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And the Grocery Bill Doubles….

19 May

cioppino2My 19 year old son, Lucas, is home from his first year at The University of Wisconsin-River Falls.  I have two boys (3 if you include my husband) and they could not be more different.  Dalton is our athlete.  He acts like an athlete, eats like an athlete and definitely SMELLS like an athlete.  He knows random facts about professional athletes that the typical person could care less about and even has a special alert on his phone that sounds when something “BIG” happens in the sports world.  Lucas has no desire to play or watch sports.  He is our intellect who can read a book faster than you could watch the movie, loves animals and nature and….is a vegetarian!  While I completely support his choice not to eat meat, it does make cooking and grocery shopping more complicated and more expensive.  It also worries me that he is not getting the nutrients he needs.  Thank goodness he will eat fish and seafood, so he can get some of his protein needs there, but the amount of protein he is putting into his body is far from what he needs and his caloric intake is way too low.  It’s one thing to hear people, like Paul, talk about how fueling your body affects your performance.  It’s another thing to see it first hand, and it’s not pretty.  (By the way Paul, I can’t wait for you to talk to him!)  We are in the process of forcing Lucas to stay awake while feeding him whatever we can.  He is in this vicious cycle where all he wants to do is sleep, which keeps him from eating, which makes him want to sleep more.  6 months ago, I may have thought that this was just typical behavior from a college student who just finished a week of finals and whose sleep schedule is off.  Now, I think differently.  This is not normal, even for a college student.  This is a body that has not been fed correctly and can no longer function properly because of it.  Mom to the rescue!

Tonight, a nutrient packed dinner for the boy!  Since he will eat seafood, I pull out the scallops from my freezer.  Since they have been in the freezer for a while now, I can’t just do the typical salt and pepper, sear in a pan with butter scallop…this will need some extra flavor.  I love cioppino!  Cioppino is a stew full of various types of seafood in a tomato based broth.  Since I don’t have a variety of seafood (remember, I am in Minnesota) I will make a scallop cioppino.  I think I will add some spinach to it too, since I add spinach to as many of my dishes as possible just to add a little bit more nutrition.  Since the boy is basically in starvation mode, I will serve this over some cooked white rice too!

After I made this recipe, I tasted it and thought…YUM!  You could substitute chicken, fish, veal or whatever protein of choice and it would still be delicious!

Ingredients

  • 10-12 medium scallops
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 16 oz can of crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • cooked white rice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a skillet, heat the coconut oil until melted over medium high heat.  Add the red onion and cook a couple of minutes, until transluscent.  Lower the the heat to medium/low and add the garlic.  Cook about 1 minute and add the coconut milk, tomatoes, italian seasoning and spinach.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

In a baking dish, arrange your scallops in one layer and pour your tomato mixture over the top.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes (this is a perfect time to cook your rice).  Scoop your rice into a dish, top with your scallop cioppino and enjoy!!!

The person you really need to convince is yourself

18 May

Rich Froning

“Practice” and analyzing trends is what we do in the Science Lab.  If you want to join us click here for info.

First let me explain to you what a bluff is, a bluff is a lie.  It’s a lie you tell your opponent and hope they believe that lie because sometimes there is the equivalent of a BMW in the center of the pot.  That’s not the important part though, the important part is do YOU believe? I was one of the first online poker millionaires when it was really hard to do because the stakes just weren’t that high.  Similar to Crossfit when I first started out it was a good time but losing wasn’t fun, winning was fun.  To win you had to lie but more importantly you had to believe the lies you were telling, otherwise no one else was going to believe you and your ass would go broke fast.  So basically what I did was I practiced.  Donny Shankle doesn’t “work out” if you asked him what he does every day to get better at Olympic Lifting he will tell you he goes to the gym to “practice”.  Whether it was live poker for 15 years before online poker showed up or online it was “practice” that allowed me to bluff (lie) convincingly.

When you are training to get better you don’t really know if you can do it, you THINK you might be able to accomplish a deeper squat or you THINK you might be able to do twenty double unders unbroken but you don’t know.  You are essentially lying to yourself that you are capable of doing things that you really couldn’t have conceived previously.

That’s the secret to life and really everything you ever wanted because until you can convince yourself that you are worth the chips in the pot that is the only way it really happens on purpose.  Certainly people get lucky occasionally but when you “practice” often enough it’s not luck anymore.

There are some basic truth’s:

1) First you must believe you are worthy.

2) You have to practice.

3) You have to believe with everything you have inside you, there can be no room for doubt.

4) Sometimes you have to fake it, you have to bluff yourself before anyone else can believe in you.

P.S.  sometimes other people won’t believe in you, they are just bluffing too, it’s up to you to decide who wins the chips in the middle.

Protected: Met Flex various scenarios explained

18 May

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Back in the Swing of Things…But Paying For It!

15 May

Shannon

Shannon normally blogs about recipes, she is no longer new because she has been Crossfitting for 5 months but for all the new folks out there Shannon is your example.  If you are interested in having more support on your new journey join the Science Lab, click this link for info.

This past weekend was a really busy one for me…the last time I did a WOD was last Thursday (until today) and it felt like forever!  Dalton, my 15 year old had his annual mother’s day soccer tournament.  This weekend typically ends up with a disappointing finish, but his team this year actually won!  It was the best Mother’s Day gift I have ever gotten!  Unfortunately, I am paying for it in many ways…laundry, dishes, grocery shopping….Crossfit…..

I was so excited to get back to my routine of Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday WODS until I saw what the WOD was going to be today.

“Strung-Out, Backwards, and Upside Down Fran”  This sadistic WOD involves the following for time:

1600m run
9 Pull-ups
9 Thrusters (95#/65#)
800m run
15 Pull-ups
15 Thrusters
400m run
21 Pull-ups
21 Thrusters

I saw this last night and immediately cancelled my reservation and became oddly angry.  My exact words were, “Are you fucking kidding me?  Who the fuck thinks this shit up?”  Then I had a glass of wine.  I told myself that I would skip the WOD and do some hiking on the trails instead.  I was completely fine with this until Facebook.   Oh Facebook….what a wonderous creation!  One short comment on a fellow Crossfitter’s post and suddenly I am being shamed into going to this WOD sent straight from hell.

“shannon veeeeee……get your tailfeathers to the gym with me at 600!!”

“come on…get there….do it…don’t back out….here, take a sip, its just Kool-aid…}”

“so Shannon Vonkaenel you will be there right! Don’t be such a girl……. Be more……Do More!!! Thats gonna be why I’m going in this hotness!!”

Out of shear guilt, I sign up for the WOD for the 2nd time….I still have time to back out, it’s only 2:00…

5:00 rolls around and I still have not cancelled my reservation. I guess, I am going, but I am NOT happy about it.  We pull into the parking lot and I see my friend Swan who gives me a little cheer for coming…I sneer and give her a growl….I walk in and tiny little Heather is on the floor stretching.  Upon seeing me, she claps and gets a big grin on her face….I can’t help but smile…then Vicki comes out of the bathroom and gives a little cheer when she see’s me….

This is why I Crossfit.  It’s not the WOD’s, it’s not even the results, it’s the people and the unconditional support they give you.  They have been where I was today and they knew that I needed to go to this workout.  They helped me make it happen.  As for the workout…IT SUCKED!  Not only is it a REALLY tough workout, it was 90+ degrees outside today.  That combined with the blowing dirt and tumbleweeds rolling by us as we were running from the gusting winds made this workout one of the worst I had done…

Yes, I am glad I did it…

No recipe tonight – I promise one later this week, but I have laundry to fold and a 15 year old boy who is crabby as a teenage girl….

On another note, when you don’t want to do the WOD, just post that on Facebook…there are plenty of friends that will change your mind…..

What is your Genetic Potential? (or Being Dan Bailey)

14 May

Dan Bailey

If you want to forget limiting eating ways and consider reaching your full potential as a human being here is the link for the Science Lab.

(Click here to jump to a summary of this article.)

I don’t want to point any fingers…But I kinda feel like this is a long time coming.  It has to be said.  One of the reasons this site needed to happen was that a lot of people get bad information related to body composition from bodybuilding sites/forums.  They try to apply concepts that work for Mr. Olympia to guys who just started lifting last week.  Even worse is when the subject of “cutting” arises and we see guys who’re a buck thirty soaking wet attempt to get shredded.

In theory, a bodybuilding site should be about building your body.  That’s not actually what happens though; the discussion inevitably turns into a support group for disordered eating and body dysmorphia.  You wind up with a lot of guys who don’t lift all that much weight trying to diet down to their pancreases, all congratulating each other on their emaciated physiques.  (At least they have abs, right?)

Every now and again, someone suggests what should be obvious to everyone else:  yes, many of these people have visible obliques but a nice strong wind would blow them away.  That’s when steroids come up; anyone who’s ever squatted triple their bodyweight must be juicing.  It rarely ever occurs to these folks that food and strength are 3/4 of the equation as far as getting jacked is concerned.

Form vs. Function

This is not a condemnation of bodybuilding, because there are a lot of people out there doing it right.  They’re actually BUILDING muscle, which you accomplish by eating a lot and lifting heavy things.  At that point, if you diet down, there might actually be some meat hiding beneath your fat layer.

Make no mistake about it:  your fat layer plays a big role in how much muscle you can gain over time.  Obsessively worrying about staying super lean so your heart beats out of your chest and you look like some human version of E.T. is not optimal for building muscle tissue.  As you undergo severe caloric restriction, your metabolic function takes a beating and it can become a very real health hazard.

This isn’t an argument against being lean.  If you want to strip away every ounce of fat on your body, have at it, but don’t try to pretend that it’s normal (Why do you need to be so lean in the first place?)  or put it out there like it’s the end of the discussion.  All I’m saying is that no grown man is going to look very good at 115 lbs/7% body fat.  You need a significant amount of muscle mass first.  

When you are dieting all of the time, it takes it’s toll on your physical and mental stability and frankly, a “diet” is unnecessary to get into great shape.  If you have been to any CrossFit gym, you already know this.  Folks are ab’ed up and muscular, which is hilarious because one of the more common criticisms of CrossFit is that it makes guys small.  For all their effort, how many average Joe “bodybuilders” at your local Globo Gym look that good?

Genetic Limitations and Steroids

First of all, drugs won’t make up for a lack of work ethic.  You don’t pop a pill and wake up a world-class athlete.  Also, the use of anabolic steroids by other people does not mean you can’t work hard.  It doesn’t give you an excuse for being weak or small.    This brings me to my main point:  your genetics aren’t holding you back.  Your nutrition and training are.

I’m not only going to call bullshit, but there are several prominent examples of CrossFit Games athletes that have blown past their supposed “genetic limits”.  Of course, this is where people make two claims:  they are either genetic outliers (Let’s be honest, Rich Froning Jr. is a genetic outlier) or they are on steroids.  (Literally every single one, including the women.)  This is ridiculous if you think about it.

Now, I am not going to suggest that someone somewhere hasn’t done steroids to get better at CrossFit, but I have been to many gyms and the topic of “how to get steroids” has never come up.  It’s just not part of our culture.  Also, the incentive just isn’t there; most of our top athletes participated in some sport in college, so they were tested.  We also test at Regionals and beyond.

So how much muscle can you build naturally?  There are various ways to gauge your genetic potential, but when it’s all said and done you need to look at people who’re about the same height and build as you are.  This handy dandy chart can give you some kind of idea:

I got this chart from BuiltLean.com

I got this chart from BuiltLean.com

As far as real-world examples go, I look to Dan Bailey.  Here is Dan’s athletes profile page from CrossFit.com.  I am 5’7″, and Dan is also 5’7″.   Judging from pictures, he is rocking a body fat percentage between 8-10% at any given point.  He looks pretty shredded to most people, but in fact he is not.  (Most body builders aspire to 5 or 6%, and that is where muscle wasting becomes a problem.)

If we assume that Dan is 180 lbs. @ 10% body fat (he’s probably not, he’s probably much closer to 7-8% at any given time) then we would have to concede that he has roughly 162 pounds of lean body mass.  If you look at the chart above, that means that he is a 17 lb. outlier.  17 pounds! I will concede 5 pounds, but not 17; that is where I call bullshit.  In my opinion, when you are constantly worrying about how skinny you can, be it limits your potential.

The reason this came up is because I was talking about Dan’s lifts and someone said to me, “Well yeah, he weighs 180 pounds.”   If you are comparing yourself to someone your size, ask yourself if your training and nutrition have ever allowed for the development of strength and mass without regard for your six pack.  It’s far too common for someone to say, “If I could only lose 5 more pounds of fat…I’d be shredded!”

How About Trying This One on for Size?

Ask yourself, “What if I put on another 10 pounds of muscle?”  How much stronger would you be? How much more fat do you think you’d need to lose?  When most people take a gradual approach to adding lean mass, they come out at the other end with the understanding that they didn’t have much fat to lose at all:  they were just small. 

People need to stop limiting themselves.  Where you are now is not far enough; you can achieve a better version of yourself.  Our sport rewards strong people, and if you want to get stronger, you’ll probably need to put on a couple of pounds.  There are way too many 16 year old kids reading bodybuilding sites and getting the wrong message, which is limiting their potential along the way.   For most of them, eating like Dan does and lifting like Dan does would end up getting them where they want to go.  Instead of talking to a bunch of geeks debating the latest study on Pubmed about HGH and making excuses for their lack of progress, they’d be out hoisting massive objects and talking to women.

Summary:

  • Many dieting concepts prevalent in bodybuilding culture have no practical application for new trainees, and they certainly don’t set you up for optimal athletic performance.
  • You have to have a lot of muscle on your body to look great at a low body fat percentage.  Furthermore, the levels of leanness that some people attempt to achieve are impossible to maintain.  Nobody needs to be walking around at 5% body fat unless they’re preparing for a competitive physique/bodybuilding show or a photo shoot.
  • Genetics are no excuse not to work hard.  Steroid use by other athletes is not an excuse either.  If you place limitations upon yourself based upon your genetics, you’ll sell yourself short.
  • Instead of asking yourself how much more fat you need to lose, ask yourself how much more muscle you need to gain/how much stronger you need to become to accomplish your goals.

Myth: Insulin Makes You Hungry

10 May

With all the conflicting information available on the web, it can be difficult to apply even the most sound dietary concepts to your lifestyle.  As a member of the Eat To Perform Science Lab, you’ll communicate with experts in the fields of nutrition, exercise physiology, and strength and conditioning, as well as hundreds of other members who’ve found themselves on a similar path. 
 

(Click here to jump to a summary of this article.)

  

We’re hearing from a lot of people who believe that when blood insulin levels go up in response to a carbohydrate-dense meal, you wind up hungrier than you were before you ate.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.   Insulin does not cause hunger.  Ghrelin, “the hunger hormone,” is produced during periods of low blood sugar, when growth hormone levels are elevated and insulin levels are at their lowest (4).   The hormone leptin inhibits the action of ghrelin and tells your brain that you’re full, and glucose metabolism is the primary determinant of leptin secretion in humans (3).

Furthermore, a recent study by Wellhoener et al.,  has shown that the administration of insulin after feeding curbs appetite.    However, it did not have any  effect on satiety during fasting when blood sugar  was low (2).  These data support the idea that insulin can help control hunger.

In short, carbohydrate metabolism makes you feel happy and full (5).

While insulin may play a small role in keeping you from overeating, its job is to open up a channel to transport nutrients into cells.  The video below by Dr. Bryan Walsh explains what insulin is, and how it works, better than anything else on the internet, so you should definitely give it a watch:

So Why the Confusion?

One of the problems with this whole scenario is that it only works like that when your body is functioning properly and you’re making the right lifestyle decisions.  Leptin resistance will confound issues with hunger and make it difficult to lose body fat.  Even when you eat an abundance of carbs, your brain won’t get the signal that you don’t need to eat any more.  You’ll never feel full and you’ll always be on the hunt for a sugary snack.  If you’re insulin resistant, you’ll have a difficult time utilizing glucose, no matter how much insulin you produce.  What would normally energize you and satisfy your hunger will ultimately make you sick, as glucose is toxic in the blood stream.

The second problem is that of the blood sugar “crash”.  When blood sugar levels rise, insulin springs into action to help cells soak up the glucose.  Foods that produce a high glycemic load will elicit an insulin “spike” that will rapidly clear glucose from the blood stream (granted the person is insulin sensitive.)  The sudden drop in blood sugar results in a crash that will knock you on your butt.  For this reason, many people suggest that you avoid high glycemic index carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, etc.) but these are some of the best foods for replenishing glycogen.

How to Make Carbs Work for You

First of all, you need to engage in high intensity, anaerobic exercise.  Second, you should eat mostly fat and protein during the day, and stick to fibrous carbohydrate sources that won’t spike your insulin.  Eat starchy, high GI carbs after training, when your muscles will be most sensitive to glucose uptake, and include a healthy amount of fat in your evening meals to get a more stable blood sugar response while you get ready to go to sleep.  Over time, your cells will become more flexible and your metabolism will begin to function properly.  When you dial in your approach, hunger and lethargy will become a thing of the past.

Mike’s Notes

Just how insulin itself works is a confusing mess, but my bias is that if your body is running primarily on carbs, a smaller drop in carbs will probably signal your body to consume more carbs.

If you can more effectively use fat, you could argue that instead of triggering hunger, your body would shift to use fat (become more metabolically flexible).

This dates back to the research some 50 years ago called the “Glucostatic Theory of Appetite Control” (6).

Summary:

  • Many people experience hunger after a high carb meal.  They wrongly blame insulin and carbohydrate consumption for their hunger.
  • In reality, carbohydrate consumption increases the amount of leptin circulating in your blood stream.  Leptin is the “I’m full” hormone.
  • Insulin doesn’t make you hungry; it actually makes you feel satisfied.
  • Ghrelin is responsible for signaling hunger, and it rises during periods of low insulin.
  • Most of the confusion arises when people eat high glycemic carbohydrates like rice and potatoes that generate a strong insulin response and possibly lead to a blood sugar crash.
  • Chronically elevated levels of blood sugar, which render you insulin/leptin resistant, screw up your hunger signaling all together.  This makes it hard to lose fat and regulate your blood sugar/feeding patterns.
  • You can avoid most of these problems by engaging in high intensity activity on a regular basis, eating carbs around training, and eating mixed meals of fat, carbohydrate, and protein to regulate absorption.

Works Cited

1)      Katsuya Dezaki, H. S. (2008, May). Ghrelin is a physiological regulator of insulin release in pancreatic islets and glucose homeostasis.

2) Manfred Hallschmid, S. H. (2012, February 16). Postprandial Administration of Intranasal Insulin Intensifies Satiety and Reduces Intake of Palatable Snacks in Women.

3) Peter Wellhoener, B. F.-S. (2000, March 1). Glucose Metabolism Rather Than Insulin Is a Main Determinant of Leptin Secretion in Humans.

4) Tomomi Shiiya, M. N.-I. (2002, January 1). Plasma Ghrelin Levels in Lean and Obese Humans and the Effect of Glucose on Ghrelin Secretion.

5) Woodend, G. H. (2003, October). Consumption of sugars and the regulation of short-term satiety and food intake.

6)  Mayer, J. (2009, January). The glucostatic theory of appetite control and the risk of obesity and diabetes.

Intraday Feeding for Competition Days

25 Apr

Every single person that contributed on this article is a Science Lab member (though Elisabeth is kind of busy right now) and they add thoughts when available.  I, on the other hand, am there to answer your questions daily.  The section at the bottom that says “Mike’s Notes” is from Mike T Nelson, he wrote our “Metabolic Flexibility for High Intensity Athletes”, he’s kind of a smart dude.  You get those chapters when you buy the year long subscription through the Science Lab.  Click here for details.

(Click here to jump to a summary of this article.)

This piece is a follow-up to my two-a-day “Intraday Nutrition” article.  I’d recommend checking that out, as it’s a great start to understanding some of the basic concepts of what I will be talking about in the next few paragraphs.  I will go over some of the basic ideas behind Metabolic Flexibility, why it’s important to you, and how to apply these concepts to your nutrition around a competitive CrossFit event.

Becoming Carbohydrate Adapted

As a community, we value being fat-adapted (using fats when we rest for energy), but the fact of the matter is that we burn a lot of carbs during our workouts.  In a study by Carter, SL et al., 8 males and 8 females, fuel use during cycle ergometry was measured.  They found that the  women burn about 50% carbs during exercise and men burn about 75% (2).   Despite our reliance upon carbohydrate, we don’t actually eat extremely large amounts all the time.  Eating carbs generates an insulin response, and insulin helps transport nutrients into cells to build tissue (fat as well as stored carbs as muscle and live glycogen).  We do a lot of bodyweight movements, so gaining weight indiscriminately isn’t an option; instead, we eat most of our carbs around training, when it’s more difficult to store fat (8).    We need to be metabolically flexible enough to switch between using carbs to fuel our training and build muscle, and then get right back to burning fat.

Your body composition, Metabolic Flexibility (how well you switch between carb and fat substrate utilization), as well as your gender will play determinate roles in how much carbohydrate you need.  Lean people need a lot more carbs just to maintain a baseline of muscle capacity.  During high intensity exercises, muscle glycogen  is the primary source of energy and unless you are eating appropriate amounts of fat, protein and carbohydrate (total calories) , you just aren’t going to perform very well as an athlete, especially when your sport involves lifting weights.

That said, ingesting a crazy amount of carbohydrate that your body cannot handle is probably a bad idea, which is why you need to test this idea first.  If you do not have the time to test this protocol, don’t do it.  I’d recommend you follow an “Eat To Perform” approach to nutrition for a while before you consider employing these strategies.  If you’ve been low carbing for a while, you’ll need to improve your Metabolic Flexibility before you can take full advantage of this concept.

What to Eat the Night Before a Competition

Again, I am not a “sacred cow” guy.  I am going to lay out what I think is the best way to approach, but that may not fit with the way you eat.  Try and take these suggestions and adjust them to your lifestyle, observing one caveat:

…. if you are going to try and win the CrossFit Games taking a very low carb (50g or less a day) approach, good luck with that one. 

In other words, I don’t suggest it.  For my money, Chipotle the night before an event is great.  Certainly, you can (and probably should) prepare a homemade alternative, but a triple meat burrito bowl with extra rice and guacamole is going to be right on target to set you up for the next day’s competition.

I say this under the assumption that you have been doing this for at least long enough to know that you won’t wake up 5 lbs. heavier the next day; that won’t make muscle-ups any easier.  Even so, if you are up 5 lbs., that might actually put you in the best position to move on to the next day because your gas tank will be on “full.”  My suspicion is that for many of you, your muscles will be happy to soak up the carbs from the rice, and that the fats from the guacamole.  There are plenty of people who’d argue against having any fat during a carb load like this.  I have no problem with those people having that opinion for their sport, but for CrossFit, you don’t want insulin running amok.   In my experience, the fats calm things down a bit.

For dessert, have my cherry and pineapple coconut milk smoothie before you go to bed.  Just make sure you are using light coconut milk.  I will say there is a strong argument for full-fat coconut milk from an energy standpoint; the medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) in coconut milk is available as an energy source much more quickly than long-chain fatty acids but its effect on improving performance has not been clearly demonstrated (1, 3-7, 9) .  The case against full-fat coconut milk is that your metabolism will flex towards fat burning mode, and that will potentially slow absorption of the carbs you’re eating.  Either way, it’s something you want to play with; it’s not necessarily make-or-break.

Another and potentially better option before you go to bed is to drink two scoops of Progenex Cocoon in hot water.  Now, I want to caution you about this:  get ready to be knocked out.  Don’t take it early, otherwise you might find yourself napping at 7 p.m. the day before a big event.  The active ingredient is L-tryptophan, and I find that it allows for a good night’s sleep, improved recovery, and a slow-loading protein boost.  If you already take melatonin before a big event (It’s difficult to sleep when you’re excited!) I find this to be a better option because of the way I feel when I wake up.  Melatonin can be tricky to dose, and it will sometimes leave you drowsy the next morning.  Cocoon feels more like restorative sleep.

Pre-game Meal

Most competitions start around noon, so if yours starts earlier or later, you may have to adjust.  Similar to my two-a-day recommendation, you want to have a small meal to stabilize your system that won’t sit on your stomach during competition, so this is highly individual.  Try to put a few hours between this meal and the event.  Here is what I suggest:

  • 2 eggs cooked in ghee
  • Bacon (as many strips as feels right)
  • One scoop of Progenex Recovery and one scoop of Vitargo (the link is an article I wrote on why fast loading hydrolysates like Progenex Recovery are better for competition days)
  • One or two tablespoons of Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

The bacon, ghee, and hazelnut butter are rich in long-chain fatty acids, which should stabilize your energy levels.  Remember, your muscles are loaded up from the rice the night before.  This meal is just to settle things in.  The Vitargo and the banana are just there as a signal to “flex” your metabolism towards using carbohydrates as an energy source, so you may want to save it for closer to competition.

The one thing I wouldn’t recommend (unless the event starts really early) is going in fasted.  This is contrary to what I recommend under normal circumstances.  Once again, you really want to test these concepts for yourself before you implement them; this is one of the variables you need to be aware of.  Also, while I know many people drink coffee in the morning, there is a strong argument to move to caffeine pills/powders or espresso shots for a more concentrated dose of the active ingredient.  Again, this is definitely something you want to test before you put your money on it.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Perfected

Elisabeth and I laughed about this in the video I did with her.  Rich Froning famously offered up that he eats a lot of peanut butter and jelly between competitions, which completely makes sense if you understand energy systems.  (Which, by the way, Rich does.)  The idea that he’s some good ol’ country boy that merley lifts weights and eats PB n’ J all of the time doesn’t really do justice to Rich’s story.  If you don’t think Rich has this stuff dialed in, you are probably wrong.  If you want to be in his league, you have to play by his rules, and his rules involve fueled workouts.  Point blank.  So let’s take a look at how we might be able to do peanut butter and jelly better.

The dosing on this is probably something you want to play with a bit, but for today, protein barely matters.  We won’t ignore protein intake, but our main concern is energy, and that will come mostly from fats and sugars we can ingest quickly.  If you can microwave this, it might go down a bit better:

  • Vitargo
    • You really want to be careful with this and test it out, because Vitargo will increase insulin levels fast.  Rich’s sugar from the jelly is only half glucose.  This will go a long way to refill glycogen lost during the event, but it could possibly make you feel sick if you take in too much at once.  So let’s do some math.  As an example, let’s say that the first event burns 300 calories.  For a woman, that would mean 150 calories of carbs were burned and for a man 225.  You basically divide by four and you have an approximate value of what you need to replace expressed in grams of carbohydrate.  One serving of Vitargo is 68 grams of carbs, so for women, it would be about 40 grams (3/4 a serving) and for men, 60 grams (a little more than one serving).  You really want to push this and see what feels most right, it’s certainly possible that you can get away with a bit more and feel right.
    • I would mix this with Progenex Recovery on a 1.5 (carbs) to 1 (protein) basis.

Wait about an hour to an hour and a half before you have the rest of this meal.  It’s not my experience that this effects your blood sugar greatly but you may find it absorbs faster after heavier WOD’s so that might mean you would want the fats a bit sooner to keep your system stabilized.

  • 4 to 5 tablespoons of Hazelnut Butter or Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
  • Ripe Banana for flavor and to top off glycogen stores

This should be seen as a broad suggestion.  Men with a lot of muscle might need more; women with a slighter build they might need less.  You have to play with it a bit to see what works best, but the idea is sound.  It’s my experience that Vitargo loads so well that you get very little blood sugar response and the hydrolyzed whey from the Progenex Recovery should give your muscles a bit of a boost.  The fats are there to provide stabilization and give you some caloric load but you want to play with that a bit and see what feels right.   If whey protein bothers your stomach and you want to get ultra-fancy, you can add about 6 grams of essential amino acids (EAAs) to the mix (but this is not a requirement.)

Post-workout Drinks

I can keep this simple:  stick to a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein.  That’s  two scoops of Vitargo and 1 1/2 scoops of Progenex Recovery.  All whey is not created equal, and on game day you want a fast-acting hydrolysate to put you in the best position to recover for your next event.  Progenex Recovery has your back there.  The same could be said for Vitargo.  Studies have shown that Vitargo loads into the muscle twice as fast as similar alternatives.  With Vitargo, an athlete’s glycogen reserves  can completely recover within 2 hours, resulting in less weight gain (bloating) and improved athletic performance.  Similar alternatives can take double that time or even longer.

What About Pedialyte?

Whether it’s the July CrossFit Games or May Regionals in Chicago, hydration is an issue.  A lot of people think of Gatorade or similar sports drinks, but Gatorade isn’t the go-to for a lot of the athletes at the CrossFit Games.  Many are opting for Pedialyte, which is normally administered to sick/dehydrated babies.  Pedialyte is pretty low carb, but it’s also fairly high in sodium content.  Sodium is a valuable electrolyte.  One of the major drawbacks to using Pedialyte as an intra-contest drink, however, is that it’s an appetite suppressant.  For this reason, I would lean more towards electrolyte tablets for hydration purposes.  Once again, this is something you really have to test because it’s easy to get it wrong.

As an example, if you are a football player, Pedialyte is probably a great option because hydration is your biggest issue.  Someone engaging in multi-day competition has different concerns.  I’ve had several athletes remark that Pedialyte is a great option for end of day rehydration after the event, but when used during the event, they crashed or experienced symptoms of hypoglycemia.  The reason is probably due to the fact that their stomach was full and they didn’t feel like they needed to eat.  Electrolyte tabs fix this problem and have a much better nutrient profile.  This option allows you to get in some food between events so you can have sustained energy throughout the day’s events and on to the next.

Puréed or Blended Meals Between Competitions

The other option for nutrition on competition day is blended/liquefied whole foods.  The goal of these meals is to provide quick-absorbing energy.   You want a good combination of fats (85/15 ground beef), starch (sweet potato and rice), and a protein powder.  I’d suggest that you lay off the fibrous veggies, but you may find them necessary from a fiber standpoint, so play with that a bit if you need to.

You really need to view all of these options similar to the way you would a golf bag.  If you use the post workout drink as well as the “peanut butter and jelly perfected” recipe, that’s probably going to be too much food, but it’s person-dependent.

As always, you want to test this stuff out before you put it through the ringer in competition.   This is not an optional step, but a requirement!   Ideally, you will run a simulated competition day about 4-6 weeks out from the  real competition to test run everything.   When something works well, do not change it the night before the actual competition.

Frankly, I think you need about three months to get this right which happens to be about the time the CrossFit Games will come around.  This might not be a formula you can test coming up to Regionals, so keep that in mind.

Also, into the second day make sure you are getting adequate rest and once again Cocoon can be really helpful going into the second day of your competitions.

Mike’s Notes

My preference is electrolyte tabs since they allow each competitor to be more accurate with water intake instead vs. a pre-mixed item like Pedialyte—which is better if you are a powerlifter and trying to put on weight regardless (and you are not doing muscle ups.)   Plus, many athletes after hard competitions will not like the taste of Pedialyte and won’t drink it.

I found this out by helping with the RAAM (Race Across America) 7 day, 24 hours a day bike race from San Diego to NJ several years ago.   Don’t underestimate how taste of things will change.    A few guys threatened to throw me out of the van if I even showed them any type of electrolyte drink or GU packet.  There is no taste to electrolyte tabs, so you don’t have to worry, and you can adjust fluid levels as needed.    Having people add more sea salt to their food the week before and monitoring performance helps too.  Adding a lot of salt the night before can result in weird things happening, and some still think salt is evil.  I find the reverse true and sea salt can be ergogenic for sure.

To reduce fear of weight gain, have them use a weighted vest for doing muscle ups in training, even if it is 5 lbs-then mentally they have already done it so they can relax come the big day.

Summary:

  • Although we rely upon carbohydrate to fuel high intensity exercise, you don’t need to eat huge amounts of it all the time.  We value Metabolic Flexibility, or the ability to utilize both fat and carbohydrate as an energy source depending upon our activity levels.
  • The times you do want to eat a pretty huge amount of carbs are the day before and during competition.  You need to experiment and see how your body reacts to carb loading, so give yourself a few trial runs before you attempt something like this.
  • You may gain a significant amount of water weight (5 lbs. or so) after a carb load, so it’s a good idea to train your bodyweight movements with a weighted vest.
  • Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before the event.  Supplements like Progenex Cocoon can help you out here.
  • Have a small high protein/fat, low carb breakfast the morning of the competition.  A scoop of Vitargo or a banana closer to the event will flex your metabolism towards fat burning mode.
  •  A mixture of Vitargo and Progenex recovery will make a great recovery drink after the event.  The ideal ratio of carbs to protein is 2:1.
  • Hydration is important.  Stick to electrolyte tablets and water during the event.  An oral electrolyte solution is fine to rehydrate at the end of the day.
  • Again, test all of this stuff out before hand!  Give yourself several months to get a handle on how you respond to whatever protocol you decide to utilize.

References

1)      Angus DJ, Hargreaves M, Dancey J, Febbraio MA. 2000. Effect of carbohydrate or carbohydrate plus medium-chain triglyceride ingestion on cycling time trial performance. J Appl Physiol 88: 113-119.

2)     Carter ,S. L., Rennie, C., Tarnopolsky,  M. A. “Substrate utilization during endurance exercise in men and women after endurance training.”  Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab  280: E898–E907, 2001 http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/280/6/E898.full.pdf+html&gt 

3)     Goedecke JH, Clark VR, Noakes TD, Lambert EV. 2005. The effects of medium-chain triacylglycerol and carbohydrate ingestion on ultra-endurance exercise performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 15: 15-27.

4)     Goedecke JH, Elmer-English R, Dennis SC, Schloss I, Noakes TD, Lambert EV. 1999. Effects of medium-chain triaclyglycerol ingested with carbohydrate on metabolism and exercise performance. Int J Sport Nutr 9: 35-47.

5)     Horowitz JF, Mora-Rodriguez R, Byerley LO, Coyle EF. 2000. Preexercise medium-chain triglyceride ingestion does not alter muscle glycogen use during exercise. J Appl Physiol 88: 219-225.

6)     Jeukendrup AE, Thielen JJ, Wagenmakers AJ, Brouns F, Saris WH. 1998. Effect of medium-chain triacylglycerol and carbohydrate ingestion during exercise on substrate utilization and subsequent cycling performance. Am J Clin Nutr 67: 397-404.

7)     Jeukendrup AE, Saris WH, Schrauwen P, Brouns F, Wagenmakers AJ. 1995. Metabolic availability of medium-chain triglycerides coingested with carbohydrates during prolonged exercise. J Appl Physiol 79: 756-762.

8)    Rasmus Rabøl, Kitt Falk Petersen, Sylvie Dufour, Clare Flannery, and Gerald I. Shulman “ Reversal of muscle insulin resistance with exercise reduces postprandial hepatic de novo lipogenesis in insulin resistant individuals.” PNAS 2011 108 (33) 13705-13709; doi:10.1073/pnas.1110105108 http://www.pnas.org/content/108/33/13705.long

9)     Vistisen B, Nybo L, Xu X, Hoy CE, Kiens B. 2003. Minor amounts of plasma medium-chain fatty acids and no improved time trial performance after consuming lipids. J Appl Physiol 95: 2434-2443.ml>.