We are two weeks into a four week “Paleo Challenge” at Crossfit Horgen.

As a few of you know I have been struggling all week with a feeling of low energy at the workouts, my CMAR 13.1 score was down 60reps on Monday’s re-test.  I spent a bit of time researching the possible causes, and am hopefully on my way to a solution that I started trialling yesterday, hopefully with repeatable success, since this morning I PR’d CMAR 13.1 by 10 reps… which I feel is back on track since this is training day 5 this week and it was outside the adrenaline of competition.

Unless you eat lots of fruit and/or sweet potatoes, or mountains of vegetables, Paleo is going to be normally pretty low on carbs, and high on protein and fat.    This is generally a good thing since unless you use the carbs to replenish your muscle energy stores (glycogen) it gets converted to fat reserves… end of story.  It’s also good as it forces your body to get energy by turning fat stores back into glycogen, and this metabolic path “gluconeogenesis” will become relatively inefficient if you are always filling your energy needs by eating carbohydrates.  Protein and fat are both necessary for building blocks to regenerate your body, especially if you train hard.

However intense Crossfit exercise, or endurance events over an hour will severely deplete your muscle glycogen, and gluconeogenesis is a relatively slow process (although it can be trained by working out after fasting eg before breakfast). A typical Crossfit hour will use 500cal+

The suggestion from reputable Paleo sources such as Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf is that it probably makes sense to do some form of either i) pre/post Wod carbs, ii) carb cycling or backloading or iii) carb refeeding.  These  are not to be confused with carb loading where you increase carbs to 50%+ of your calories (say 400g+) for a whole week before a big endurance race, but rather about finding a sweet spot on training days where you get a minimum number of extra carbs, say 100-150g (400-600cal) and rather go a bit lower on carbs on your rest days.

From here there is a whole load of “bro-science” on when to have these carbs, but I’m going with what feels logical.  30-50g of easily digested carbs (1-2 banana or equivalent) before the workout to provide a boost to turn on the carb energy circuit, and then another 30-50g within the hour after, when your muscles are “crying out” to be reloaded and will mop up the energy.

Mark Sisson’s www.marksdailyapple.com site really is great and you should spend some time there. I like his relatively laid back approach to Paleo. His version is often called “Primal” and is a bit less draconian, leaving space for life to be fun. Here is a specific link to the topic in hand http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dear-mark-training-edition/.  Other resources that touch on these subjects are www.leangains.com (quite extreme), www.eattoperform.com and www.robbwolf.com (another Paleo guru).