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A Kick-Ass Week Ends With an OMG Moment…

6monthbefore&after copy2

Click the link to enlarge the image

Note From Paul:  As I have mentioned before I don’t work with anyone.  I teach them to teach themselves   The one thing I taught Shannon was the same thing I teach all of the people in the Extreme Fat Loss class.  Don’t lower calories too low.  You have to keep enough energy to crush WOD’s and improve.  

This picture is pretty astonishing and one thing that seems obvious is that Shannon is on the right path this time.  Too often people with a lot of fat to lose get too aggressive and crush themselves in the gym.  This whole time Shannon has been eating at a slight deficit, mostly whole foods but enough to sustain her energy levels.  In Met Flex for Extreme Fat Loss we teach you to fuel your workouts with carbs, for clients with a lot of fat to lose I like those carbs to be whole foods.  Shannon averages roughly 2,500 calories and as you can see her progress is going great.  

Every Monday night we have a seminar for our members with a good amount of fat to lose.  You can attend these free when you purchase the book using the link above.

This is Shannon Talking Now

Ever since I did Murph, I feel like my body has never recovered.  It’s not a bad feeling; it’s actually pretty awesome.  My body has been more sore than it was during month 4 and 5 and I think it’s because I am pushing myself a little harder.  I wasn’t aware that I was pushing myself harder, but my body is telling me that I am.

This past week has been a pretty awesome one.  On Tuesday of this week, I RX’d a the weight in a WOD that I really did not plan on.  We had to do 40 lunges at 65#, 30 at 75#, 20 at 95# and 10 at 115# (with the same amount of toes to bar in between).  I warmed up with the 65# and thought, “No way in Hell can I RX this!” until my “friend” Jill said very matter of factly, “I didn’t think I could do it either…you can do it!”.  30 minutes or so later I was pushing through those last 10 lunges at 115#.  Never in my wildest dreams….

Thursday’s WOD was equally surprising for me.  Fat Grace….  Fat Grace is pretty much Grace, but lifting your body weight.  Well…..I currently weigh 220 pounds and although I may be strong, I am not THAT strong.  Hell, most of the men in my box couldn’t power snatch my body weight.  What to do, what to do?  Just do Grace?  I had never done it before, so it would be a good time to try it…NAH!!!!  Let’s up it to 105# and see what I can do.

My plan was to do 5/minute at least for the first 10 and then see what happens.  I really didn’t think I would be able to keep up that pace, but you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?  My expectation for this WOD was to hopefully finish before 10 minutes….

I completed my first 10 lifts, looked at the clock…1:59…Holy Shit!  Can’t stop now!  The next 10 took about 3 minutes and those last 10 were completed as the clock read 7:24.   I had to really think back and double check that I really did do 30 reps…Yep!  30 reps…..

My week of WODS finished up today as we did Barbara at my box.  Really?  5 rounds of basically the mid section of Murph (except let’s add in some sit-ups too)?  I was so ready to cancel my reservation, but my husband showed no signs of cancelling, so I knew I was in for it….  My plan was to do 3 rounds.  I can get through 3 rounds.  I just didn’t want to be the last one finishing…again…

There is no shame in finishing last, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, it gets tiresome when the elite and some not so elite athletes are huddled around you cheering you on.  While they are helping me push myself to finish so they can go away – you just wish they’d go away and leave you to your misery.  Today, Craig, our box’s Chuck Norris, walked by a few times cheering me on, and I thought, “You are lucky you are so adorable, cause I really want to kill you!”

I wouldn’t change it for the world though.  These elite Crossfitters give me something to work towards…one day, I will be that person that the person finishing last hates and loves all at the same time.

Anyways…back to Barbara…I finished all 5 rounds…45 minutes!  Woo hoo!!

Feeling so great about myself given my last week of WODS, I had my husband take a picture so I could compare it to my original.  That is what you see above.  While I am no where near where I want to be, it amazes me to see the difference in my face and body.  Damn, I was fat!

This is not my first drastic before and after.  About 10 years ago I weighed 295 pounds.  I was desperate and so unhappy and ashamed that I had allowed my body to get to that point.  My entire family, including me, was very active in Tae Kwon Do.  I loved it and was pretty good at it.  Unfortunately, my body could not do what I wanted it to do because of my weight.  Hell, sitting on the floor with my legs crossed was torture!

In November of 2003, I had gastric bypass surgery.  I came through the surgery with ease and was back to work within a week.  I stepped on the scale every day and was losing weight…every day!  It was incredible!  I tested for my black belt in Tae Kwon Do about 3 weeks after my surgery and felt amazing.  After all was said and done, I lost 150 pounds.  I got down to 150 pounds and looked pretty fantastic!  I was lifting weights at our gym and exercising – getting all sorts of attention too!

That all lasted about 3-4 years and then life happened….again.  I gained 100 pounds back and was terrified that I wouldn’t lose it again.  I tried several times, lost 10 pounds, gained it back, lost 10 pounds, gained it back…vicious vicious cycle….

Here I am today.  The before and after above may not be as dramatic as my 6 month before and after from my surgery, but it is far more gratifying!  I know that I will end up looking better than I did at 150 pounds, but the journey to get there is so much more rewarding than that journey I took after my surgery.  I know a lot of people reading this have struggled with their weight, just like me.  You need to keep going…don’t give up on yourself…you are worth the work and you will be so proud of yourself when you reach each tiny goal you have set.

Sorry no recipe today…BUT I have some delicious ingredients in my refrigerator for tomorrrow…..salmon burgers are on the menu for tomorrow!

Pan Seared Scallops and Roasted Kabocha Squash

Soooo, a little more about myself before I share this yummy dinner…

I really began my love of cooking in the past 5 years or so.  I have been married for almost 20 years (20 this June!) and have two boys, ages 19 and 15.  We have never been wealthy by any means (at least not with money – fun, laughter and love we have had plenty) so dinner was very often hamburger helper, meatloaf, spaghetti, etc.  It was whatever we could afford and were able to cook when we got home from work.  Once my boys got a little older, I began having this fascination with recipes.  I found that the Food Network was the channel I watched more often than any other and really began learning more about flavor profiles and how to actually COOK!  This new world of food and cooking opened up my mind about food in general and how delicious foods can be transformed into AMAZING meals.

I will be honest, my family and my husband’s family, is well aware that I DO NOT LIKE VEGETABLES!  What is crazy is how open minded I have become about foods that I would NEVER have tried prior, especially since I began this journey with Paul and Crossfit.  Simply understanding the value certain foods has when it comes to performing has completely turned my world upside down.

I am putting this out there to a lot of people who do not know my past….

I grew up VERY athletic.  With an older brother (who is the one who turned me on to Crossfit) who played football, basketball and baseball, I was constantly trying to keep up with him.  I played soccer, basketball and softball and excelled at all of them.  Honestly, I probably could have gotten an athletic scholarship of some kind if I had any kind of drive or knowledge about how athletic I was.  Unfortunately, I grew up around very well off families, most of whom were a size 6 or smaller.  With legs like tree trunks and probably having less body fat than most of the boys in my class, let alone the girls, I thought I was fat.  I had little self confidence and I believe that helped lead me in the path of self destruction.

After a rough breakup with my first love, I moved from Massachusetts to Illinois to live with my parents at age 19.  I decided this was a great time to change myself, both inside and out.  The first step was to lose weight….ugh…thinking back, I can’t believe how stupid I was.   I was probably eating less than 1000 calories a day… a yogurt for breakfast and 2 lean cuisine meals a day…biking several miles to the gym to do the stair climber for 45-60 minutes a day and then bike several miles back home.  In my spare time, I would run with my beloved dog, Rusty, to get him some exercise….I looked DAMN good….

I cannot even fathom the trauma I had done to my metabolism in this time alone….one good thing came of this time however…I met my husband.  From that one night I decided to talk to him (despite his lack of an ass) I knew I would marry him…

There is so much more that I will share as we go, but I want everyone to know that I am a real person who has struggled with weight and food her entire life.  There is far more to read about my journey, but I don’t want to give it all in one blog….(this is how we keep you reading these blogs…you have to know what happens next, right?)

With the help of my past failures and successes, Paul(Eat to Perform) and Crossfit, I think I might have it figured out…we’ll see I guess…

Anyways…when my pantry and refrigerator are scarce in supplies, I find I am at my most creative…

Today, while looking in my freezer, I found some large scallops, begging to be defrosted.  While I prefer fresh seafood, here in Minnesota, that is quite impossible…so frozen will have to do…

Kabocha squash…honestly, never tried it…  Another milestone to check of my “eating vegetables” list.  (Last night I ate FOUR pieces of broccoli!  That’s a pretty big deal for me!)  I got this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo since I had no clue what to do with it.  I am not sure if these two items really “GO” together, but they both tasted great!  Enjoy!

scallops

Pan Seared Scallops

Ingredients

  • 8 large sea scallops
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • A splash of citrus vodka

Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Melt butter in the pan and add scallops to the heated pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side (do NOT overcook scallops or they will be rubbery!) Remove the scallops from the pan and add the maple syrup and vodka to deglaze the pan, stirring constantly.  Cook the sauce for about 1 minute and pour over the scallops.  OH!  These are heavenly!

If I want to lose fat why shouldn’t I be on Carb Nite?

This wasn’t a question that came up specifically in one of the nutrition question and answers but it ended up being the answer to another question.  Namely should you be on Carb Nite Solution if you are trying to lose fat? That answer can be tricky and I have seen women doing Crossfit gut it out with what they believe is some level of success.  Typically the scale went down and certain parts of them look a little tighter because their inflammation levels were lower as a result of eating less than 30g of carbohydrates.  Here are some of the pitfalls these people run into:

Now realize I am having a discussion about populations that Crossfit and some of these negative symptoms can be lessened by eating more fats but that isn’t what most people do.  They eat about the same fat and try and rely on a calorie deficit to do the work.  It basically becomes the suckiest version of Weight Watchers ever.

1.  They often can’t sleep or have less sleep.

2.  Cardio workouts might be slightly better but during weight training they never feel really strong.

3.  Stress levels are high

4.  Metabolism slows to a crawl

Above is the video where I describe how you can do Carb Back Loading in a moderate way using Crossfit to create a drain on your energy system to get a similar result to Carb Nite Solution without the negatives.  Once again, this isn’t a knock on Carb Nite Solution, it’s a fine diet for some people and I have even had Crossfitters say it works for them.  Overwhelmingly though it’s unnecessary to restrict carbohydrate in an extreme manner with our levels of activity. The end result tends to be a more broken and confused crossfit athlete.

 

 

 

Scott Paltos Crossfit Games Competitor interview

Scott Paltos

Today, I’m bringing you a short interview with Scott Paltos, owner and operator of PUMP Crossfit & Performance in East Hanover, NJ.  Scott has a great background in sports ranging from baseball to powerlifting.  He’s worked as a Strength & Conditioning coach for over a decade and as of late, he’s become a top-level CrossFit Games competitor.  This interview focuses mostly on Scott’s experiences with Carb Back-Loading where he works with John Kiefer (the author of the book) in creating custom plans so he can perform better as a Crossfit athlete.  To download a copy of the book click here.  (using this link supports this site and gets you into the Q&A sessions where we dial in some of the concepts in the book)

Paul (Eat To Perform):  So tell us; how did you meet Kiefer, and why did you think Carb Back-Loading would be a good fit for you as a CrossFitter?

Scott Paltos:  You have to understand, I come from a true strength background.  So a lot of my online reading was with EliteFTS, T-Nation, and other more performance-related sites.  I read a little about Kiefer, and was kind of floored by his approach.  My whole performance career was based on small meals, frequency, balance, etc.  So when this guy came out with CBL, I had to reach out.  I reached out, and reached out, and reached out.  He responded after me being a pest for a little.  We spoke on the phone for a while.  We clicked with what we were looking to do (to raise my performance)…and bam, we are going into our third year.  Kiefer is a SMART dude, as well as a good friend.

As far as me thinking CBL would be good…it was not my first reason.  I wanted to get leaner and keep strength.  We not only did that, but also improved a good deal of my performance with it.  Since Kiefer and I started, we have done some form of CBL or CN.  Yes, we adjust me personally, but I think that is because I like ice cream and turnovers too much.  Haha!!!!  Remember CBL is not based on some theory; it is science, and Kiefer proves that in his protocol (this is Paul, and highly referenced scientific principles, you could spend a year reading the research Kiefer devoured to put this book out).

Paul:  I feel like your experience is different than mine.  When I first heard about CBL, I was just coming off of a year of Leangains, which leaned me out, but killed my performance in the gym. Since then, I’ve taken CBL and added 15 pounds of muscle. I suspect that building mass wasn’t a big priority for you considering your background.  Can you shed some light on what you’d hoped for, and ultimately what you gained from CBL?

Scott:  Listen, I am not as lean as I should be, and I don’t always perform like I can.  That’s sport…well the first part, is because I eat too much.  Like I mentioned above, I needed to get leaner.  Strength in the sport of CrossFit, for me, is not an issue.  I don’t really need to pull 600 for reps anymore…I don’t need to bench 500, but what I needed was a way to manipulate energy systems.  CBL has helped me create a better environment for my body to burn fat.  It has also helped me recover better.  Look, in this sport I am NO spring chicken.  My 36th birthday is in a few weeks.  I need that assistance.  Pure volume alone, it takes its toll on me.  Now, I can’t reverse the aging process, but I can help make sure it doesn’t get bad too fast.  With Kiefer, we have been able to do that.

Carb Back Loading is the only book we promote on this site and on the Facebook page because I think it’s the ultimate performance way of eating.  People always ask me, is it really worth the $53? Meanwhile they walked into the gym with $109 Nanos, carrying $139 Olympic lifting shoes and $47 custom jump rope.  From an athletic progress standpoint I think it’s patentedly ridiculous that people would spend that much money on gear and then balk at the price of this book.  Thoughts?

I agree 100%

Paul:  I am not a huge diet guy.  I don’t count calories,  but I tend to have a pretty good idea where I’m at most days as far as how much I expend and consume. I don’t consider CBL a diet; I consider it a strategy to integrate into my lifestyle, because (from my experience) a strategy as it relates to carbs is favorable related to metabolism and athletic progress.  What are your thoughts?

Scott:  Great point!!!! It’s a lifestyle for performance.  Do I recommend my PUMPsters to do CBL or CN…Hell yeah.  But I also will cycle their lifestyle off of it for a periods of time too.  You are manipulating hormones, metabolism, and chemically stimulating yourself with CBL.  It’s not just a ho-dunk methodology….BUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTTTT, you need to train correctly as well.  That whole concept sometimes gets lost.  Intensity is something that most CrossFitters are not missing, but knowing when and how much is key.  Let’s just say I am not always a fan of how some CrossFitters train, or think what they are doing is right.  The two (nutrition AND programming) have to coincide synergistically.

And the “D” word, diet…I have been on a diet since I was 12 years old and had to make weight for junior football.  Then I was on a diet to get bigger for football, then on a diet to get smaller, bigger….It is a horrible word.  I like “Lifestyle” or like you mentioned, “Strategy”.

Paul:  This is my last question, so I’d like to thank you for taking the time to do this Scott.  In the book, Kiefer is openly critical of CrossFit and paleo.  Many CrossFitters prefer to eat in a paleo style (which I believe is very realistic in combination with CBL and have written many articles on this very topic). I read Kiefer’s jabs at CrossFit like this:  “Carb Back-Loading isn’t the ideal nutrition protocol for CrossFit.”  It might not be the perfect fit for soccer either. With that said, it is BY FAR the best alternative I have come upon (aside from having your own personal Kiefer design a diet specifically for you like you did). How would you describe his criticism, and how did you reconcile that once you started working with him?  Also, do you follow a mostly paleo approach to CBL, or are your energy needs just so high that it’s almost impossible?

Scott:  This is a good one.  One:  Kiefer’s issues with CrossFit, from my view, is more of improper coaching, methodology of programming, and overall safety.  Guess what:  those are my issues with it as well.  So he and I are not far from it.  My gym, “PUMP CrossFit & Performance” in East Hanover, is a TRAINING FACILITY…not just a CrossFit.  A lot of people have seen, I do not program typical WODs from mainsite.  Not to say, that they are bad, they are just not for me or my PUMPsters.  Kiefer has caught slack, and really could not care less, for being critical of CrossFit.  The funny thing is, it’s not a rant he or I will go on.  It is strictly based on things that are seen and overviewed.  I believe a good deal of coaches in CrossFit feel entitled.  Just like a good deal of MMA coaches feel entitled.  “Well we are certified, so we can teach.”  SHIT, that is not it.  It takes years to become a great blacksmith or iron worker…What, it only takes a weekend or a few months to become a great coach or trainer?  No F’ing way…it takes time.  It takes the ability to work with people.  It takes effort and hours to work with groups.  Kiefer and I are on the same page.  You cannot just get a piece of paper and consider yourself an expert.  Do I know about Kiefer’s methodology, yes.  Do I preach it scientifically like he does?  Hell no.  There are good coaches out there, the individual needs to search for them.  Just because CrossFit is in the name, doesn’t mean it’s going to be right.

Sorry, I got off target.  Back on now…Paleo…great in theory, but not for me.  I have done CBL in a paleo mindset, I have done strict Paleo, I have done adjusted Paleo…Whatever, I have not had personal success for it in long periods.  I followed it for a while; my joints hurt more, my body recovered less…and that’s when I was in my off-season and training volume was low.  Kiefer adjusts me when I need it, but I have a pretty good grasp on when we will make changes.  If you really look at Paleo, most of the CBL meals, if done right are similar.  So there are some similarities. As far as my energy levels?  I am hyped up all day long.  Whether it’s the caffeine, or just me, I am usually pretty animated.  Around competition time there is a definite need for more intake, but I am getting better and not over regulating.  Again, my main focus right now is the season, staying healthy, and just having a good time.

I appreciate the opportunity to be in front of everybody with this, and I am always welcome to answer questions or chat.  Please feel free to email scpaltos@pumpcrossfit.com or contact me.  I do my best to answer stuff if they are general, but if it gets to the “I need to know” then I usually do ask for it to become a consultation.  Oh, and as far as the other question you asked.  “If I know any other CBL followers?”  Hell yeah…but they don’t call it CBL.  They just call it paleo with refeeds and paleo with “anything I can eat at night”.  Haha.  CrossFit followers who watch some of the personal videos of others, or read blogs from athletes, should understand what I am talking about.  There are a good deal of TOP athletes who follow a similar if not exact system of CBL.  They just don’t say it.  Good Stuff….good luck to all in the Open.

Scott Paltos

PUMP CrossFit & Performance

scpaltos@pumpcrossfit.com

 

Carb Loading – Paleo Women of Crossfit Version

Tomorrow we are releasing our Metabolic Flexibility chapters that you get when you purchase a year long subscription for $49.95.  These chapters are written by Mike T Nelson who is considered to be the authority on the topic.  When I wrote this article Carb Back Loading was the only book that closely resembled what I teach.  With two volumes of Foundations and now Mike’s chapters on MetFlex I can safely say this is NOW the best information you can purchase specific to our sport (that being high intensity weight lifting and OLY lifting).  Not only do you get that but you get seminars and a private group with other doctors and Crossfit athletes to support your new performance journey (how cool is that?).

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

This is a big topic for the seminars:  “How can a woman keep a healthy amount of carbs in her diet while also mobilizing fat?”  I realize that it’s all very confusing at this point, because there’s been a lot of buzz over the past few years surrounding fat loss on a ketogenic diet.  There are certainly a lot of women who’ve made dramatic transformations by cutting carbs, but the results may have come at a cost; for a small percentage of women, symptoms like irregular menstrual cycles and compromised fertility go hand in hand with calorie deprivation and maintaining a low body fat percentage.  If this doesn’t apply to you, you probably can’t relate, but for a few of the ladies out there, a bell just went off in their heads.  Another group of relatively lean ladies have taken a less restrictive approach to eating, and most are quite happy with their body composition.

Exercise Differences Between Men and Women

Aside from the obvious differences, men and women are biologically quite different and respond differently to exercise in a few important ways.  For instance, women burn fat more easily than men do while CrossFitting; due to a significantly decreased oxidative work capacity, women have been shown to use up glycogen more slowly than men do.  They rely upon alternate pathways to supply ATP to the muscle cells during intense activity.  So if women burn more fat while exercising, why are some of them struggling to rid themselves of what they consider to be excess body fat?  Although it has something to do with neurotransmitters and adrenergic receptors in adipose tissue, we’ll just say that each person stores and mobilizes fat differently; it’s dependent upon so many factors that it would take an entire book to adequately explain.  Once again, this is a complicated question that is largely individual, but I have and will continue to argue that there is a process of analysis that must occur.  In the long run, the results are enlightening and will lead to important discoveries about your unique metabolism.

What about Carb Back-Loading?  That Seems Like a Lot of Carbs…

Later, you will read three testimonies from women who Eat to Perform.  Not all of them are CrossFitters, nor are they CBL zealots, but that makes their experiences much more informative and broadly applicable.  Each of these women has formulated a conscious approach to carbohydrate intake that works for them.

Once you hear from them, you’ll agree that the contrasts between these various athletes are eye-opening.  All of them do some version of what I describe in this article, adjusted for their activity level, at various times.  Some do it by feel, some count calories and some carb cycle BUT every single one of them agrees that a high-functioning metabolism involves some amount of carbohydrates.

Adjusting CBL for Women

Back-loading can be intimidating.  Kiefer talks about “slamming the carbs”; images of doughnuts and turnovers dance before your eyes.  This rubs people the wrong way sometimes, because it doesn’t jive with what they consider a basic tenant of human nutrition; it seems insane (and unhealthy) to suggest that eating baked goods and pizza could help you lose fat.  When I started this site, I wanted to start women down the path of thinking more openly as far as carbohydrates are concerned.  That started a discussion and here we are with almost 200,000 people participating (it will probably be more if you read this down the road).  That discussion led to experiments for a lot of people and better performance while eating moderate carbohydrates.  I think I can safely say that women trying to lose fat might do well to try something out of their comfort zone and add some carbs/starches to their meal plans.

This Is a “Non-Standard” Recommendation

It’s important that everyone understands that no recommendation works for everyone.  You have to take the reins, but this is a safe spot for most active women to start.  I just posted an article with a link and explanation of how to calculate your energy requirements based upon your activity level.  It’s very informative so you should give it a quick read.  In the articles coming up you will see examples of women using vastly different approaches as it relates to carb strategies that all make sense.  We’ll go over this more during the seminars as well, so don’t sweat it if these numbers don’t work for you.

  • For our example, we’ll use a woman in her mid-twenties, 5’4”, 125lbs who CrossFits a few times a week.
  • We’ll start her on 125g of protein a day.  If you are particularly light (under 125 pounds) then you can get away with 100g.
  • 125g of carbs (ideally eaten in a small window post workout at the end of the day, similar to the way it is described in the book).  Again, if you weigh less than 125 pounds, 100g is a good place to start.  If you’re particularly active (or you train in the morning), you may want to add 25-50g of carbs to your post workout nutrition.
  • 125g of fat.  This will provide the bulk of your energy throughout the day and turn you into a veritable furnace of fat burning.

Starch Sources in Your Evening Meals

Part of the problem with very active women following a Paleo-esque diet is that they struggle to find energy dense sources that come from mostly whole unprocessed foods.  Fibrous vegetables don’t count; eat as much of them as you want throughout the day but leave them out of your evening meals.  While they may be packed with vitamins and minerals, they will fill you up and you may have a tendency to under eat when it comes time to “slam the carbs”.  This is one of the reasons I recommend having dessert on your back-loading days (ideally, the day before a workout).  My coconut milk smoothies are a great choice; I have also seen women get very favorable results adding dark chocolate and wine into the mix (as long as it’s in moderation).

As far as more traditional options go, we’ll keep this simple: sweet potatoes, squash (kabocha squash pictured above) are great carbohydrate sources.  If you’re open-minded, you could occasionally try some white rice too.  Starches are important, as they provide a quick source of glucose to spur muscle tone (really muscle growth but I digress) and trigger the hormonal cascade responsible for fat burning.  I think you’ll get a great response from these.  Finally, variety is the spice of life, so try different things and don’t be afraid to have a cinnamon roll before bed to prepare for a particularly brutal workout the following day.

Workout Days Followed by Rest Days

Because men burn through sugar like there’s no tomorrow, they can get away with back-loading every day.  Women have things a little harder due to their decreased usage of glycogen as fuel during exercise.  If your goal is to mobilize fat, I would suggest reducing your carbohydrate intake on these days, while simultaneously increasing your fat intake.  It may seem like it contradicts the entire ideology of back-loading, but by eating relatively low carb after training, you will ensure a glycogen debt and maximize fat burning hormones.  Using the example from above, stay with 125g protein, 100g of carbs and add roughly 22g of fat (preferably from sources like coconut oil and grass-fed butter) to make up for the loss of calories incurred by lowering carbohydrate intake.  That would shift your macros to 125p/150f/100c.

These are just my thoughts; you can play with this many different ways.  My goal is to convey a more clear understanding that a reckless approach is unnecessary; you don’t need to eat turnovers and pizza to back-load.  I hope this helps a bit in clarifying that.  As always, these are guidelines and not rules.

Summary

  • Men and women utilize carbohydrate differently.  Women are, in general, better at burning fat than men so they need fewer carbohydrates in their nutrition plans.
  • Ketogenic/low carb diets can cause fast weight loss but they are rarely ideal for optimal performance.
  • 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.
  • Women should strive to hit their protein goals first, and then focus on carbs and fat; in general, women seem to do well on 100-125g of carbs on training days.
  • Rest days can be modified to include more fat and less carbs; 75-100g may be appropriate.
  • 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.
  • You don’t need to eat pizza and turnovers to carb back-load; go for starches like potatoes and rice, and be sure to include some vegetables.  Coconut milk smoothies are also a great option.

 

Leptin, the hormone and metabolic trigger

So Leptin says to the brain “Yo homey, why you always hoggin’ the sugar”.  This is a leptin joke that will never catch on but it cracks me up.

Leptin Resistance

Most people are aware of insulin but many people are not as aware of the hormone leptin and its role in the body.  Leptin is sort of like insulin’s identical brother. Each is simply a signal for the body, and a hormonal signal at that. Leptin and its receptors are spread throughout your body and even those areas which do not see the light of day! Leptin is also found in your fat tissue.  It relays signals to your brain regarding energy balance and the brain relays back whether your body should release fat, keep it or store it.  So if you are on a diet, or have ever been on a diet then leptin is something you need to be well versed in.  Blood tests resulting in elevated triglycerides may impair your brains ability to process the relay messages between leptin receptors and the brain. This can serve as a sign of leptin resistance. One week of dieting can lower your leptin by 50%.

The role of leptin in the body is affected when insulin levels are too high due to increased inflammation related to excessive carbohydrate consumption.  Leptin is a complex topic, so complex that this short primer isn’t going to tell you all you need to know but it is a start.

Leptin excess leads to resistance of signaling, much like insulin in excess leads to downgraded organ signaling. When dieting too long or too strictly, especially when using a low carbohydrate diet as a tool for weight loss, leptin is lowered to an extreme level affecting the body’s ability to mobilize fat and keep hormones at healthy libido levels (this is the opposite of the scenario in the last paragraph).  This is where a big helping of sweet potatoes and bananas after a day of low carbohydrate dieting can actually spur fat loss, because you have now opened the door for leptin again and it mobilizes fat as a result (I keep referring to this as the Metabolism Switch and it’s one of the basic premises of the book Carb Back Loading).  As it stands, the body can become leptin resistant from excessive signaling but also levels can become too low from excessive restriction- both impair fat loss.

Carbohydrates are the boogie man of nutrition to many, even more so than fats, though there are groups on both sides who disdain both of them with equal fervor.  The detonator in the carbohydrate war is over simple and complex carbohydrates.  Simple carbohydrates consist of quick acting foods like white bread, cereal, table sugar, soda- very refined foods.  On the other side are complex carbohydrates consisting of sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes and quinoa.  That is a pretty wide spectrum to paint with a very broad brush (but I just did it baby!).

For a lot of people the Paleo Diet can cause Leptin issues but things are fine if they add Paleo starches and some occasional white rice and keep overall calories at maintenance levels. I have no beef with the Paleo Diet if you do it without restricting intake. If you are in a standstill as it relates to weight issues and would rather not count calories Paleo can be useful.  I can assure you it is more difficult to become obese eating in such a way.  That said, if you eat coconut fried sweet potatoes in all of your meals each day it’s not the diet that is the problem …..  Such a diet would clearly be nutrient deficient and you are likely well aware of that fact.

So now that we have cleared that up let’s move on.

Solving Leptin

Solving leptin goes a long way to having a healthy metabolism and one of the best ways to do that is to keep a moderate amount of starchy carbs in your diet. Certainly fruits are advantageous and even the occasional sugary treat can actually serve a purpose as the joke at the top suggests.

How Do I Know How Much I Should Be Eating? (w/ dead-simple calculator)

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

Ok, it’s time to get serious.  I talk a lot about eating “enough food” to support your activity level.  I realize that up until this point, that recommendation has remained relatively vague.  You’ve asked me, “How do I know how much I should be eating?” and I’m going to do my best to provide you with a succinct answer.  The problem with giving a one-size-fits-all recommendation, or setting up basic guidelines, is that they’re never right for everyone; each of us is a biochemically unique, adaptive organism living through its own personal challenges.  Even when a suggestion comes close, it needs to be tweaked as time wears on, or progression will wane.  Nevertheless, I’m going to do my best to explain what I mean by “enough food” and how to determine what that actually means.

Our new TDEE Calculator with activity multiplier

Here is the calculator for you guys to play with, but first, a few words of caution.  This isn’t a calorie counting exercise where you need to be all obsessive; running this calculator will simply enlighten you, show you what eating for performance looks like in a quantitative measurement, so you can make more educated decisions in regards to your food intake.  Before you start punching in your data, I want to ask you to look at this as a tool and nothing more.  Use this calculator as a means to establish a general idea of how much energy you expend during your average rest/training day, and go from there, always listening to your body and doing what feels right.

Without further ado, here is our new TDEE Calculator (remember almost everyone who Crossfit’s is considered “Very Active” and that is the calorie number we are looking at as your total)

Determining Activity Levels

Once you load the calculator, it should be pretty straight-forward.  You can ignore the bits about body fat percentage, waist circumference and such if you don’t have those data, but the “Activity” drown-down menu on the left beneath “Age” needs some special attention.  Half of knowing whether you’re eating enough comes from understanding how to define your level of activity.  The menu gives you several options; here’s how I’d suggest you match the categories available to your lifestyle:

  • Sedentary:  People who work a desk job and engage in very little (if any) structured exercise.  Chances are that if you’re reading this blog, this does not describe you, so you’ll probably avoid this option.
  • Very Active:  If you CrossFit or lift heavy a couple times a week, or if you work a physically demanding job, your activity level can probably be described as “very active”.
  • Extra Active:  For those of us who CrossFit 5-6 times a week.  Serious weightlifters and athletes, as well as folks who work jobs requiring hours of heavy llifting, fall into this category.

Again, because we’re all different and lead different lives, the TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) calculation that we arrive at is naught but a guideline; a person who lifts hay bales for 12 hours days will do well to classify their activity levels as “extra active” even if they’ve never touched a barbell in their lives.  A person who trains hard a few times a week but does little in the way of physical labor at work will err on the lower side of things.  Once you’ve got your numbers plugged in and your activity level selected, you’ll move onto the next page of the calculator: the macronutrient breakdown.

Macros:  What Are They and Why Are They Important?

Macronutrients are major components of your diet that are broken down into constituents to provide energy, build tissue and create hormones.  The ones we’re concerned with are protein (which provides 4 calories per gram), Carbs (4 calories per gram) and Fats (9 awesome calories per gram).  Just to clarify, micronutrients are vitamins that play an important role in how your body metabolizes the macronutrients that you make available.  A body without essential vitamins and minerals is like a car with a full tank of gas but no spark plugs.  This is why eating wholesome, nutrient-dense food is so important.

At the top left-hand corner, under “Presets”, you’re given several self-explanatory options.  I would recommend setting this to “Maintain” first and then to make adjustments with the sliders beneath the pie charts.  Here are some general guidelines for achieving different goals by manipulation your macronutrient ratios:

  • Improving performance/gaining muscle:  Increase your protein and fat on both days and increase your carbs on workout days.  Adding on an extra 3-500 calories for training days should help you put on some muscle and make some gains.  There are a lot of people out there looking to bulk up or get stronger with an all or nothing approach, but believe it or not, constant overeating may not be helping their progress.  Eating a little less carbohydrate on rest days can keep your body sensitive to insulin so that it can function properly when it needs the extra energy (around training).
  • Losing fat:  Simply eating at “Maintenance” calories and engaging in vigorous exercise a few times a week will help you lose body fat.  It’s important to eat when you’re active.  I write about it all the time because it’s true and I can’t stress it enough; you must eat enough or your workouts will suck and your long-term physique goals will be compromised.  To that end, a minor reduction in your carbohydrate intake on rest days that results in a 2-400 calorie deficit should do the trick and mobilize more fat, especially since you’re active.  Again, start small and work your way up.  Always pay attention to what your body’s trying to tell you.

 

A Real-World Example

I’m going to use Lindsey Valenzuela as my example, mostly because she is awesome.  Here are her stats that she tweeted the other day, with some minor adjustments to simplify the math.

  • Height:  5’6″
  • Weight:  150 pounds
  • Age:  26
  • Activity level:  Extra Active
  • BMR:  1572 kcal’s (basic calories you need to live)
  • Total Daily Energy Expenditure:  3000 (no wonder she’s so awesome)
  • Protein:  150g=600 calories from protein
  • Carbs:  300g (she is Lindsey after all)=1200 calories from carbs

That leaves 1200 calories to come from fat, so you divide by 9 which will leave us at 133.3 fat grams for the day.

Now let’s do a male example, but in this case he wants to put on 10lbs of muscle:

  • Height:  6’0″
  • Body fat %:  12%, 22.8lbs of fat
  • Lean Mass:  167lbs
  • Weight:  190
  • Age:  25
  • BMR:  2012 kcals
  •  TDEE:  3470

To get him there, we’re going to have him eat about 4,000 calories on training days, broken down into 187g of protein, 407g of carbohydrate and 181g of fat.  Now, let’s assume that several months have passed by and our male example’s training and diet were spot-on.  He gained 10lbs of muscle mass while adding only 2lbs of fat to his frame.  This is a great accomplishment, and his numbers look like this now:

  • Body fat %:  12%, 24.3lbs of fat
  • Lean Mass:  177.8lbs
  • Weight:  202lbs
  • BMR:  2115 kcals
  • TDEE:  3649

Compare the two sets of numbers:  A man at 190lbs and 202lbs, retaining the same body fat percentage burns only 100 more calories at rest, and only about 200 more throughout a day.  That equates to an extra hour of light activity or sleep…A sweet potato here or there.  First and foremost, it takes a lot of time, hard work and perseverance, but only a modest alteration of energy expenditure and intake to lose or gain weight.  The precise numbers are generally unimportant; as long as you’re within the ballpark everything is okay.  There are special circumstances where your unique biology and lifestyle require you to eat more or less but I’ll touch on that and explain why this is all so fuzzy in an upcoming article.  For now, what I want you to take away is this:  After you’re eating enough good food to end up in the general area according to the numbers, how you feel, how you perform, and how you look should always be the first indicators you assess when determining the effectiveness of your training and nutrition.

Summary

  • Everyone is unique, so there is no “one-size” diet prescription.  We all need different amounts of food based upon our height, weight, body composition and activity levels.
  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of calories you would theoretically spend at rest.
  • Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is the amount of calories you burn in a day.  This is based upon your BMR and then multiplied by an activity multiplier.
  • We recommend eating at or just slightly below your estimated TDEE to ensure proper recovery from training
  • Using our calculator, you can determine your expenditure without doing any math.
  • Macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrate) provide the bulk of the energy in your diet.  By eating more or less of each, you can manipulate your weight, body composition and performance without restricting calories.
  • How you look, how you feel, and how you perform are more important than any number on a scale or a calculator.  

Flipping the Metabolic Switch

light switch

For most people that blog about the way people eat I easily have the best folks to work with.  People who do Crossfit and eat correctly basically make what I talk about extremely easy.  I have worked with body builders, power lifters and models in the past.  Most of those populations are trying to put a round peg in a square hole.  Imagine working with a PowerLifter that needs to lift in a weight class trying to pull triple their body weight with less food.  Body builders and models are legendary for eating disorder type behavior but those populations are getting a lot smarter as more scientific information gets out there.  For us Crossfitters, our focus is simply, to get better at Crossfit and we know from the many folks around us each that are all “ab’ed” up that it really does work.  But it’s not working for everyone, for every #SOGO warrior out there, there is also someone in the back of the gym kind of pissed off that they are killing themselves every workout with marginal gains in the mirror.

Why Ketogenic Diets work and when they become a metabolic disaster?

I talked yesterday about the fact that John Kiefer has two books, Carb Back Loading (check out my article on CBL adjusted for Crossfit and Paleo populations) the one I recommend, and Carb Nite Solution–which I don’t recommend.  John is a pretty smart dude and CNS is so drop dead easy that the book is basically all about why the diet works.  Go figure, an author that actually explains the processes that make the diet work.  In my opinion it’s the best Ketogenic book on the market but Crossfitters don’t need another Ketogenic diet.  They need a performance way of eating and that is the gaping hole that Carb Back Loading fills.  Wait, what? That’s right, the way you are eating combined with your activity level nets out to about the point where the Ketogenic Diets become effective.  To flip the metabolic switch when you are an inactive individual the key is strategic carb days like I describe below.  For active individuals, the approach takes on a life of its own and many options become available.

In 2007, I lost nearly 40 pounds as a relatively sedate individual, this left me “skinny fat” but still probably a somewhat healthier version of myself.  I wasn’t moving but I was seeing results.  I fought through all of the headaches and the sleepless nights and got to the other side.  Towards the end, I looked like the walking dead and there is no way in hell I could have done Crossfit.  Basically, I did a Ketogenic Diet with a cheat day.  That cheat day often left me sick, I would obsessively make lists of all the foods I really wanted to eat and just pound them on that one cheat day.  Gradually I was able to manage things a bit better and looking back, all of the pieces of the puzzle were there I just hadn’t put them all together yet.  Instinctively I reduced the window of cheat days from about every 7th day to about every 4th day, otherwise the scale wouldn’t move.

You have to remember I was NOT doing Crossfit at the time.  Which is good, because I couldn’t have done it.  Because I didn’t understand why what I was doing worked and at that time, I didn’t know the details on how to not get sick in the process.  In the end, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I was a metabolic disaster.

I will never recommend a Ketogenic Diet, for anyone, even good ones like John’s because when the scale stalls, the only option people feel they have is to start eating less.  I have found they are unnecessary and can lead to harm in the wrong hands and I think it’s only natural that when the scale isn’t moving you push the panic button, eat less and that’s when things get real bad.

I was just too smart to be fat

If you want to know a synopsis of my life it’s pretty simple.  I don’t follow the crowd.  I walk into most situations with a skeptic’s eye.  There are varying degrees of success people have with “eat less do less” diets but they don’t end up more whole as a result.  I often describe this as the best version of themselves.  Not only active and healthy but those results can be shown on paper through bloods tests and or body fat analysis.

If you aren’t eating any starches and one piece of fruit I am going to say you are probably hurting yourself.  No amount of “rah rah” cheerleading bullshit is going to make that better.  Also no amount of “sugar addicted” proponents can truly explain to you why their approach isn’t working for you, after all, maybe you are just being a baby (does it not stand to reason that with few energy dense options craving sugar represents craving more energy, this isn’t rocket science folks).  “But it’s working for everyone else”.  Is it though? I mean really? Because I hear a lot of people talking about progress but it doesn’t really show.  Not in the mirror and not really in the gym.  “But I am faster and I am stronger”.  This does happen and I can explain it easily.  From a cardio perspective if you pull all of the water out of your body (that’s part of what Ketogenic diets do) you are going to weigh less.  Do you think that would be favorable as it relates to your cardio abilities? Seems obvious right?  But what about strength gains, people often PR while eating low carb and Crossfitting, so what I am saying might not jive with those folks.  Here is that answer and I am just going to lay it on the line.  You weren’t all that strong to begin with.  As someone that knows a fair amount of powerlifters I can tell you that they hone in on their areas of weakness and just hammer those spots.  Then after hammering it they find different ways to hammer it.  In some ways powerlifters are the perfect example of what I am talking about even though many of them are thought to be on the heavy side.  To lift real big you have to realize your muscles potential, powerlifters are a great example of this.  By keeping insulin high they gain muscle but many of them also get fat in the process and they become reluctant to lose weight because they think it might compromise their strength (they are probably right without proper guidance, however even with proper guidance there are no guarantees).

Your Diet Sucks

Your Diet Sucks was a book concept I came up with after many years of not knowing the little details of why all of the diets I was on didn’t work out in the end.  I am not going to lie to you, when you read Carb Back Loading it’s a bit shocking.  It doesn’t seem real and if you haven’t read the book you probably think it’s a book exclusively about making poor food choices work.  The exact opposite is actually true.  The concept I wanted to write about was going to describe some level of metabolic flexibility where I learned to move from one energy system (fats) to another energy system (carbs) and not only was it favorable it allows you to become the best version of yourself.  And then I started hearing about Carb Back Loading.  It has a few warts and if you come from a Paleo background it’s probably difficult to see all of the donuts and cherry turnovers.  I am not even an ardent low carber and it got to me a bit.  Kiefer has talked about this on multiple occasions and has said that while a super Paleo version of carb back loading might not be totally optimal it’s actually pretty close to the way he eats.  He and Robb Wolf are positively gushy talking to each other.

The only book that I could have wrote would not have been technically better than Carb Back Loading but it would have been aimed at regular folks that might not need every detail covered.  I have talked about this a bit, can you do carb back loading without reading the book, that answer quite simply is yes.  But there are some details that make GIGANTIC differences.  By the time I found Carb Back Loading I was doing things mostly right and I found tips in every chapter that made big differences for me and I have gained about 15 pounds of muscle in little over a year.  Those tips only helped.

If you are considering buying the book I would ask you to use the various links on this site.  I don’t recommend a lot of stuff so I need readers to know that it keeps me blogging when you purchase things directly from me.

Here is my blog on CBL for Paleo Crossfit type folks. There is a download link on that page and also one on the sidebar.

Carb Back Loading for Crossfit and Paleo

Sweet PotatoesCarb back loading is probably the best version of what I refer to as a metabolically favorable way of eating.  The focus of this style of eating is not to create a deficit at all, it is to get your metabolism humming along like a Ferrari so when you enter your Crossfit gym you are ready to perform.  The points where I disagree with Kiefer are not significant but I think it should be brought up.  The fact of the matter is simple, if you are looking for the absolute best book to understand what goes on in your body and WHY this book does that better than any I have seen.  If I find a better one, I will put that one in the sidebar but, for now, this is the holy grail for a high functioning metabolism that allows you to burn fat.  The book is expensive, is it worth the money? I think it is.  Much of what I talk about on my blog and the associated Facebook page covers topics in the book.  The book however does a good job as a “one stop place” for an approach to eating with the scientific references to back it up.

Carb Back Loading is $53 dollars, when you consider all of the $109 nanos, $139 OLY shoes and the list goes on none of those will help your understanding of how your nutrition self and athletic self work together quite the way CBL will.

To Download your version of Carb Back Loading click here

This blog exists to help people understand their health and performance.  It is a business and as such I sell things.  I only sell things I use and I only promote products I believe in.  If you like this blog and you like my content and are considering buying this book I would ask you to use this link.

Can you do this Paleo?

Absolutely you can and it probably best describes how I eat.  I rely mostly on sweet potatoes for my carbs and occasionally white rice (many Paleo authors are starting to include white rice in their “safe to eat” foods for athletes).  My coconut milk smoothies are a perfect addition to the fat back load which is used in conjunction with carbs to get a better response before bed.

Cherry pineapple and Banana Chocolate Hazelnut smoothies

Some minor points of differences

Kiefer suggests A LOT of supplements in the book.  I wouldn’t necessarily say I disagree with his recommendations as much as I would say they aren’t necessary for all populations.  If you are eating a diet of mostly whole foods with adequate protein you have it mostly right.

Is this THE way of eating?

I think if you asked him John would describe this style of eating as the best strategy he has come up with for extreme athletic performance.  BUT IT IS JUST A STRATEGY.  It is not THE way, you could certainly take the concepts in the book and put the pieces together for an optimal way of eating designed for you.  As someone who coaches people on their diets there a lot of one off’s that you need to account for.

Even though people spend 100′s of dollars on personal trainers and Crossfit memberships they are often reluctant to spend the money for a book like this.  That is a mistake.  Even if you never carb back load you will learn infinite strategies related to how to eat to perform (catchy right).

Carb Nite Solution

The other book offered is called Carb Nite Solution, that will appeal to many people who will see it as the holy grail of fat loss.  You won’t however see see a link or it in the sidebar of this site because Ketogenic Diets (even good ones like CNS) are a metabolic train wreck for Crossfitters, especially women who have a history of extreme dieting.

He doesn’t seem to like us Crossfitters

The original versions of Carb Back Loading  was for PowerLifters and Physique Competitors (you see them as the testimonials).  His criticisms of our approach to fitness is legit for optimizing squatting 1,000 pounds or even getting shredded down to 5%.  So if those are goals of yours then you should understand that Crossfit isn’t a good method for reaching those goals.  Crossfitters are attempting different goals.  Let me put it to you this way, if you want to become the best version of yourself this book will show you a great approach to get there.  I also believe that if you play with it a bit, Kiefer describes his approach as Legos, it might take a bit to figure it out completely.  Certainly if you have any questions on how you can adapt this approach to eating to Crossfit leave a message in the comments and I will attempt to help you.

What about all of the donuts and turnovers?

You’ll just have to get over that part.  Think about it, people want an approach to eating that allows them to perform athletically WHILE ALSO allowing them to make some poor choices.  Is the turnover and donut approach vastly superior to a more Paleo approach? I have tried it, it didn’t feel right.  FOR ME.  I am a 44 year old man but I wouldn’t recommend the turnovers and donut approach to most populations.  Do I realize that it might describe an approach to the way some people want to eat? I certainly do.  If you are doing the 80% version of Paleo or even the version that Dr. Cordain recommends in the Paleo Diet for Athletes this can be easily accomplished with carb back loading and just/almost as effective for optimizing Crossfit as the donut approach might be.  Any differences would be minimal and unless you are an elite athlete those differences likely won’t matter for you and your progress related to Crossfit.

Tackling the Sugar Addiction question

First let me start off by saying I don’t make light of addiction.  I have been free of chemicals for 26 years, it destroyed my life as a teenager and I had to leave my family to get treatment for that illness.  So while things kind of worked out for me in the end I still deal with repercussions of that illness to this day.  Let me give you the timeline for this addiction.

- At 18 I was admitted to a treatment facility for 3 months where I underwent extreme psychotherapy

- I then was admitted to a halfway house in Minnesota (where I currently live), I stayed in that facility for 6 months as did most of the residents there.

- I am originally from New Orleans, La. one of the coolest places on the planet.  Most of my family still resides there or near there.

- After leaving the facility in Minnesota I decided to acclimate for a bit before heading back home.  New Orleans held a lot of temptation then and now so I really wanted to make sure I had it right.

- 26 years later I am still here, I met my wife about 6 months after leaving the halfway house.  I often get asked “what makes a person come from a warm weather place that seems as cool as hell to a miserable wasteland (their words not mine, it’s really not so bad and Prince is from here)” my simple retort is often “had to be a woman, right?”

- My children have a great life and our family is well supported by people that care for us but it’s incomplete.  It’s a little tough looking your father in the eye as he tears up because he is being robbed of seeing his “grand babies” grow up.  That is one small casualty of addiction.

So yeah, I take addiction real serious.  As a drug treatment counselor I heard many stories of people who stole their grandmothers microwave to buy crack or compromised their humanity to get a fix.  So while sugar is a powerful chemical can we at least set the bar as a SEVERE consequence that possibly compromises who you are as a result.  Before anyone suggests obesity, let’s not confuse not knowing WHY with uncontrollable behavior.  So let’s start there.

The insulin hypothesis

The insulin hypothesis goes like this, if you can keep insulin suppressed it solves body fat storage because insulin is said to be a “storage hormone”.  Let’s be clear about this, body fat can store without the presence of insulin through multiple channels.  Insulin is more accurately described as a building hormone.  Eat correctly and it builds muscle, eat incorrectly and it BUILDS/stores fat.

It has been proposed that if you can control insulin you can control your health, that is the basis for all low carbohydrate diets.  As many of you know that frequent this page/blog I recommend eating carbohydrates with strategies related to the time you workout or even eating in a smaller window in the evening.  No matter which macronutrient we are talking about I believe you should have a strategy as it relates to that macronutrient.  I also believe that you should have some general idea of your overall intake needs daily and adjust those needs related to your activity level.  Let me give you an example of what that might look like, for protein I try to get around 160g a day, each gram of protein equals 4 calories, so I need 640 calories from protein a day (you don’t really need to count calories daily to have a good idea of your protein intake but it might be helpful for a week or so just to check, knowledge is powerful).  Through massive trial and error I have found a good balance of about 200g of carbohydrate, up to 300g if my activity is higher, once again, I do this intuitively but as most of you know I am pretty good at this whole nutrition thing.  Carbs also equal 4 calories per gram so I need 800 to 1200 calories of carbohydrate to support my daily activity.  While yes I realize carbohydrates are a non-essential macronutrient they are very favorable as it relates to metabolism.  I know this because I basically cured my hypothyroidism related to chronic dieting once I went down this road of discovery related to my intake needs.  Which brings me to fats, through various ways including dexascan and bodpod testing as well as trial and error I know that I need about 3000 calories a day to support my activity levels.  Once again I don’t actually count this stuff but I am also not naive as it relates to the caloric values of the foods that I eat and also know what those foods represent in my body.  Which is another article for another day and not germain to the discussion of sugar addiction.  So fat calories basically equal the rest, if I get 640 calories from protein roughly and 800 calories from carbohydrates that leaves me with 1560 calories coming from fat, fat calories (as most of you know) equal 9 calories per gram, so my fat intake represents more than half of my calories, which is right about 170g a day of fat alone.

For the ladies in the crowd I will use my wife as an example without all of the dirty details. Protein 120g, carbohydrates 150g, total calories for her (she is a crossfitter so quite active) are 2400 a day (she doesn’t count either but eats in an intuitive manner similar to the way that I do).  So her fat calories represent also over 50% of her calories at 1320 or roughly 146g from fat.  From what I have seen my wife is pretty average but I would like to put out there that everyone’s life journey should be a bit more self discovery.  In a lot of ways that is why I made this blog and my accompanying Facebook page, it is my life’s mission to help people navigate these personal struggles.

If you think you don’t need to eat that much to support your activity level you are almost certainly wrong.  Even if you are right it is only minor degrees.  I am not saying this as someone using two people as an example, I have many case studies that prove this.

So let’s start there as it relates to your sugar intervention.  Until you actually KNOW these types of numbers and have worked towards this level of self discovery and you haven’t had to miss carpool to prostitute yourself for a twix bar (you are going to have to imagine this in Jeff Foxworthy voice switching our redneck for sugar addict) “you might not be a sugar addict”.  Just so people know I am not stereotyping I pick up carpool for my children and I can say to you “god willing” I haven’t had to miss carpool for a twix.

So why so much fat?

I like fat as a primary fuel because it’s very stable, I have heard it said that over reliance on glucose (carbs) for energy is like burning a fire with kindling and fat is like putting a log on the fire.  At rest, for most people, fats are a great source of daily energy levels.  Fats also keep insulin blunted and while it seems odd fats can be a good STRATEGY as it relates to your body fat levels.  I highlight the word strategy because my way and my wife’s way might not represent the best way for you.  That will be part of your self discovery but stick with me and I will give you some clues on how to get there.  Don’t be fooled though, the insulin hypothesis goes like this,  keep carbs out of your diet and you will be in fat burning mode all of the time.  Not only is this wrong it’s borderline irresponsible and has left many people broken with eating disorder type behaviors as a result.

The effects of Carbohydrate on a Ketogenic approach to eating

In an attempt to figure out if they are in ketosis many people pee on their hands each morning to check their ketone levels.  I don’t mean to make light of people working towards a better style of eating but there is a crucial aspect they are missing.  Carbs are said to be a non-essential macronutrient because your body can exist without them, the body requires glucose (a fuel source readily available through actual food) so much that it actually can turn fats and mainly protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis (I misspell this word non-stop).  It’s an inefficient process and can often leave the user with headaches as a result.  The brain functions mostly on glucose but I don’t want to get ahead of myself, it can however function on Ketones which is the by-product of fat metabolism.  So while yes if you can suffer through the bad workouts and the headaches it is indeed possible to use fats as a primary fuel source but the net result as it relates to body fat mobilization becomes dependent on the amount of fats you eat as a result.  The process is relatively inefficient for athletic populations and virtually impossible as a strategy for Crossfitters that want to excel.

It has been well known for a long time that when you eat in a ketogenic way and then cycle your carbs that stimulates metabolism whether it by intraday, bi-daily, weekly or whatever floats your boat.  When you eat low carbohydrate and then you have a carbohydrate re-feed (you eat a good amount of carbs) you not only mobilize fat but the net result tends to be more favorable than the “eat less do less” model of eating.  This is because a low carbohydrate way of eating suppresses the hormone leptin which is the primary mover as it relates to body fat mobilization.  Suppressed leptin levels can lead to hypothyroid like symptoms and is often the result of extreme dieting.

So low carbohydrate dates get to a point of diminishing returns as it relates to body composition.  I will say there are always outliers where it can work but those are not the majority of folks that go down the low carb path.

I am going to stop here because this is going long

I am not going to make any promises related to WHEN I will write the second part of this article but you already should have some thoughts flowing through your head related to “sugar addiction”.  The next article is going to focus more on strategies related to eating that will allow to better understand your bodies signals.  Let me end on this note though, most people who think they are sugar addicted are underfed, plane and simple.  Since low carb dieting is not favorable as it relates to metabolism down the line people often need to reduce their fat intake to try and chase their body composition goals which is like driving towards a point that is continuouslyy moving.  Those that aren’t underfed are simply relying more on glucose (carbs or sugars) as their primary fuels and this can be handled easily by adjusting their diet patterns.  Here is the deal, you miss the sugar because the brain really really likes sugar, if you gave the brain sugar all of the time it would just ask you for more because, well, brains are gonna brain.  That’s what they want.  If you provide your brain adequate nutrition with strategies related to how the rest of your body manages your fat the equation for optimal health starts to appear.

I am thinking the next article should probably be called “The case for responsible energy management” but let’s be honest, no ones gonna click that.  So I’ll probably call it something like “The Sugar Addiction Cure debunked”.  I’m tricky like that.  Oh yeah, Doctor Oz can suck it.  I can’t believe people still think his information is even remotely responsible.

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