It has been a long time since I've asked a "plase hack my..." question, but I need some help.
First question: I work 8-4, followed by crossfit everyday from 430-530. Sleeping around 7/8 hours a night. I'm constantly playing with IF protocols, but most often skipping breakfast.
I've heard a lot about these BCAA's lately and fasted training. I would love to play with that, but with my current sleep/work schedule I think this is impossible. Anyone have any ideas?
Second (more important) question: I've been low carb for a long time now, but after starting crossfit a few months ago I've noticed that some of the SAD eaters are out lifting me BIG TIME. I tried upping my carb intake with sweet potatoes, apples and bananas a few weeks ago but it just made me feel lethargic. (I think it was just the fruit, sweet potatoes are great.)
What should I do here? If I can increase muscle mass that's great, but I don't feel like packing on fat just to increase strength. Getting stronger for my current size is my main goal. (5' 10", 160# last time I checked.. it's been awhile.)
On top of that, I've got a five day endurance race (gold rush mother lode) coming up in August that I have just started training for. Everything I've read is telling me the same thing, I need to up my carbs.
That being said, what should I experiment with to meet these goals? Do I need to abandon low carb all together? Increase carbs on the non-crossfit training days? (Biking 40-75 miles, running 2-4 hours.)
TL;DR 5' 10", 160# .. currently LC, need to increase strength and endurance but stay lean.
Bonus question: I need ideas for lightweight carb-dense paleo-friendly race food. (I'll be packing food bags that need to fit in my backpack and fuel non-stop running/biking for 12 hours at a time.)
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Ok, I'll say it. Suddenly switching up to downing loads of carbs may be the worst thing you could do. You don't need them. They are a poor option for sustaining 5 days activity, you'll be eating constantly, you'll neglect eating anything more nutritious, you'll feel like crap trying to get up again the next day and you'll just accept it because that's what everyone says you should feel. If you're already well-adjusted to burning fat then just focus on your hydration and micro-nutrition (in particular sodium) and enjoy knowing you already have all the energy you need on board. At the very least take the opportunity now to see how you're coping (and recovering) with endurance training instead of assuming you need carbs. It needn't compromise your performance either - 5-day races aren't determined by your max sprint speed. Art and Science of Low Carb Performance (Volek and Phinney) has some anecdotal evidence. It's up to you what approach you commit to, I just wouldn't want you being talked into going against your instinct just because that's the only experience being offered. Low-carb works for some people, even when they have to maintain elite athletic performance, train every day etc. High-carb can work. Even vegans can be competetive.
As for your strength - any reason why you should be out-lifting everyone? Are you failing to increase strength progressively? Is your training geared towards strength gain (and recovery)? I'm sure you can always eat more without necessarily eating more carbs.
Regarding IF, you could throw in one or two days when you fast all the way through to your workout and then eat all evening, but I'd agree your schedule isn't really ideal for a regular set daily pattern. And if you're concerned about strength gains then missing meals may not be helping. Hard to tell without lots more details! If you stick to a small number of heavy lifts you should get stronger without too much problem.
As long as you can eat lunch during work, I don't see why the schedule itself is antagonistic to an IF schedule. However, and this a big however, if you want to attempt CrossFit after work, I would not do that in a fasted, low-carb state. BCAAs are a definite plus to the IF protocol, but with regards to using them for fasted training, it seems your schedule refuses to allow that.
If performance in this endurance event is your main goal, then intermittent fasting needs to be ditched altogether. This question is unfortunately the classic case of trying to keep too many plates spinning. If gaining strength is the achievement that will make you most happy, then endurance training is going to rain on your parade. The same is true in the opposite situation. Select a goal and with it, stick, young padawan. With that said, if you're set on doing this FIVE DAY endurance test (holy crap, batman), then you're definitely going to require a bump in carbohydrate. That doesn't necessarily mean that each and every day needs to be a declaration of war on your fridge's carbohydrate contents, but I think you'll definitely need a bump. Mark Sisson has recently described a protocol of training cyclic low-carb endurance athletes such that they may more efficiently dig into their fat stores while going out long. That sounds absolutely ideal, so if you want to do a little research into that, go for it.1.
Best of luck,
HIT 5 days a week will inevitably lead to overtraining. Consider taking more days off. I suspect this is probably the reason why you are feeling physically drained, and why others are out-lifting and progressing past you. If you don't rest and recover how will you make gains? Also, if you are training for an endurance event you won't see much muscle gain.
I wrote an article on why supplementing with BCAA pre-workout is detrimental to the benefit's of fasted training, so this is something you should consider if you are playing around with fasted training and BCAA's.
The best strategy for carbohydrate intake and training, is to keep it low, train, then eat a big meal with carbohydrates. If you eat carbs beforehand the body won't expand glycogen stores, and you'll probably just be tired, via all that insulin.
Bonus question: Bananas would be your best option here, because about 60-75% of the simple sugars are glucose, in the form of glucose, sucrose or maltose, and there is relatively little fructose compared to other fruits. Glucose is of the greatest importance in preserving and refilling glycogen stores, and the banana will digest relatively quickly.
I kind of agree with foreveryoung. I IF daily, but my level of activity is much less intense and my sleep is a lot higher than yours. For this reason, I would suggest cutting back on the IF because it could be raising your cortisol and affecting your endurance and lifts at crossfit. On that note, do you really have to be crossfitting every day? I think are bodies need time to relax. But it you aren't getting tired go for it! The best advice I can give is listen to what your body desires. If ur tired don't work out and eat carbs! For better workouts maybe try adding rice too! Any questions?
Read Volek's new book on low carb performance. You want to be in ketosis at about 2.5 mmol. Volek himself is a weight lifting champion who pushes 1/2 ton boulders and his case studies are ultra-runners. For the race itself, Volek loves superstarch from Ucan. He got the science that says endurance is better in ketosis.
I've been reading a lot about carb cycling lately. It sounds interesting! You might want to experiment with your eating, like foreveryoung said above.
Here is an interesting article I found! http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/nutrition/how-many-carbohydrates-do-you-need.html
Hey man. Personally, I don't use BCAAs but I do use loads of l-glutamine, and am absolutely enamoured of the stuff- helps with recovery, lean muscle gain, and gut health. I often take 5g pre and post workout, and then right before bed. HOwever, I've never used BCAAs, so they might better and I'm just clueless.
As for carbs, try experimenting with differnt forms post workout definitely, and maybe pre or intra workotu if you need it. I have really come to like some form of sugar post workout- oranges, dextrose, pedialite, or even regular old sugar cane. The former does a helluva job at replenishing muscle glycogen stores and also gives a protein sparing effect. even though it is refined sugar, essentially, I do not notice any increases in bodyfat from doing this. Carbs alone do not make people fat and diabetic.
As an endurance athlete myself- soccer and swimmingn through highschool, lots of recreational tennis, and lightweight crew in college + year round weights and sprints/running- I would say that it is my opinoin for optimal perfofmance and body composition, carbs are absolutely essential. Don't be afraid of them maybe unless you're metabolically derranged.
As for IF-ing. I have tried and tried to do it successfully, but it doesn't work for me. Instead I now eat 6x a day.
Curious how you did on you 5 day event? I have a 6 day event that I am training for and I am a paleo eater. I have been experimenting with gels and they certainly work but it feels a little wrong! I am a fat burning beast. Still, not sure if it is recommended to still add small amounts of carb throughout the day during a long event (running 24- 50 miles per day with pack) or if I should stick to homemade snacks like pemmican and coconut oil/raw cocoa almond butter balls?