My High Carb Workout Experiment
I've never really posted here before but I wanted to share a recent experiment I've been doing. I've been primal for about 3 years, sticking to a very low-carb way of life.
Last year I found myself sub 10 percent body fat, but I had lost a lot of my muscle and didn't quite have the energy to workout at the gym. I followed a daily IF regiment where I fast until 12pm and stop eating around 8pm. I tried to workout (when I had the energy) around 11am, and eat my first meal when I got back.
A month ago, after much reading, I decided the prevailing paleo view on carbs is slightly flawed, particularly when a human being engages in any activities where oxygen is not as abundant. (higher intensity activities).
I changed my diet on oxygen scarce days by increasing (dramatically) my carb intake and reducing (dramatically) my fat intake. I added 2 potatoes after working out, as well as a bowl of 2 banana and 25 strawberries chopped up. I switched off red meat (I'm a huge red meat fan, huge fat fan, actually) and changed to eating chicken.
The effects were immediate: my energy levels during working out soared. I was able to crush my old maxes and last for much longer during workouts. I began leaning out much more than before, and my muscle began to grow like the old days.
I am now the fittest, largest, and leannest I've ever been since going Primal.
Here are my take-aways:
1. Fat is not well oxidized during times of oxygen scarcity, and therefore your body opts for using glycogen as fuel. (During workouts)
2. Glucose, while inefficient from an ATP standpoint viz a viz fat, is more effective during oxygen deprived situations.
3. When you're chronically low carb and working out, the body will primarily produce the needed glycogen via gluconeogenesis (you'll break down the muscle you're trying to build up).
4. Chronic low-carb will lead to depleted glycogen stores in the muscles and you'll have very little explosive energy for working out.
5. Eating very high fat and low carb while doing oxygen depletion activities is ineffective for advanced stages of leanness. The body will store fat during these situations, and utilize glucose primarily from gluconeogenesis. Net result: decreasing muscle mass and fat storage that is not being mobilized.
In my opinion, the primal lifestyle (high fat) works well for a true primal lifestyle where one moves frequently at a slow pace (non-oxygen deprivation). But when doing decidedly un-primal activities like weightlifting, the approach much be modified or unsatisfactory results will persist. The inefficient ATP fuel of glucose must be appreciated for its secondary uses (requiring less oxygen for use).
I believe the primary value of the primal lifestyle is re-starting the ability to use fatty acids as fuel to produce ATP. This is primarily achieved by a prolonged stint of glucose deprivation, forcing the body to re-learn fat adaption. But once this is complete, with the body able to use the two fuels interchangeably, using glucose as fuel is not dangerous. A heavy reliance on glucose as fuel is only dangerous when the body has forgotten fat-adaption, which means during oxygen abundant activities, where fat should typically be utilized (sitting, walking), the individual will be using glucose for fuel and storing fat, which is highly inefficient.
I'd appreciate any and all thoughts on this.
EDIT: I thought I'd put up a picture. I started this change 1 month ago. I was originally around 208-210 lbs. I am now 201-202 and physically larger than before. I had been stuck at 208-210 for about a year, so I've finally breached my plateau.
Last edited by PrimalTrav; 08-21-2012 at 09:56 AM.
Reason: Added pic