Archive | carbohydrates

Seven Tips for Using Paleo or Zone to Eat To Perform

Helpful Tips

I think we offer the best option for athletic performance compared to pretty much any other strategy out there because you can do Paleo, or Zone, or whatever else.  It’s not a diet, it’s a strategy.  Eating adequate amounts of carbohydrates around your workouts and then using fats at rest is a pretty simple idea.  Met Flex for Fat Loss is the book we wrote specifically for this community.  We back it up with a Private Forum run by a team of helpful advisors we call the Science Lab.  We also hold four webinars each week where you can talk to Paul Nobles and Julia Ladewski.  When you buy the book from the link above, you get access to both of these features.

1.  Men and women utilize carbohydrate differently.  Women are, in general, better at burning fat than men around workouts so they need fewer carbohydrates in their nutrition plans.

2.  Ketogenic/low carb diets can cause fast weight loss but they are rarely ideal for optimal performance (and long term fat loss).

3.  While it may not be extremely common, some women suffer some unfortunate side effects when they get really lean and/or deprive their bodies of carbohydrates.  For this reason, it’s better to adopt a less restrictive approach to carbs.

4.  Women should strive to hit their protein goals first (1 grams per pound of body weight), and then focus on carbs and fat; in general, we suggest using 75g-100g of fats in the ETP calculator and solve for carbs to give you some idea of the ballpark you are on in for training days.

5.  Rest days can be modified to include more fat and less carbs; 75-100g may be appropriate.

6.  As with most things, experimenting with more or less carbs will help you arrive at a balance that works for you and allows you to look and perform the way you want to.  Also before or after workouts is another big one (excluding AM workouts where you eat your carbs the night before).

7.  You don’t need to eat pizza and turnovers for carb sources; go for starches like potatoes and rice, and be sure to include some vegetables.  Coconut milk smoothies are also a great option.

If you struggle meeting your protein requirements daily I would suggest Progenex products.  Using this banner will get you 10% off.


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.


Extreme Fat Loss: Skinny-Fat Edition

warning fat loss

Many people coming from aggressive deficit dieting or low carbohydrate backgrounds get scared of minor weight gain as they start to adapt to a more performance way of eating.  It’s 100% normal to need to navigate this mentally and the best way to do that is with other people.  That is what the Science Lab does and we have Extreme Fat Loss seminars every Monday night  for more information click here.

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

I think it would surprise most people how inaccessible a lot of diet authors are; most of them just write their book, promote it, and then they’re done.  After the initial campaign, they might keep a blog and publish a post once a week.  Maybe they’ll release an amendment to the book in a few years.  All-in-all, there’s very little in the way of support for their product and they rarely practice what they preach.

I have had a lot of luck conversing with high-level authors about studies I find interesting, or successes I have had putting their concepts into practice, but when things start to go awry those e-mails go unanswered.  When I mentioned my plans for the Science Lab, one of my better friends (Who is also a well- known author) said, “That sounds like a train wreck.  This is a numbers game; a lot of people fail.”  Then I said something to him that made him pause:  “What if they fail because they went the wrong way and no one was there to put them on the correct path?”

It’s been a very rewarding experience working with people on a personal level as it relates to their health and fitness journey, but the one thing that does suck a bit is that some people don’t come out on the other side.  They’re hearing a lot of other voices, and sometimes that can also become confusing.  The simple fact is this:  there is no single answer to every query.  Everybody’s path is unique, and there will be much deliberation along the way.  Most people that land at my doorstep have been on the proverbial treadmill for some time, and they want answers now.  Let’s talk about a very common problem that is oftentimes the first bug we have to squash.

what got you fat

Why Low Carb Diets Kill Performance

To begin, let’s clarify what I mean by “low carb”:  less than 100 grams of carbs a day qualifies but it depends slightly upon the person.  It’s a sliding scale; 100g is about the point where brain function is covered, so if that is all you are eating there isn’t a lot left to feed your muscles.  This doesn’t mean you will wither up and die, but it’s not optimal whether you’re a man or a woman.

I am talking to a mostly active audience.  Certainly, if you don’t do very much with your body, some level of carb restriction probably makes sense but even in that instance, it can be harmful to your metabolism to take it to an extreme.  When you add activity (Especially high-level activity like CrossFit or weightlifting), even 100g can become potentially harmful.

Let’s do the math:

  • Your brain and other vital organs use 100g of glucose or more every day.
  • Let’s say you burn 300 calories during a WOD.  Most of those calories come from glycogen storage within the muscle.  (Let’s use 60% carbs as an example.)
  • That would be 180 calories from carbs, divided by 4 calories per gram.  You end up at 45g of carbs used for the WOD.

If you have ever wondered why you feel lethargic after a WOD, now you have some idea.  Your diet barely provides enough glucose to keep your brain going, let alone fuel the workout.  Your body has to find an alternative path to produce energy, since carbs aren’t being made readily available.  It would be nice to think that you’d draw on stored body fat, but fat has to be mobilized before it can be used as a substrate to produce glucose in the liver.  This process is neither quick, nor convenient, but it works under the context of endurance activities.  As far as anaerobic exercise is concerned, muscle glycogen is your best option and you’re running low.  You CAN get by like this, but your power output and maximal strength will likely suffer.

Why Low Carb Diets Make you Skinny-Fat

As most people know by now, carbs and sugars stimulate insulin production.  Insulin is primarily a transport hormone; it helps get nutrients into cells.  This is helpful as far as building muscle goes, but when you’re in a calorie surplus, insulin also helps create fat stores.  When there’s no more room for carbohydrate in the muscles or liver, it will be converted to fat.

When you eat low carb, insulin secretion stays at a minimum and cells become hyper-sensitive to its signaling.  In the short term, this is actually great as far as fat burning and muscle retention are concerned, but it’s a problem if you want to build muscle.  A lot of the protein you’re eating is being used to produce glucose rather than stimulating growth; at best, you’ll retain your muscle mass, but over the long term you’ll start breaking down muscle tissue to produce glucose too.  If you’re not eating enough total calories, you will waste muscle and your body fat percentage will increase.

To make matters worse, your muscles will eventually become insensitive to insulin and the fat mobilizing hormone leptin, leaving your cells inflexible and flat-footed.  This also has a negative effect on your endocrine system.  In general, it’s unnecessary and at worst it can cause all kinds of metabolic dysfunction.

You end up weak, skinny fat, and your metabolism is essentially broken.   Certainly, I am not pitching for extreme levels of dietary carbohydrate intake.  Rather just enough to support muscle maintenance, repair and a little growth on occasion.  Like most things, quality is more important than quantity.

All Carbs are not Created Equal

To replenish muscle glycogen, the quickest and most efficient sources are going to be starches.  Something like Kale or broccoli might be good as far as vitamins are concerned, but your body will derive very little net carbohydrate from these sources and you’ll have a heck of a time refueling your muscles.  Sugars are a step in the right direction, but most are inefficient as they are only partially glucose.  A notable exception is dextrose, which is a100% glucose form of sugar and is popular in supplements and sports drinks.

For a more in-depth look at optimal carb sources, review this article.

So How Does This Person Recover and Lose Fat?

The answer is actually so simple, it’s going to make you mad, but it’s also difficult to quantify immediately.  Because the person wasn’t eating enough carbohydrate to aid in protein turnover, all they need to do is eat enough to start putting on some muscle mass.  Much of the “fat” that was gained was simply the body trying to protect itself, as well as a decrease in lean body mass that artificially inflated your body fat percentage.  When you eat an adequate amount of quality carbs from whole food sources (We’re not talking three pints of Ben and Jerry’s) you start refilling your muscles with water and glucose, and as you lift heavier weight you add density and functional tissue.  The results tend to be quite extreme, and they happen relatively quickly.  It’s not uncommon for someone to gain five pounds of muscle within a few weeks.

The best part is that as long as you’re active and you eat relatively clean, all of that added weight is lean mass.  If you have been depleted for some time, you can actually mobilize some fat, but the numbers don’t tend to be quite as significant; you won’t lose 10% of your body fat but 1-2% isn’t out of the question.  What you are doing however is aiding your work capacity in a significant manner, and as you gradually build muscle mass (women may refer to this as “muscle tone”) you can start to chip away at your body fat.  Meanwhile, you end up squatting more, deadlifting more, and making Fran your bitch.

Two of the rarest commodities, patience and understanding, are required to get there.  This approach might set you back a few weeks or months before you can tell that the train is definitely on the right track.  Most people instinctively know that the direction I want them to go is the correct path, but old habits die hard.  Remember this:  I am not saying you shouldn’t eat low carb occasionally.  In fact, that is a central theme of what we teach in the Science Lab, but you should always allow for maintenance and growth of muscle tissue.   Under eating and low carbing won’t get you there.   It’s only half of the equation.


  • A big part of why Eat To Perform is dedicated to providing support for our users is because everyone is on their own unique path and sometimes, the people who don’t succeed were the people who needed a more in-depth look.  We want to see people achieve their goals!
  • Your brain and organs use about 100g of glucose on a daily basis, just to keep you alive.  Low carb diets do not allow any energy for your muscles, and your workouts will probably suck.
  • When your workouts suck and you’re not providing your body with enough carbs to increase protein synthesis and retention, you’re going to lose muscle mass.
  • A low body fat percentage without a significant amount of muscle mass results in a damaged metabolism and a gaunt physical appearance.  Without a lot of muscle, you will never diet away the last bits of fat.
  • How do you fix yourself and get back to burning fat?  It’s simple:  you eat enough carbs and food overall to fuel performance!
  • As your performance increases, you’ll get stronger, you’ll add muscle mass, and you’ll be able to burn fat at appropriate times, resulting in an overall improved body composition and optimized health.

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!


Special offers for Hard Gainers and Lean Bulkers

john keifer

The man in the picture is John Kiefer “Kiefer” wrote the book Carb Back Loading which happens to be one of the best books as it relates to the specific needs of people looking to gain mass without adding a ton of fat doing so.

The book is $53 but it gets you into the Eat To Perform “Science Lab” for a 3 month subscription as well.

For $53 this is what you get:

  • Obviously you get the get the book which is in my opinion the best manual for people in your specific situation.
  • 3 months of seminars that help you dial in how to eat talking to real live people that have done it using the concepts in carb back loading as a template.
  • Once you buy the book email and we will get you set up with all of the free materials from the Science Lab and then you will be able to sign up for classes.

Download Carb Back Loading using this link

The other option might be just as attractive

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The link to purchase Simply Pure Nutrient Supplements

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.

Carbohydrates: Whole Foods and Supplementation

sweet potato


We get asked a lot from new members to the Science Lab which carbohydrate sources are best.  Here is a good guide.  Click here to find out how to join over 600 other athletes.

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

In recent years, while the rest of the world continued to live in fear of fat, the fitness community totally embraced it.  Carbohydrates became the target of our frustrations; we blamed them for making us fat, compromising our immune function, keeping us inflamed, and generally ruining our lives.  We’ve learned our lesson now and carbs have had their reputation restored.  It’s really about time, considering the role that carbohydrates play in the performance of nearly every sport, especially weightlifting.  Still, there are some things we need to discuss as far as what’s optimal.

Why Fruits Aren’t Optimal

Without a doubt, one of the hardest things to tell someone that’s seeking improved performance and body composition is that fruit should not make up the bulk of the carbohydrates in your diet.  The reason is two-fold:  first of all, as the nomenclature implies, most fruits are chock-full of fructose, as well as sucrose (which is just a compound of glucose bonded to fructose).  As far as performance goes, these two leave a lot to be desired.  Like glucose, after fructose has been cleaved into its separate parts, it’s instantly absorbed into the bloodstream during digestion and merrily sent on its way to the liver.  However, while glucose sort of passes through and heads out to be utilized by other tissues by way of glycolysis, fructose metabolizes through its own unique pathway (fructolysis).  It kind of hangs around and turns into pyruvate, then into glucose which is used to replenish liver glycogen storage.  These stores are accessed to create glucose for other tissues during times of low blood sugar and stress, when plasma concentrations of glucocorticoids (like cortisol) are high.  As far as performance goes, it’s nowhere near as efficient as simply storing glucose as readily-available glycogen within skeletal muscle.

The second issue here is that once liver glycogen is full, the rest of the fructose you ingest is promptly metabolized into triglycerides; consuming more than 50-75g a day (200-300 calories) is a surefire way to store body fat.  This is especially true for women, who typically express a lower capacity to oxidize carbohydrate during intense exercise than men (although they do burn more fat).  Now, that doesn’t mean that fruit is out the window.  If you train hard 5-6x a week, your liver will hardly have an opportunity to fully replenish glycogen stores, and as valuable source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, fruits have definitely got their place in a balanced approach to nutrition.  Furthermore, you’d have to eat a lot of fruit every day to reach that kind of fructose intake, and most fruits do provide glucose as well.  To that end, you’d also have to eat a lot (and I mean a lot) of fruit to satisfy your carbohydrate/calorie requirements after training; it’s just not optimal (or in some cases, feasible) to rely upon fruit as an energy source.  Thankfully, there are other natural sources of carbohydrate available that are positively brimming with glucose as well as important micronutrients.

Starches are an Athlete’s Best Friend

Starch is a glucose polymer found in most plants that is chemically similar to our endogenous glycogen; it’s literally just a long chain of glucose molecules bonded together.  Although humans have a tough time digesting the stuff raw, cooking breaks it down into pure glucose ready for utilization as a substrate to produce cellular energy throughout your body.  Of course, whatever you don’t use can be stored, preferably in your biceps, quadriceps or abdominals.  While some of the most widely-consumed sources of starch (and thus glucose) are grains, like corn, wheat and rye, plenty of Paleo-friendly alternatives exist if that’s your thing.  At the forefront, we have good ol’ fashioned tubers, like potatoes and carrots, as well as rice (preferably white because the fiber in brown rice actually impairs glucose loading a bit), but let us not forget chestnuts and acorns that are rich in starchy energy.  Squash, peppers, zucchini and cauliflower round everything out and give you a wide palette of flavors to choose from.

Now, it is completely up to you whether you munch on sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, or white rice over brown rice.  It’s worth considering however that the fiber content of potato skin, as well as the germ of brown rice, can slow digestion.  It’s not that big of a big deal, but it’s potentially disadvantageous in situations where we need to shoot for quick glucose uptake (like after training).  The most important take-away here is that you need dietary glucose to effectively replenish muscle glycogen.  If you’re really looking to optimize your carbohydrate strategy, you can take things a step further and get into supplementation through a few different means.

Carbohydrate Supplementation and Liquid Nutrition

Whole, natural foods should absolutely comprise the foundation of your nutrition.  I won’t argue against that, but I do think that there are a few unique situations where integrating supplements into your plan can really bring your performance to the next level.  The most important time to consider what’s been coined as a “recovery drink” is immediately after your training.  This can make a dramatic impact on your energy levels and recovery if it’s formulated properly, and you have a plethora of options available should you go this route.  On one end of the spectrum, you could throw a potato into a food processor along with some coconut milk, and wind up with one of the most interesting-yet-effective post-workout drinks known to man.  Alternatively, a mottled banana with some dark chocolate in a coconut milk base may be slightly more appetizing (and socially acceptable!).  Add teaspoon of sea salt to either of these concoctions and you’ve got the perfect storm in terms of quick gastric emptying and nutrient absorption at the small intestine.  If pureed foods aren’t quite your style, you can go the more traditional route and purchase a commercially available supplement.

At this avenue, your best bet is to go with modified starches like maltodextrin, dextrose and waxy maize; not only are they typically very affordable (especially if you buy in bulk), but they’ll blend right in with your favorite protein powder and provide you with exactly what you need to begin restoring glycogen within your muscles as soon as possible.  50-100g of maltodextrin or waxy maize will do the job but you can experiment with more or less based upon training intensity, duration, and the amount of muscle mass you carry around.  As far as taste is concerned, dextrose is very sweet, whereas waxy maize and maltodextrin are generally bland and flavorless.  This is worth considering, especially if you’d like to use a supplement as a means to beef up the carb content of an existing protein shake that you’re already incorporating post-workout.  You probably won’t want to add any dextrose under these circumstances, but if you’re starting completely from scratch, a little bit can go a long way towards making the maltodextrin/waxy maize palatable.  In addition, a bit of sodium to your post-workout nutrition can increase the rate of absorption of whatever other nutrients you’re ingesting, so throwing dextrose into the mix may be even more important (unless you grew up drinking salt water.)

Hopefully this information will help you make more optimal decisions in regards to where you get your carbs from.  It really doesn’t make sense to exclude any one source, but the majority of your carbohydrates should come from starches and vegetables like potatoes, squash and rice.  This will keep your muscles full and give you the energy you need to perform.  Fruit should be approached as a means to supplement your micronutrients and round out your carbohydrate intake.  To top it all off and make the most of your training, you should also consider implementing a liquid nutrition strategy post-workout.


  • For a time, carbohydrates have been demonized, but they’re a great source of energy and an integral part of any nutrition plan that’s aimed at keeping performance at peak (or improving it).
  • Fruits are not necessarily the best choice for fueling your muscles because they provide as much fructose as they do glucose.  Fructose can only be stored in the liver as glycogen or as triglyceride in fat tissue.  Your muscles need glucose to refill their energy stores.
  • Still, fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals and are absolutely a part of a great nutrition plan.  Try to keep your fructose intake below 75g every day; it isn’t hard to do at all if you don’t drink juices/sodas/sweetened teas etc.
  • Starches are your best friend.  Paleo-friendly alternatives include rice, potatoes, ripe bananas and oats.  Make sure that you eat plenty of these in the evening to replenish muscle glycogen.
  • Liquid nutrition in the form of pureed foods can be consumed before and during training; this can help you maintain performance during long training sessions or events.
  • Supplementing with a carb powder like maltodextrin during or after training can be a great way to maximize recovery.  If you drink a protein shake post-workout, adding maltodextrin is a great option.  Also, throwing a little salt to the mix will help keep you hydrated.

How Crossfit Athletes Should Do a Calorie Deficit

Elisabeth Akinwale

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

The “Science Lab” is a service I offer to active individuals that are looking to reach their body composition goals.  The classes work in a similar fashion to the way WOD’s work, they are scheduled and our coaches walk you through what you need to do to achieve your optimal physique.  We have two pricing options, $19.95 (4 payments with cancellation option) or $49.95 for the year.  Click here for info on what you get and how to buy Met Flex for Fat Loss.

Also this is an example of one of our women’s class.  We offer both men’s and women’s at the moment as well as an “Extreme Fat Loss” class for people with a bit more fat to lose.

In a previous article, I offered you the “Eat To Perform” calculator that basically takes your height, weight, age, and bodyfat percentage (if you know it) to determine the calories that you need to supply basic function to your organs and nervous system.  It then applies a multiplier related to your activity levels to determine your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure).  Getting an accurate guess at your BMR and TDEE can be extremely useful as a jumping-off point for figuring out how to achieve an optimal, balanced nutrition plan but there’s a ton of conjecture and misinformation surrounding the subject.  A big part of what I teach in the seminars is a deficit strategy that emphasizes sleeping more, eating better and maintaining a healthy metabolism through non-restrictive eating.  This leads to better work capacity, improved recovery and increased fat mobilization.  Understanding the difference between a healthy deficit and a potentially disastrous reduction in calories can be difficult, and that’s what I want to talk about in this post.

This is how the calculator works in a nutshell:  you input the variables, and it spits out both your BMR, and then your TDEE.  There are three options, all of which serve to describe some level of CrossFit activity.  The first selection is “moderately active” (WOD 2-3x a week), the second is “very active” (for folks who WOD 4-5x a week), and then finally “extra active” (for the “two-a-day” folks and people with active jobs that also CrossFit).  There are three standard formulas used to calculate BMR displayed, as well as an average.  The final TDEE calculation cannot factor in little things like walking up stairs or standing in line at the movies, but for most people it’s an extremely useful guide.

What We Teach

The basis of what we teach is that first and foremost, as an athlete, you “Eat to Perform”.  What does that mean in real-life terms, and can it help you lose fat?  While many people think that the be-all, end-all, “works 100% of the time” fat loss solution is extreme calorie deprivation, that line of reasoning does not apply to anyone with a career, a family and athletic aspirations on the side (this goes double if you are a competitive athlete!)  In the real world, a human being with a real life needs real food and they need enough of it to recover from the stress of their daily lives, so if you are looking to take the information you gleam from a calculator, and eat at your BMR (the number without the activity calculated in) until you reach your body fat goals, you will be sorely disappointed with the results.  Once you have used your low carb/low calorie “Ace card” and beaten it into the ground, you don’t get another one for a while (if you ever do again).  If you started from a place of calorie restriction, and then started low carbing as well, you probably got really confused.  It wasn’t the panacea that everyone had made it out to be.  I’ll tell it to you straight: when all is said and done, for 99% of the people I work with, deprivation is not the answer.

Every day, you have a few dietary “goals” you need to achieve to maintain your body and keep getting stronger.  At the top of the list should be to eat enough total calories, and then depending upon where you’re going and how you feel, possibly a little more.  That’s what “Eat to Perform” means; it means realizing that active populations need to prioritize supplying their bodies with enough quality nutrients to support athletic achievement, no matter how great or small these achievements are, we are all athletes.  It doesn’t however mean that you need to be obsessive about your diet, or even count calories.  Rather, you need to be aware of times when you’re just not eating enough; don’t fret about the over-consumption you always assumed was the real problem.  By putting how you perform in the gym and in your sport first and eating enough, you put cravings (both physiological and mental) to bed and set yourself up to achieve an optimal body composition without all the neurotic behavior we commonly associate with looking good naked.

Getting There

People that haven’t been engaging in an overly-restrictive diet method can start eating close to (or more than) their TDEE with extremely good results.  Everything under the hood is usually in working order and the added energy (specifically from carbohydrates) fires up their metabolism.  They start hitting personal records and sleep becomes more restorative; they become a less-cranky and less-fatigued athlete ready to pound the living daylights out of any challenge that presents itself.  For others, it will take a while to get the machine fired up and tuned correctly but in time everything will kick into gear.  For those folks I recommend caution.  But what does caution look like?

This is an example, so take it as such.  Using the information and tools we’re making available to you throughout this blog, you should be able to reverse engineer it to apply to your life:

Let’s say you plug all your numbers into the calculator and you get a TDEE calculation of 2440 calories.

I would suggest starting slowly with a 10% reduction in calories, trying to work up to your TDEE number (if you are a CrossFitter and you are cutting more than -10% off of this number, you are probably causing serious damage hormonally.  It’s unnecessary and it’s not conducive to your goals.)

We subtract 10% from 2440, bringing us to roughly 2200 calories as our goal.

If you counted your calories and figured out that the “healthy” broccoli and chicken diet you’ve been eating every day for the past six months only adds up to about 1200 calories a day, proceed with caution.  Start by upping mostly your fats initially, and strategically add in carbs around workouts and in the evening.  I will attempt to show you how you can do this, but for the future we are designing a more advanced calculator and this will serve as the template for how that will work (it actually exists now).

Solving for Fats

I need to update this part of the article but currently my recommendation is to solve for carbs using the fat recommendations I have on the calculator page.  I am finding this to be a much better approach than random macro suggestions.  Here is what I wrote:

“Let me also add a note, many people adjust the carbs lower and end up getting a higher fat number and try this with high fat using a lot of oils to get there.  This is a mistake.  Try solving for “carbs” using the paramaters below (also note that adjusting protein higher is typically favorable and will keep your carbs at a reasonable level, this is a guide not a rule):

Women 75g-100g (I would probably default to 100g in most instances)

Men 125g-150g (I would default to the lower number in most instances)

The simple fact is that if you want to get your metabolism kick started carbs and protein are better for doing that but you want to try and play with things a bit, you are in charge not a calculator on the internet.  The goal is adequate protein and moderate carbs.”

A nice safe spot I recommend as a starting point for carbs is 100g for women and 150g for men (for someone already lean and trying to polish off that last bit of fat you would actually up the “safe spot number in carbs to body weight in grams as a starting point).  The ultimate goal, however, is to continue adding carbs to fuel your performance in the manner we teach.  Each gram of carbohydrate yields 4 calories, so for women that is 400 calories derived from carbohydrates, and 600 calories for men.  I am going to use the example above and apply it to a woman (though technically gender is irrelevant).  Our gal weighs approximately 150 pounds, so that gives her two options: to solve the energy deficit with fats, we need to factor her protein requirements, but protein is easy.  The two best ways to estimate protein needs are simple.  You can eat 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight in (for example, 150 g of protein).  The alternative, and what I recommend when people have a good approximation of their body fat (even if you are wrong it probably doesn’t matter all that much, knowing this puts you way ahead of the curve) is to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (LBM).  Our example is sitting at 25% bodyfat.  (All of this by the way is conveniently done for you by using the calculator, we are only offering this up to show you the “what’s and why’s”)

The easiest way to do this is to multiply her bodyweight (150) by 75%.  150×0.75=112.50.  This would be the minimum amount of protein in grams that I would recommend for a 150 pound woman, and I can assure you that many 150 pound women aren’t getting this much.  That scenario is not favorable as it relates to maintaining the amount of muscle mass we’re churning over in our workouts.  This negatively affects body composition, leading to a lower BMR and ultimately body fat retention.

If you are struggling reaching your protein goals we recommend Progenex products and when you use our banners and links you receive 10% off.  If you are interested here is a post on why the hydrolyzed whey that Progenex uses is better than standard whey products.

As far as rest days and training days go, there are a few strategies you can employ to determine how much protein you need.  On higher fat days, I like to see people eat more protein; the amount should be closer to your body weight in grams.  For our example, we would have her at 150g.  This actually serves as additional protection related to protein turnover when carbs are low by providing adequate amino acids to fuel gluconeogenesis as well as protein synthesis.

Now we’ll get down to some final calculations.  This will be a low carb, high fat example using our example’s bodyweight as a protein goal.  We have her carbs at 100g, therefore 400 calories of her daily intake will come from carbohydrate.  Remember, this is not a fixed number or “standard recommendation”; this is a starting point.  You will often do better on more carbs.  Protein also is factored at 4 calories per gram, so 150g (1g/lb. of bodyweight) would put her at 600 calories coming from protein.

We derive 9 calories per gram of fat.  To solve for fats we simply subtract the 2200 calorie goal she’s using as a cautious strategy (you’ll recall that we’re going off of a TDEE of 2440-10% which equals 2200 calories), trying to work towards eventually eating to the level her body demands.  We take the calorie sum of carbs and add that to the sum of the protein (400 calories from carbs + 600 calories from protein) and then subtract those two numbers from her calorie estimate of 2200 which puts us at 1200 calories left to come from fat.  We then divide by 9 (1200 divided by 9 equals 133.3 grams of fat).  This may seem like a lot of fat but when you cut the carbs, the energy has to come from somewhere.  In a perfect world, you’d derive your fat calories from endogenous body fat, but that just doesn’t happen.  Exogenous dietary fat is a requirement and most low carb dieters are not eating even close to these amounts.  That is yet another reason they are struggling to reach their body composition goals.  Anyway, drum roll please!

Final total:

Carbohydrates 400 calories (100g)

Protein 600 calories (150g)

Fats 1200 calories (133.3g)

Solving for Carbs

Now let’s look at a day where our hypothetical woman is taking a slightly more aggressive approach to her carbohydrate consumption, to really get that metabolism functioning optimally.  For this example I am going to set protein at LBM levels.

Carbohydrates 800 calories (200g)

Protein 450 calories (112.5g)

Fats 950 calories (105.5g)

Vitargo Image

If you are looking at a way to add some more carbs into your pre and post workout regimen obviously whole foods work but the best and quickest absorbing carb is Vitargo.  It’s also a great way to take advantage of some favorable body conditions when your cells are most receptive to taking in carbohydrate (similar to what we wrote in our book on Metabolic Flexibility specific to people that Crossfit and lift weights intensely).  The goal of carbohydrate consumption is to get what you need and to get back into “fat burning” mode.  There is no carb source on the market that does this better than Vitargo and if there were we would sell you that.  Click here for more details and to buy Vitargo directly with free shipping.

“But a Calorie Isn’t a Calorie”

This is a popular argument and it might surprise people to know that I mostly agree.  The problem is that it’s one of the only quantitative measurements we have available to go on.  Besides, what I am suggesting isn’t a standard recommendation; it’s merely a starting point.  I will write more on why calories might equate to the values I mention above, but this is the hand grenade approach (not the horseshoes approach).  Right now, I am trying to get you to take a thousand-foot look at your diet and determine whether or not you’re really eating enough, or if you’re putting a damper on your progress simply because you’re not eating enough.  In practice, I don’t count calories; I have a basic understanding of how this all works, and as I add pieces (food) to the puzzle (my body), I simply check how they fit in and I know not to force things if they’re just not budging.  Until you’ve developed a similar approach and learned how your body reacts to certain foods and energy balances, some level of gross management may be necessary.


  • Prolonged periods of low carb dieting can equate to underfeeding, and this can lead to all kinds of metabolic derangement.
  • Eating to perform means eating enough food to sustain and improve your work capacity, strength, agility, and sport specific skills.
  • Form follows function; by putting performance first, you can achieve an optimal body composition.  That may not mean you walk around at 5% body fat, but you’ll be lean and muscular without eating in a restrictive fashion.
  • Start by getting a ballpark figure of how many calories you need to eat every day (TDEE).  Although it may seem like a lot of food at first, most of the time you will create a calorie deficit through your training and eating more (not less) will promote positive body composition changes.
  • If fat loss is your primary goal or you’re coming from a period of calorie restriction, subtract 10% from your TDEE calculation to give yourself some room to eat a little bit less.
  • Men should start at 150g of carbs on training days and dial it in as they go.  Women should start at 100g of carbs. (lean people need to start at their weight in grams to maintain conditions favorable to maintaining the muscle they have earned)
  • Eat 1g of protein for every lb. of bodyweight.  If you know your body fat percentage, you can eat 1g for every lb. of lean body mass.
  • Counting calories may be necessary for a short period of time while you get a handle on how much you need to eat, but you should ultimately try to eat more by how you feel, look, and perform than any number.

The gradually awesome approach – April Blackford

April Simmons Blackford

This article is similar to the approach we teach in the Ladies Specific Q&A sessions.  The “Science Lab” allows you to interact with other people in a similar situation to yours and ask questions in a virtual classroom setting as well as a private group.  April is one of the Science Lab moderators.  When you buy our book Met Flex for Fat Loss you get a membership to the Science Lab and our webinars for free.

First, let me start out by saying that for as long as I have known what a true “carb” is, I have always (I guess not technically always) had a sort of “fear” of them. Within the past 6 months, the light bulb finally went off in my head and I had that much-needed “Ah-ha!” moment. This has truly got to be the best thing, both physically and mentally, to have ever happened to me.

I want to rewind to when this amazing experience first occurred. I am a member of the LeanYou Facebook group and in August 2012, we decided to have a friendly 16 week competition where guys and gals were separated into categories of cutting and bulking.  At the time, I honestly did not have a lot of so-called “weight” or fat to drop, but I had bulked over the summer and put on some extra fat that I wasn’t feeling comfortable with.  I decided to be a good sport and join in, to help keep the others in the group motivated. My initial plan (in my mind) was easy:  I thought, “Well crap, I’ll just go low carb with a once-a-week reefed, drop a bunch of fat and breeze through this!!”  Well, that was a nightmare; a freaking nightmare. If you look up “freaking nightmare” in the dictionary, it will reference a picture of me. I was still continuing to lift heavy at the gym 3 days a week. The first couple of days were fine, but then my workouts started to suffer. Actually, they sucked. I was so weak that my body would tremble with simple movements like dumbbell bench press. My main lifts, like deadlift, squat and bench press, were even worse.  My pulse would race to the point that I felt like I was going to have a heart attack, but I kept up with it for 6 weeks. At the end of the 6 weeks, the scale had only moved a whopping 3lbs.  “Only 3lbs???!! What??” I wanted to eat my sweet potatoes, kabocha squash, and Brussels sprouts more than once a week!! So, I sat and thought it out and said, “There has to be a better way.”

Abandoning Low Carb was scary

I immediately stopped the low carb method and started on more of a moderate carb cycling approach. The new plan consisted of low carbs on rest days, two medium carb training days, and one high carb on my heaviest training day. What happened? I started slowly dropping fat and at the end of the 16 weeks, I was down 14lbs. After the competition, I knew I had to reverse out of my diet and reset my body and hormones. At this point, my body was screaming at me.  ”What the heck are you trying to do to me!!!?” I had consistently eaten at a deficit for 16 weeks. It was time to start back increasing my calories and carbs, and yes, I was nervous; I think it is natural to have that feeling. I knew to expect an increase in water weight, mainly for the simple fact that carbs hold more water.

First week: I increased all my days by an extra 25g of carbs compared to what I was eating at before. I did that for two weeks, increased again and continued ‘til I reached my highest level yet. I was now at 150g on rest days and 225g on training days…YAY!! Time for happy dance! I get to eat carbs every day now, not just the days where I slam some heavy weight around at the gym!

Now Performance is the driver

Fast-forward to where I am now: I have been eating at maintenance since November. My strength has blown up in this time. I hit a new deadlift best of 220lbs for 2 reps a few weeks ago.  Something magical has happened; I stopped caring about the scale and losing weight, started focusing only on my lifts, and I’m getting leaner! I officially weigh 7lbs more now than November. My abs look good, my arms are getting vascular, and my butt is growing (this was the year of the butt for me you know.)

Strategic Carbs within reason

Now, what and when I eat is probably the next question. I eat protein/fat throughout the day and save the majority of my carbs (especially starchy carbs) for night. Is it Carb Back-Loading? I don’t know; I guess you could say I do a clean version of some sort. I eat a LOT (and I mean a LOT) of sweet potatoes…Like, I am seriously obsessed. I love yams; Japanese and Okinawan varieties the best. I have a natural sweet tooth, so I don’t care for regular potatoes or rice too much. My absolute favorite carb source is kabocha squash; I could seriously eat this every single day.  It is not as starchy as potatoes, therefore I limit these to my rest days only, but can you imagine eating 2lbs for less than 300 calories?

When that “Ah-ha!” moment occurred to me, things changed. I finally stopped obsessing, and started seeing results. The moment when I realized that less it not always good, and more is better, is when the magic happened. As I tell my friends now, “Don’t be scared of the carbs.” They are truly magical for me. Like, really magic.

Seminar Schedule is Posted

Seminar Schedule



To view the full schedule simply click the image and it will enlarge.

For a few weeks now I have started to put into place the pieces of what is ultimately becoming a school that will teach people much of the information that we talk about on the facebook page.  Clearly there are some concepts that require more than just a passive comment or a two sentence post.  Initially this will be a soft launch open only to people that have purchased Carb Back Loading through our site (so they are the guinea pigs).  This will allow us the ability to work through some of the kinks and allow me to hire some staff so I don’t have to teach all of the classes.

The only way to get into these seminars at the moment is to purchase CBL from this site.  Here are the details on what to do after that.

Currently there are 5 classes and we will be offering them at various times and adjusting as the need arises:

1.  A CBL follow up class to try and answer any tricky questions that arise from the book.

2.  A ladies specific class

3.  Meal Planning with Ashley Drobney (this one is going to be fun)

4.  Supplementing for Performance (with Paul and special guests)

The last one is pretty exciting, every week we will have a special guest on Monday evenings.  I will announce the topic but not the guest, so it will be a surprise.  I can assure you that you won’t want to miss these, they are free and will not count against the credits you earned from buying the book (essentially two sessions and then the free classes on Monday).

For people that already own Carb Back Loading

It will be at least a week before we can take paid sign ups and honestly I don’t want to sign up a bunch of you guys and disappoint you anyway.  Try to be patient and we will get this open to the larger group, in the mean time I will try and get up some of the discussions so people have some idea how the topic matter will work.


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