I want to share some knowledge on how to eat in accordance with our workout schedule. This is something that has helped me in the past as I transitioned to a cleaner eating lifestyle. Remember, the paleo and zone diets are not necessarily made for athletes or active people only, so sometimes we need to adjust how we eat to our activity schedule.
Quick science lesson. Aside from the positive changes in our health from turning to a no grain, no preservative/additive, no processed sugar diet, we are changing the energy source that our body is powered by due to our lower intake of carbs. Instead of our body relying on the blood and muscle glycogen stores from those excess carbs (high glycemic foods our “traditional” diet is full of) it turns to fat and muscle sparing protein for energy. In the long run this is a good thing as our body stops storing excess glycogen in our blood and therefore starts burning far, protein, and body fat for fuel. However, if you aren’t careful the beginning of our eat clean transition can lead to a lot of mental and physical fatigue, weakness, and soreness because our body isn’t used to using the other sources for energy and our glycogen levels are wiped out. Ever have that empty feeling before or during a workout, the feeling that regardless of your sleep or having taken a rest day before, you just don’t have it in you physically? And how about that same day post workout soreness, or the unreasonable/inexplicable excessive soreness the day after a normal workload day? I certainly have. Here are a few tips to help as you trudge through the new world of clean nutrition.Our goal is to maintain a high level of blood and muscle glycogen before, during, and immediately after workouts to support a high level of work and for recovery, while at the same time making sure there aren’t excess stores so when we aren’t working our body is turning to fat for energy. If we can find this balance we will optimize performance and still lose weight/body fat.
The best advice I got on performance nutrition is to operate in 2 hour cycles around your workout time. Here it is, and keep in mind all of this can be adjusted to your zone requirements if you are doing paleo/zone:
2 hours before: eat a good amount of carbs, some fat, and protein. Example: apple, almond butter, and protein shake with water. This gives your body the sustainable energy from the fat and protein as well as the high glycemic carbs to keep your energy source high leading up to your workout.
Immediately after your workout: you need to replace your spent energy with sugar and protein within 30 min of your workout. Do a coconut water protein shake here. Avoid fat for at least an hour so your body can absorb the protein and sugar and put it back into your blood and muscles quickly. Fat just slows down the absorption process.
2 hours post workout: eat another meal/snack that has your fat, protein, and carbs, again making those carbs relatively high glycemic.
Try your best to eat around this schedule. Your other meals can be structured as usual if they fall outside of this 2 hour range. The only time to avoid high glycemic foods regardless of their paleoness is in the evening. All they will do is store as body fat in our sleep. So if your 2 hour post wod meal is dinner time or later, load up on carbs but try to keep them low glycemic. If you ate enough during the day and got your immediate post wod replacement in you should be good.
If you workout more than once a day you can just reset the cycle as many times as you need. If you workout early in the morning just try to get that pre workout meal/snack in ASAP. This doesn’t have to be an exact science, rather a guide to keeping your metabolism and energy sources at their highest when they are needed. If you need help on what foods fall into what category, just ask! Coach Andy