I recently learned a very important lesson, and I thought I should share it with you all since perhaps, you need to learn this lesson too: Carbohydrates aren’t bad for you. In fact, if you’re trying to move heavy weight, get strong, and curate a spectacular gun show, they are completely fucking awesome! From that, what I’ve noticed in myself, planning my carb intake to help me lift heavier and maintain my muscle mass has actually helped me lean down significantly.
[I’m watching ALIEN as I’m writing this and the alien just popped out of the dudes chest… ew!]
For a LONG TIME, I basically thought that “Paleo” was just a fancy version of a low-carb diet, and that eating as few carbs and as much protein as possible was the best way to achieve my fitness goals — which, I’ll admit were primarily based around achieving the aesthetics of an athletic lean body. Over the past couple months however I’ve stopped focusing my goals so much on aesthetics and started focusing them on my performance at the gym (weirdly, these two appear to be connected somehow). In doing this, I’ve noticed my mindset about food shifting as well — I used to focus on “eating to look better” now, I notice myself focusing on “eating to perform better” (weirdly, these two also appear to be connected somehow). I’ve found this is a really interesting mental shift, and one that I am very happy to have gone though. Since this mental shift, I’ve started playing around with my carb intake (since, rumor has it they “fuel your workout” or something like that). I’ve started paying closer attention to what foods in what meals make me perform/feel better during my WODs. In the end, turns out planning my carb & calorie intake around my workouts has been an amazing discovery — nothing new in the world of fitness, but new indeed, in the world of Lana.
[Gross, alien robot guts everywhere]
I’ve noticed a pretty direct correlation between the amount of carbs & calories in the dinner & breakfast before my workout and my performance at the gym. When I eat a big meal for dinner that includes a nice pile of starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, plantains, yams, etc.) I feel and perform significantly better than when I dont! When I don’t eat a big meal the night before, I feel sluggish, groggy, and have a hard time beating last week’s numbers. Additionally eating carbs AFTER my workout has me feeling like a million bucks for the rest of the day! I know this is something that has been said a million times, by a zillion trainers, but for some reason discovering that it’s true for me personally has proven to be earth shatteringly exciting.
[Why is this chick running around the ship in her underwear? WTF, when did she lose her pants? Oh I see, she’s putting on a space suit. Never-mind.]
The meals nearest my workouts are focused around lean protein & starchy tubers — An example of my typical (favorite) post-workout meal is baked sweet potatoes & chicken breasts. I cook it the night before, pack it in a tupperware, and bring it to the gym every morning. Then I just pop it in the microwave and scarf it down the second I’m finished the WOD. (In addition to being a great way to built & keep your muscles, this is EXTREMELY satisfying!!!!)
The meals farthest away from my workouts are focused around protein, healthy fats, and nutrient dense colorful vegetables (kale, spinach, purple cabbage, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.). Basically you plan your meals to grow in carbs & calories the closer you get to your workout (before and after).
Jeff’s described it as “Building a pyramid of carbohydrates around your workout”, which I thought was a very clear & visual way of putting it. If you squint at my graphic at the top of the page you will see these pyramids form, like magic! Anyway, after a few months of experimenting with different carby food options, this is what has been making me the happiest at the gym (and coincidentally, in the mirror) so I thought I would share.