Danielle Horan, someone you will know very soon

Danielle Horan

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

To buy Met Flex for Fat Loss click here

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

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


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

Vitargo Image

A Kick-Ass Week Ends With an OMG Moment…

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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!

Changing Your Relationship with Yourself

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

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

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

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Strength Tip from Julia on Deadlift

Marshall Johnson


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

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

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

Keeping Fat off while Eating To Perform (Control Days)


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

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

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

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

How to Schedule Control Days around your Training 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why you still Need Carbs on Control Days

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

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

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

Low Carb Does NOT = Low Calorie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There Are No Big Mistakes

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

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

Works Cited

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


Met Flex Tip 3: Protein, BCAAs and confusion

Progenex Review with links for 10% off, you can also click the banner

When Mike says he gets asked this question A LOT he gets asked this question in the Science Lab. When you buy our book we support it with a team of coaches that answers your various training questions. Click here for more info.

A good question I get asked a lot is “I know you are big on protein, but what is the diference between whey protein and BCAAs (branched chain amino acids)? Can I take just whey? Only BCAAs? Both of them? I am confused!”

Great question!

The short version is that BCAAs are AAs (amino acids) which are the building blocks of protein.

BCAAs are in whey protein already (and many other forms of protein).

BCAAs, esp leucine are used to kick start the protein building process (muscle protein synthesis). But the assembly line of protein building and repair to make bigger and stronger muscles still needs raw materials (which are the other essential AAs) and fuel (carb, more protein or fat) to run.

2-3 grams of leucine is enough to turn on the assembly, but remember that you need AAs (raw material) to really make better muscle tissue.

If you get about 30 grams of whey, you have enough leucine (which is in BCAAs) to start the assembly line and provide enough raw material.

Can I add more leucine?

Adding more leucine beyond that dose will not make it run faster or better. Just like once the light switch is on, pushing on it harder won’t make the light brighter.

There is some data that added more BCAAs about 2 hours after a protein dose may help, but that is for another time.

In the meantime, get the raw materials (AAs in protein) and some leucine. If you use whey protein, you are covered with about a 30 gram dose.

Mike T Nelson

Back Squat Tip from Julia: Upper Back Tightness

Julia Ladewski works with some of the strongest people on the planet and is an EliteFTS sponsored athlete.  So she knows a thing or two about helping people get strong.  She also leads our women’s seminars in the Science Lab which is a service you get free when you purchase Met Flex for High Intensity Athletes.  For Julia’s bio and more info on Met Flex click here.

One if the most common mistakes that leads to poor technique, failing to increase strength, or worse, injuries is the tightness of one’s upper back in the back squat. The tightness you achieve in the upper back when you bench press (or front squat if you don’t bench) is the same tightness you want when you back squat.

Think about it this way… When you front squat, you have to keep your chest up, which means your upper back has to be real tight and strong or the bar will pull your forward. When you back squat you need to make sure your shoulder blades are pulled back and down.While you do that, you should try to point your elbows to the floor. This will lock your upper body into place and keep your chest up while you squat. If your upper back seems to be a weak point for you, be sure to train it using heavier front squats, good mornings and heavy rows.

Using Body Fat Results, Extreme Fat Loss Example

Maggie Martin

Our Extreme Fat loss classes are held on Monday nights and you get that class free when you purchase the book “Metabolic Flexibility for High Intensity Athletes“.

1)  If you are new to body fat testing the first one is often disconcerting, don’t let it be, it’s a baseline you are where you are and it’s a great starting point.

2)  The most important number by far is lean body mass, this gives you some idea on how much muscle you have and as the tests progress you will be able to tell if you are doing a good job of preserving it.  If you aren’t that’s a bad thing, for fat mobilization you really want to keep muscle mass high as that is favorable for metabolism.

3)  The biggest indicator for fat loss is weight loss assuming you are eating adequate amount of carbohydrates.  When people refer to “water weight” they are talking about pulling the water out of your muscles.  So the goal is to keep your muscles hydrated “occasionally eating” less to try and get your overall body weight to move down.

4)  For people with a lot of fat to lose their fat layer serves as a layer of protection for their muscles so they can tend to get a little more aggressive with lowering carbohydrates/calories occasionally to get things moving in the right direction.

Met Flex tip 2: Carbs before training or not?

sweet potato

Mike wrote Met Flex for our sports (Crossfit, Powerlifting and OLY Lifting) because nothing comparable existed.  He updates it monthly with ideas from Science Lab members (the support group for the materials), this also gets you access to the webinars we do four times a week where you can ask us questions in real time.  Click here for more information.

This is a very common question, and for good reason.   My preference is to have some carbs (and protein) before training if it is possible.


When you consume carbs (and some proteins), insulin levels go up.   Insulin is the fuel selector switch.  When it is higher, it shifts your body to use carbs.   As you know, carbs are the preferred fuel for high intensity exercise.   This way you are matching your nutrition to your training.

But what if I exercise early in the AM?

I totally understand that some train in the early AM and getting in much of any food is not possible.   Don’t worry, as all is not lost.  Your body has stored carbohydrates in the form of glycogen in the muscles and liver.   As long as your stores are adequate, you can still fuel your exercise session.


Metabolic flexibility is all about using the right fuel at the right time.  Your body is brilliantly designed to use stored glycogen for training when you can’t consume any carbs beforehand.

If you can get in some carbs before an intense exercise session, go for it.   If you can’t, you will still be fine too.

Mike T Nelson
PhD Candidate, Exercise Science

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