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Five Thoughts on why “Oils” may be Detering your Fat Loss

Butter

A big part of your fat loss journey is learning how to avoid some of the common pitfalls that deter fat loss.  In our book Met Flex for Fat Loss, we detail how and why it’s better to rely on fats while you’re at rest…And then flex your metabolism to run on carbs around your training.

Here are some tips on :

  1. A balanced diet of carbs and fats is necessary to achieve optimal performance.  There is nothing magical about a low carb diet, and it will probably have a detrimental impact on your performance.  Still, going low carb occasionally can be of some benefit.
  2. Relying too much on oils and butter to supplement your fat intake on low carb days is a big mistake; it’s too easy to end up in an energy surplus if you go overboard.
  3. You should get most of your fat from whole food sources like grass fed beef and wild-caught fish; these sources are rich in anti-inflammatory Omega 3s.
  4. Use butter, ghee, and olive oil in your cooking.
  5. Many people enjoy a Bulletproof Coffee w/ coconut or MCT oil in the morning.

If you’d like a more in-depth look at how and when you should (and when you should not!) be using oils in your nutrition, check out our article “Addicted to Oils.”

Addicted to Oils (not that kind)

oil gusher

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

When we introduced the ETP Calculator, a lot of minds were blown.  The (seemingly) no-brainer concept of eating enough food to fuel an athletic lifestyle (like CrossFit) flies in the face of conventional “diet” advice; the majority of the fitness community still believes that you need to create a massive calorie deficit to lose body fat.  As far as we may have come, many potential converts to the balanced, intuitive approach we espouse here at Eat To Perform still insist on sticking to the low carb diet that got them where they are now (but killed their performance), albeit with an appropriate amount of overall calories.

While it’s certainly favorable compared to under eating, a balanced diet of carbs as well as fat is vital to achieving optimal performance and body composition.  Developing the Metabolic Flexibility to transition between fat and carbohydrate metabolism is a large part of what we talk about in the Eat To Perform Science Lab groups and seminars.  Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about a pretty disturbing dietary behavior that some people are engaging in on their control days, and I had to say something to clear this up.  I’m talking about the over-reliance on fats from oils and nuts to hit daily macronutrient goals.

The conversation typically goes something like this:

“So I have my TDEE, and I set my carbs at 100g (This is very low; that only really covers basic brain function) and it says I need 174g of fat.” 

This is just an example, but it’s very common.  So that’s 1566 calories from fat alone.  Don’t get me wrong; fat rules!  It’s very important and we’re big fans of getting a healthy amount, but like I said, you need carbs too…Anyway, at least they’re getting enough overall calories; we’re moving in the right direction…Or so I think.  Next, I hear something to the tune of…

“I don’t really like fats from meat, so I have been taking 4 tablespoons of olive/coconut oil/grass fed butter/etc. to get there.”

At this point, I can’t help but think that something has been lost in translation.

Fat CAN be Stored as Fat 

A commonly accepted myth among proponents of low carb diets is that it’s impossible to store fat on a ketogenic diet.  They’re only partially right about this one; as long as calories are low and you’re in a deficit, it’s pretty hard to store fat as fat.

This is where the disconnect occurs as far as Eat To Perform and a very high fat diet is concerned:  We aren’t eating a low calorie diet per se. 

We suggest a “mostly building” approach to overall energy intake that allows you to put on muscle so that you can burn more body fat while you’re at rest.  Muscle looks good, it increases performance, and it burns fat.  The whole process is easier with carbs in the mix to get the insulin flowing.  The issue is ultimately that many of the fats people are reliant upon to meet their goals (especially on rest days where your energy expenditure will be slightly lower to begin with) are some of the easiest to store.  It’s simply too easy to end up in an energy surplus if you go overboard with these sources.  That doesn’t exactly benefit you if you’re trying to lean out.

When to Use Fats and Oils

I hope nobody reads this and gets the wrong idea.  Please don’t misunderstand me; I am not suggesting that you to abstain from the use of these fat sources, but intentionally adding them to your diet in an effort to keep carbs low is a big mistake.  Under these circumstances, you would be better off just eating slightly less for the day.  Nobody should be downing tablespoons of oil to meet fat/calorie goals!

This is what I would recommend:

  • Butter or ghee (long chain fatty acid, best with low carb portion of the day):   Cooking your eggs with these options is fine.  Frying your steak?  Once again, that’s fine…But intentionally adding several tablespoons of butter or ghee to get your calories up is unnecessary.
  • MCT Oil (short chain fatty acid): I’m a fan of Bulletproof® Coffee from time to time, but not every day.   MCT oil is converted into energy very quickly so it’s pretty hard to store.  That doesn’t give you license to slurp down endless amounts of this easily-available energy source; 1-2 tbsp. In the morning and post-workout may be appropriate.
  • Full-fat coconut milk (once again short chain): Look, if you have had a relatively light day meal-wise and you have gotten in your protein, have at it.  For most people, relying on full fat coconut milk as a main energy source that they use daily is going to be a mistake.
  • Olive Oil (long chain fatty acid):  Contrary to popular belief, olive oil is not a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids so there’s no point in attempting to replace fish oil with it.  Don’t avoid cooking with it or using it as a base for your salad dressing, but please, leave the gratuitous olive oil chugging to Furious Pete:

Why Low Carb in the First Place?

While there are health benefits to following a low carb diet (such as controlling hunger, decreasing systemic inflammation, and improving insulin sensitivity) there is little evidence to substantiate the claim that you’ll lose significantly more body fat.  When comparing high carb and low carb diets, it’s apparent that weight loss is dependent upon energy debt, not macronutrient composition, and that lean mass will be retained as long as there is sufficient protein intake (A Golay).  Furthermore, low carb diets in high intensity athletes have been shown time and time again to be a tragic mismatch due to glycogen depletion (Langfort J).  High intensity athletes (especially CrossFitters) need some level of carbs in their diet!  We prefer to get the best of both worlds and use high fat days, as well as high carb days, to achieve optimal health, performance, and (as a result) body composition without eating in an overly-restrictive manner.

Still, there is a frightening parallel between downing easily-consumable oil to meet your calorie requirements and eating cookies, cake, and pizza every day without regard for your health.  Whole foods should be the basis of your nutrition at least 80% of the time.  You should go for energy-dense sources of protein that are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids like pastured eggs, 85:15 ground beef, and wild-caught salmon so that you get your essential fatty acids in a natural package.  Foods like avocado, bacon, and nuts can help round things out, but there’s no reason to obsess over your fat/calorie intake at the end of the day.  Use oils and butter when you cook or as a supplement, not as a primary source of nutrition.  I hope this can help clear things up a bit.

Summary:

  • A balanced diet of carbs and fats is necessary to achieve optimal performance.  There is nothing magical about a low carb diet, and it will probably have a detrimental impact on your performance.
  • Relying too much on oils and butter to supplement your fat intake on low carb days is a big mistake; it’s too easy to end up in an energy surplus if you go overboard.
  • You should get most of your fat from whole food sources like grass fed beef and wild-caught fish
  • Use butter, ghee, and olive oil in your cooking.
  • Many people enjoy a Bulletproof Coffee w/ coconut or MCT oil in the morning.

Works Cited

A Golay, A F Allaz, Y Morel, N de Tonnac, S Tankova, and G Reaven. Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets. February 1996. 1 May 2013 <http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/63/2/174.abstract>.

Langfort J, Zarzeczny R, Pilis W, Nazar K, Kaciuba-Uścitko H. The effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on performance, hormonal and metabolic responses to a 30-s bout of supramaximal exercise. 1997. 1 May 2013 <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9272770>.

 

Cilantro Lime Shrimp “Tacos”

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

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

shrimp tacos

Cilantro Lime Shrimp “Tacos”

Ingredients

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

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

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

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

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

What a control day looks like in pictures – with a bit of a twist

control3

Control days are a central piece of the Science Lab which helps people through the difficult spots as they transition to more of a “performance based” way of eating.  It costs $4.95 a month and frankly I don’t think anyone out there supports their literature at a better cost than that.

This was the original article on Control days that inspired this post.

One thing I didn’t want to do on this day was go extremely low calorie and so I actually pushed it a bit on the oil and butter.  I wanted to make sure everyone knew that I wasn’t extremely restricting my calories to get the result I was looking to get.  The basic idea of control days is pretty simple, you use the days you eat carbohydrates so you are building most of the time and you use days where you are relying mostly on fats to keep those other days in line.  I refer to it as the path to an optimal life and as you can see this is most certainly not dieting.  I can’t think of too many people that wouldn’t want to be on this plan.  Also, it was pretty easy to do so it’s convenient.

Did it matter that it was done on a squat day? Maybe a bit but I didn’t do an excessive amount of work as it relates to what people that do Crossfit think is a lot, I mostly lifted heavy for my size and one rep max.

Let me also say that I loaded carbohydrates post workout in the morning.  Which is consistent with what I teach lean people who are trying to maintain mass to do.  Vitargo is one if not the best bulking agents out there, Mike T Nelson mentioned it in a post in the science lab and so I got some.  This is another example of the fact that loading carbohydrates is relatively flexible, while it depends on your goals a bit.  Your main goal is building most of the time because that is the most favorable way to lose body fat.

Honestly I am a little shocked at the result.  I don’t do what I consider to be the extreme version of control days, some authors recommend as low as 30g, I don’t.  There is no magic to 30 grams folks and the idea that being in
“ketosis” being vastly superior to a normal way of being is a myth.  As you can very clearly see I had roughly 8 ounces of carbohydrates in the gatorade, I don’t know the exact carbs but mixed with the Vitargo (which you can buy from Amazon using this link and it supports our site and content like this).  The only other carbs I had were in the coconut milk smoothie right before I went to bed, yet another myth smashed.

For the last myth I would like to direct you to this post about my cholesterol levels.  I get basically two kinds of people that are relatively new to this blog and don’t completely understand the theme of what we do here.  The first disdains carbohydrates and thinks their “sugar addiction” is the thing that is holding their fat loss goals down (it’s probably the opposite if you think of it because most of those people are craving energy density and food).  The other are the people that think I eat too much fat and that in the end it’s going to hurt me.  Secretly they want it to hurt me because they want the information from their crappy diet author to be right.  After all they have managed their weight using that model in a relatively restricted way and that approach mentally sucks at times.

So that brings me to myth number four we are talking about, folks the idea that there are good and bad foods needs to leave your brain.  Clearly you can see I am eating a lot of whole foods and if you want to call that Paleo I have no problem with you doing so but people get way too caught up in the mental head games of dieting for my taste.  My approach isn’t dieting as you can well see, I can’t tell you how many PhD’s I have had to explain the fact that you don’t need an extreme deficit to mobilize fat, in fact it’s that extreme deficit that causes you to maintain fat in the end.  Most leave convinced and certainly 130,000 people on Facebook do.  So that’s the last myth.

Let’s review the various myths.

1) The first myth is that is that being in Ketosis is vastly superior to just eating a moderate amount of carbohydrate as it relates to maintaining brain function (though Jay Griffin might argue the opposite given my failures at Karaoke last night, I am not going to go into the particulars but let me just say Jay is known to have extreme anatomy.  Katie Griffin is currently somewhere in the fetal position cracking up laughing.)

2) Eating carbohydrates at night is a convenient strategy that makes life more adaptable.  It is a guideline not a rule and if you think that is the only way to get lean it isn’t.  I realize this troubles some people that want a “standard recommendation” for everything.  The simple answer goes like this every single time, if you want to know if something works or not test it.  Plain and simple.  The idea that you are going to get fat testing a carbohydrate drink post workout is just silly when a good majority of the people I am talking to on a daily basis have a need for more energy dense options.

3) Myth number three is that fats kill you.  In the Crossfit community we embrace fats (it’s the carbs that I am still working with people on).  In my cholesterol post that I linked to not only did that illustrate that is better, it is actually the path to a better health profile.  For people that should be “mostly building” fats break down into the hormones our bodies need to aid growth.

3.5) Eating carbs before bed is bad for weight loss/fat loss.

4) Having a boogie man list of foods is not only silly it’s counter productive for a healthy way of eating from a mental standpoint.  Do I try to eat mostly foods that add to my health profile clearly I do.  For the people that are going to get hung up on the gatorade and Vitargo or the Hidden Valley Ranch (not to mention the Pufa’s in the omelet from the restaurant post workout) their view misses the over riding point.  That point is that healthy flexible cells are superior to any given food choice you might eat on a daily basis if the majority of what you eat addresses your micronutrient needs (vitamins).

5) Lastly you don’t need to eat with a calorie deficit for your body to function the way it wants to function.  With a high level of cell flexibility (also known as metabolic flexibility) you can eat optimal amounts for athletic performance (actually this works for all people but honestly those folks aren’t as easy to work with as active people).  That way of eating, relying on fats at rest and carbs for workouts (also known as activity) is in fact the path to optimal health.  Simply put:

Your workouts are meant to stimulate muscle activity in a way that causes maintenance in the worst case scenario and possibly adds some tissue in the best case scenario.  So therefore the idea of working out to “lose fat” is correct but it’s different than you think, as I am proving with this example you workout to build and you rest to lose fat.

Yesterday morning I weighed 166.8 pounds, this morning I weighed 164.4.  Folks, you really can’t get better cell flexibility than that.  I hope you guys like this post because I really liked writing it.

Control1

This was more weight than I was working with, it was actually my training partner, mostly I was doing doubles and singles at 235 pounds.  The only thing I didn’t picture was the Creatine I took.  I took four capsules of Con Cret, three before and one after.

Vitargo

This is Vitargo, it’s carbs yo.  It’s also glucose, so it’s sugar, it just happens to be an extremely efficient form of glucose.

control2

The is one scoop of Vitargo and I actually only had half of the gatorade.  The Vitargo is 35g of glucose I am guessing the Gatorade was probably another 15 grams or so.

control3

This is a four eggs omelet, certain people think that eggs are too insulinogenic too eat during the day.  That’s just silly and they taste great too.  Being that level of obsessive for most people is not a correct approach mentally.

control4

This is the MCT Oil I cooked the brussel sprouts I ate in.  You can also get it from the Amazon link above and it supports our site.  It’s a great option for cooking.

Control5

10 ounce grass fed steak with a heaping helping of Kerrygold Grass Fed butter.  It was seasoned with salt and pepper.  My wife was mad that I didn’t get a wider shot to show you guys that we still have a lot of snow on the ground in Minnesnowta and it’s the middle of April.

control6

Forgot to buy carrots to add a little color.  This has avocado, cauliflower, broccoli and Power Greens for the base (kale, spinach and chard).  FYI you can eat fibrous veggies anytime of the day on control days because you aren’t all that concerned about the blunting effect.

control7

I put this on the salad because it makes it edible.

Brussel Sprouts

I quartered these and fried them in the MCT oil until they browned slightly.  Added salt for taste.

control8

These are turkey bacon meatballs that were being served at a party I went to later in the evening.  It was mostly people from my gym so the snacks were pretty low carb as a general rule, other than the alcohol which I didn’t drink.  I only ate one, I was stuffed from dinner but they are really good.

control9

Cherry coconut smoothie I had before bed.  I am going to go about 60g of carbs in this thing with light coconut milk from Trader Joe’s, this is the recipe.

Why Data Matters – My Cholesterol historically

Paul's Cholesterol

 

This is my history with HDL (the good stuff) and Triglycerides (free flowing fats).  When you use both energy systems when they are needed most and eat adequate amounts of food everything changes.  People tend to focus on the aesthetics (abs) when they have it figured out.  This is an example of how to get their using mostly fats at rest and carbs for intense activity.  Which is what will be described when you buy Met Flex for Fat Loss.

For someone that talks about carbs a lot I eat a lot of fat, sometimes 1800 calories in just fat alone.  So if you want to show someone that has high cholesterol at least one template on how to get on the path to optimal health have them at least consider mine.

In 1998 I would have been in my 20′s and firmly entrenched in a high processed carbohydrate way of eating.  I went from a relatively active teenager to a highly inactive adult that smoked and ate for joy all of the time.

In 1999 I cut down on some Doritos which was favorable for cholesterol but my Triglycerides were through the roof (fatty acids in my bloodstream).   I did start to eat like an adult on occasion but mostly I just avoided the doctor because I knew it would just be bad news.

In 2007 I lost a lot of weight I went from about 210 pounds to 175 pounds.  I used a mostly low carbohydrate way of doing things, this was the final nail in the “chronic dieting” chapter of my life.  I was only marginally healthier and now my TSH numbers were high as well.  So much for that “standard advice” of “you need to lose some weight”.  It seemed like the real answer was a bit more complex.  All of that dieting was a contributing factor to what was now being diagnosed as hypothyroidism.

In 2011 you can sort of see the genesis of when I really started to figure things out for myself.  I had spent much of 2010 pouring over research because I said to myself “you are too smart to be fat”.  Performance became my driver and the pounds came off even though I was eating a good amount of food (sound familiar).  As my approach became more refined things got better as I added a majority whole foods component.

In late August of 2011 I had been Crossfitting for about a month, the biggest changes came in my HDL, I really embraced fats and cholesterol (like we do).  From then until now embracing fats and cholesterol has added up to 17 pounds of muscle.

And also a completely different person…….

 

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 maggie@eattoperform.com 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

Buy your supplements through Simply Pure Nutrients.  For people trying to do Carb Back Loading in a Paleo friendly way SPN products like the Sweet Potato Recovery Fuel are in fact Paleo (ingredients are Sweet Potatoes and Eggs).  Even the whey products like Elite and Pro3 look like real food because they are nutrient dense with vitamins.  They are high quality products, with supplements you get what you pay for and these are the best for our community.  Once again email maggie@eattoperform.com for your 3 month free membership using the link below.

The link to purchase Simply Pure Nutrient Supplements

Carb Nite Solution or Prep Phase of CBL with Crossfit?

low carb

 

This comes up in virtually every “Science Lab” seminar 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 really hoping this post clears things up.

That answer is a definite no (in my opinion).  In the first video Kiefer talks about how you can shorten the prep phase of CBL by 3 days by doing HIIT training.  Crossfit is HIIT training for the most part.  So if you Crossfit you are already, mostly, addressing this concern.  Namely the idea of emptying out your glycogen stores.  The other part of this that isn’t insignificant is that you probably already have been low carbing if you follow Paleo.  Much of what I am talking about is about improving metabolic function.  CNS is most for sedentary people.  These two videos explain that and great deal so it should be relatively enlightening to everyone that if he is asking the question “should you be working out on CNS” then you probably shouldn’t be Crossfitting on CNS.

There is another part to this question however because inevitably I always get “but I CNS and do Crossfit and I love it”.  No offense to any of these people but you can’t perform at a high level keeping your carbs under 30g a day like Kiefer is suggesting.  Is there a compromise? Yes, that is what CBL is about, it is an intra day cycling protocol, so that is one strategy.  The other strategy is to use “fat” days as “control” days.  Kiefer covers the concepts of CNS in CBL so buying both books is redundant and CNS is a pretty simply idea.  Basically you cycle your “fats/control” days around your rest days.  So basically you carb up, you WOD with a rest day coming the following day and you keep your carbs lowish.  Not zero or even under 30g, there is no magic to this by the way.  You should still keep your calories relatively high but your control days allows your body to process some of the excess carbohydrate you would rather not have contribute to fat storage.

Carb Nite: Should you Workout?

Dialing Things In a Bit

Phone Dial

Let’s be honest, navigating the waters related to nutrition and performance is tricky.  We have 100′s of people that Crossfit and do high intensity sports and we have lots of ways for you to become a Science Lab member.  Everything from free to the full package for $49.95.  If you have ever struggled with fat loss we can help.

When people read Eat To Perform, I surely hope that the first thing they think to themselves isn’t “But I don’t want to count calories!”  I’ve been writing a lot about the subject as the site develops, so please allow me to be crystal clear on this point:  not only do I not count calories, but I believe it’s virtually useless as a long term strategy.  The value in diligently weighing and tracking your food applies mostly for chronic under eaters (you know who you are) who’re just beginning to get a handle on their nutrition.  By obtaining a real measurement of how much food you’re eating and drawing correlations with your average weight, performance and look, you open the door to getting your diet back on track.  Eventually, you will “know” how much and what to eat.  You’ll move away from counting.  I am not sure this is “an article” so much as it’s a description of how I approach my carb refeeds, but it’s a strategy I recommend for a lot of folks, primarily because it resembles real-life circumstances we all deal with.

Although I know I shouldn’t, I find myself under eating on occasion too.  I get busy, can’t find the time to eat properly, and sometimes I try to make up for it by having bigger meals towards the end of the night.  That isn’t great for digestion, sleep or hormone balance.  Mostly though, I try to be prepared and eat at regular intervals.  Everything runs more smoothly that way.  I also tend to keep fats relatively high during the day.  This allows for a sort of “fat adaptation” where I rely upon fat for energy at rest, which is obviously favorable as far as staying lean is concerned.  That’s actually one of the things that sucks about the way some folks view back-loading, especially people who hear “carbs” or “sugars” and run for the hills.  CBL is mostly about eating fats.  That’s right; your boys Gary Taubes and Robb Wolf?  They’re buds with Kiefer.  So let’s be adults about this whole “carbs” and “sugar” thing.  We aren’t talking about slamming Slurpees after our 7 a.m. WOD’s and eating like children; we are talking about eating based upon a greater understanding of how our body actually works, rather than adhering to myth and superstition.  Yes, you are you are doing it mostly right by eating natural foods, but I believe you’re missing the “eat for joy occasionally” part.  This is how I approach dining out.

What “Eating for Joy” Looks Like

I’m not ashamed to say that most Fridays, I have pizza.  We go to a place called “Black Sheep Coal” in St. Paul, MN.  They have coal-fired ovens, but that isn’t why we love it.  Don’t get me wrong; the pizza is great, but many of the beautiful salads you see me post are from the same restaurant.  They usually have some sort of beet salad, or an Indian-themed cauliflower salad.  Occasionally, they have a delicious salad with potatoes that I used to avoid.  You know what?  I was really missing out!  That’s probably the best salad they offer.  Along with the pizza, this gives me plenty of carbs to get things going after being cautious all week.  I understand that grains aren’t for everyone; some people have very real food allergies that don’t allow them to eat certain foods, and then there are food allergies like mine.

When I was a child I, was plagued by a milk protein allergy.  It was so bad that my parents (Bless their souls, but they were lost.) fed me what basically amounted to sugar water.  It rotted my teeth, but the good news is you guys get to see this cute picture of me as a kid.  (Wow did I have a huge head!)

Me with a Grill

Any who, I never completely grew out of the milk protein allergy, but it did improve to the point where I can eat some cheese if I want to.  Certain things are fine, while others cause me more discomfort, but for the most part I avoid dairy.  The only real symptom I experience is that it seems to affect my cardio a bit, but I suck at cardio anyway so it’s hard to tell the difference.  Next door to Black Sheep Coal is “Key’s Café”; their House Cake and Coconut Cake are to die for.  I used to eat the whole piece, but I didn’t always feel so good afterwards.  Now I have learned to eat about half of their House Cake (it’s quite rich) and all is well.  I don’t drink, but my wife often has a glass or two of wine.  We don’t do the cake every single time, and sometimes my wife and I split the small pizza (depending upon how we ate for the day).

The point of all of this is that I give absolutely zero thought to “guilt”, “sugars”, or any of the other bull that seems to cloud most people’s thoughts related to their food intake.  I will admit that it took me a while to get here; I realize why some of you are a little fearful and you’re starting off by kind of dipping your toes in the water.  That’s cool.  What you are going to figure out is that it was never the occasional pizza, cake or wine that was the problem; it was consistently eating extremely energy dense processed foods that made you fat and unhealthy.  For our lean brothers and sisters that control their weight by under eating, let me just say that my wife and I typically crush the following day’s WOD’s.  If it scares you to eat closer to your actual energy requirements, try it out; one day of pizza isn’t going to kill you.  In fact, the opposite may end up being true.

Eating Mostly Fats, Most of the Time

On the nights I have pizza, I eat mostly fats and proteins throughout the day.  This means I’m typically as close to 0 carbs as possible, excluding fibrous veggies.  (I know I say that all the time and I apologize, but some people are new here.)  This helps avoid the spillover effect; if you have ever felt bloated after eating pasta (or any carb), I might argue that the reason you did was because you didn’t have a conscious approach to carbohydrates.  I don’t really care if you back-load or not.  It’s just a strategy, but if you are overly reliant on carbohydrates for energy and then you have another big carb meal, it might take you a while to get all that water/sugar/carbs out of your system.  Even so, it will probably happen more quickly than you’d think.  Consider this: if you have your equivalent of pizza night out on Friday, you’ll be ready for a “killer WOD” on Saturday and you will shuttle a lot of those carbs where they need to go (namely your muscles).  Sunday is a rest day.  That’s another part of back-loading that you don’t really get by simply saying, “Well now I eat carbs.”  I mean, that’s great and all, but you aren’t back-loading.  While I agree that it’s probably favorable vs. not eating carbs, it’s not really a strategy as much as it is you just being “normal”.  You want to ask yourself, “Why am I eating this pizza?  How will it help or hinder me in the near future?”

Moving ahead, on Saturday night I eat a relatively small amount of carbs, relying on mostly fats and proteins for my energy.  I have some dark chocolate and a coconut milk smoothie before bed.  I don’t typically WOD on Sunday, but I do lift on occasion if I’m feeling frisky.  Sunday night has me eating carbs in an anticipation of Monday’s workouts.  No counting, just a generalized plan with (mostly) consistent meal times.

Advanced Strategies to keep fat mobilizing

When I make the recommendation to eat close to 0 grams of carbs during the day, I inevitably hear, “For lunch I have a banana.”  In CBL, Kiefer says to try and stay under 30g throughout the day, and certainly a banana is under 30g, so who is right? Obviously, I am right, since this is my blog (hehe).  Here is my line of thinking though; as long as you eat enough on “fat days” where your calories aren’t severely restricted, your performance shouldn’t suffer all that much.  This is especially true when you consider that many of you are new to adding carbohydrates anyway.

Here is an example of a weekly schedule I might suggest for someone trying to boost fat mobilization a bit:

  • 1 high carb day, sort of like the pizza and cake example from above
  • WOD the following day
  • 2 or even 3 high fat days (probably 50-75g of carbs coming mostly from sweet potatoes and coconut milk smoothies, just less of them)

The high carb day is a rest day, and the following day is a WOD where the focus is carb depletion (lot’s of reps, maybe even mod down to really crush it from a cardio perspective).  One thing I need to caution you guys about is that for many of you (especially if you’ve been low carbing), once you add them back in your muscles will start to fill up.  This will look good in the mirror, but not on the scale (you also may feel sluggish as you begin to adapt, this is normal).  In the end, however, full muscles translate to lower body fat percentage and better body composition overall so don’t be fooled by the numbers; you didn’t gain 5 lbs. of fat overnight.  If you add carbs the third day and you feel great, then go for it, but I find that modifying down on this day is very helpful a lot of the time as well.

Oftentimes this is a good strategy when the first two days of the week are workout days followed by a rest day on Wednesday.  Now, this is the part that will get ignored and it’s very important:  if you have been low carbing for the last three years straight, this won’t work as effectively and could end up being kind of confusing initially.  You have to give it time.  Carbs fuel metabolism, so allow a month or so where you aren’t cycling fats so aggressively and I think you will be happy with the results.

The Best Part of This Plan

I haven’t mentioned counting calories at all, because you don’t need to.  As long as you have a basic understanding of what your protein needs are and what 75g of non-fibrous carbs look like, you should be good.  Also, you really need to be aggressive on your “reefed” day.  By playing it safe and going to bed hungry, you aren’t quite sending the right signal to your metabolism.  While it may sound like we are pulling metabolic strings, we are in fact going a long way towards healing the metabolism and letting it do what it needs to do.  Don’t try to rely solely on the standards for this day; it’s a good time for pizza, pasta and breadsticks.  If that’s a little too much or you have a gluten allergy, white rice and cauliflower work great too.  If you don’t get hung up on being 100% Paleo (this plan is certainly within the 80/20 range), taking a day to “live a little” can really jumpstart your metabolism and kick your performance into high gear.

 

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.

Summary

  • 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.

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.

 

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