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Slower recovery since starting the Whole30


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#1 Benjamin Shine

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 04:31 PM

I think my body's having a bit more trouble recovering from workouts since I started the Whole30. Usually I do crossfit 3 days in a row; this week I've felt smoked whenever I try to do day 2. The big change in my diet since I started the whole 30 are:
* no post-workout protein shake
* no dairy
* no added sugars
...I can see how those changes would combine to interfere with recovery from intense crossfit workouts.
Also our workouts lately have been more metcon, less strength, because we can't drop weights lately, so we're more likely to do two 10 or 15-minute metcon workouts than one slow strength progression and one metcon finisher. Oh right -- also I'm doing 10x250m rowing after each workout, which I just started this week.

Ah -- I also haven't been doing the recommended pre-workout meal. I have this theory that I'll lose more weight if I train fasted. Will a pre-workout meal help with my recovery but interfere with fat loss?
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#2 Summer


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Posted 05 May 2012 - 05:33 PM

There are certainly many factors that can interfere with recovery. I see you are no longer taking a PWO protein shake (which is less superior to REAL food anyway), but what about getting some starchy carbs such as yams and /or sweet potatoes and protein in immediately after (or as soon as possible within 30 min) your workout? Also, plenty of sleep each night as well as listening to your body and knowing when to take a day off is super important too.

#3 agk


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Posted 05 May 2012 - 05:42 PM

Hi Benjamin, I do usually time my food to have some fruit and coconut milk or a sweet potato preworkout, and I am also missing my post-workout shake and wondering if it is affecting my recovery. Normally I have 20-30 grams of protein with whey powder and a little Greek yogurt right after doing CrossFit. Now I have a hard-boiled egg after CrossFit, but it still doesn't come close to replacing the shake and is perhaps not quite as easy to digest and get absorbed quickly into the muscles. I've felt a little bit more worn out and stiff/sore from one workout to the next. It might be in my head, it might not but a good, clean whey protein powder will be the first thing that I put back in my diet - and believe has real benefits and a place in my diet - post-Whole30. That said, over all I feel MUCH better on the Whole30 than off it, and I'm eating much more real food protein than I did before. Sometimes a protein shake would become a meal replacement for me - not just a post-workout tool. I've decided I can deal for a month with a perhaps slightly impeded workout recovery for the benefits of the Whole30 (breaking some really bad food habits). And I think about how great I'll feel after this if I keep up my "real food" protein and add in a scoop of whey when appropriate after a tough workout.

As an aside, pre-workout starches in the form of squash and sweet potatoes greatly help my energy level DURING the workout even if my muscles are a bit fatigued - so make sure you're not scrimping there. If you time it right - for example, just green veggies and meat for lunch, then a half a sweet potato an hour before you work out - you can definitely lose weight but still feel energized while working out. And do try a little bit of carbs post-workout with a hardboiled egg - I think the protein from them gets into your system more easily than protein from meat or nuts. Good luck!

#4 Megan Claydon

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 05:46 PM

I agree with Summer. There are a lot of factors that go into recovery. Definitley need to get a good dose of sweet potato and protein in as soon as you are done working out. Sounds like you are doing A LOT of volume. So you will need to be smart with your refueling. Don't play the game of trying to see how much met-con you can get away with while cutting carbs. Its not smart and its an evil cycle. I know. I have tried. If you are going to met-con and row that much you need to fuel properly.

I wouldn't worry about pre-workout, in my experience it is a totally individual thing. Most ppl do better with a little something before workout, but I also know plenty who prefer to be fasted.

Hope that help. Let us know how things are going and if you are able to find something that works.
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#5 Johnny M

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 08:53 PM

I expect there to be some info dedicated to this in the Whole9life book! Pretty excited about it.
Check out my recipe blog below. Many are Whole30 compliant or easily adapted. All are delicious.
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#6 Tom Denham

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 08:53 PM

Benjamin - First, it would help to know what you are eating regularly after eliminating the protein shake, dairy, and added sugars. We need to be sure you are getting enough to eat overall.

Second, the role of the pre-workout meal is to send a signal to your body to open up your energy stores and get ready for activity. The reason Whole9 recommends protein and fat before a workout is because that's what sends the proper chemical message. They specifically do not recommend carbohydrates before exercise because carbs send the wrong message. Carbs prompt a release of insulin, which interferes with your body's access to energy stores. The effect is not enough to shut you down, but it degrades your performance. Skipping the pre-workout snack entirely means that your energy stores are a little slower to become fully available. That can degrade your performance in an intense workout. Again, not enough to shut you down, but prepping the hormonal pathways in your body before intense training gives you a slight edge. And sets you up to burn more fat than you otherwise would.

The post-workout meal is of course to speed the recovery process by getting protein to your hungry muscles fast. Eating protein very soon after completing a workout can make a noticeable difference in your performance the next day. You want to be sure you are eating lean protein at this point because fat slows down digestion and keeps your muscles hungry longer. Carbs are optional in the post workout meal if you are trying to lose weight and you don't need quick energy over the balance of your day. Eating vegetable sources of carbs like sweet potatoes or squash replenishes your glycogen stores quickly and you might need that if you are doing two a days, but if you are done for the day, you can skip the carbs.

I hear you about wanting to reach your ideal body composition ASAP, but short cuts sometimes delay reaching your destination instead of speeding it up. One of the things I learned the hard way was how restricting calories can slow fat loss for active people.

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The value of doing a Whole30 is to begin seeing meat, fish, eggs, veggies, and fruit as the good stuff and to start thinking of everything else as stuff we have to make do with occasionally.

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#7 Benjamin Shine

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 03:52 AM

Thanks for all the ideas, everybody! I'm going to try the exact Whole30 pre & post workout recommendations for a couple days. The reason I started the Whole30 was to give me a structured, clear plan with no weighing & measuring & counting calories. To get the full benefit, I should do the full plan. That means doing the pre and post workout meals.
For tomorrow, the plan is:
If I wake up more than 3 hours before the workout starts: 4 oz poached salmon
If I don't have much time before the workout starts: 1 hardboiled egg and a bit of coconut butter
After the workout: 1 jar of sweet potato baby food (only ingredients: sweet potatoes!), 2 hardboiled eggs
Then it's a few hours before I can eat a real lunch, which will be something from street food vendors: probably grass-fed burger or wild-caught fish, plus a salad.
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#8 Dallas Hartwig

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 07:10 PM

I was going to jump in here after Benjamin's original question, but the other responses have been spot-on. I'd agree that your volume (metcon-dominant plus rowing intervals) is likely excessively high, especially given your reduced food intake. If you want to train that hard, you'd be better support that with a LOT more food, including preWO and postWO nutrition. Doing that fasted is a recipe for more cortisol, which inhibits both fat loss and muscle gain. It's paradoxical, I know, but training more and eating less often does not get you where you want to go.
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