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    maclrc's Avatar
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    Carb Refeed Query

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    Hi All,

    I've been primal for a while and am doing well (all digestive issues cleared up). I'm 5'9" and around 165 lbs (75kg) with body fat just above 10% I'd guess. I play rugby and as the season is almost upon us, I wanted to get some advice regarding carb refeeds. I've never really tried them before but have read they are beneficial for multiple reasons. My question(s):

    (1) Will the refeeds help add a bit of extra muscle mass (assuming training and overall calories are adequate)?
    (2) Will they help with energy levels for a rugby game (80 mins)?
    (3) Crucially, when would be the best time to do the refeeds (I'm thinking once a week around game time, but should it be evening before game, morning before, after...)?

    Apologies if this has been answered, but most things I find on refeeds relate to weight loss/boosting waning metabolism, etc.

    Many Thanks

  2. #2
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    For someone like you, I'd say you don't need to worry so much about carb refeeds unless you are eating very low carb. Mostly carb refeeds are done by people trying to lose a lot of weight or eating VLC for some other reason. If you are in this category, eating more carbs, say double or triple your normal intake, in the 24 hours prior to 24 hours after your most intense exertion of the week can be helpful. Mark wrote a little piece about it just yesterday in his blog.

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    Quote Originally Posted by otzi View Post
    For someone like you, I'd say you don't need to worry so much about carb refeeds unless you are eating very low carb. Mostly carb refeeds are done by people trying to lose a lot of weight or eating VLC for some other reason. If you are in this category, eating more carbs, say double or triple your normal intake, in the 24 hours prior to 24 hours after your most intense exertion of the week can be helpful. Mark wrote a little piece about it just yesterday in his blog.
    Oops, that's what I get for looking at the blog a couple of days ago, then going straight to the forum today to post this...

    I'll give the refeeds a miss then as I don't desperately need to lose any fat right now. Will just up the fat to try and bulk up a bit.

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    1.) Caloric surplus adds mass. The goal is to make as much of that extra mass muscle as possible with as little fat gain as possible. Generally, post-workout that is a high protein/high carb meal. The explanation is as follows:

    a.) Your body will utilize the protein to grow muscles.
    b.) You are glycogen depleted, so carbs will go to glycogen storage, not converted to fat.
    c.) You are in a highly insulin sensitive state, and any excess carbohydrate that may be consumed at this point with all your elevated anabolic hormones will skew it to muscle mass instead of fat mass. Protein will follow this as well, but much less efficiently.

    So, essentially for most of us, the post-workout enemy is fat if you are eating a caloric surplus.

    2.) Yes. Immensely if you are coming from chronic low-carb. The difference will be extreme.

    3.) A moderate protein/moderate carb (fat variable) meal a few hours beforehand may help, but spaced enough so you're not weighed down by food. Your high carb/high protein/low fat refeed meal is best saved for post-workout, and this should be the big one where you're focusing on gaining muscle. Sometimes I perform better completely fasted. You may want to experiment with not eating if your games are in the morning or early afternoon. If they're late in the day, my n=1 experiment shows me my strength starts to decrease after ~12 hours of being fasted. Waking up and working out within a few hours without eating = good for me, but going all day...not so much.

    Since your workouts are cardio-centric, they may not fit the typical weight lifter paradigm. 80 minutes of rugby isn't going to drive the growth hormones of 60 minutes of powerlifting including sets to failure, so you're going to have to experiment with your macros and food quantities. In otherwords, the typical Leangains meal of 3 lbs of potatoes and 1.5 lbs of 96% ground beef may not be what you're looking for. YMMV. You may want lower GI carbs, you may need more dietary fat, or maybe the constant movement will burn so much glycogen you'll need way more carbs with as high a GI as possible. I just don't know. I've never been in your situation.
    Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 08-01-2012 at 10:42 AM.
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    Thanks CT, a nice detailed answer.

    I lift heavy weights 3 times a week, as well as rugby training once or twice, and a match each Saturday afternoon. So, shouldn't be too much of a problem growth hormone-wise.

    I'm moving house soon and will be right around the corner form the gym (literally); once I move I think I'll just up the carbs/lower the fats for dinner after a weights session (I currently have at least an hour between leaving the gym and getting home, so a genuine post-workout meal is tricky). This should allow me to bulk up a bit without excess fat gain

    I'll also experiment with the pre-match carb/fat ratio and see what works best.

    Thanks again

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    Post-workout is the meal that happens...post-workout. I usually don't eat until 2 hours after my workout these days. It hasn't hurt my progress at all. There's no reason to eat immediately after. If you can find the time 2-3 hours after your workout, you'll be fine.

    PS - I recently bought a blood glucose monitor. My fasting blood glucose was shown to be 73. Post heavy lifting, it was 78 (clearly some amino acid breakdown happened, which means glucose being dumped into the bloodstream at the expense of lean tissue...as expected). I went home and ate 2 lbs of sweet potatoes and 1/4 of a watermelon with a bunch of cherries. Lots and lots of carbs. 1 hour after the meal my blood glucose was 84. ~250g of carbohydrate did nothing to spike my blood glucose, so it does to show you how little carbs impact you when you're extremely insulin sensitive and have available glycogen storage. Contrast that to the sedentary, grain-eating couch potato whose blood glucose shoots up to 180 an hour after eating a slice of cake. Don't sweat your meal timing. 2 hours later and I'm still exceedingly insulin sensitive with a post-refeed blood glucose superior to the average person's fasting BG. You'll be fine.
    Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 08-02-2012 at 10:32 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChocoTaco369 View Post
    Post-workout is the meal that happens...post-workout. I usually don't eat until 2 hours after my workout these days. It hasn't hurt my progress at all. There's no reason to eat immediately after. If you can find the time 2-3 hours after your workout, you'll be fine.

    PS - I recently bought a blood glucose monitor. My fasting blood glucose was shown to be 73. Post heavy lifting, it was 78 (clearly some amino acid breakdown happened, which means glucose being dumped into the bloodstream at the expense of lean tissue...as expected). I went home and ate 2 lbs of sweet potatoes and 1/4 of a watermelon with a bunch of cherries. Lots and lots of carbs. 1 hour after the meal my blood glucose was 84. ~250g of carbohydrate did nothing to spike my blood glucose, so it does to show you how little carbs impact you when you're extremely insulin sensitive and have available glycogen storage. Contrast that to the sedentary, grain-eating couch potato whose blood glucose shoots up to 180 an hour after eating a slice of cake. Don't sweat your meal timing. 2 hours later and I'm still exceedingly insulin sensitive with a post-refeed blood glucose superior to the average person's fasting BG. You'll be fine.
    That timing data is really interesting; guess I was brainwashed into the "you must eat within 30 mins of your workout" line so often trotted out. The outcome - I'll start with the "post-workout" high carb/low fat meals right away and see how I get on. Thanks again CT

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChocoTaco369 View Post
    Post-workout is the meal that happens...post-workout. I usually don't eat until 2 hours after my workout these days. It hasn't hurt my progress at all. There's no reason to eat immediately after. If you can find the time 2-3 hours after your workout, you'll be fine.
    I can usually go about 30 minutes before I get *very* light headed after training and need food to make it go away. I always have a PWO shake handy and start drinking it once I feel it. So, as Choco said, you could go 2 - 3 hours but be ready, just in case.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IcarianVX View Post
    I can usually go about 30 minutes before I get *very* light headed after training and need food to make it go away. I always have a PWO shake handy and start drinking it once I feel it. So, as Choco said, you could go 2 - 3 hours but be ready, just in case.
    Really? I feel fantastic when I fast post-workout. I'm on an adrenaline high. It's like a mild shot of morphine or something where I'm almost buzzed with a tingly feeling. Eating takes away that feeling. Even if I can eat right away I typically don't because I love the hormone high so much.

    I'd be really interested to see your blood glucose right before and right after working out. I wonder if you become hypoglycemic after working out.
    Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

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    maclr, with that amount of exercise I think you would see very good results if you up the carb intake, especially after heavy weights sessions. You can eat an awful lot post workout without it effecting the waistline, and it can greatly improve your rate of muscle gain.

    It is one of the few times you have where high carb, and even junk food, is not going to negatively effect fat gain.

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