Extra carbs for sports training - when should i eat them?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 17, 2013 at 11:05 PM

I've been eating paleo for about 3 weeks, keeping it pretty low carb and feeling fantastic including dropping about 5 kg in that time (11 lb), and keeping up with my regular routine of weights 2-3x per week, a run a couple of times per week and some hot yoga, all of which I have done happily and felt stronger and fitter than ever before.

However, after a year and a half off of playing roller derby I am going back to play again, and that involves some fairly full on training: 5 hours every saturday for the next two months.

I had the first session this past weekend and about half way through I got full on dead legs tired, even though I am fitter and stronger that when I last played. I'm thinking that I need to up my carbs before these trainings by adding some sweet potato or something similar and am wondering if I am better to do this the night before, or the morning of?



on January 17, 2013
at 11:18 PM

D-ribose right before and after work-outs might serve you better than carbs

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5 Answers



on March 01, 2013
at 09:30 PM

Best time is after an intense workout. My understanding is the muscles do a better job of grabbing the sugar from the blood and using it for growth after an intense workout. Ideally, this happens in the late afternoon / evening when your insulin sensitivity is low so your fat cells will be less likely to grab the sugar, and it will hopefully preferentially go to the muscle. This is based on information from Nate Miyaki and Kiefer.


on January 18, 2013
at 06:09 PM

Robb Wolf just put out a series of great articles on how low carb can actually have an adverse effect on performance:

http://robbwolf.com/2012/12/19/carb-paleo-thoughts-part-1/ http://robbwolf.com/2013/01/02/thoughts-carb-paleo-part-deux/ http://robbwolf.com/2013/01/09/thoughts-carb-paleo-episode-3-hope/

He actually found that for certain activities he needed to increase his carbs to meet the glycolytic demands.



on January 17, 2013
at 11:14 PM

I, too, was hesitant to add safe starches back after being VLC paleo. However, it got to the point that my heavy training was wearing me out. This was after I had lost about 30 pounds, which is a lot of a 5'1" female who had weighed 140 to begin with. I then added some safe starches (sweet potatoes, bananas, chestnuts) back. I still keep it a little less than 100g per day, but with the intense cardio that you are doing, you may need a little more. Add them back gradually and see what happens. Some people do well on them. I haven't gained fat after adding them. I have put on some muscle, however. So, all in all, moderate paleo starches have benefited me. Everyone is different, so I would suggest experimenting and seeing how you feel. Hope this helps!


on January 18, 2013
at 07:35 PM

Check out Loren Cordain's "Paleo Diet for Athletes" where he outlines what to do with regard to Paleo diet throughout the various stages of training for endurance events. The type of endurance event will have some bearing on your carb needs too.

For portions of the year, I train for half marathons and marathons -- when I'm in a training cycle, I tend to have an extra carb serving the evening before an event or long training session, followed by another carb serving after the event/workout to replenish glycogen stores.

And as bjjcaveman noted above, definitely check out Robb Wolf's posts.



on January 17, 2013
at 11:16 PM

Usually 1-2 hours pre-workout is recommended for prefueling for longer endeavors. Focus on low-GI carbs that you tolerate well.

Still, you should experiment to find out what works best for you. You may want to up your overall carb intake, or simply incorporate some refeeds into your week to keep your glycogen stores from dipping too low. For that type of exercise, I wouldn't recommend relying on fat, reverb if you are "fat adapted," as you won't be capable of producing a high level of power without peri-workout supplementation.

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