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Day 4 and problems with cardiovascular performance on runs


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Pre-Whole30 I was still getting back into shape with running, doing 10.5 min-miles with average heart rate between 145-150.

Yesterday and today my workouts were awful, I'm sure it's because of reduced blood sugar.  Doing 12 (!) min-miles with average heart rate 150-155 and felt like I was going to die.  Wondering why my heart is working harder, is it because it has to pump more blood since the blood sugar is lower?


Suggestions, please?


Day 3


2 eggs

1 banana

1 smoothie - (spinach, pineapple, pear, maca powder) - I know these are not recommended, but did to raise blood sugar before running


1/2 avocado

3 oz. turkey breast

1/2 c. cauliflower

1 cup romaine lettuce

1/4 c. homemade salsa

6 cashews


12 cashews

sugar snap peas with sunshine sauce (sunflower butter and coconut milk, primarily)


4 oz. tuna steak


1 c. strawberries


Day 4 (today)


sweet potato quiche (sweet potato + eggs)

1 smoothie (spinach, pineapple, blackberries, nut mixture) - again to raise blood sugar before working out




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I have several suggestions, all with the intention of helping you get the best results from your Whole30.  First off, until your body becomes fully fat-adapted, you can expect your runs to be more sluggish.  Give it 2-3 weeks following the Whole30 rules and recommendations before you get back on track.

With that in mind:
- Eat more.  :)  Follow the recommended meal template of 1-2 palms of protein, 1-3 cups of veggies and the appropriate amount of compliant fat per meal.  When eggs are your protein, the serving size is the number of eggs you can hold in one hand: for most folks, that's at least 3-4 eggs.
- Shelve the smoothies for the remainder of your Whole30. We want to you to chew your food vs drink it, as chewing is more satiating.
- The pre WO recommendation is protein and fat - no fruit.  Nuts are a fat source on a Whole30.
- Have at least one carb dense vegetable daily as part of your veggie servings, to help with your energy. These include winter squash, potatoes, carrots, beets, jicama, plantains, rutabaga and parsnips.
- If you are genuinely hungry in between meals (litmus test: you could eat something bland like steamed fish and broccoli), have a mini meal containing protein, veg and fat.

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not to pile on here, but this idea about wanting to "raise blood sugar" before working out? What is the basis for this? Your goal should actually be to avoid anything sugary pre-workout to help condition your body into using fat stores for energy. It may take a few weeks to adapt, but once you have done so, this will greatly improve your endurance (no chance of using up all the readily available energy and crashing).

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Chris, thanks so much.  Can you help me understand why my workouts are more sluggish / why my heart is working harder?  I get that I have less glucose in the blood and muscle, making fuel less accessible, but why does my heart have to work harder for a slower run?


I'm actually not that hungry, but I will eat more.  Thanks for all of the suggestions.



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Hey, Missmary, my point in trying to raise my blood sugar before working out is that the body uses both sugar and fat during a workout, and more sugar than fat as the workout becomes more intense (>80% of max heart rate).  When blood sugar is low, you feel like you are dying, like I have for the past two days.  I do get that I want to train my body to "work" differently, and I haven't done all of the required reading yet, but I haven't heard anyone claim that it's even possible to train your body to burn fuel differently during a workout.  Any additional references / information would be great?  Thanks!

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Do you have It Starts With Food? It goes into more detail about this, but ultimately on a Whole30, you want to transition to fat burning instead of sugar burning. Here is a good Mark Sisson article about this concept:http://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-fat-adapted/#axzz3NscBfcws

Until you get there, your body might work a bit harder in your workouts, hence your increased heart rate.

Note: I'm not a doctor, scientist or athlete - just basing my comments on ISWF's and relevant research, along with countless forum examples in the Whole for Athletes section of people whose workouts/energy get sluggish initially and then they bounce back.

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A bit of personal experience to add to the great advice given here. I was running a lot when I made the switch to Paleo and then did a Whole30. I definitely experienced the drop in performance you are describing and persevered through it and came out with much better performance on the other side. In fact I finally was able to set a PR in my half marathon that year. Give the recommendations a try for the full 30 days and see how it goes. 

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You are not alone! I'm currently training per Phil Maffetone's method, keeping my heart rate below my Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF). Pre-Whole30, I was averaging 10:50-11:30 per mile. Now I'm two minutes per mile slower! Similarly, on the bike I've dropped about 2 mph for an hour-long ride. I'm trying to be patient since it's only Day 8, and I know from previous Whole30s that I will hit my stride after a couple of weeks.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Lots of relevant experiences, recommendations, fueling experiments written up on my blog, including links to others' experiences. See the link in my signature.


It absolutely is normal for it to take 2 weeks or longer for your body to adapt. See the Whole30 Timeline for more on what to expect. Best advice? Take it easy during this time. Forcing workouts won't do a thing to help and will only make you frustrated.


You want to follow the Meal Template recommendation for preWO protein and/or fat. As you can see, your fruit-filled smoothies don't help anyway. Have some starchy vegetables to help with the transition (post WO is a great time to eat this). Also, be sure you are eating enough. You are definitely on the low side for recommended portions and since you are an athlete, you will need more fuel.

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