4

votes

<30g carbs a day, athletic performance and sustainability

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 07, 2012 at 9:13 PM

I've recently began eating less than 30g of carbs a day and feel great. but i have a few questions.(background= highly competitive crossfitter, often high finisher in competition)

1)how will this effect my athletic performance. i often hear about it actually benefiting strength gains but what about met con. can that improve still?

2) is it possible to get all my vitamins when eating such few vegetables?

3) can i eat this way forever or is there some kind of negative side effect to doing so?

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on January 11, 2012
at 01:59 AM

Exactly. I was running on <50grams of carbs for a couple months while playing high intensity soccer matches. I didn't think it was so bad at first, but after a couple months I ran into libido problems, loss of sleep, increased cortisol, increased urination, intense mood swings, fungal infections, etc. Not a good idea at all.

D5a4ff096a452a84a772efa0e6bc626e

(2486)

on January 10, 2012
at 04:26 PM

Veggies weren't carby enough for me. You can try tapioca or taro as other starch sources. Sounds like you may have a bit of an insulin rollercoaster...are you getting enough magnesium and selenium? You might also try fruit as your recovery carb, since the fructose portion won't trigger insulin (although there will still be some, obviously)

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on January 10, 2012
at 12:25 AM

yes, he changed his mind. Good for him.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 09, 2012
at 04:04 PM

I don't really get why this was downvoted. Sure, it's not encyclopedic, but sums up pretty much the same advice as everyone else (i.e. don't just count your carbs, pay attention to your whole diet) and is pretty moderate (try low carb if you want, if your high-intensity workouts fail, try deviating once in a while, like the day before). So, restoring the balance...

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on January 09, 2012
at 01:24 PM

endurance returns but you have no power...

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on January 09, 2012
at 10:35 AM

And yet he changed his mind.

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on January 09, 2012
at 12:16 AM

That's cross fitting not crops!!

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on January 09, 2012
at 12:16 AM

Robb Wolf knows a thing or two about crops fitting and what the optimum diet may be whilst doing it.

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on January 09, 2012
at 12:14 AM

Is that right Andy?

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on January 08, 2012
at 01:37 AM

Heh. Was just about to post this link, to a recent interview with Phinney: http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2012/01/04/steve-phinney-low-carb-shows-benefit-for-athletes/

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on January 08, 2012
at 12:15 AM

I'm guessing Hank is not Robb Wolf, he may even have his own mind and everything.

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on January 07, 2012
at 11:32 PM

Why go less carbs. Robb Wolf has added starches back and changed his mind about going too low carb.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on January 07, 2012
at 09:47 PM

Read this post by Mark Sisson: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/zero-carb-diet/

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11 Answers

7
3bad4b0b105bf44d7650e7fdfbe15cbd

on January 07, 2012
at 10:27 PM

1) Once liver and muscle glycogen are thoroughly depleted, you won't be able to avoid experiencing rapid fatigue during anaerobic activities. Fat cannot be burned anaerobically, so any ATP will need to be generated either from the little glycogen you have or creatine phosphate stores (which will be depleted within seconds). Also, the presence of lactic acid directly inhibits fatty acid oxidation. Increased fat consumption does, however, increase IMT stores which are glycogen sparing at reasonable (say <80% VO2max) intensities, and that glycogen sparing effect may be the stimulus behind the initial "oh this is so great" phenomenon (my speculation). But ketogenic diets can't be sustained if you want optimal anaerobic performance.

2) Maybe, maybe not. If you eat offal and all parts of an animal then you may be generally okay, but is it optimal for long-term health to eat no/very few vegetables? Likely not.

3) This is really tough to succinctly answer (you might argue this whole website is devoted to this and similar questions), so I'm just gonna pass :)

I haven't heard a whole lot of evidence that VLC diets yield great strength gains; however, the positive changes in anabolic hormones with increased fat consumption (by replacing carbs in a higher carb diet) are well-documented.

All of that said, feel free to give it a try. I did, but found that after several weeks my anaerobic performance decreased substantially. Adding a PWO banana shake and a sweet potato or two a day brought everything right back to normal. VLC diets sound cool on the surface, but in reality you can't ignore the higher oxygen efficiency when processing carbs vs. fats nor the fact that fat can't be burned anaerobically.

4
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on January 09, 2012
at 01:27 PM

Its the worst diet possible for athletes. Eventually once the adrenalin wears off and your glycogen is depleted you will lose all your power, drive and general ability to function(along with a hefty dose of lean mass).

Doing crossfit on a ZC diet is like banging your head with a hammer, nothing good can come of it.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on January 11, 2012
at 01:59 AM

Exactly. I was running on <50grams of carbs for a couple months while playing high intensity soccer matches. I didn't think it was so bad at first, but after a couple months I ran into libido problems, loss of sleep, increased cortisol, increased urination, intense mood swings, fungal infections, etc. Not a good idea at all.

4
Dbe5290b790e6e2d2bd59d581d9cf164

on January 07, 2012
at 09:49 PM

Hey man, this is an excellent question for everyone!

1) I had incredible strength benefits from going really really low carb at first, then once my glycogen stores became really really low (even Neoglucogenesis can't keep up with a super active lifestyle) it began to take its toll. I was doing basic high intensity exercises like pushups, pullups, burpees, etc.. and I was also running 1-4 miles a day depending on how I felt. And like i said, at first it was incredible, I hated running but was soon blasting through trails at quite a decent pace without being exhausted... this lasted for about a month. Then came a point where I physically couldn't run more than a half mile without walking. I hit a wall, it also affected my training... I was breathing heavier and couldn't increase my intensity during calisthenics. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was due to my ketogenic lifestyle (<50 g carbs). This also happened with a girl I train for the childhood obesity program that I run, who does cross country. She felt herself becoming exhausted, and she's an excellent runner who once starting paleo cut over 3 minutes off her 2 mile time. When she told me of her issue I immediately remembered my own, and I told her to eat some fruit post workout. (it obviously will only be stored as glycogen and not fat) So she did, and she is still continuously losing weight (over 40lbs down) and is hitting new PR's ever single time she runs. So I don't know if the same will happen to you, but this is just my 2 cents from my own experiences. (and most people will tell you active people need SOME carbs.)

2) It is possible only with supplementation. Your best bet is to eat Fruit post workout, but obviously don't over do it! :)

3)As to this 3rd question, you can pretty much grasp an idea from my 1st answer.

GOOD LUCK! and I hope this helps you!

3
D5c8768927c463b363b109f18b7c16c4

(375)

on January 10, 2012
at 04:10 PM

You're going to run yourself into the ground with <30g carbs+competitive CF in the long run. Expect hairloss, loss of libido, performance plummeting, hormonal imbalances down the line. Just not worth it.

3
6ae0e7f5b3cc6c043a2caa0ceab2a61e

on January 08, 2012
at 01:35 AM

http://kellysayswhat.blogspot.com/2011/07/hitting-wall-part-3.html

I suggest you review research done by Stephen phinney.

This blog post is a short summary. In general, endurance falls for the first 6 weeks then Returns to normal once one becomes ketoadapted.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on January 09, 2012
at 01:24 PM

endurance returns but you have no power...

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on January 08, 2012
at 01:37 AM

Heh. Was just about to post this link, to a recent interview with Phinney: http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2012/01/04/steve-phinney-low-carb-shows-benefit-for-athletes/

2
1a641bbff1a7b0a70f08410376bbdf6b

(1587)

on January 08, 2012
at 03:22 PM

Carl Lanore just did a great interview with Matthieu Lalonde, he also talked about his experience on VLC + Crossfit

http://www.superhumanradio.com/

-> SHR # 884 - Transdermal Fat Loss And Hydroxycobalamin Patch Introduced PLUS Matthieu Lalonde's Paleo

btw, lots of other great info from Matt

1
Baa413654789b57f3579474ca7fa43d7

(2349)

on January 10, 2012
at 07:33 PM

Did not hear the interview with Matt Lalonde on superhuman radio yet, but his experience is described in these two web pages as well:

First, a post in which he sings the praises of crossfitting while low carb: http://robbwolf.com/2009/10/08/crossfit-on-a-low-carb-paleo-diet-mat-lalonde-reporting/

Later he appeared on the Paleo Solution Podcast and said that shortly after he wrote that piece (3 to 4 months of LC + CF) he crashed. It resulted in his testosterone becoming "pretty low" and his cortisol "really high." He now advises "If you are going to do high-intensity exercise, you should eat the carbohydrate that goes along with it." Here is the transcript of the interview (see question 3): http://robbwolf.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/the-paleo-solution-episode-68.pdf

1
166f449979d83186bd876e8f466d0a69

(1317)

on January 09, 2012
at 07:12 AM

I would like to know a little bit more on this from other people's experience. I went low carb, then almost completely carnivore, and experienced fatigue that was abated when I started eating white rice. However, rice and potatoes seem to really increase my appetite and cravings for sugar. December was very-very-very un-paleo and I'm trying to recover from it now, but with a much bigger appetite than I've ever had. I'm thinking about going back to VLC but I cycle 25km a day, go to a barefoot running club once a week and also would like to start doing weights. Has anyone had experience with that kind of activity with just green vegetables or things like carrot, etc, as carbs?

D5a4ff096a452a84a772efa0e6bc626e

(2486)

on January 10, 2012
at 04:26 PM

Veggies weren't carby enough for me. You can try tapioca or taro as other starch sources. Sounds like you may have a bit of an insulin rollercoaster...are you getting enough magnesium and selenium? You might also try fruit as your recovery carb, since the fructose portion won't trigger insulin (although there will still be some, obviously)

1
Ada7566560b407664313a451adefa377

(206)

on January 08, 2012
at 11:58 PM

Im a paleo body builder, I have bananas and whey in a shake pre workout, and sweet potatos post workout with my meat. That is all you need.

0
Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on January 08, 2012
at 12:19 AM

You can eat this way, and get the necessary vitamins, but only if you are eating the right foods instead. It's hard work reconstructing a nutritionally complete diet.

Training will become difficult to maintain at high intensity, but feed up on carbs the day before a competition and just see how fast you go.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 09, 2012
at 04:04 PM

I don't really get why this was downvoted. Sure, it's not encyclopedic, but sums up pretty much the same advice as everyone else (i.e. don't just count your carbs, pay attention to your whole diet) and is pretty moderate (try low carb if you want, if your high-intensity workouts fail, try deviating once in a while, like the day before). So, restoring the balance...

-1
4a293e496d6dd25972ef64f52b6d8393

on January 09, 2012
at 06:38 AM

Thanks to you all who have referenced Steve Phinney's interview on VLC and athletes on meandmydiabetes.com. In case you're interested, Steve's recently given an update on that topic, at this post: http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2012/01/04/steve-phinney-low-carb-shows-benefit-for-athletes/ -- Shelley

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