I have decided recently to transition to the Perfect Health diet from a low-carb Paleo approach. I was eating less than 30g carbs per day, all in the form of non-starchy veg and some cocoa and nuts (in which case it may go up to 40-45g depending), and my sleep was shot. I'm female, 28, not overweight and relatively fit (I crossfit a few times a week).
Now, the fear of carbs and the potential weight gain has been completely overriden by the misery of terrible sleep. I can't take it any more! I've read quite a lot recently by the likes of Stefani Ruper (http://www.paleoforwomen.com/carbohydrates-for-fertility-and-health/) and other female paleo bloggers who have found that low carb doesn't work for them. In terms of weight loss it was great, I began crossfit whilst already on a low carb diet so I have no idea how/if that has affected my performance, my skin was clear and I love the food I can eat.
However. My sleep is buggered. After Christmas I came home and had a vlc day to try to undo some of the effects of the holiday excess, and literally was awake from when I went to bed at 11pm until I gave up and got up at 6am. I cannot take it any more, so having read what Stefani and others have to say, I've decided the Perfect Health approach could be ideal for me.
So I've decided to up the carbs to 75g per day. I know the PHD suggest more than this, but I'm going to do it gradually to see how I go.
My concerns are this:
Weight gain. I used to be about 20lb overweight and was miserable - the thought of going back there terrifies me. I am hoping that the crossfit will help keep the weight off, but I'm wondering if I should start counting (or at least tracking) calories. My diet is a million miles cleaner than it was then, but this brings us to the million-dollar question: was it the reduced carbs, the calories, or the cleaner diet? I'm fairly certain I actually ate more calories than I had been as I was an on-off low-calorie dieter until I discovered low carb, but I don't have a log of what I was eating before so I can't be sure.
Crossfit performance. It seems stupid to worry that adding in a moderate amount of carbs will adversely affect performance in a high-intensity activity, but I've always been low-carb while I've done it and have made some decent progress so I'm worried that that has been BECAUSE of the low-carb.
Fatigue. I used to suffer from this quite badly and found that giving up the carbs helped. Does anyone have experience of eating low carb in the morning and concentrating the carbs towards your evening meal? I assume this will prevent the daytime fatigue and (hopefully) promote nighttime tiredness?
Has anyone any experience of going from one to the other? How did it affect you, particularly with reference to sleep and fat gain (if any)? I'm particularly interested in the female perspective (although male perspectives are extremely welcome!) because men seem to do better on low carb from what I can ascertain from anecdotal evidence, and the calorific/nutrient needs of an active woman will obviously be more comparable to my own and would be very helpful in helping me try to figure out what I need to do to get my sleep back on track and avoid fat gain.
Many, many thanks in advance for any/all advice!
asked byElizabeth_12 (343)
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on January 02, 2013
at 08:21 PM
I haven't read the Perfect Health Diet so I can't comment on anything specific to that, but I'll share a little of my story because I think it'll help you. (I never had sleep issues, so I can't speak to those, but the other stuff sounds pretty familiar.)
A few years ago, I was unemployed and living with my parents. (Not quite as pathetic as George Costanza, though!) I had plenty of time on my hands, so I was hitting the gym twice a day - once in the morning, and again at night. I was in the best shape of my life for a while. (I had just gotten out of the military and had been following a pretty low-carb diet for years, and happily maintaining a 28-pound weight loss.) I've never done Crossfit, but I did a fair amount of both cardio and weight lifting.
After a while, I noticed that I was kind of dragging...physically and psychologically. I had to force myself to go to the gym. It wasn't fun anymore, and in fact, I felt like I was starting to put weight back on. (Not just "weight," but fat.) I didn't know what was going on, because my diet hadn't changed, and if anything, I was working out harder than before.
Well, lo and behold, I read about overtraining, cortisol and all the lovely stuff that goes along with that. I was active on a different message board at that time and someone whose information and advice I really trusted encouraged me to increase carbs. Not a ton, and not to abandon a lower-carb strategy, but just add in a little bit more carbs, and also keep them to a specific time window.
I am not ashamed to tell you I was damn near terrified to eat more carbs. Like you, I thought most of the good things I had achieved in terms of health, weight loss, and physical fitness were because of watching my carb intake. (And they were, to some extent, but not ALL.) So I was afraid that eating more carbs would put back the weight I had worked all my life to lose (and finally succeeded after going low-carb). But I was at the point where I was willing to try anything if it would make me feel better, especially when the suggestion came from someone whose own results were outstanding, not some random keyboard warrior with no personal experience to speak from.
So I did it. I upped my carbs. At first, I did it simply by doubling my veggie portions. I was a little too worried about adding things like sweet potatoes or even fruit, so I started with just eating more of the low-carb veggies I was already eating: broccoli, raw red & green peppers, asparagus, etc. Not a ton of carbs there, obviously, but more than I was eating before. And I did feel better almost right away.
And then, I finally just jumped in. I added in some fruit and starches -- small at first, like half a sweet potato or half an apple -- and always with a meal right after a workout. If you're worried about putting body fat back on, that's when you want to eat the bulk of your carbs -- within an hour or two of a good, hard workout. If you stay relatively lower-carb the rest of the time, after a workout your muscles will be primed to take up the carbs and store as glycogen rather than your body storing them as fat b/c it has nowhere else to put it.
I gotta tell ya, it was like flipping a switch. I felt better immediately. More energy, better results at the gym, and a better mood too. (I was getting pretty depressed. I'm sure the unemployment had a lot to do with that, but overtraining and not eating enough carbs wasn't helping!) I also cut way back on cardio and focused more on lifting. I did not gain back body fat.
I think it's worth giving it a try for a few weeks and see how you feel. There are only two ways it can go: You'll feel better, or you won't. And you should know within a few days which it is. Believe me, I understand your reservations. After being LC for a long time, it's very scary to take that plunge -- adding in some starch. But at this point, A) You sort of "earn" your carbohydrates based on your activity level, and B) Your insulin sensitivity and overall health are probably better than they were when you started watching carbs, so you might find your "carb tolerance" is higher than you think. (Whether you do feel better or not, find what's right for you. There's a huge debate going on now about carbs, but ultimately, no one can tell you outright what's going to work FOR YOU. You just have to change things up and see how you feel. People aren't "doing it wrong" if they need more carbs, and they're not "doing it wrong" if they need less. Depends on what kind of results they want, and what medical/metabolic issues they're trying to correct.)
I can't say what will work for you. I can only say that I added in some carbs and it worked well for me. BUT...I kept most of those carbs to my post-workout meals and I didn't go crazy on them. It's not like I would wake up on a non-gym morning and have a banana, an orange, and a sweet potato for breakfast, know what I mean? I think having the starchier carbs post-workout helped me get over the fear because I understood some of the biochemistry and it was unlikely that I would put fat back on that way. I had to trust that my body knew what it was doing, and if I gave it the right inputs at the right times, I'd be okay. And I was.
Sorry this was a novel! I just hope it helps.
P.S. A book that is AWESOME that I rarely see talked about here is *Natural Hormonal Enhancement by Rob Faigin. His strategy for optimizing body comp and overall health is PHENOMENAL, and he addresses all this stuff very well.
on January 02, 2013
at 07:20 PM
i did precisely this about a year ago, and i'm so happy that i did. give it a shot. if you're big on weighing yourself, you may notice that water weight will go up at first. it's not fat, it's glycogen. go with it...
on January 02, 2013
at 06:31 PM
Sounds like what you're doing isn't working. You can only try it and see.
on January 02, 2013
at 10:09 PM
I've been on the PHD now since just before Christmas. I have been LC Paleo for 2 years and not feeling it like I used to--I came across the "Potato Diet" and tried it, it worked great!
Someone asked Paul Jaminet what he thought about the "Potato Diet" and he said he liked it, but if you would just add some meat and fruit, you are basically doing the PHD anyway!
I read the whole book last week. Here is my newly implemented plan for 2013:
- Eat 1 pound of potatoes/day
- Eat 1 pound of fruit and veggies/day
- Eat 1 pound of meat/day
- Add minimal fat
- Eat liver, bone broth, eggs, and seafood several times a week
- Eat nominal amounts of nuts, cheese, chocolate daily
- Try to adhere to a 30-20-50 (C-P-F) ratio around 2000kcal per day
I'm a 175 pound guy, so I will see where this takes me over the next couple months. If I am losing, I will add in fats. If I'm gaining, I will re-adjust everything.
In just the 2 weeks of adding potatoes, I'm sleeping better and feeling better after working out. No surprises on weight, either, but I suspect I am going to start gaining some muscle as I'm fairly lean already.
Good luck! I think the new PHD is spot on!
on January 02, 2013
at 07:22 PM
For your second question I'd check out Robb Wolf's latest blog posts where he explains why a diet that's not VLC would actually benefit athletes who do Crossfit-type exercise. And he's someone who would know.
on January 03, 2013
at 03:42 AM
I found that I could add in the white rice fine. However the potatoes did not work for me. Everyone is diffrent. I still eat potatoes on ocassion. The PHD is a very nice option.
on January 02, 2013
at 06:37 PM
There is a direct correlation of not enough carbs in the body and intense cardio Try having higher carbs on the weekends only. Metabolic diet. What I'm doing Stay away from the bread carbs. Work with your body. If you start laying on body fat Back off the carbs. I eat 30 g of carbs weekdays and up to 200 g on the weekends If you start to feel tired try splitting the 2 days of carb loading. Also be careful about eating to much lean or low fat meats and fish. Have a big steak a couple times a week.