I hope y’all are well. The past year has just gone by in a blur and I’m already a month late in getting this yearly training update out. If you are not aware, I started a yearly recap of my training, chow and related topics a number of years ago. You can find the previous installments here:
39, 42, 43, 44, 45 (Had a little drop off after the first kid!!)
Looking back it’s interesting to note that not a ton has changed over the years, but the places that have changed have been pretty important. Before we jump in, a few disclaimers/contextual pieces are in order so we have the proper ambiance:
1- This is my story, it’s likely different than your story. (but you might find some useful tidbits anyway).
For some reason evolution selected for humans to be tribalistic and quick to slot things into black/white good/bad categories. There is a tendency to look at what other folks are doing, see what we assume to be “success”, and then adopt that process like a religious crusade.
This is, without doubt, human nature…but it’s something we’d likely do well to get a handle on. My point here is just because what I detail here is working for me, it does not mean it will work for you. Nor should it be held up on some kind of pedestal as “Truth.” There MIGHT be some fundamental lessons in this missive and process that may apply to more vs fewer…but I’d be cautious in attaching that kind of gravitas to this.
2- My Goals and “Why?”
Given the amount of information we all have at our disposal, just about ANY advice to do “X” vs “Y” should really be accompanied by the following:
1- Context. Where are ya, what are ya up to?
2- Goals. Where do ya want to go?
Absent context, and really specific context, looking at anything from dietary to financial advice just seems silly. It’s “all sail, no ruder.” All that considered, I’m going to tell you my context and “why.” As you read through the rest of this I’d recommend putting the information through YOUR filter built from context and “why.”
My context: 46 YO dad, husband, and “health educator.”
My “why”: I want to live as long as I can with the caveat that those years are healthy and productive. I want to do this so I can see my kids grow up, hopefully meet some grandkids. I feel like I have some important work to do in the big picture of sustainability and healthcare, I need to be around awhile to make that stuff happen. Mixed into that I want to get as good at Brazilian jiu-jitsu as I can before I take my final dirt nap.
My sense as to a path to all this:
-Avoid chronic degenerative disease (for as long as I can). This means keeping my metabolism as youthful as possible, clinging to enough muscle mass to stave off the ravages of time, remain mobile enough that I can actually get around and do the stuff I want to do.
-Look good enough such that my wife will still sleep with me.
Ok, with all that out of the way we can get down to the good stuff!
If you have followed previous updates or the podcast you will likely know that I’ve been tinkering with how to properly fuel my BJJ with something akin to a ketogenic diet. Why am I doing that? I tend to have (for me) fantastic cognition while in ketosis. I don’t suffer low blood sugar, if I need to go a day without eating it’s no big deal. I HAVE had a bit of challenge maintaining a “low gear” for grappling while following a traditional KD in the 20-30g of carbs per day range. I KNOW some people are able to do this. I also know some folks are at about this level and then adding in 10-20g of glucose source prior to training. I’ve tinkered with these approaches, but for me I’ve found something interesting: If I match my carbs to my activity I seem to perform better AND still maintain a mild state of ketosis more often than not. Depending on training volume and intensity I may do 75-150g of carbs, and here is how I chunk that up:
1- A BIG breakfast. In following Bill Lagakos’ work on circadian biology and our tendency to be more insulin sensitive early in the day, I do a morning meal with as much as 1600 cals and perhaps 40-50g of carbs. This is eaten around 7-8am, and as often as I can I try to get out in the sun in and around this time. Even in the winter Reno can be quite sunny. I’ve posted some photos of sitting on my back porch in nothing more than my skivvies with an ambient temperature of 19*F.
So long as there is no wind and I’m getting direct sun, it’s not too cold. I’ve always “tried” to get out in the sun as much as possible, but I’ve become borderline neurotic about it and I’ve got to say, it’s AWESOME. Productivity, happiness…it’s all better. I seem to be more carb tolerant and the early food seems to “settle” my high-strung AM self. Reducing cortisol? Initiating parasympathetic response? Not cure, but I feel better. I tend to do BJJ anywhere from 11am-1pm (depends on the day, and I also do my lifting or conditioning at this time if not rolling).
If the session is on the earlier side, I may do a BIG lunch (matching total cals and carbs based on my daily training…it could be another 1600 cal meal) and a very lite dinner. If the session is later (wrapping up at say 2-3pm) I may just fast until dinner and do my chow then (usually dialing carbs down a bit regardless of volume/intensity), or I may do a “supper” right after training and then not much beyond some kimchi or veggies at dinner. If I lived alone or did not have kids, I’d always eat after training and then just fast until the following breakfast. Given that I do have kids and mealtimes are important for the family, I tweak things a bit. In general I’m doing some kind of front loaded intermittent fasting/time restricted feeding most days, but I’m not neurotic about it. If life demands some flexibility, life gets it!
I’m following this process for two reasons:
1- Bill (and others) have made a pretty compelling argument to just try it. There are some reasonable mechanisms for why this might be a smart way to slice and dice my eating (better insulin sensitivity earlier, playing to circadian biology).
2- I’ve liked the results.
Now, I know a lot of folks do somewhat the opposite of this process, pushing “breakfast” to noon or later, perhaps back loading carbs to later in the day. Is this “bad?” I really don’t know. There are a lot of things to consider here. There is research that suggests folks who eat this way have a relatively blunted insulin sensitivity compared to the earlier feeding.
We do also seem to get some marginal benefit from time restricted feeding, mostly due to just being tough to overeat, but likely some legit upsides beyond this (debatable, but possible).
For social reasons, convenience and a number of other factors, eating cals later in the day may be easier. MUCH easier. If eating early and skipping breakfast creates marital strife and strains family or social bonds, it that really a win?! When we surveyed many of you, some of the greatest challenges involved social situations and compliance…so anything that makes sticking to a generally whole foods diet easier (vs raiding the junk food aisle of the supermarket) is good. Like I said, if I had a different social context I’d have two meals per day, big breakfast, big lunch, done. As it is I’ve massively front loaded the calories compared to three squares, and it’s debatable how much additional benefit I’d get anyway. I suspect it’s pretty small if at all. So, instead of being totally neurotic about my timing, I’m just a bit neurotic and have run with what is both easy and has improved how I look, feel, and perform.
Just a wee-diversion:
I receive a lot of questions about fasting, autophagy etc. It’s a fascinating topic and fortunately, there is a lot of research underway. Some research suggests longer fasts (3-5 days) are particularly beneficial for autophagy, which may have a host of health benefits due to cellular recycling. That’s awesome exciting stuff…so how often should YOU do 3-5 day fasts? I have no idea. Again, there is a lot of context and nuance here. I have kinda cooked myself in the past doing training and fasting, so it makes me nervous in some ways. Here are some things to consider with regards to health and longevity:
1- Just figuring out how to NOT overeat is likely the biggest win possible. In animal models of calorie restriction the main benefit of CRAN appears to be protection from the typical crappy lab-chow fed to these critters. The analogous story for us is staying out of the snack aisle, eating perhaps 2 meals per day most days. Dodging hyperpalatable foods is not the easiest thing to do, but I could make a case that this will provide 90% of any benefit we’d like to see from diet, almost regardless of macronutrient composition.
2- There are a lot of things that promote autophagy and health that we can do besides fasting. Good sleep, exercise, coffee consumption, and perhaps just a little ketosis and or time restricted feeding ALL enhance autophagy and have some decent literature supporting their healthfulness. I can do these pretty much every day and I don’t have to worry about cooking my HPTA axis by trying to exercise and fast. I try to hit BJJ as often as possible, so this just seems to work better for me. Do I ever do longer fasting? Kinda. If I get super busy I may not eat a whole day. Rare, but it happens. I DO tend to fast while traveling, particularly if I have time-zone changes. That fasted state lends itself to establishing a new circadian set-point at the new location. So, a couple times per month you can hear my stomach growling a bit while sitting on an airplane. All in all, this is easy and seems to support my goals. For you, fasting might be a great idea, I’d just keep in mind we can do a lot of things daily that support the mechanisms of what that extended fast theoretically provides.
Before I forget: I weigh about 170lbs, I get ~120-150g of protein most days (occasionally I’ll do a super low protein day…maybe 30g…I drop this in randomly and actually like it) 75-150g of carbs (fewer on travel or really sedentary days) and the rest fat (total calorie load can vary more than 1,000 on a sedentary day vs a day when i do 2 hrs of rolling…So I have a big range there)
This thing is gearing up to be a book, but there is an important topic peripheral to chow that I need to mention, which is gut health. I suspect some of my carb intolerance has historically been due to some niggling gut issue.
I did extensive testing and got back what looked like mild SIBO (which did not surprise me) and some likely fungal overgrowth (which DID surprise me). I followed some pretty complex protocols to deal with both of these issues, and after a lot of supplements, weird poos and other strange things, my digestion is…better. I’ve tended to be on the “loose” side of the Bristol stool chart for about 25 years. This is much better. My blood glucose seems to be better, and here is an interesting one: I think my gluten sensitivity is better! Over the past 20 years I’ve just taken it as granted that I’d get some kind of a gluten cross contamination while eating out, particularly while traveling (which is another reason why I tend to fast while traveling).
Over the past year I have not noticed ONE instance like this. The obvious thing to do is pressure test the system and just grab a cookie or beer and see what happens, but it sucks when I get a gluten dose…If I’ve “just” managed to get myself healthy enough to not be poisoned while eating out…I’ll call that a major win. There is precedent for this in the literature: some kids with celiac were given a fecal transplant. A remarkable number of the kids no longer showed celiac pathology upon gluten challenge.
Some gut bacteria CAN degrade gluten to a degree that it is largely benign (or not so nasty.) It may be this is what happened. I’ll keep y’all updated as time goes on, but it makes a case for continuing to explore options if you have any health concern. I did not obsess about my wonky gut, but I also did not roll over and accept defeat. As I’m writing this I’m realizing it could be a number of things coming together in a favorable way: more sun, more early sun, improved gut health, more happiness, less stress. The gut protocol could be all, some or none of the changes I’ve had. Just worth noting.
Back in April of 2017 I hit a pretty serious milestone in my jiu jitsu training by receiving my purple belt. For those not familiar with BJJ this might help with regards to belts and competency: One starts with a white belt, after a period of time advances to blue, then purple, brown, and finally black belt. An analogy that works (in my head anyway) is a blue belt is like an associates degree, purple=Bachelors, brown=Masters, black=doctorate/Phd. The internet being what it, is I’m sure some folks will quibble over some nuance of this story, but I think it’s pretty solid and provides some context for folks not in this scene. This was a pretty serious accomplishment for me and it’s just a bit odd to wrap my head around. Historically, purple belts are the folks that just beat the dog-piss out of me (kinda). Although not universal, purple belts have always struck me as being REALLY proficient in BJJ while also seeming to be just a bit…cranky. They seem to like to dish out an ass-whooping, whereas brown and black belts seem a bit more content to “play” if given the right energy. Now, I find myself in the position of being one of these quasi-mythical beings and it’s just kinda odd.
I think I’ve talked a few times about what I get from training BJJ but I’ve had a few more thoughts on that: I DO love it for the “flow state” that I can attain while rolling and drilling. I tend to be pretty cerebral, so anything that turns the monkey-brain “off” is liberating. Right behind the liberation is a really interesting sense of transparency and accountability. One cannot fake nor BS their way through rolling any more than they could Salsa dancing or speaking a language effectively. Despite the gi or rash-guard, one is pretty neked. This is good for me as it’d be easy to stick with things I have decent competency in..that make me look good. I have a small degree of notoriety for the work I’ve done, I’m still half decent in the gym…it’d be easy to stick with that stuff so I have a nice, airtight image. I’ve seen folks do that, and all kinds of ugly mental states emerge from that process, not the least of which is a super nasty flavor of narcissism. Although I’ve made incredible improvements in BJJ, I still suck, I will always suck compared to someone somewhere.
That’s a good reminder and constant daily lesson. Mixed into this lesson of humility however, I’ve also discovered a degree of self confidence and belief that did not exist previously.
Confidence, born of hard work, absent ego (ish), born of love. It’s been pretty powerful.
Although I have made physical progress in the past year for sure, I have to say the greatest improvements for me have been mental. I’m thinking about starting a side-blog where I can prattle about some of this stuff, so if this is of interest to you, keep an eye open for that.
I try to train as often as I can. Most weeks this is likely 3x, although it can range from none to 5x in a given week based on work demands, kids, etc. I usually get a few scheduled classes per week, one private (working mainly on takedowns, although that varies), and then I try to organize some open mats with folks who are game to do positional drilling. If there is one thing that has improved my rolling the most it’s been the drilling emphasis vs just live rolling after a few reps of “the technique of the day.”
My coaches, Scott and Andrew at Guerrilla Jiu-jitsu in Reno, have been incredible…they put an enormous amount of thought and planning into what they do. You can tell when someone has been thinking about curriculum vs showing up, doing an armpit fart as a warm-up and then pulling something out of their backsides.
I continue to get incredible value from Henry Akins Hidden Jiu Jitsu program. It is absolute gold. I have to admit to some degree of trepidation at recommending Henry’s work as it is enough of an advantage that I’m not sure I want everyone to know about it! That said, Henry is an amazing guy and the world really does need to get a perspective like his on the art of BJJ. I’ve also learned that no matter how much I suggest that folks check this material out, most will not and for two goofy reasons:
1- Cost. People will balk at the cost of the online materials and seminars. If you can’t afford it, I get it, but how many nights out drinking would it take to get VIP access to his materials? Not many. If you value your time at all you are hard pressed to not make a case for making every training session count. Henry’s program can help with that in remarkable ways.
2- People assume they know this material. With very few exceptions, folks DO NOT know this material. It is not magic, but it is a remarkable amount of details and context. folks balk at this all the time and all i can say is “You do not know what you do not know.”
In the next section I’m going to talk about my strength and conditioning to support my general goals, but strength and “cardio” are interesting in the context of learning what I’d call “good” jiujitsu. Good jiujitsu should (ideally) not require huge amounts of strength or conditioning. If I have to exert some kind of maximal force to make something work, I’m not doing it in an efficient way. If I rely on scrambling to stay always ahead of someone, I’m likely missing an opportunity at efficiency. An epiphany I had this year: If I’m training in a way that I could potentially get OUT OF SHAPE doing jiujitsu…I’m likely doing it right. My main training goal should be efficiency, and efficiency to such a degree that the training is barely a stimulus for me.
That’s an ideal to shoot for IMO. If you are really focused on competition jiujitsu this still applies BUT this is where strength and conditioning can fill an interesting gap (I’ll get to this in a moment). Efficiency is still something anyone in combatives should strive for as it’s something that will not really degrade with time and aging. I don’t want to build an engine or game that I need to completely re-jigger every five years as I physically decline. This is in part why I do not have a ”cloth dependent” game and my gi vs no-gi games are remarkably similar. An added bonus to this is my fingers and hands are not eff’d up from rolling. If you are spending 30 min taping your hands to roll for an hour…yea, you might want to re-evaluate that.
I’ll make an additional case for efficiency by looking at elite Kenyan runners. I don’t follow endurance athletics much but one would have to live under a rock to not know these folks are phenomenal distance runners. There appear to be a number of reasons for this success, but perhaps the most important include both anthropometrics and training which facilitate a high degree of efficiency. If one can save energy, or direct that energy in a highly efficient way, it’s a remarkable advantage.
One final point that is perhaps worth mentioning: The past year I focused almost exclusively on defense. Henry made a point at a seminar that if one can develop a solid defense game it opens up attacks, sweeps, etc as you do not really worry about getting in a bad spot. I still get tapped, but it’s a good bit of work on the part of the brown and black belts to do this…so I’m now focusing my efforts to get solid in my finishes. This was a really enjoyable way to slice all this up (at least for me) and if your ego can handle it, I think this type of focus can pay big dividends.
I got to spend some time with my dear friend and 3rd degree BJJ black belt, Roy Dean. Roy shot some video of us training, check it out if you’d like:
If you have followed previous updates you will likely recall I’ve leaned heavily on the Gymnastics Bodies program, as it hits both strength and mobility work at the same time. I’ve tweaked and modified this over time, largely in response to the demands I face from work and family. The past year I have gone to a remarkably minimalist program that looks like the following:
2 days per week of weights or some kind of gymnastics movements broken up like this:
Day 1- Vertical press/pull (DB press, neutral grip chins for example) and a hinge movement (trap bar dead-lift).
Day 2- Horizontal press/pull (DB press and DB rows for example) and a squatting or lunging movement.
I will get a weight that is fairly challenging for say 5 reps but will only do 2-4 reps in a given set. I’ll rest for 5-10 seconds then do another set. I’ll keep doing this until I get 24-30 reps on the movement, then I move on. This has been super time efficient with all my “lifting” happening in 15-20 min, including a warmup. I then focus a good 10-15 min on gymnastics based mobility work.
This has been fantastic for me…I’m not going to set any records doing this but am (for me) reasonably strong, I’m not bored, and like always, the gym work does not negatively impact my jiujitsu. If you are just starting strength training this may not work for you, as a more traditional set/rep scheme with longer rests will almost certainly produce better strength gains, but for me, it works great.
Conditioning has changed a bit in the past year. Because I am working for efficiency in my rolling I’ve supplemented my 140bpm “cardio” (usually some kind of low intensity circuit) with some anaerobic threshold work (typically on an airdyne or some specific circuits). I think I’ve built a decent aerobic engine at this point, and I find that the harder intervals both feel good and I recover from them quickly. An important point: Although I am pushing this work harder than in the past, my gym sessions are almost never a max effort. If I know I’ll not get to roll a given week then I will get after the conditioning pretty hard. Otherwise, I’m still searching for that “minimum effective dose.”
Hows it all working? I feel as good as I can remember, reasonably lean and strong, I can work long hours when I need to…so far, so good.
Work and Life
2018 marks 20 years of tinkering with “The Paleo Diet” and everything surrounding ancestral health. It feels like things have gone by in a blink. Zoe is now 5, Sagan 3…this is crazy stuff! Turning 46, twenty-years in a career path…it was interesting as an exercise in mortality. When the next 20 years elapses, I’m going to be a lot closer to my permanent dirt-nap and I’ve really been thinking about how to best spend my time, both for my family and for the work I want to do. I remember my parents at this age and they were OLD. I’m grateful that the food and lifestyle choices I’ve made have helped the aging process, as I really do not feel old. Travel can knacker me, I need to be smart about my training, but there is not much I can’t do today that I could do 20 years ago. Conversely, there are many things I CAN do now that I could not previously (that whole skill-set represented by the purple belt).
On the work front I asked a number of you folks what you’d like to see from the podcast and other offerings. There is more information available than ever and I want to make that as worth y’alls time as possible, so I’m bringing back the Q&A portion of the podcast, and to the degree I do interviews it will mainly focus on folks in the cutting edge of research. We have some other projects cooking that are largely inspired by the feedback we had from you folks and I’m excited to roll that out soon.
I had a really interesting development in 2017, and that was joining the Chickasaw Nation in an advisory role for their Unconquered Life Initiative. This is interesting in that it validated my thoughts not only on health, but also insurance, healthcare, community, decentralization, economics, and sustainability. All of these topics are woven together. Hardly anyone is talking about the disparate parts, to say nothing of practical integration of these ideas. I’d not be surprised if when I pen “My training at 66” that I’ll still be working with these folks. The reason why is it will be a systems based approach that addresses the problems we face. If I see folks talk about these topics it’s usually in a highly reductionist way that mises context and integration. It looks a LOT like how symptoms based medicine progressed in the 20th century. I don’t toot my own horn often, but I’m pretty good at synthese and context. Some of the material y’all will see in the months and years to come may challenge you in some uncomfortable ways, but I’d encourage you to hang in, ask questions, and help bring these ideas and programs to fruition. When I first got involved with the paleo diet concept there were perhaps a few hundred people on the planet interested in it. Millions of people now tinker with these concepts, and there are more research studies underway than I believe have been done to date. More on all of this soon.
Thanks for hanging in here with me! I tried to be as thorough as possible, but if I missed anything, please do leave a comment and I’ll tackle that.
Chris Denzer says
You da man, Robb. Thanks for writing this. You had me at “dirt nap.”
What tests did you use to uncover the sibo and fungal issues? Will you be doing a post about the protocols that you used to help fix the issues? Thanks!
Robb Wolf says
I’ll do a separate blog on that!
What kind of testing did you undergo to diagnose SIBO/gut issues/fungus etc.?
Robb Wolf says
I’ll do a separate blog post on that! Some pretty extensive stool testing.
Great write up!!! Always informative and interesting. Curious about your sources of fat. Also, are you doing any supplements/ testosterone replacement. I know t levels decline as we age. Thanks Robb!!
Robb Wolf says
Fat source is mixed but not really doing much from dairy. Supplements: Not a lot beyond magnesium malate, curcumin occasionally…some vit-d. Have not stepped up to HRT as of yet but have a plan of starting with things like DHEA+arimidex or clomid to just try to goose the process as naturally and as conservatively as possible.
Thanks Robb. I look forward to this post every year. I’m around the same age (44) with an awesome 3 year old daughter. Having her has really changed my perspective on how I want to live my next 40 years. Staying fit and healthy, being present and being outdoors.
It’s always good to hear another persons perspective on how to attain that.
Thank you for this update Robb, it is a great overview seeing where you’re at with everything with regards to the nuts and bolts side of how one implements the ancestrally inspired life.
I’ve got a couple questions, which I think are pretty common so perhaps could well addressed on the new podcast Q&A (I thought Nicki did great!).
1. Yourself and Chris Masterjohn are two people I follow closely to filter the noise for me. I think overall you mostly agree on everything, but your daily diets have started to diverge quite substantially. I am an advocate of n=1 and how you look, feel, perform, but I am just curious as to your thoughts on this divergence, if any. From what I can see it just boils down to daily carb intake, and frequency of ketosis. Chris basically advocates a significantly higher intake for health. Is this simply individual variation, or do you think both approaches are ‘optimal’ given all the other ducks in a row (sleep, exercise, etc), or perhaps something else.
2. Regarding your mild SIBO, and fungal overgrowth, you said you followed some “pretty complex protocols to deal with both of these issues”. Can you elaborate on this, or if I have missed you talking about it before please point me in the right direction? I assume you did something like the natural gut protocols as outlined by Kresser and others, using herbals like oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic/allicin, etc, combined with fermented foods and other gut supporters to try reset the microbiome so to speak, or weed out bad actors who have gained too strong a foothold.
I see this mild SIBO & Fungal thing as VERY common in the Paleosphere. The story always looks like SAD Diet and average to crappy health, go super low-carb strict elimination Paleo, WOW feel GREAT, gets Abs for the first time since a teenager, and then overtime gradually relax as you seem to feel fine with a little butter and cheese, the occasional corn-taco, plenty of potatoes, and for some even the occasional chocolate croissant on the weekend! But then some weight slowly creeps back on, and digestion issues appear, some bloating, bad stools, etc, that even seem unique from pre-paleo perspective (but maybe you just weren’t as self aware as you are now?!). But then even reverting to as strict Paleo as you can handle whilst maintaining a normal life, the issues remain.
Sorry for the long winded questions, but I do at last have confidence they are not unique to myself and represent a large swath of us Paleo’ers who are now in this game 5-10+ years. Thanks again.
Robb Wolf says
GREAT questions!(I doubt my answers will be nearly as good, but here goes)
1-What I’ve learned in all this is folks who ahve great carb tolerance ahve blood sugar excursions that look like what we see in folks with poor glycemic control eating low carb. So, the context is critical here. Added to this I THINK there may be some long term upsides to at least transient ketosis…time will tell on that.
2-These protocols are not mine and i need to check with the folks I’ve worked with about what I can share. Might be a good podcast topic.
Thanks Robb, great update.
Do you cap your protein intake at 120-150g for any particular reason? If I remember correctly, you mentioned on the podcast a while back that you’ve noticed benefits from lowering your protein intake, so I’m curious what those benefits are. Thanks!
Robb Wolf says
It’s just an easy range for me to hit. I DO hit a day or two per week pretty low protein just to mix it up.
What do your 2 meals look like, or do they always vary? Lots of salads etc, meat? Just curious.
Also, have you ever gotten your testosterone measured, or had your arteries tested to see how optimal they are? I think that would be interesting.
Looking shredded though so keep doing what you’re doing.
Robb Wolf says
MEals really vary a lot although I’ve been doing fewer salads and more things like carrots and zucchini. I’ll do a blog post on androgen levels, seems to be some interest in that!
This and Welbourn’s “State of the Union” posts are consistent annual reads, great piece.
If it doesn’t already exist, would love to see an “if I knew” piece covering some general principles that 46 yr old Robb would tell 30 yr old Robb.
Look forward to this post every year. I’m 44 and 3 years into my blue belt. Always eager to see a contemporary master 3(?) making progress in BJJ. If I miss Jiu-jitsu, I find my brain and thought process a bit scattered during the work day. Jiu-jitsu is now more a mental exercise with physical coming slightly secondary. Almost moving meditation. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this “cerebral” side of jiu-jitsu in future posts.
Would doing sprints/HIIT (anywhere from 15-45 seconds) with rest between follow in the same lines of BJJ for “not appropriate for ketosis fueling?”
What would a typical day look like for you on day that you do the protein fast (~30g)? I guess you are just eating a ton of fat on that day??
Love these training updates. After reading this and listening to the latest Q&A…How long does the IF period need to be to derive benefit? If due to social convenience one were to eat breakfast and dinner, skipping lunch, would there be enough of a window to gain some benefits with insulin sensitivity or is the benefit so slight it just becomes an added stress?
Are you still using the Versa Climber much? We are debating about getting one vs. an airdyne.
John McClary says
Hi Robb, great update as always. Looking good.
I’m curious about your alcohol and salt intake. Have you cut out alcohol? Are you drinking occasionally? Personally I find that very infrequent alcohol intake seems to feel best for me.
What about salt? Are you loading prior to bjj, salting your food liberally, not worrying about it, or something else?
John McClary says
BTW, I was most impressed by the backwards roll-to-handstand in the video. That’s definitely something I want to do, but my overhead press strength isn’t quite there yet. Working on it.
Curious How tall are you. Trying to make sense of your weight with looking at your photos? Thnx
I’m trying to remember exactly, but I think Robb is 5’9″ or 5’10”.
A few years back you posted your testosterone levels in a post with a Mr. X. Have you had your testosterone checked since? I believe this was in 2011. Can you do an update?
Robb Wolf says
Justin- i ahve not checked in about a year but am planning on doing so.
Love your work. I’m a fellow BJJ practitioner and an elementary school principal. I received my black belt last year at the age of 43. Keep grinding.
Nancy Gunter says
You are loved and appreciated by so many of us, but DUDE! do you NOT wear a seat belt or could I just not see it in this video ?
You probably just couldn’t see it. Robb does wear his seatbelt 🙂
Congrats on the purple belt Robb! I really enjoy your “My Training at …” articles. As a fellow nerd (programmer) that is really into longevity, physical performance, and jiu jitsu, these posts are always fun to read. I’m 37 year old white belt about 7 months back into jiu jitsu after a fifteen year hiatus and have an impressive injury history from various feats of “athleticism” (read uncoordinated stupidity).
You turned me onto Henry Akin’s material and I thoroughly enjoy the look on the more experienced guys faces when they can’t break my posture while in their guard. I’ve also enjoyed looking at concept/system approaches from Rob Biernacki, Nic Gregoriades, and Demian Maia but have found Henry to be the best.
Cheers to a good 2018!
Robb Wolf says
thanks Nathan!! Henry’s stuf pretty-much kept me in BJJ. It’s GOLD.
Patrick Laughlin says
Awesome write-up as always. Robb, how much time do you spend each morning in the sun?
Robb Wolf says
It varies…but as much as I can. Some days none, some 5 min, some 20.
Congrats on the purple belt… not sure about everyone else, but I oook forward to the sustainability and Chickasaw nation endeavors very much so! Stay strong 💪
Thanks for the post
Great detail particularly on the BJJ aspects of your training and fueling. Work, family, travel, and life in general, are significant factors in the growth of our own personal fueling systems and I appreciate your comments. Now, if I can just find that optimal nutrition for myself.
Robb Wolf says
Just keep tinkering!!
Robb – What did you think about MAF? I’ve been doing it since last February. It’s interesting to see the effects of HR training, frustrating too. I’m not training for anything in particular but thinking I may move along. Still tinkering, I suppose.
Robb Wolf says
I think it’s a valauble tool. I DID bump my base level up by about 10 BPM and this appears to ahve improved my aerobic capacity (subjective, just notice better gas while rolling)
Thank you Robb.
Borge Fagerli says
Hey Robb, watched your Breckenridge presentation and also read your book, some very good stuff in there. I have been on a ZC/Carnivore diet for a while, also with some fasted workouts – but waking up every morning with hypoglycemia (60-65mg/dL) prompted me to reintroduce carbs again. I’d rather be metabolically flexible and not just a “fat burner”.
Did the 7 day carb test, and 40-50g of most fruits or berries in the morning all barely raise my blood sugar to 100mg/dL – but I tend to get reactive hypoglycemia when I ingest fruits post-WO for some reason, so need to be careful there.
I have also been reading Bill Lagakos’ work for a while, and will be trying out a large breakfast for a while, training just before lunch and then eTRF at 5-6PM.
Are you still doing this, and if so – still happy with the results?
Thank you for the great work you are doing.
Robb Wolf says
YES! Still doing the large breakfast, although the past month or so I’ve been down in that keto range of say 50-60g carbs per day. And feeling pretty damn good. i think I was botching the electrolytes.
Jack McG says
Huge fan of the show and huge fan of Austrian economics as well. I love it when you talk about that in regards to sustainability and healthcare.
Anyways, onto topics pertaining to this post. Can you comment more on the big breakfast and your energy and sleep. I find that my sleep is best when well fed that day but on an empty stomach, i.e. eating early in the day.
But, I have ADHD and learning about intermittent fasting and implementing it during most of the work day has been a better treatment than any medication and made me feel like a new person cheating the system.
With that said, I do not sleep as well or recover from my training like I once did because of it. And, I know that I am not under-fueling as I have adapted to just eating more in a shorter period of time. That being said, my sleep is still off, and I think it does go against my circadian rhythms. I bet prior to Edison, no one EVER ate after the sunset.
So, my long-winded question is as follows: Did you have any initial lag in energy / focus chomping down on lots of chow in the morning and did you adjust?
And secondly, I should add that I currently do not follow a low carb approach, but I do feel like you have described when you were younger and before you went Keto (that you I have blurry vision and things kinda are a blur sort of) after a high carb meal. My means of combatting this has been to just eat light during the day and pig out at night. But, is this really a sign of me genetically being wired to steer lower carb?
Robb Wolf says
JACK! i generally felt well with the shift in earlier eating…no real transition. We ALL tend to be less insulin sensitive in the evenings…so it tends to be a win to eat the carbs earlier. Let me know if this helps!
Rich lewis says
Hi robb! Great write up!!!
May I please ask some questions.. when you say you add carbs to your meals.. what carbs are you adding?
I am currently a new 39 y.o blue belt struggling with keto diet. 2 years keto.. and currently trying the targeted 20g haribo before training which I have found an huge improvement.. but come the weekend I’m craving carbs.. it’s like my body has depleted all its energy with bjj and kettlebells and is starving for carbs -ice cream and chocolate!! I binge!!! And come Monday I’m smashing people… again… but as the week goes on by Thursday I’m getting smashed!! Although the targeted keto has helped a little here.
So I am looking to up my carbs now as you have now experimented with…really interested in this.. but what carb food should I eat daily for Ease of prep/ease of adding to the diet..? I am keto for the feels and happiness factor..no time for weight loss..
Also have u added any weight with this approach as I am looking to add a little bit of weight and can’t keep or put any weight on at all with current keto
Robb Wolf says
I honestly rely on fruit a lot for this…but just go with whatever nutrient dense options you enjoy most!
I really enjoy these posts, Robb. Thanks for sharing!
For those of us who do engage in high intensity activity, are you finding carbs before to be more helpful for yourself (as opposed to after)? Or, do you split if fairly even?
I believe I saw somewhere that you were trying fast digesting carbs (maltodextrin or karo syrup) for a while. Have you dropped this and just stuck with whole food carbs in your pre and post meals?
Lastly, are you spreading your fat intake fairly evenly throughout the day? Or, do you try and separate the carbs and fats? In my opinion, for metabolically healthy people it probably doesn’t matter much, but what would you recommend (or find that works well for you)? I know this is all n=1, but love hearing your own anecdote.
Robb Wolf says
I’ve actually tweaked things to a pretty standard keto diet, about 50g of carbs most days, am doing a bit of carbs pre-workout…about a tsp of honey in an electrolyte mix. it’s working pretty well!
Awesome! Thanks! I have felt okay sticking with keto levels of carbs myself. I am still trying to dial in electrolytes. I purchased your keto masterclass, which was helpful with this. Are you adding electrolytes to pretty much all fluid you drink? If so, is it just your recipe you have in the masterclass? Is that meant to be one serving or what you have with each glass of water? Thanks!
I gotta say Robb after tweeking for like 10 years (lol) I am feeling confident. You helped me along the way, as did others but we all need to figure things out for ourselves.
Breakfast a couple eggs, maybe some meat, and some greens/veggies with olive oil/butter. Salad for lunch with mixed greens, few nuts/chia, olive oil, bit of beef. Dinner is usually chicken, veg, and just a little bit of potato with a good gob of butter.
Carbs probably range from 50-70G. Feeling good, I sleep better with 60ish carbs than with 0. Only thing Im going to add is some berries/honey before workout – something in the range of 10-15g and that will keep my daily carbs below 70g.
I may have a cheat day, but not often, and will try to bounce back ASAP. I’d suggest others to limit alcohol and some limit caffeine (can be stressor for some ie raise blood sugar/cortisol.)
Anyways just wanted to say thanks and share my eating routine.
To add, I put cheese in my salad. And chicken is drumsticks or thighs, not a fan of chicken breast.
Just curious as to how you get in so many calories with keeping protein at ~`150g at carbs ~100g. I find the easiest way to get calories up is to go heavy on the meat but I’m not that keen on eating 250ish grams of protein per day. I can get tons of fat in with dairy but think I feel better when its more of a seasoning not a main part of the meal.
Any details would help.
Robb Wolf says
Some nuts…it’s pretty easy amigo!
Jeff Porthouse says
Enjoy these articles Robb. I’ve been doing BJJ for about four months now so very fresh still! I generally stick to a paleo diet with some indulgences but I’ve always had problems with carb intolerance/insulin resistance (likely genetic I would think one parent has type 2 diabetes) so I try to keep the carbs around 80-100 g a day maybe slightly more on training days. I’ve played around with Ketosis a bit but definately don’t feel my best on it. Definately know what you mean about the BJJ on a low to moderate carb diet. It kicks my arse sometimes but for some reason immediately after training I find having some 100 % orange juice then a proper meal shortly after assists greatly.
Ross Weitzer says
Can you please share what a 1600 calorie breakfast might look like. Trying out two meals a day but no clue how you’re hitting that number of calories in a meal.
A can of full fat coconut milk, 10-12oz of ground beef, if you’re doing some starch a sweet potato or potato or plantain or something, some veggies (green beans, or broccoli, or kale, or whatever you want) and you should be at 1600+ calories.
Ed W says
Great update, lots of things to pick up on and I’m just learning about paleo. Cheers
Jimmy d says
Thank you for sharing all of this and for everything that you do! I also train BJJ (about 5 days a week) and I didn’t see your frequency for conditioning work. Can you share some more specifics around frequency and duration of those sessions?
Can we expect a “My Training at 47” article? I always look forward to these.
Michael Clay says
Robb, do think one would still benefit from doing something like the program you outline above but substitute GMB programs for the Gymnastic Bodies?
I don’t have any experience with the GMB programs myself, but assuming they’re similar, then probably so. Definitely something you could play around with and try.