concept may differ substantially from yours, so it’s better to keep things less personal and more analytic ..Most of the time.  That said, I’m about to unload a whole bunch of anecdote (as well as some analysis), so open up.  This is part of my story and I think you’ll find it enjoyable to read, but here’s a summary if you’re strapped for time


  • Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a healthy lifestyle modification you can use to mobilize fat and optimize hormone balance.
  • You don’t have to fast every day.  Some people fast once a week, on alternate days, or do it randomly when it makes sense in context of their lifestyle.
  • Different protocols exist; check out Eat Stop Eat, LeanGains, and The Warrior Diet.  Find something that fits into your life.
  • Carb Back-Loading is “IF perfected”.
  • Training fasted is favorable as well, if you’re comfortable doing it.
  • I fast because it’s convenient and easy to adhere to.  I am much more productive fasted than I am fed, which is why I can get out so many articles each month.  Lethargy isn’t a problem, especially when you add coffee to your morning fasts.

Like many of us, my weight/fat loss journey has evolved through many incarnations.  It wasn’t like I stumbled upon one method and then, “POOF!” I was magically fixed.  It was an arduous process of trial and error.  In 2007, I lost almost 40 pounds by adhering to what ultimately became the basis for efficiency expert Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4 Hour Body”.  It was a horribly restricted way of eating, and frankly I didn’t know why the diet was working.  At the time I was a pretty well-known professional poker player (technically I don’t think you ever lose that moniker until you take a job, which I have yet to do because I love doing this for you guys, so it doesn’t count in my opinion).  The loss was dramatic; over 40 pounds of unmitigated loss of both fat and lean mass.  I looked ill, and much to my chagrin, I still had a double chin.  As vain as this may sound, I had actually Googled “how to lose a double chin” in an attempt to find a way to lose fat.

I have said this many times, and I feel like it deserves its own paragraph.  “I was just too smart to be fat and out of shape”.

Hawaii 2007

I didn’t play the World Series of Poker that year, even though I’d gone deep in 2 of the last 4 years; literally anyone would have bought a piece of me.  At the time, I was easily a name coming up in conversation of the best tournament poker players in the world (most of my reputation was built online).  I wasn’t sleeping well from chronically dieting, which is not a formula for playing poker well over what amounts to about 9 days.  Soon after, we had a vacation planned, and I decided it was time to add back in all of the stuff I really wanted to eat.  At the moment, just thinking of this is somewhat heartbreaking, but honestly if it wasn’t for that experience, I wouldn’t be able to offer you guys what I put out there on a daily basis.

Every day began with a preposterous amount of carbs that I had avoided for quite some time other than the prescribed “cheat days” (a concept I disdain now).  At the time, my muscles just weren’t ready for that.  My empty fat cells quickly refilled and multiplied.  I don’t remember the exact number, but demoralizing doesn’t begin to describe how I felt.  Although “severely depressed” comes close, while I never seriously considered it, “suicidal” is probably accurate.  (This goes to show how messed up your head can get when you eat wrong.)  I had dropped as low as 175 lbs., but by the time I was back from Hawaii (as I recall) I was just under 190.  It didn’t take me long to get to 215 lbs.  Applying for life insurance served as a wake up call, and the pity party finally ended.

Here is a short list of some other things that should have snapped me out of it before it got to that point:

  • I didn’t want to go to the doctor.  Ever.  I didn’t want the bad news.
  • Walking up a flight of stairs left me winded.
  • I lacked energy all of the time and it compromised my role as a father.
  • I also wasn’t the best husband; sex was a chore.  I couldn’t breathe and my chest would hurt and turn purple.

I can’t recall the exact year now, but I know it was on tax day (I really need to write this blog because looking back it was hilarious).  I thought I was having a heart attack.  I would have been in my 30′s at the time, and it seemed completely reasonable.  It turned out that it was severely inflamed cartilage that connects my sternum to my ribs.  This all brings me to how I manage my weight on vacation now.

Intermittent Fasting

To make a long story short, when it’s convenient and it fits in with my life, I practice intermittent fasting (IF).  IF entails avoiding food for most of the day and eating all of your calories in a short evening window.  This allows you to mobilize fat by optimizing hormonal rhythms.  I eat two meals a day, sometimes with a snack, but I consider dinner and dessert one meal.

I don’t take it to any extreme, and I have been able to refine what works best for me after using many different methods.  I can’t say that I have ever done a fast longer than maybe 20 hours like in “The Warrior Diet”, which is basically one big meal at the end of the day.  “Warrior” works great for some people, but it wasn’t a good fit for me.  I know this because I tested it; I lost 5 pounds of muscle doing The Warrior Diet.  While I don’t believe that people need to count calories, I do believe in tracking body composition through objective measurement.  That has been a big part of my journey; I learned that data was my friend, and that it ultimately pointed me in the direction of discovery.  Knowing what I know now, I think I could have retained more muscle if I ate more, but trying to pack 3000-3500 calories into a 4 hour eating window is just tough (and unnecessary).

Shortly thereafter, I started CrossFitting.  I was lifting weights before CrossFit, but looking back, I was kind of fucking around and mostly doing cardio to keep the weight off.  One of my friends described me as “gaunt”, which was not by any means the look I was going for.  I started CF almost two years ago, and roughly one month in, I started doing Martin Berkhan’s LeanGains.  LeanGains is a fasting protocol where men eat in an 8 hour window, and women eat in a 10 hour window.  This is much easier as far as eating enough food is concerned.  As I mentioned earlier, it’s also a great way to control your intake when you are on vacation; you spend the day having fun/being productive and spend the night eating/relaxing.  I’m not going to link to Martin’s site or Facebook page because honestly, they’ve become somewhat of a train wreck.  It’s a shame because his solution works for a great majority of people.

Carb Back Loading has been described as LeanGains perfected, and I agree.  The ketogenic approach described in CBL closely mirrors a fasted state.  You get most of the benefits of fasting and you can still eat.  So you aren’t really skipping breakfast, you’re just delaying it.  This does open the door to a lot more food, especially breakfast staples like bacon, steak, eggs, and other high-protein options.

As an aside, I would like to mention that you can work out fasted too.  One caveat is to consider when you’re training and when you’re breaking your fast.  I do my morning workouts (before 10 a.m.) fasted, but for evening workouts, I try to make sure I am fed.  I never have any trouble recovering or progressing.  (Admittedly, no one is going to confuse me with Matt Chan anytime soon, so take that for what it’s worth.)

What the Critics Say

Layne Norton is not a fan of fasting.  He’s a competitive bodybuilder and a pretty smart guy, so what he has to say is pertinent to this discussion.   Layne argues that eating in an 8 hour window does not allow for adequate protein ingestion and synthesis.  The science on this is pretty unclear but he is probably right as far as bodybuilding goes.  Kiefer, author of Carb Back-Loading, posits a similar argument.  So who is right?  Once again, probably me, because this is my blog.  (I’m just kidding!)

Kiefer is what I refer to as a “meathead genius”.  When he writes, he has powerlifters and bodybuilders in mind.  In the book CBL, he points out that his protocol isn’t optimal for CrossFit or P90x-type folks.  If you understand where he is coming from, it makes total sense.  He is not trying to get a person to their best “Fran” time; he’s focused on trying to get them shredded and on stage, or squatting 1000 pounds while staying in their weight class.  It is an extreme performance protocol.  It also happens to be the best strategy as it relates to metabolic flexibility I have seen since LeanGains.  So let’s, theoretically, ask Kiefer another question: “Should CrossFitters eat carbs?”  I think I can comfortably state that he would respond with a “Yes, of course!”  That begs another question; “How many?”  This is one of the concepts we dial in with the seminars but it’s pretty simple:  not as much as the book recommends for competitive bodybuilders and powerlifters.

CrossFitters probably don’t need as many carbs, but should avoid low carbing in an extreme manner.  Even the Paleo very low carbohydrate authors tend to agree on this, but people don’t listen because they see low carbing as some panacea that isn’t consistent with reality.  In the end you have to ask yourself, “Am I trying to become a world-class bodybuilder?  Do I want to squat 1000 pounds next year?”  If not, intermittent fasting combined with adequate protein, carbohydrate and fat intake (as well as overall calories) might be something to consider.

Eustress Training

Happy Face


This is part of the information I teach in the “Science Lab” seminars that we offer free when you purchase things that support our site (it’s mostly stuff you would buy anyway).  Click this link and it will give you more details.  

Most people know that I CrossFit, but not everyone knows how I approach strength training.  I have done all of the various Russian programs, Renegade Training, Westside (I actually did this for a while.), along with many 5×5 or 5 x 3 protocols.  Want to know what I figured out? None of those meathead geniuses knew me better than I know myself.  Don’t get me wrong; I like coming into the gym, looking at the board and doing what is written.  It takes the thinking out of the equation, and that’s good sometimes (especially when you tend to overthink training.)  Other times, there is a strong argument for taking the reins and doing your own thing.  Before I get ahead of myself, I’d like to talk about a couple of things.

First, powerlifters get a bad rap for being fat, but modern champions like Stan Efferding and Matt Kroczaleski put that stereotype to rest.  Many of the top bodybuilders in the game erected their physiques atop a solid strength base, but as far as work capacity goes, CrossFitters will smoke them both.  Whether you’re focused on conditioning, strength or aesthetics, training can tear you down, but you don’t have to leave the gym sore and worn out to get stronger.  We could all use a break from our routines once in a while, and that’s where eustress training comes in.

The Eustress Method

“Eustress” is basically the opposite of “distress”.  CrossFit is mostly distress training, where athletes attempt to adapt to various training modalities to achieve a specific result.  Most powerlifting and bodybuilding workouts fall into this category too.  Distress forces your body to deal with what you’re throwing at it; sometimes it’ll leave you lying on the floor ready to puke, take a nap, or both.  Conversely, eustress training centers you and can leave you questioning whether or not you worked out at all; it’s more about listening to your body and engaging in focused bouts of effort rather than deliberately tiring yourself out.  It can be quite refreshing.  Both types of training play important roles in athletic development, so hear me out; I believe that what I’m about to describe could really help someone win the CrossFit Games.

When an athlete preparing for CF Regionals or CF Games says, “I want to get stronger.” they might seek out a good powerlifting coach.  That’s fine, because powerlifters know first-hand how to develop brutal strength.  Usually, the programming is based on one of the methods I mentioned earlier (Westside, 5×5, etc.) customized for the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.  While these protocols are great examples of effective distress training, they can’t account for bad days, good days, or days where you’ve got the magic and you wind up hitting a real PR.  Additionally, without the aid of a skilled coach, there’s no way to determine what’s right, what’s wrong, or what’s optimal.  How does the program know that 85%x5 isn’t either too light or too heavy today?

It doesn’t, but you do.  Or at least, you can sort of figure it out.  What I am about to describe is a system for people that are well on their way to self-discovery, that are willing to listen to their bodies and check their expectations at the door.  If you like the idea of two-a-days, you’ll want to read this article a couple times.

Examples of Eustress Workouts

This style of training revolves around doing what you want to do, how you want to do it, and enjoying yourself.  It’s a break from structured training that will take your mind off of percentages and forced adaptation.  Here’s some insight into how I implement this method in my workouts:

Deadlift example (these all take you to my Fitocracy log)

You’ll see as I present some of my other examples that for this workout, I chose a slightly atypical modality:  while remaining as relaxed as possible, deadlift a total of 30,000 pounds.  It took me about 45 minutes but there was no “time limit”.  I was just chilling out and enjoying myself.

Squat example

The goal here was a little different.  I just wanted to get in a decent workout, and when I got to 225 it didn’t feel right, for whatever reason.  Any other style of programming would have had me handling weight slightly out of my league for that day, but I’m smarter than that, so I just dropped the ego and got some work done.

Assistance/rehab example

Lastly, this is a workout where I did some pretty light training for my hamstrings.  I also added in ring dips for shoulder rehab.  I typically don’t like to do too many exercises; I prefer to hammer just one or two big, compound movements.

One of the real advantages of eustress training is that it’s fun.  You are typically doing something you like to do, at a pace that you determine.  Another great aspect is that because you aren’t set on a rigid progression of weight, you can still train at points where you don’t feel like pushing it to the limit.  By utilizing your body’s signals, these days become invaluable “active recovery” sessions that will speed up healing and improve performance.

Range of Motion:  Using Biofeedback to Optimize Your Training

When you aren’t feeling quite right, it shows in more ways than you may be aware of.  Everything from your grip strength to your vertical leap decreases when you’re not at 100%.  By analyzing markers like spinal flexibility and hip mobility, you can dynamically program a workout that will leave you in better shape than you were before you walked into the gym.  I learned this test from Dave Dellanave at Movement Minneapolis.  It’s really quite simple.

Picking a Movement: 

  • Establish baseline Range of Motion:  From a standing position, reach down, bending at your hips, to touch your toes.  When you reach the end of your range of motion, make note of where your fingers end up.  This is your baseline ROM.
  • Next, perform the movement you plan to train (ie. barbell back squat).  Use a weight that feels light and focus on your form.
  • Re-test your range of motion in the same fashion as you did before.  It’s important to use the same stance.
  • If range of motion increases (ie. In your baseline ROM test, you touched your toes and after squatting, you can now touch your knuckles to the ground), that movement is probably a winner.
  • If range of motion decreases, that movement may be a dud.  Pick another movement and find one that results in an increase in ROM.

Picking a Weight: 

  • Establish a baseline ROM.
  • Perform your chosen movement with a given weight (for example, 135lbs on a back squat)
  • Re-test your ROM and compare it to baseline.
  • Add more weight to the bar, perform the movement, and re-test.
  • Your goal is to find a weight that renders an increased range of motion after performance of the exercise.

I have tested all of my movements; my ROM is infinitely better after deadlifts and front squats; back squats typically result in a decrease in ROM.  That’s just the way I am built.  Thankfully, a bigger front squat will lend itself to a bigger back squat.

The Best Part of Eustress

With eustress training, you are the meathead genius.  Chest or glutes lagging?  Find an exercise you like and hammer it until the movement no longer amuses you.  You should mostly be doing stuff you like.  Keep it fun and you’ll keep training.  If you remain relaxed and save the adrenaline for later, you’ll be less sore because your muscles will get enough oxygen; this is why if I was preparing for the CrossFit Games, I would use this method opposite my met con WOD’s.  By integrating eustress workouts into your training, you can get to the gym and train optimally instead of forcing something that may not be right for the day.  Nobody knows your body quite like you do.

What “Gradually Awesome” Looks Like in the Beginning

Black Coal Fennel Sausage and Pepperoni

This is part of the information I teach in the “Science Lab” seminars that we offer free when you purchase things that support our site (it’s mostly stuff you would buy anyway).  Click the link and it will give you more details.  

I am going to try to keep this short, but honestly I say that all of the time.  I can’t help it!  I have asked you guys to take a leap with me by adding strategic carbohydrates to your nutrition and eating more.  With the help of the tools and information we’re providing at Eat to Perform, many of you are achieving great results.  I wanted you to check out this bit of inspiration I pulled from the comments section of the “Dialing Things In A Bit” article.  Alyssa writes:

“Great article! I really like your perspective. Just to speak of my recent experience a bit, I was on a high fat/low carb lifestyle…and it affected my performance (and even the scale). I came across CBL this past week and I am giving it a shot. After my WOD on wednesday, I was walking back home, and passed an ice cream parlor. I thought to myself, “hmm, I’ve been feeling crappy these past few days, my body probably needs this.” I stopped in and got the flavor that sounded best to me. When I was handed the cone, I thought, how many calories is this?! haha…but then I was like, no I am going to enjoy this. And I did! Afterwards, I felt great!

Now fast forward, to my WOD on Thursday and I am SO GLAD I had that ice cream for multiple reasons! First off, I felt great throughout the day and super-pepped for my WOD (which days before I was worried about being able to get through the WOD). Secondly, I kicked butt during the WOD! It was a good burner!

Afterwards, I felt that I needed a good “backload.” How much, I wasn’t sure? 75g, 100g? I thought about getting another “treat,” but I didn’t really want one, I felt my body calling for a more wholefoods approach. Ended up having some sweet potatoes and dark chocolate and I had an amount that made me feel good, not purposely trying to eat in any way.

Now today, I feel good.

So it’s true. It is about dialing it in for yourself. No one can really tell you what you need. Everyone is different. Your body is the “expert” that will let you know what to feed it and how much. It’s all about being keen to what are sometimes subtle signals, but really are more obvious than you might think.

Again, thanks Paul for the great article!”

Thank you Alyssa!  Can I express a plea for you guys to hang out in the comments section a bit?  There are some phenomenal case examples developing there and I can assure you that if you have questions, they have probably already been answered at some point.  You aren’t alone.  The stuff we’re writing about is not sorcery; it’s real and it’s helping people all over the place.

What is Happening When I Add in the Carbs Gradually?

One part where Kiefer and I strongly disagree on nutrition is the “slamming carbs part”.  In my experience, there is no need to start with a crazy amount of carbs.  People who think they may be metabolically damaged should proceed with caution.  That’s why I support for a more gradual approach; if you have developed some level of insulin resistance related to under eating carbs and performing high intensity workouts, you are more inclined to inefficiently use those carbs in the beginning.  I recommend that you just start low, increase your calories with fats and proteins, and add the carbs as you go.  On average, I would say I eat 200g-250g of carbs a day.  I have been eating this way for almost 3 years now, but I am a 160 pound man; a smaller woman probably needs less carbs, and a larger man may (obviously) need more.  Precision isn’t our goal.  Preparation is what we aim for, experimenting along the way to see what works best and adjusting as needed.

This Is What Happens Initially

For most people, if they are starting off cautiously (100g of carbs for women and 150g for men), they won’t likely see a lot of weight gain.  A high functioning metabolism works best when the body is forced to adapt to different stimuli.  That’s what I refer to this as “metabolic flexibility” and it’s also the argument for food variety vs. eating the same thing day-in, day-out.  If you’re coming from a period of chronic under eating, you may gain some weight initially.  If you start off and the number on the scale increases, remember this:  gaining weight is a plus.  You are really going to want to do this for the rest of your life.  Does that mean intentionally stuffing yourself with 750g of carbs to gain weight quickly?  No.  It’s about gradual adaptation.

While you’re in this first stage, the number won’t be huge, but 3-5 pounds is normal; in a few days (if not immediately) the carbs you’re eating will replenish your muscles, your energy levels will rise, and most people report that they sleep a lot better.  At this stage you aren’t nearly as efficient at dealing with carbs as you’ll become, but you are probably eating a lot more than you were, and in the great scheme of things, the scale has barely moved.  This is often quite enlightening for most people.

The Next Stage

In this stage, your metabolism is healed and you’re ready to start adding in carbs (50 more grams or so) while simultaneously lowering fats to adjust total energy input (so you’ll leave out about 22 grams of fat.)  That may sound really precise, but I’d recommend that you do it that way initially so that you get a feel for how your body reacts.  What you’ll unearth on your path to discovery is that if you’re eating adequate amounts of protein and just cycle the carbs and fats around your workouts, the “specifics” really don’t matter all that much.  The added carbs during periods of intense activity accelerate protein turnover and if you are following the creatine protocol I suggest, you’ll be preserving some muscle and getting better workouts as a result.

Where the Real Magic Happens

When all of this becomes second nature, you’ll probably never count another calorie again.  You’ll eventually develop an intuitive understanding of what it looks like to add carbs or fat by modifying food choices or portions.  It doesn’t happen right out of the gate, but in time it will click and dieting will be a thing of the past.  I understand that this raises a lot of questions, mostly because you fear that you can really mess it all up.  Relax; the body doesn’t work like that.  You’re never too far gone to get things back on track, and some of the greatest discoveries will come from accidents.  If you eat too many carbs one night, simply rely more on fats the following day.  There are a lot of small details you can adjust, but in general, as your work capacity goes up and your sleep falls in line, without having to worry so much about eating right, it feels like a miracle.

Four tips on why Diets have it backwards

Met Flex for Fat Loss is simple, eat the majority of carbohydrates around your workouts.  This would work for people trying to gain or trying to lose.  When you buy the book you get Webinars where you can talk to coaches that will help you as you try to make sense of all of this.  Along with that you get the support of over 1,000 people in the Private Forums that are all on a similar journey.


Whatever diet you are on is based on some sort of caloric restriction, some will even attempt to guess at what your daily caloric burn would be but I do not think that I have ever heard of one system that suggests what I am about to suggest.  Firstly let’s assume you have attempted to address inflammation in your body, even if you are not restricting calories at all you can significantly address your weight by addressing the level of fluids your body is holding.  Truthfully this is a lifelong process and unless you are extremely lean you are simply starting late, it does not mean you should not start at all.  You can significantly affect your health right now, so why not start?

Which brings me to my big suggestion

Why would you want to know how little you can eat? Would it not stand to reason that if you compromise your energy intake you would also compromise your energy output? So let’s assume you have started to make some changes, you are eating healthy fats, more vegetables and some fruits.  What I am going to suggest is that you should eat as much of them as possible and this is the one instance where the scale will help you.  Here is what I want you to do.  To start this process weigh yourself in the morning and whatever that weight is we are going to try and pack in as many healthy nutrients into your body daily with the end goal being to simply weigh that same amount.  This differs for men and women, for men I suggest a week, for women I suggest a month.  The reason for the difference is simple, women retain water differently than men unrelated to food intake.  Also if you view this as a way to gorge on pizza and ice cream you are missing the point of the exercise.  By the way, speaking of exercise do as much of it as you feel, there is no restriction at all, in fact, intaking more energy (food) should fuel your want to be more active.  Also, if you lose five pounds you did it wrong.  If you gain five pounds you really did it wrong.

Yes this does mean you will have to track your foods for this time using a site like, or  All work in a similar manner and have mobile options.  Also people think they eat more of a variety than they tend to eat, what you will find is that you eat the same foods over and over so the logging should not be that big of a hassle.  Besides, other than re-establishing your maintenance calories for a higher activity level you will not have to count calories going forward.

Simply check in with the scale occasionally to see if you are on track.  The mirror also can be helpful in this respect.  Most of us know the days where we get off track a bit and consume more than a few of the items we should avoid.  Let me give you a few examples I have learned doing this (my most recent one was 2895 a day, I was really mad at myself that I did not maintain 3,000 calories a day, oh well, there is always next time).

I suppose I should mention why this is important because it is not to just eat unrestricted, the exercise is to point out that the calories you can take in daily are often a lot higher than you think, especially when you rely less on energy dense foods for nutrition (think snack foods).  Also once you determine what your “maintenance calories” are in an unrestricted state it gives you a much clearer path to weight loss because you realize that losing pounds is as simple as just not eating sunflower seeds for a month (300 calories a day multiplied 30 is almost 3 pounds).


Here are some tips to think about

1.  Every carbohydrate that you take in requires your body to store fluid, it is one of the reasons ice cream makes you so damn thirsty.  What this does not mean is to avoid carbs altogether but if you have an excessively high carb day and the scale moves a couple of pounds simply be more conscious of carbs the following day and prioritize fats (in balance) and proteins.  Obviously any day higher in sugars can move the scale causing anyone to panic, that is unnecessary, a reasonable amount of carbs the following day will allow your body to release that fluid.  Remember that the majority of your carbs are coming from vegetables and fruit.

2.  Let’s assume you do not eat wild caught salmon every single day, if this is the case you need to be conscious of your fats as well.  So all meat proteins high in Omega 3′s are gold as well as grass fed beef, if these are not options go lean.  Also be careful on nut butters, they tend to be high in Omega 6′s and also very energy dense.  You should always try to get your Omega 3′s from real food but most people can not, this is why I strongly recommend daily Omega 3′s from fish oil.

3.  Take in the majority of your carbs in the evening.  I realize this is contrary to everything everyone has been told for a long time but this trick works for a bunch of reasons.  When you save your carbs for the end of the day you naturally eat more fats starting the day, this provides your body with a more stable energy source.  Carbs also make you sleepy so you tend to be less fatigued.  Did I mention that carbs make you sleepy? Oh yeah, because when you go to bed you will sleep great and you will be full.  This is important in many ways but when you sleep better it is favorable is it relates to fat mobilization so you retain less water.

4.  Rely less on energy dense foods like snacks for your nutrition mostly because they are easy to overeat.  My strategy is just to keep them out of the house altogether.  That way when it’s time to eat I make a meal rather than graze on foods higher in calories.  While yes I do eat them I at least have to be inconvenienced to go get them and often times I just eat the good food that is in my house.  If you are not relying on snack foods for energy you may be surprised at the amount of foods you will be able to consume.


Preparation, Performance and Precision

The three p’s.  I often argue for preparation over precision but knowing your actual maintenance calories without restricting your activity is very enlightening.  Performance is different for everyone, for some people it might just be enough to walk more, others might feel motivated to start lifting weights or jogging.  No matter what they all may have a role in your journey but I suspect if you are like me and you can focus on them in the order I am presenting you will enjoy your journey a lot more.  Counting every calorie for life is not something most people want to do so as an alternative making sure there are fresh cut vegetables in the house and time allotted for activity probably makes more sense for most people.  If you want to count calories do it the opposite way, now that you have calculated the values of the foods that you eat for a week or month simply find some of the foods that you can either reduce or be rid of for a short time, earlier I mentioned sunflower seeds, when I am looking to lose a few pounds the seeds have to go.



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