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Low-Carbs and CrossFit

73 Comments

I received an email from Nicholas Hahn last week in which he described his experience using a VERY low carb diet with a CrosFit template. His results are interesting and pretty impressive as he appears to run better on less than Zone levels of carb intake. Whooda-thunkt-it?

Some of the other benefits appear to be improved leanness and better insulin sensitivity. Long term it seems like throwing in more veggies might be good to maintain a net alkaline balance. is this the right Rx for everyone and every situation? No, obviously not, but it’s interesting how much adaptation there can be towards this lower carb approach.

Who might benefit from an approach like this? Anyone with insulin resistance. If you read Light’s Out and buy into the concepts they talk about in that book, perhaps everyone would benefit from a  few months each year of ketogenic eating. Whatever the case, give this a read and kick this around: How effective are we when we live purposefully? If we know WHY we do something in training, nutrition or financial investing is that a BETTER or WORSE approach vs a random un-directed approach? When and where is a random, undirected approach appropriate?

From Nicholas:

Before starting a weighed and measured, Paleo (ala Loren Cordain) diet, I was between 240 and 245 lbs.  Within a few months, I dropped to my current weight of 205 lbs at 6’4”.  I’ve been doing CrossFit seriously for about 2.5 years and maintain a paleo diet, plus butter and the occasional cheese.

After reading Mat Lalonde’s post about his experience with a very low carbohydrate diet (VLC) and CrossFitting, I decided I would push the envelope a bit further.  I had read Good Calories, Bad Calories and read about the controlled study involving Vilhjalmur Stefansson and his cohort on a meat-only diet for one year.  That intrigued me enough to read his book on the subject Not By Bread Alone (http://tinyurl.com/yzcvwv5).  Like Cordain, he recounted the high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets of various Native Americans and recounted his experience with the Inuit.  Not only did the meat-only diet not cause scurvy, Stefansson’s cohort actually experienced improved health.

My experiment was simple.  I strove to mimic Stefansson’s diet as closely as possible for the month of November.  I ate only meat and eggs (which are meat by definition) with seasonings like salt, pepper and the like–nothing, though, that would contribute any carbohydrate or nutrients other than the meat did.  I also ate a good amount of grass-fed tallow in order to ward off the dreaded rabbit starvation, which occurs when protein constitutes too much of one’s diet, and to get enough omega-3s.  I naturally fell into an 18-20 hour intermittent fasting schedule, since it seems like I just never felt hungry.  The common question is “How were your BMs?”  They were fine.  Daily, sometimes twice daily.  The biggest concern with the diet is the acid-base balance, which Cordain talks about in the Paleo Diet.  I haven’t heard of epidemics of osteoporosis in the Inuit, but we’re in the business of health optimization.

The only downside to the diet was the fact I couldn’t have red wine and other tasty foods. I felt no negative side-effects like headaches or lethargy, after the first couple of days, which typically accompany VLC diets.  After my first time eating too much fat, I did have indigestion, however, I quickly realized where to cut the fat down.

I did three test WODs to see my change post-diet.  Again, I am not a top-tier athlete by any means.

WOD                           Time (Paleo diet)                              Time (Ketogenic diet)

Annie (RX)                 7:01                                                    6:46

Helen (RX)                 11:23                                                  10:46

Christine (RX)           14:59                                                  13:41

All the WODs were performed 2-3 weeks into the diet, which I timed to coincide with other people’s accounts of acclimation to VLC diets (cf. http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/1/1/2).  WODs in the longer domains felt difficult, but I continued to place in the range of the same people I had before the diet.  In a few cases, I happened to place near the top of the gym.

As for strength, the lifts I tested were the back squat high, bar (275 lbs x 3 reps) and low bar (325 x 1), and the press (155 lbs). They did not move, but I had also not practiced those that month.  I focused, instead, on gymnastic strength that month and I finally conquered the “big kids’ muscle-up” and was good enough to finish “Nasty Girls” as RX’d at the behest of Sage Burgener who was at our box doing a cert.  I also got my first legit one-legged squats.  Additionally, I tested my 1000m row and I PR’d at 3:12.5, which is down from 3:15.7 my previous time.

At least for some people, a VLC or ketogenic diet can not only help individuals feel better, but can allow them continued performance gains.  At a minimum, I found that a zero carb diet didn’t inhibit performance, and even allowed gains.  Personally, I visibly leaned out and lost 2 pounds in the space of a month.  If the liver makes glycogen for recharging muscles and feeding the brain, many people probably don’t need to be eating so many carbohydrates—especially not the 162 grams/day I was eating on the Zone.  We need to think about this in light of the deleterious effects of sugar in the longer term, which can lead to high oxidative levels and decreased insulin sensitivity.  Fructose and glucose aren’t necessarily beneficial substances for our bodies—especially for athletes who may have pre-existing conditions.

I suspect a decreased need for sugar is especially true, if the athlete adheres to a WOD-ME-WOD template, since ME days likely don’t use much glycogen.  The case may be different if working out 2+ times a day or competing in an endurance event.  As Robb suggested to me, adding in some low Glycemic Load veggies would be a great way to shore up micronutrient intake and keep acid-base balance without adding too much carbohydrate.  What I’ve come to realize is that the Zone, or Paleo, may be sufficient for fitness, but not necessary.

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  1. Niels
    December 7, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Interesting!

  2. Dan Davis
    December 7, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    I’m interested to know more about what Nicholas ate… I know he said “meat,” but was it entirely muscle meats or did he include organ meats, marrow, etc. I know that those other bits are what add a lot of nutritional value to traditional paleo-style diets.

  3. Dan Davis
    December 7, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Oh, and that’s awesome! Great to see these kinds of improvements in the wild.

  4. Tristy
    December 7, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Great post! For the month of December, I am doing a little experiment as well. I have cut out all fruite to play around and see if it helps me lean out some. Thanks for sharing this experience!

  5. Ryan Murakoshi
    December 7, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Hey Robb,

    Here’s a sticker that you can start providing to your paleo clients that aren’t that into Crossfitting

    Bumper Sticker

  6. Nathan
    December 7, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Great post. I’d be interested to do some more reading on this and give it a shot in January.

  7. Dexter
    December 7, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Our ancesters more than likely operated on a ketogenic diet 10 months out of the year and only consumed veggies and fruit (sugar) in the fall. All the other time, they ate meat and fat and probably did their version of fasting…ie. lay around for a couple of days til they got hungry…and then they had to run very fast in a fasted state to catch their next meal or run very fast in a fasted state not to be eaten.
    And there are no essential carbohydrates that the body needs…especially the carbs sucrose and fructose.
    This lecture by Dr. Lustig, UCSF on Sugar should convince those that still like to eat their carbs and sugar to reconsider.
    Great n-1 experiment. If you continue ketogenic, your times will improve even further?
    Thanks for the report

  8. Dexter
    December 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Link to Dr. Lustig:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

  9. Olin
    December 7, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Robb, thanks for passing along the great info on ketogenic diets. I has some success leaning out with low carbs as well. I have also tried keeping meals in Zone proportions and I think its supposed performance enhancement is overstated. There is a scarcity of good information on ketosis on the net and I am eagerly awaiting your books (any updates on that?). I’m disappointed in the sudden shift to Zone on the CF site; I’m glad I was able to take the nutrition cert while you were still doing it.

  10. Amy
    December 7, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    AWESOME!! Great story!

  11. Steve Caddy
    December 7, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Very interesting.

    Robb, I know you’re probably already reading this but I found this quip from Stephan Guyenet’s blog (http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/) interesting in light of your recent attention to macronutrient quality vs qantity:

    I disagree with the idea that carbohydrate itself is behind elevated fasting insulin and leptin. Just look at the Kitavans. They get 69% of their calories from high-glycemic-load carbohydrates, with not much fat (21%) or protein (10%) to slow digestion. Yet, they have low fasting insulin and remarkably low fasting leptin. I believe the fasting levels of these hormones are more responsive to macronutrient quality than quantity. In other words, what matters most is not how much carbohydrate is in the diet, but where the carbohydrate comes from. The modern Western combination of carelessly processed wheat, sugar and linoleic acid-rich vegetable oil seems to be particularly harmful.

    (emphasis mine)

    Not a free pass for carbs, but interesting, non? :) http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/12/dr-rosedale-replies.html

  12. Jay
    December 7, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Hey Robb,
    I know it’s important to eat grassfed, grassfinished beef and pastured pork, but what’s the deal with chicken? Is organic chicken enough or should I be looking for something else? I can find lot’s of organic, free range chicken but they’re all supplemented with grain, especially in the winter.

  13. richard
    December 7, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I too have since cut out 95% of the carbs I used to eat, except for the occasional piece of carrot cake, Chipotle Burritos, and Ben and Jerry’s, I have noticed significant gains in performance. Crossfitting on and off since last year and on a regular basis since May. I was drinking GNC Mass-XXX, which is about 1000 calories in one serving and about 150 carbs. I felt lethargic during that time, even while crossfitting. I gradually went off it and have shaved off 2:30 on my Fran time, most recently posting a 4:35 earlier today and setting a new PR every time I do a new 1RM, 3RM, 5RM, etc. I have not lost any strength, I received dozens of comments about how much thinner I look, although I still manage to maintain my current weight of 170. I haven’t felt as sleepy or or fatigued as I used too either. Keep in mind, I am a Deck Watch Officer in the Navy and frequently stand watch from Midnight to around 5 or 6 in the morning. granted, I am usually dead tired by the end of that watch, but I don’t have to rely on coffee or other stimulants, like my peers who don’t exercise or eat healthy, to get through that watch since crossfitting and changing my diet and cutting carbs. AND I DON’T MEASURE MY FOOD INTO BLOCKS OR ZONES.

  14. richard
    December 7, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Oh, and I also DON’T eat a huge ass plate of ribs whenever I want like Tony Budding implied of all Paleo eaters in his interview with Dr. Sears.

    • Robb Wolf
      December 8, 2009 at 3:43 pm

      Richard-
      this si the next HQ gambit: Discredit Paleo by making it all about gluttony. Brilliant.

  15. Ben Wheeler
    December 7, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks for posting this Robb!

    Would have loved to see some before/after blood work.

    Looking to start following an M.E Blackbox template soon. Will be interesting to see what happens when I ditch the gallon of PWO sweet potatoes & see how this effects the performance. I don’t see it being an issue at all. They just taste so damn good I’m not sure I can give them up if I tried! Will probably toss in the coconut milk concoction instead and see where it takes me. Will get back with results sometime in the new year.

    Just finished “Dangerous Grains” by James Braly and Ron Hoggan. Tons of great info in there! Especially the issue when people overload on calcium supplements & how this can very negatively effect bone loss. In my opinion you can tell they omitted the message they really want to send of “Everyone needs to take gluten out of their diets!!” most likely due to publishing reasons. Either way, good stuff.

  16. Tami
    December 7, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Very interesting. I tried a similar approach last spring and had great success with it. I ate low carb (under 20-30 g per day) with a re-feed high carb day on the weekends. (In hindsight the re-feed days were not the best idea, I ended up eating too much junk.) I was super-strict with the low-carb thing for just over a month, and continued a less-strict version of the diet throughout the summer.

    I made great strength gains, PR’ing on all my lifts, some by 10-15 pounds, and I was doing dead hang pull-ups (which I had been trying to get for a year) and unassited bar and ring dips, which I had never been able to do previously.

    The most interesting aspect for me was my results in martial arts. After I became fat-adapted I had great endurance in judo class. We usually do hour and half classes and I ALWAYS had energy to spare and felt like I could have gone for hours more.

    I don’t recall hitting any PR’s on CrossFit WODs, but I had switched to CF Football/Strength bias type workouts at that time and I don’t think I repeated any Girl/Hero type WODs that I had previously done.

    I fell off the rails this fall, but I plan to get back on the low carb Paleo type diet and CF Football/Strength Bias WODs, starting today.

    I’d also like to say thanks to Robb for providing this great website and the awesome podcasts. I’ve learned so much, and I really appreciate all the work you put into it.

  17. Nate
    December 7, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Robb, This is off topic , but I have been thinking a lot about it lately. Perhaps this would be a good podcast question. With all the foods that are cut while doing a paleo/ gluten-free diet there must be a hierarchy of food choices. For example, i understand that gluten is forever a no-no. But how does dairy stack up to peanuts, corn, rice, protein mixes etc. Many of our clients are interested in doing paleo or zone, but they are reluctant to give up certain things i.e. peanut butter etc. Any thoughts?
    Nate

  18. Veronica
    December 7, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    My breakfasts are typically VLC and I rarely feel hungry during the day. In the past few weeks I’ve worked long days and have “accidentally” fasted 10-14 hr fasts and never skipped a beat at work. Not that I’d want to make this a regular thing, but I guess a high protein/fat, low carb approach can explain how I can not eat all day and still run circles around my co-workers and look better, too. :-)

  19. Patrick
    December 7, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Very interesting indeed… tempts one to try. I’m curious: would taking a teaspoon of bicarb or some TUMS contribute to alkalinity?

  20. Patrick
    December 7, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Also, who’s up for starting a movement based on constantly varied diet for forging elite fitness? I’ll let you pick the title you address me by, so long as you capitalize it and I can foist my political views on you.

  21. Stephen
    December 7, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Me-thinks it’s time I tried a month long VLC diet experiment myself. Thanks for sharing.

    Stephen

  22. Thalin
    December 8, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Hey robb! thanks for the post…this gets to a question I have been thinking about for a few weeks now…What about tyroid hormones?

    I have read in NHE that long term vlc diets can hinder tyroid function and that they might actually result in lowering your metabolism and so imparing weight loss and performance (athletic and mental).

    I have significantly reduced my carbs intake, I have been trying to do 14 days @30g, 2 days @unlimited + another 14days@ 30g, twice and I noticed that the second time I didn’t lose weight and I felt more tired.
    I am now around 50/60 g a day and I feel good and my oly weightlifting is going well. I am afraid to go lower because I don’t want to mess with my tyroid! Is this concern legitimate?

    • Robb Wolf
      December 8, 2009 at 3:37 pm

      Thalin!
      Ciao!! I don;t put much stock in the thyroid down-regulation. If this was legit we would see the whole inuit population historically with hypothyroidism.

  23. ChrisCFW
    December 8, 2009 at 3:13 am

    This is a great piece.

    My current situation seems to be that without a carb level of approx 1g/lb of bodyweight, my weight starts to drop and increasing fat intake doesn’t seem to help this.

    My performance seems to be at it’s best at a higher bodyweight than it is now (I naturally seem to run at 9st7lbs, but my performance is much better at 10st+).

    So, the big question for someone like me is… Do I keep running at the higher carb level as presumably I need the Insulin from this level to maintain/gain weight or is this part of the whole adaptation thing and a period of low carb, higher fat will eventually switch things around and I can then maintain/gain without the higher carbs?

    Cheers Robb.

    Podcasts are amazing by the way :-)

    • Robb Wolf
      December 8, 2009 at 3:36 pm

      ChrisCFW-
      I guess that just depends on your needs. We DO see people lean out but maintain strength. Not a bad thing with that!

  24. David Long
    December 8, 2009 at 3:31 am

    Great Stuff! I know that when I looked at carbs in proteins while eating straight Zone I was shocked at how many grams of carbs I was consuming. I think the block method intentionaly gets people from looking at how many calories and grams of carbs you are eating. It matters! Awesome stuff.

  25. Malecki
    December 8, 2009 at 4:49 am

    I’ve been playing with VLC for the past two months and have had some problems with my BMs. Are there any suggestions? Am I doing somethinng wrong? Also, can anybody suggest a good fat source besides almond butter, olive oil and avocados? I’m getting boired with them. Thanks for the help.

    • Robb Wolf
      December 8, 2009 at 3:35 pm

      Malecki-
      Constipation? Usually folks shit like geese! Try some coconut milk. Drink plenty of water.

  26. Jay
    December 8, 2009 at 4:59 am

    Good Stuff-thanks Robb

  27. tyler
    December 8, 2009 at 5:09 am

    I own Cornwall Crossfit. Me and the other coach here (Kyle) have been following a very similar ‘ketogenic’ style of diet for about a month now.

    We cut most carbs and ‘upped’ protein and fat. More fat than usual.

    We are more ‘lifting’ based than ‘metcon’ based in general (as a gym).

    We both started out feeling good with high energy. The high energy has only grown in the last 4 weeks. We are both much leaner and stronger.

    Our metcon’s have taken a small hit – but this is due to the fact that we don’t do them as much, lol.

    We cycle:

    4-8 weeks: Olympic lifts / power lifting / weakness specific program.
    then
    4-8 weeks: Crossfit 4-5 day schedule.

    These numbers seem loose but; it depends solely on the weakness(s) / goals of the person.

    Long story short, Eating ‘CAVEMAN’ is very unstructured. We eat when we are hungry, we eat ‘a hunk-a-protein’ with some good fats and always choose veggies first.

    What amazes me is how high my energy is when working out at 1:30 and not eating much except a couple of boiled eggs and some trail mix?? Crazy energy!!

    Anyways, big thanks to Rob and Matt. The last 2 months of info related to post workout nutrition and ketogenic eating has been nothing short of ‘eye opening’. When my snatch PR goes up by 10 pounds in 3 weeks – I am a happy camper!!

    Thanks again,

  28. Chris G
    December 8, 2009 at 7:04 am

    I have been something very similar. Straight Paleo with 50% cut carbs. Feel very good and continue to PR. I am a firefighter so my sleep habits get dicey so ive upped my intake of Fish Oil, Coconut Oil and Alpha Lipoic Acid and I feel great!
    I started off on a 16 block Paleo/Zone and now I see myself eating about 26/7/23 ratio of Pro, Carb, Fat. I feel great, im really leaning out and I continue to PR.
    I guess you just have to tinker until you figure out what works best.
    Love the Blog Post

  29. Charles Staley
    December 8, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Can anyone point me to the Mat Lalonde post mentioned here?

  30. Shana A.
    December 8, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Hey Robb !
    Can you direct me to a post that explains why cereal grains are the devil? I am needing to share with a client and am just looking for something that breaks it down simply, but thoroughly. She’s just getting exposed to this info and I think if I just link her to your site she might be overwhelmed and not know where to start.
    Thanks!

  31. Dave Maxwell
    December 8, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Did you happen to tape yourself before and after? Wondering if you expererienced a noticable decrease in BF. You stated you lost 2 lbs, just wondering. Thanks!

  32. James
    December 8, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Just because I’m curious, I’d love to see a sampling of what he ate (I know meat and eggs-more specifically ) in the month. I’m guessing it would take some real creativity, something I lack at at times.

    Love the blog and Podcast.

  33. wes
    December 8, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Could one avoid the expense and taste of veggies and provide alkalinity with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar?

  34. Dr. Ed
    December 8, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Question for you Robb,

    300-310lb patient history of 2 coronaries, heart surgery, CVD, type II, and acute costochondritis. On Paleo 7 weeks and showing improvments. However, blood tests show elevated microalbumin (urine). Could be CVD, liver, kidney disease as the cause—could the increased protein consumption stress his kidneys further (30-40% protein)? My instinct is no.. but I would like to know your thoughts?

    • Robb Wolf
      December 8, 2009 at 3:30 pm

      Doc-
      yeesh…I doubt it’s the protein intake. Did you have numbers before the change? This is the only way to really get a sense on that. If you do not see improvements in a month one could certainly drive the protein down a bit but the decreased inflammation and lower carb intake should improve kidney function.

  35. Ian
    December 8, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Good stuff.

    Robb, I know this is a family website but have you heard of anyone having problems with their libido while on a low carb diet? I have noticed that mine has gone down since dropping the carbs to 50-75/day. I love the way I feel on a low carb diet, except for that one thing of course…..

    • Robb Wolf
      December 8, 2009 at 3:27 pm

      Ian-
      Have not ehard of that…try upping vit d to 5,000iu. Might try a tribulus product also.

  36. Steve Smith
    December 8, 2009 at 10:37 am

    How could you not eventually have vitamin c deficiency if you are only eating meat and eggs?

  37. JC
    December 8, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Robb check out this piece on pro basketball player Chris Kaman’s Vitamin D deficiency:
    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-clippers-fyi8-2009dec08,0,5249805.story

  38. Julianne
    December 8, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Dr Ed,
    I just read your comment about a client with costochondritis. My husband has had this a couple of times and after suffering for months heard that rolfing was really effective – which he tried – and it has been really successful. He hasn’t had another epsisode since he went paleo a year ago.

  39. Nick Hahn
    December 8, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    In reply to the question about what type of meat I ate, I just ate muscle meat from pork, beef, bison, turkey, and lamb. How did I keep it interesting? A friend and I made some home-made bacon and that kept it interesting. But I think its pretty easy to get used to the meat only approach. No organ meats and I only ate marrow out of the lamb shanks and that was only a couple of times. Other than that meat and eggs.

    As for vitamin C, I think Gary Taubes talks about it in his GCBC and he postulates that either grains or carbohydrates mess with vitamin C metabolism. I’m not really sure that’s been totally hashed out, though.

  40. Steve Smith
    December 9, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Robb –

    First – I read through the link posted:

    http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/1/1/2

    It was a very interesting read.

    One thing that jumped out in that article was the studies showed that a VLC diet/no carb diet will not REDUCE physical performance (past the first 1-3 weeks of adaptation). The studies seem to indicate that the human body is very capable on subsisting on a fat/protein only diet. He mentions sustaining lean body mass and performance. There was nothing about improving lean body mass and nothing about increasing performance.

    Not to question the intention of the original letter, but I wonder how much improvement in performance seen when ‘testing’ a eating plan for a month (whether it is paleo/zone/VLC/etc) is the result of the person wanting to see an improvement and making it happen vs seeing an improvement based solely on the change in eating.

    • Robb Wolf
      December 9, 2009 at 10:56 am

      Steve-
      I don;t know but one has even an ounce of competitiveness I think you try to get the most out of ANYTHING you are doing. When we see high performing athletes see a significant bump in performance it;s pretty interesting for me.

  41. Nick Hahn
    December 9, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Steve, I’ll be the first to admit that people are very susceptible to biases, like the Hawthorne effect and that my little experiment isn’t at all applicable to anyone else. There may have been a bunch of variables at play in my improvement of times. But we can definitely say restricting carbs won’t hurt performance. I personally felt better and stronger, but that isn’t exactly quantifiable.

    The for me was to see if you *can* maintain good, or possibly improved performance eating fewer, or no, carbs. Obviously, we’d have to run multiple experiments and compare things for a while to make a real determination as to whether I actually would continue to make progress. I suspect I would.

    The more I think of it, the idea that sugar–especially super high amounts–is necessary for performance seems to fly in the face of evolutionary logic, as sugar is one of those things that tend to be at a premium in nature. A naturally sugar dependent person would probably find his/her way out of the gene pool relatively quickly during the first drought.

  42. David
    December 10, 2009 at 6:10 am

    I’ve personally gone through a total transformation on a VLC lifestyle. My first day ever doing CrossFit was Oct. 11-08. I began at 235lbs and 22% BF at 6′. I started with jumping pull ups, maybe 10 push-ups max, 135lb deadlift, never heard of a clean, or snatch, and couldnt run if my life depended on it.

    I then began a zero carb plan, and ate as much as I wanted. Since then I have dropped to 10% BF, 194lbs, 10 strict muscle-ups, 400 lb deadlift, 1:09 400m run, 175lb snatch, 225 lb clean and jerk, among many other PR’s (in fact my GPP is mostly advanced level 3 on the Crossfit skill assessment)! Much can be attributed to Newbie gains, but if nutrition is the foundation, then I can confidently say that the VLC works and is sustainable. I dont get sick anymore, I feel great, and see most people in my gym getting the same results!

    Much Thanks to:
    Robb Wolf
    Mark Sisson
    Art De Vanny
    Mike Eades
    and everyone else not mentioned that know their Nutrition stuff and share with the world. Your work has helped me change my life!!!!

  43. jon w
    December 11, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Hey Nick nice writeup. As others mentioned, I too would be leery of self-bias when you are in a “sample size of one” – one control would be to test again when you go back off the diet? But you certainly proved it doesnt make you drop dead (as most people on the street have been indoctrinated to believe).

    I have heard about the importance of uncooked or at least low-temp meat if that is your only source of nutrition, and of course the vitamins in organ meat. Did you worry about these factors at all, or think they’re important for longer term use? I know liver has a bad rap, but if you know any hunters, fresh pork liver is by far the best… and at $2/lb whole foods chicken liver is amazing wrapped in bacon and fried or grilled.

    Anyone interested in this should read a great summary of making beef jerky: http://www.carnivorehealth.com/main/2009/5/10/upping-production-or-how-i-have-become-a-one-man-pemmican-fa.html

  44. PJ
    December 13, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Robb,
    Shot an email awhile back looking for some insights background on the energy systems and the disparity between the current mainstream sports nutrition guidelines and what we seeing working for our athletes. That “Ketogenic Diets and Physical Performance” article is great and helps to bring light to the endurance side–but what about anaerobic efforts? Most of what I’ve read would support a reliance on glycogen during very high intensity work, further linking a “need” for more carbohydrates in the diet. But I’ve seen many crossfitters do extremely well with paleo. Any leads on the how/why?

    • Robb Wolf
      December 13, 2009 at 11:22 am

      PJ-
      If the effort is shorter, I think we are seeing fine performance on a ketogenic or nearly so protocol. When intensity AND durations tart pushing out, we will need more carbs. then as duration extends, intensity must fall, then we see folks doing better on more fat.

      If you recall from that nutriton and metabolism paper, the one thing they saw a dip in was anaerobic efforts. I think we just need to keep an eye on intake and performance and steer the ship where we need it to go.

  45. PJ
    December 14, 2009 at 5:01 am

    Thanks for the thoughts Robb.
    From this it’d make sense then to keep metcons VERY short if doing low carb. A good match for this might be what the CrossFit Wichita Falls program did with M/T/Th/F as Strength days while tossing in some carefully planned 6-8 minute high power output metcons on Tuesday and Friday only, and resting W/Sa/Su.

  46. Traci
    June 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Really need some advice on the zone!
    I am a 18 year old female 155/5’9”
    I am currently doing crossfit plus another session of cardio (3 mile run or 20 min row in the early morning) 6 days a week. I estimate on most days i burn 600-800 calories from my workouts, and eat about 1,700 calories. I am trying to lean out! For a while i was doing 14 blocks a day (4/4/4) 3 meals and (1/1/1) 2 snacks a day. For the last week i have cut my carbs in half for each meal, and doubled fats. The last few days i have felt shaky at night after workouts, and i dont know if this is just my body trying to adjust to the change, or if this means i shouldn’t be eating such a low amount of carbs. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Robb Wolf
      June 4, 2011 at 8:27 pm

      Oh Traci… The zone is NOT the answer and if leaning out is your primary concern killing yourself with Crossfit WODs may nit be your best option.

  47. Jack
    February 14, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Not sure if this is the right place for this but anyway. I am currently in the military and workout 3 days a week in the morning. These workouts are relatively low intensity and typically are about an hour long (running, swimming, occasionally circuits of body weight exercises, humps). Since the PT given does not suffice, I follow main site cross fit plus I do 5 x 5 squats every MWF (mostly because my squats suck). I have also been paleo for 2 years. I am a strong believer in being all around fit and healthy, paleo was part of that endeavor as now is ketosis. I’m on my 5th day of Ketosis and my squat has dropped 40 pounds. I understand I have not adjusted all the way yet, but I was wondering if the work load im doing would be better if I cycled 6 days on one day off, or some other variations, or should I stick with strict Ketosis? I cannot seem to find much info on glycogen replacement on Ketosis. Im on a 80% fat 17% protein and 3% carbs. Carbs i keep at about 30g. Thanks for the info in advance.

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