3

votes

started crossfit --> needed higher carb --> carb craving returned :-(

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 03, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Hi everyone, i've started doing crossfit about a month ago, and while I really enjoy the workouts and being a part of a great community, I find that i'm recovering very, very slowly, and have sore muscles and very low energy for a few days after each workout. it's gotten to the point where I can only do one workout a week if i want to stay functional in other areas of my life like work, friends etc.

I've been eating a low carb, pretty strict paleo diet for about 18 months now, which have helped me tremendously in overcoming a carb addiction and losing weight. I hardly ever eat any sweet potatos or yams, and have kept a steady weight.

I know you're supposed to up your carbs if you do high intensity workouts. so I tried that - having a sweet potato in my post workout meal and some rice on the day after. this only helped a little with recovery in energy. unfortunately, it has caused my carb craving to come back with a vengeance. I can't just have a small amount of carbs, it's like a gateway drug for me :)

so meanwhile i've gained about 5 lbs and am feeling pretty bad about my body. ok, i'll be honest, i'm freaking out. Help! how do I find a way out of this mess? I really want to continue with crossfit and am frustrated about my inability to find a balance between healthy paleo eating and intense exercise.

I used to work with a personal trainer, back when i ate a normal diet, and I had tons of energy and no problem recovering. I did also have a constantly bloated stomach back then, no matter how lean I got.

does there always have to be a compromise? any comment or idea would be greatly appreciated, kinda desperate here. thanks.


4.9.12 - Edited to add:

thanks again to all of you who commented. Here is some more information that some of you asked about:

I'm 32 y/o, 168 cm, I rarely weigh myself (gaining 5 lbs is an estimate based on how my clothes fit), but I'm usually between 68 and 70 kg.

how i look and feel as opposed to how much i weigh: I feel tired and sluggish, and i do look heavier. especially in my thighs and stomach. i know it's not the end of the world, but i feel like i'm going in the wrong direction here.

what I eat: my primal / paleo menu consisted of meat, poultry, eggs, fish, lots of vegetables, some butter, coconut oil and milk, olive oil, almonds, an apple here and there. got all my carbs from veggies and fruit and stayed under 100 g. a day, sometimes under 50 g. when I started crossfit I tried to add to that more fruit, sweet potatoes and yams, and then all hell broke loos. hungry all the time, eating more and more fruit, starches and then treats - grain free stevia sweetened muffins and the likes.

pre workout: I've tried eggs, fruit, a combination of chicken breast and fruit. eggs use to work great when I was just doing weight lifting in the gym, but not for crossfit.

post workout: just eat a normal meal with protein, carbs and some fat. sometimes i'd eat a piece of fruit on the way home.

about fat adaptation: I actually think I am quite fat adapted. before I started crossfit and reintroduced carbs I was fine, eating about 80% fat, healthy weight, and could lift heavy with no problem. crossfit is much more intense though, and apart from my slow recovery, i feel like it I just don't have what it takes to do the workouts, especially the 400 and 800 m/ runs.

C698c75a596696bcd7b170bb5cf5269e

(15)

on September 04, 2012
at 07:16 AM

thanks all! EricAmz, I will update my question above to include the information you aske about.

C698c75a596696bcd7b170bb5cf5269e

(15)

on September 04, 2012
at 07:11 AM

thanks Miked, I did not know that. interesting. however i'm pretty sure that the weight gain is fat. I really am going by how i look and feel... both not so good, relative to befor.

C698c75a596696bcd7b170bb5cf5269e

(15)

on September 04, 2012
at 07:09 AM

Hi Tonklover, Thanks for sharing, i do relate. to the best of my knowledge it actually takes amino acids to make serotonin, which are in protein, not carbs, no? I've been eating high fat for 18 months and my mood actually improoved and stablized as a result, so I don't know what to say about that. the supplement sounds interesting, I will look into it.

C698c75a596696bcd7b170bb5cf5269e

(15)

on September 04, 2012
at 06:56 AM

thank you for sharing your experience.

C698c75a596696bcd7b170bb5cf5269e

(15)

on September 04, 2012
at 06:55 AM

thanks Rebecca, I wasn't clear enough in my original message... how I look and feel IS the problem here. 5 lbs is an estimate, I actually don't weigh myself but have noticed the difference in how my clothed fit. I'm also feeling very tired and apathetic

C698c75a596696bcd7b170bb5cf5269e

(15)

on September 04, 2012
at 06:52 AM

thank you, I will look in to it.

Medium avatar

(2338)

on September 03, 2012
at 08:52 PM

if you want to perform at your highest level for most people i think eating a solid amount of carbohydrates is necessary. i agree theres a time and a place to use fat as a energy source but it's not during a crossfit workout.

Af939911afa817f79a4625d4f503c735

(552)

on September 03, 2012
at 08:33 PM

+1 on the Epsom salt baths for recovery. Keep the post-WOD sweet potato and drop the rice. Make sure you have enough carbs the day before a WOD, too (roots, tubers - starchy veggies). Are you stretching, foam rolling, and sleeping well, too?

Cbf014e1272e1c092e774c70e78b7890

(300)

on September 03, 2012
at 04:39 PM

can you give us an idea what you are eating daily? and your height, weight, age, build? Im a pretty avid crossfitter myself and overcame this exact problem, but without any ideas of what else you are eating during the day (meals AND pre and post wod) its hard to give advice.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on September 03, 2012
at 03:16 PM

You might try some epsom salt baths and some D-Ribose supplementation for muscle recovery. I don't have much advice to offer carb wise, as I'm the same way.

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10 Answers

4
Dc8ec73989c7b37c006f2031dd648a61

on September 03, 2012
at 03:47 PM

eat MORE roots/tubers.. the "weight gain" is likely glycogen repletion in your muscles and is a good thing. Either way... scale weight means nothing... if you are doing crossfit style work outs you should eat a shit ton of carbs on work out days at the very least

2
6f37e54ebb15be863244de3245d4c01f

(100)

on September 03, 2012
at 08:26 PM

It sounds like you could possibly be having some adrenal issues. Google adrenal fatigue and/or Dr. Lam's adrenal website.

C698c75a596696bcd7b170bb5cf5269e

(15)

on September 04, 2012
at 06:52 AM

thank you, I will look in to it.

1
072ba4a5cdc70f499bc61c29f65b9436

on January 05, 2013
at 09:21 AM

There is a book "The Paleo Diet for athletes" go get it and have a good read. There are a lot of answers here that are way off and haven't listenned to what you've actually put so go to the source.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1594860890

1
98266ae0c87836d4bb714b6d31cacbf9

on September 03, 2012
at 03:24 PM

"I eat more fruit when I work out harder. Listen to your body, it knows what it needs."

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on January 05, 2013
at 02:32 PM

Like you, I started Paleo very low-carb, and it was a great way to lose weight, feel better, and fix my metabolism and digestive health.

After a few months, I started doing Crossfit, and kept the same diet. I was also interested in losing more fat, and so I would go to workouts somewhat fasted, for example eat lunch at noon and go to Crossfit at 5:30pm.

At first this was really tough. The workouts were tough all by themselves, but to do them on an empty stomach was a real challenge. I did not have a lot of energy for many of the workouts, and was always sore. I would eat well after each workout, but initially never added any carbs.

After about 5-6 weeks of this though, I think I adapted. I definitely lost fat and some girth, and was better able to do the workouts. After maybe 3-4 months, I did start to crave more carbs. I have always been very cautious of eating carbs since they've always caused me weight and energy problems, but I found that having a small sweet potato or plantain after workouts didn't cause any problems, and was delicious. However, I honestly can't say if it helped me to recover faster. It didn't help my energy during workouts nor my recovery time or feeling. I will now have some carbs maybe half the time after a workout, but don't make a point of it.

What makes a much bigger difference is what I eat before a workout. Going there somewhat fasted is probably a good way to burn fat, but eating something about 90-100 minutes before the workout makes a big difference in terms of how much energy I have and how well I do in the workout. I also feel less hungry and depleted afterwards. I don't think that this is a formula for losing weight, but it makes the workouts much better and I feel better so I am trying to do this about half the time.

When I first started crossfit I lost about 10 pounds, but it gradually came back, but my waist size kept falling. I started at about 212#, got as low as 203#, and am now hovering around 207-208#. However, I have gone down a total of 4 inches in my waist and am noticeably leaner with much more muscle. So weight isn't really a good indication of my results.

I am surprised to hear that you're gaining "girth" while doing crossfit, it could be that you aren't doing it enough or that you are eating too much before and after workouts. IOW, doing crossfit once per week is just enough to make you hungrier. The workouts are tough and I'm pretty much sore somewhere all the time. Wednesday's WOD involved thrusters, which always make me sore, so my legs were sore for yesterday's workout which involved wall balls, ball slams, and high-pulls. This morning my legs are REALLY sore. I'll feel a little better just in time for Monday's workout, etc. I talk to people at the gym who have been going there for years and are still sore most of the time. I think that this is just kind of how it goes with crossfit.

One thing that helps me to recover is to do a very brief workout when I'm sore, so for example if my legs are sore from squatting, I will run around the block once and do 50 squats. This really helps break up the lactic acid and loosen up the muscles. Hot baths help, as do massages. Over time your body does adapt and will be able to do 3-4 workouts per week, which for me is the max that I can handle. Some people do it 5-6 times per week which is impressive but I don't think is necessary for great results.

0
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on September 04, 2012
at 01:29 AM

Glycogen is 80% water (or more accurately brings 4x by weight water with it when stored). So if you replenish about a pound of glycogen (totally reasonable if you're depleted) then you'll also need about 4 lbs of water to go with it. Which is a weight gain of 5 lbs.

You can't use the scale as a good metric. Go by how you look and how your clothes fit.

C698c75a596696bcd7b170bb5cf5269e

(15)

on September 04, 2012
at 07:11 AM

thanks Miked, I did not know that. interesting. however i'm pretty sure that the weight gain is fat. I really am going by how i look and feel... both not so good, relative to befor.

0
14e1dbdd25db00d2c9db36d6a695f6cb

on September 04, 2012
at 12:15 AM

I wanted to add a little something from my own experience recently, which you may relate to? I did VLC and then some caloric restriction for a couple weeks after in an effort to ditch that last 15, but actually gained and bloated out. (Was eating lots of heavy whipping cream though, which I now realize is not good for me).

I bring this up because AS SOON AS I added back in any carbs (fruit/tubers) the food cravings and carb cravings went through the roof, psycho-time, literally.

I have since realized (in my persistent OCD searchings....) that I likely depleted not only my muscles of glycogen (I work out pretty hard too) but also my brain of serotonin. You need carbs to make serotonin, which I'm guessing might be why some people's moods tank on VLC.

I got interested in balancing myself and decided to take a supplement called "Crave Control" which has 5-htp, chromium, B vitamins, L-glutamine, etc, basically a blend to help balance out the 'why' behind the cravings. I'm into week 3 now, and holy cow, the cravings have gone from a 10/10 to a 4/10. So I think about it, but it doesn't 'control' me, which is such a relief. As an added bonus, I've leaned up a little, but that could be other food related things like absolutely no dairy or legumes.

I'm eating lean and fatty proteins, coconut and olive and flax oil, blueberries, hemp milk, potatoes, veges and probably too much salt but I may work on that later.

Hope this helps....

C698c75a596696bcd7b170bb5cf5269e

(15)

on September 04, 2012
at 07:09 AM

Hi Tonklover, Thanks for sharing, i do relate. to the best of my knowledge it actually takes amino acids to make serotonin, which are in protein, not carbs, no? I've been eating high fat for 18 months and my mood actually improoved and stablized as a result, so I don't know what to say about that. the supplement sounds interesting, I will look into it.

0
6386a6f1ec022c9687b744829456d1d3

on September 03, 2012
at 03:51 PM

You could try to become Fat Adapted

Medium avatar

(2338)

on September 03, 2012
at 08:52 PM

if you want to perform at your highest level for most people i think eating a solid amount of carbohydrates is necessary. i agree theres a time and a place to use fat as a energy source but it's not during a crossfit workout.

0
0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

on September 03, 2012
at 03:33 PM

I don't have an answer for you but I have the same problem...decided I needed to add back in carbs. Now I'm 15 lbs heavier (some of its muscle). But Recently I ate 12 lbs of potatoes in 3 days.

I think we just need to tell ourselves "yeah I'm eating carbs..who gives a S***"...i think we have it built into our minds that carbs are addicting. So to prove a point to ourselves we subconsciously go all out when we eat carbs. Carbs are not addicting. carbs are not addicting. carbs are not addicting. carbs are not addicting. carbs are not addicting....maybe that will help.

C698c75a596696bcd7b170bb5cf5269e

(15)

on September 04, 2012
at 06:56 AM

thank you for sharing your experience.

0
Ca22738a3c3efc400a35c426dfab47a3

on September 03, 2012
at 03:32 PM

Protein should be used for recovery. You can also try to add some BCAA to help with recovery and soreness.

Don't worry about your weight, worry about how you look and feel.

C698c75a596696bcd7b170bb5cf5269e

(15)

on September 04, 2012
at 06:55 AM

thanks Rebecca, I wasn't clear enough in my original message... how I look and feel IS the problem here. 5 lbs is an estimate, I actually don't weigh myself but have noticed the difference in how my clothed fit. I'm also feeling very tired and apathetic

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