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Endurance Steve

Fueling high carb and Whole 30

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Hi folks - I've read through a good bit of the forum backhistory, as well as done some general internet research, and struggling to find out how people actually manage a high carb diet while doing a Whole30. I'm a high volume endurance cyclist, and just to maintain weight I need somewhere between 3.2k and 3.4k calories daily given my training. I've tried both the standard LCHF and full keto very low carb, and both were disastrous to my training and mood, and I do find that I both ride better and am just a happier person overall with a moderately high (50% - 60% of calories) diet. And yes, I did give the low carb thing plenty of time (4 months), did all the right electrolytes, etc....

So I'm curious if others have actual experience making this type of carb ingestion work, I understand the high carb vegetable situation, and fully endorse potatoes of all types, bananas, plantains, etc. - but to hit my targets I need something like 4 lb of sweet potato a day, which is obviously a bit excessive. The main reason I'm doing a Whole30 was to clean up some digestive issues and fight my "sugar dragon" so adding a ton of fruit hurts along both of those dimensions. 

Thanks in advance for any thoughts people have regarding how to practically accomplish a higher carb intake during Whole30!

(As an aside, I've already scaled back my training during Whole30 partially to account for this shift in intake from an oatmeal and rice-heavy diet, not much more to cut back there.)

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Have you tried a middle ground for carb intake?  LCHF and keto are both super low.  And your current diet is super high.  Maybe somewhere in the middle could work for you?  So that way you'd only have to eat 2 lbs of sweet potatoes a day :)  I just put 200 g (which is only 7 oz) of boiled green plantains into Cronometer.  That is 62g of carbs.  Fry those suckers up in some coconut oil and if you have some metabolic flexibility perhaps you'd find that meals with mod/high carb and fat like that would manage to keep you out of feeling-like-crap land but also help you reach your health goals?

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Along the lines of what @littleg is saying, the aim of Whole30 is to be fat adapted, not to be in ketosis. There's a little explanation of what that means here:  https://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-fat-adapted/

There is nothing wrong with eating as many carbs as you need, but most people seem to feel best when they can get fat adapted, although they feel varying degrees of ick in the time their body is adjusting. 

To make up the calories you need, if you're not doing as many carbs, you'd need to up your fat intake, and make sure you're eating enough protein and vegetables as well. There are some tips here geared toward people looking to maintain or gain weight which might be helpful:   https://whole30.com/2013/12/keeping-weight-whole30/

Ultimately you're the one who has to decide if you want to try to get as many carbs as you currently are through whole30 foods, if you want to try going a little lower carb but not very low carb, or if you want to just stick to what you're doing now. 

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On 10/11/2018 at 9:01 AM, littleg said:

Have you tried a middle ground for carb intake?  LCHF and keto are both super low.  And your current diet is super high.  Maybe somewhere in the middle could work for you?  So that way you'd only have to eat 2 lbs of sweet potatoes a day :)  I just put 200 g (which is only 7 oz) of boiled green plantains into Cronometer.  That is 62g of carbs.  Fry those suckers up in some coconut oil and if you have some metabolic flexibility perhaps you'd find that meals with mod/high carb and fat like that would manage to keep you out of feeling-like-crap land but also help you reach your health goals?

That's helpful @littleg, I definitely can fall into "food extremism" tendencies, which was one of my main reasons for a Whole30 (way moreso than losing weight). Appreciate the advice.

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On 10/11/2018 at 4:29 PM, ShannonM816 said:

Along the lines of what @littleg is saying, the aim of Whole30 is to be fat adapted, not to be in ketosis. There's a little explanation of what that means here:  https://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-fat-adapted/

There is nothing wrong with eating as many carbs as you need, but most people seem to feel best when they can get fat adapted, although they feel varying degrees of ick in the time their body is adjusting. 

To make up the calories you need, if you're not doing as many carbs, you'd need to up your fat intake, and make sure you're eating enough protein and vegetables as well. There are some tips here geared toward people looking to maintain or gain weight which might be helpful:   https://whole30.com/2013/12/keeping-weight-whole30/

Ultimately you're the one who has to decide if you want to try to get as many carbs as you currently are through whole30 foods, if you want to try going a little lower carb but not very low carb, or if you want to just stick to what you're doing now. 

Thanks for that advice @ShannonM816, I'm relatively familiar with fat adaptation as a concept but it can be hard to balance that against high levels of performance which due need to be carb fueled above a certain intensity or duration level, but certianly getting your body to be able to access fat stores is a huge metabolic advantage that people should move towards. That "Keeping Weight On" article is great, I had come across that a while ago but had forgotten about it, very helpful for my Whole30 challenges. Thanks!

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@Endurance Steve I'm interested to hear how this goes for you.  I'm in a sort of similar situation in that I've been off W30 for a while doing some more intense weight lifting than I've ever done.  I've leaned out and put on muscle and am pleased.  But, I've been doing IIFYM and am not happy with living like that forever.  Paleo/W30 has always been low-ish carb for me and I'm back right now dabbling with higher carb/mostly paleo eating.  I'm interested to see how I do trying to do an almost-W30 with more carbs but just a little less free-for-all in the fat department in terms of keeping off the fat I've lost.  Unlike you keeping weight ON is not my problem :) Wish it was!   

 

As a side note, though I was never at the level it seems you are for endurance sports, I was a triathlete/runner when I first went paleo.  I felt like total and complete $hit trying to run for maybe 3-4 weeks.  However, ever since then, my ability to perform at a mod/high level (for me) fasted/low carb has *never* been an issue.  Which is great.  

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11 hours ago, littleg said:

@Endurance Steve I'm interested to hear how this goes for you.  I'm in a sort of similar situation in that I've been off W30 for a while doing some more intense weight lifting than I've ever done.  I've leaned out and put on muscle and am pleased.  But, I've been doing IIFYM and am not happy with living like that forever.  Paleo/W30 has always been low-ish carb for me and I'm back right now dabbling with higher carb/mostly paleo eating.  I'm interested to see how I do trying to do an almost-W30 with more carbs but just a little less free-for-all in the fat department in terms of keeping off the fat I've lost.  

@littleg how was your reintroduction of higher carb non Whole30 foods back into your diet? I tried IIFYM for a bit and it was a gut disaster for me, so mostly going back and forth now with a strict Paleo approach and a traditional endurance athlete approach (rice, oatmeal, etc.) and struggling to find the right middle ground between endurance performance and health.

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It was fine.  I actually felt better gut wise... but I've always been a big volume eater and so I think 4 lbs a day of veggies may not have been appreciated by my intestines.  I tried to keep IIFYM as "whole foods" based as possible so the carbs I added in were: oatmeal and rice (puffed rice cereal, plain rice cakes and cooked white rice).  No gluten.  I cut down on veggies a lot since the program I was following wanted sugars low (which meant lots of veggies were out and starch was in).  Over the years I've been paleo/W30 for over 7 years now) I've learned what foods are really not great for me: sweet potatoes make my gut unhappy, white potatoes make my joints unhappy, delicata squash means I can't leave the house... I've never been "higher" carb in these 7 years.  But clearly my body could handle it and it may have even helped... I've made some strength gains in 10 weeks that have brought me back from quite deconditioned (traumatic birth 2 years ago) to pretty much where I was in terms of strength after years of CrossFit.  10 WEEKS.  

Have you looked through the literature at all for diet modifications for endurance athletes?  I've been reading some of the bodybuilding literature and its pretty clear that protein and carbs help and fat not so much.  Of course the means from all of the studies mean nothing compared to your n=1 but that is what W30 is all about to me... remove the irritants and assess.  Some "good" things might get removed too - like carbs for you - so reassess that too.  If low carb isn't some magic bullet for you after 3-4 months I think you can say you need carbs.  There has also been some reports in the literature from the keto world that many keto attempts are too high fat and too low protein and many feel better and see improved biomarkers after increasing protein.  Protein may kick you out of ketosis for a bit or drop blood ketones but the point of ketosis (to me) is again the metabolic flexibility and enhanced health it may offer.  So if your body does better with a higher protein load - who cares if your ketones are 0.6 instead of 1.3.    

 

I guess I'm still not clear on your goals though... Do you have lab data indicating there is something unhealthy about your current food intake?  Do you just want to kick sugar cravings?  Are you a professional athlete or "just" winning your AG and stuff?  Can your performance take a back seat while you figure out nutrition?  And, if food extremism is your issue (I can join you in this camp for sure) maybe you need to just get off the darn internet :) 

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On 10/15/2018 at 10:10 AM, littleg said:

I guess I'm still not clear on your goals though... Do you have lab data indicating there is something unhealthy about your current food intake?  Do you just want to kick sugar cravings?  Are you a professional athlete or "just" winning your AG and stuff?  Can your performance take a back seat while you figure out nutrition?  And, if food extremism is your issue (I can join you in this camp for sure) maybe you need to just get off the darn internet :) 

Appreciate the really detailed follow-up, sorry I'm just responding now! As with many people a January Whole30 is in my future, so re-considering my options and plans.

There was nothing particularly physically unhealthy about my current food intake, I'm just trying to control cravings (especially sugar) and emotional / binge-ish eating. For example, I'll be able to avoid desserts most of the time, but then when I do have something (on Thanksgiving for example) I'll take down an entire pie. With regards to performance, I'm in the "winning your AG and stuff" level, certainly not pro - so I definitely have some room to focus more on health than performance with my diet. 

I think avoiding "food extremism" is a real thing for me, when I was doing low carb I got in the "if low card is good then no carb is great" mindset, and vice-versa with low fat. Maybe less time reading about various diet strategies might be a good idea...

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@Endurance Steve - I was a little said when you went away - I wanted to hear how your higher carb W30 went.  Did it end up happening or was it tabled for January?

 

I just read an interview with Marcus Filly - have you heard of him?  Former CrossFit games athlete who started up "Functional Bodybuilding".  He talked about how he sees so many people (in the CF world, but I imagine in competitive cycling it's the same) take the mindset you mentioned above... Low carb is good.  No carb must be better.  Training is good.  All the training must be better... and then poof, nothing is working and they wonder why.  Here is the link.

If you think the sugar cravings are just cravings (vs being driven by too low carb of a diet/too much daily restriction) maybe some work on habits/mindful eating/self hypnosis (or real hypnosis) is a better place to start.  For me, W30 has not helped with binge eating.  For me, it was too restrictive.  Eating chocolate every night has helped with binge eating :) But everyone is different - for some people removing sugar makes the urge for sugar go away - for me it makes it worse.  But it took many W30s to figure this out.  

Anyway, whatever you decide to do I'm interested to hear how it goes for you!  

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16 hours ago, littleg said:

@Endurance Steve - I was a little said when you went away - I wanted to hear how your higher carb W30 went.  Did it end up happening or was it tabled for January?

 

I just read an interview with Marcus Filly - have you heard of him?  Former CrossFit games athlete who started up "Functional Bodybuilding".  He talked about how he sees so many people (in the CF world, but I imagine in competitive cycling it's the same) take the mindset you mentioned above... Low carb is good.  No carb must be better.  Training is good.  All the training must be better... and then poof, nothing is working and they wonder why.  Here is the link.

If you think the sugar cravings are just cravings (vs being driven by too low carb of a diet/too much daily restriction) maybe some work on habits/mindful eating/self hypnosis (or real hypnosis) is a better place to start.  For me, W30 has not helped with binge eating.  For me, it was too restrictive.  Eating chocolate every night has helped with binge eating :) But everyone is different - for some people removing sugar makes the urge for sugar go away - for me it makes it worse.  But it took many W30s to figure this out.  

Anyway, whatever you decide to do I'm interested to hear how it goes for you!  

I'm giving W30 another go in January, after another disastrous holiday eating season...

Thanks for sending over that interview, definitely looking forward to reading through it. I still haven't decided if I'm going to try the higher carb or low carb variety; for some reason I can't seem to decide well between the two with all of the conflicting information out there.

Re: sugar cravings, for me it's not so much that the cravings exist all the time, but sugar is my "no brakes" food, as in I can be totally fine with no pie, but then once I have once slice of pie I'm certainly going to eat the whole pie (and then feel physically ill after that, as well as mentally frustrated). So for me it's getting back to the mindset of "eat full, hearty / healthy meals" of W30 rather than keeping up the snacking / grazing well after dinner is done. I definitely need to work on mindful eating habits, the number of times I eat out of a container (versus setting a plate), eat standing up (versus at the table), etc....clearly something to target this month.

Hopefully the next 30 days will really help me figure this out! Definitely appreciate your personal insight, to be honest I'm not sure if the 30 days of restriction will be good or bad for me for the reasons you mentioned, and maybe the nightly chocolate is the right path forward, but excited to take the time to figure it out!

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On 12/30/2018 at 10:13 AM, littleg said:

@Endurance Steve I just read an interview with Marcus Filly - have you heard of him?  Former CrossFit games athlete who started up "Functional Bodybuilding".  He talked about how he sees so many people (in the CF world, but I imagine in competitive cycling it's the same) take the mindset you mentioned above... Low carb is good.  No carb must be better.  Training is good.  All the training must be better... and then poof, nothing is working and they wonder why.  Here is the link.

That article was great! Thanks for sharing, hopefully I can apply that "moderation mindset" to my training & nutrition.

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Day 1 of my "higher" carb Whole30 today - trying to eat enough to support ~3.5 hours of cycling with some moderate intensity (~2400 calories). Didn't eat nearly enough at breakfast (6 eggs + 10 oz spinach) but made up for it at lunch (3 sweet potatoes, 14 oz salmon) and dinner (8 oz beef, 2 roasted white potatoes) with a boat load of non-starchy veg a each meal. Definitely hoping to be able to make this real foods fueling plan work!

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