Modifying Paleo for Optimal Crossfit Performance

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 24, 2012 at 7:04 AM


I've followed paleo for about 18 months now. I started because I wanted to lean out... and it worked. I started out at about 100kg (and pretty tubby around my stomach) and I got down to 82kg (with really aesthetically pleasing body composition). Then I had some pretty disruptive life events and I'm back up to around 87kg at the momen, but I digress.

Over the last 12 months I've also started going to crossfit 4-5 times per week. I really enjoy it and want to get better, but more and more lately I'm finding that I just don't have the energy for crossfit that I require. Some of the longer, higher intensity WODs can leave me feeling mentally and physically exhausted for anything from 2 days to a week. At work I can't concentrate and at home all I want to do a lie around and recover.

I listen to my body and when I'm tired I don't work out until I'm recovered. However, I think it's pretty clear that my diet and my crossfit workload are in-compatible.

I've been doing some research and I'm pretty sure I need to up my carbs in order to satisfy the demands of my workout. My questions is, exactly how do I modify my paleo diet to get increased energy while continuing to lean out?

If I do introduce more carbs into my diet how would I do it to achieve more energy while continuing to lean out? Would I try carb back-loading? if so, how often? Or should a scrap that and just add heaps of carbs into the post workout window on days I go to crossfit? Or do I spread my carbs across all meals regardless of workout days/times?

Does anyone have any other advice for balancing paleo and crossfit?

If you need more info about my diet or lifestyle please ask.

Thanks in advance for your help, oh, and if there are any paleo bloggers out there I think this would be a great blog article. A casual Google search on this topic shows there isn't a lot out there on how best to tweak paleo for crossfit or other athletic endeavors.



on December 24, 2012
at 07:17 AM

Please let us know your daily intake of protein/carb/fat. It's difficult to comment on your carb when we dont know it :)

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8 Answers



on January 07, 2013
at 11:03 AM

To continue leaning out and to also up your carbs you'll probably want to drop your total fat intake.

Simply, replace some of your fat calories with carb calories and give that a shot.

Works for me.



on December 24, 2012
at 09:17 AM

Many are different , some have HUGE pwo meals and feel crap after and makes them gain weight and some have barely and carbs pwo and eat them @night CBL . U would really have to see what works for u . But as of Carbs U MUST , i repear U MUST UP YOUR CARB INTAKE FOR CTOSSFIT or u will feel flat all the time . Cleaner carbs will indeed work better but i'll be honest its hella hard to get enuff of them in . Veggies do not need to be important . Macros are gonna be important when it comes to crossfit training . Many will criticize me for what im about to say here but hey thats fine and i speak reality , i dont tell people what they wanna hear i tell them whay they need to hear . Again many are gonna criticize me for recommending white potatoes , but those are imdeed what u want and white rice in abundance either pwo or CBL . ME PERonally ive found i stay leaner doing CBL instead of having all my carbs pwo . Many are gonna be Paleo zealots and recommend sweet potatoes but fact is theheir not as enjoyable as white potatoes or white rice . Get those carbs in amd any more questions feel free to ask .


on February 04, 2014
at 10:01 PM

I agree 100% with Ivan. The rest will allow you to perform better while eating strict Paleo. I also recommend eating lots and I mean lots of Broccoli. Super clean carbs, keeps you full and about 0 insulin response.

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on August 14, 2013
at 02:57 PM

Dude, you're totally over training. I don't have the time to go into details, but youtube or google Doug McGuff - Body by science. Resting is paramount in paleo diets. On the paleo diet you don't have to worry about gaining weight during non-training days. Only train when you're energy is going through the roof, and when that happens go all out! :) you're putting unnecessary stress on your body. Rest with a clear conscience cause you know you're eating right.

Good luck, Ivan


on August 14, 2013
at 12:37 PM

I used to have the same problems, but now when I crossfit I eat a TON of white rice (white not brown) and white potatoes post WOD. I feel great now and I am still leaning out. Obviously the more demanding the WOD is the more carbs you should eat afterwards. On days you don't work out keep carbs to a minimum (no starches). GIve it a try! I was kind of skeptical at first too, but it works wonders for crossfit performance!



on January 14, 2013
at 05:05 PM

My questions is, exactly how do I modify my paleo diet to get increased energy while continuing to lean out?

Well, in general, you're not going to have both. Don't get confused when you look at the elite athletes in the Games, for example. 1) They're elite, so they just run differently than an average person, and 2) they don't run around that lean all the time. I personally know 3 games competitors (two of them consistently in the top 10) and they don't run around crazy lean all the time. If you looked at them off the street you'd think they're kind of chunky. They just lean out for the games.

On days when I do a hard metcon (5-12 minutes), I add in a large potato with dinner. That's been enough to refuel me to go hard 4-5 days a week with no side effects. Before I did that, I'd start getting killed by the metcons and take a long time to recover. Of course, I don't run as lean as I did before too. I'm totally happy to trade performance for a little less leanness.

So it comes down to the answer I always go to: what are your goals? If you want to be crazy lean, you'll have to give up performance. If you want performance, you won't run as lean as you probably want. It's biochemically impossible to have everything.



on January 14, 2013
at 08:07 AM

How is your sleep quality and quantity?



on January 14, 2013
at 05:12 AM

When working out heavily and intensely, I eat a zone-style diet. I do not calculate the exact ratios, however. Of course the starches are from paleo sources, such as sweet potatoes. I recover faster eating like this than when I ate VLC. I also experience less nut cravings. This is what worked in my case.

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