Over the past few months I have embraced the Paleo Lifestyle that comes with most CrossFit Gyms you come across. I even participated in the Whole Life Challenge as a way to hold myself accountable for the changes in my diet. So needless to say, the past few months I have been on a diet that is very low in carbohydrates, and I was even in a calorie deficit.
I will be clear and state that I have very little against this lifestyle, in fact I have a lot of praise for it. It has done wonders for my health and physical wellbeing. No longer do I struggle to fall asleep at night, I always feel energized first thing in the morning, and I no longer get that afternoon crash we have all experienced at one point or another. Paleo is one of the best things to ever cross my path.
However I do feel that the die-hard Paleo fanatics out there might be missing something…Carbohydrates. Sure, you can eat fruit or sweet potatoes, but do some reading and almost everyone says to keep those foods to a minimum. This leads to a low carbohydrate diet, which may not be the best thing for those involved in sports like CrossFit. I certainly know I feel like I could benefit from a few extra carbs each day in order to perform to the best of my abilities in the gym. Ultimately my goal is to find the right balance for myself, not only in the food that I eat, but also in the work I put in as a CrossFitter. So naturally my Paleo Lifestyle will evolve as I continue to pursue that optimal balance.
With all that being said I am switching gears again by adding more carbohydrates back into my diet from clean sources, such as fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, and even white rice if I feel like I need the extra calories and carbs. My plan is to follow a method that has gained quite a bit of traction lately, Carb Back-Loading.
Now this method is nothing new in my mind, it is standard carb cycling, but the main thing here is that all carbs are ingested in the afternoon and at night. Ideally you will limit the total number of carbs before dinner, around 6:00pm, and once you get to that point, feed your body the remainder of your daily carb intake. Supposedly this method will replenish all your glycogen stores in preparation for the next day’s training.
I will also be doing some Intermittent Fasting from 8:00pm – 12:00pm the following day. The only calories I will have in the morning will revolve around my morning workout. So a pre-workout shake of proteins and fats, and a post-workout shake of proteins, fats, and carbs. Black Coffee will also be allowed during the morning time period.
The last thing I need to cover is the fact that this method should be allowing my body to build itself most of the time. This also means some slight fat gains, which is where the Control Day comes into play. A control day for me will usually fall on the day before I am having an off day from CrossFit, or the following day is just an Active Recovery day. In terms of caloric intake, that will remain the same, but the source of those calories will change slightly; more fats and less carbs.
Ultimately this adjustment in the way I tackle the Paleo Lifestyle and CrossFit should allow me to recover more quickly, fuel my muscles for optimal growth, and overall allow me to perform at 100% at each WOD.
Please feel free to ask questions or offer up comments. I will post again later with some hard numbers in terms of Calories Per Day, along with Protein, Carbohydrate, and Fat amounts.