Why Margaux chose 40% carbs versus ketosis
Nutrition is always a post that yields a staggering and interesting debate. In the past I found myself spending more time on social media defending my stance, trying to convince people on why we do things the way we do like most enthusiasts.
For some reason, I felt a need to defend and convert those who didn’t believe my way, and as I reflect on those days of the past, I feel a bit of embarrassment in this behavior. So in my 4th decade of life, and seeing the growth of this sport, all I can do is offer this blog as a way of answering questions a whole lot of people have asked us over the years. It is your choice to believe us, to search further, to try, or to simply ignore us, but I've lost any passion for debate, this is what we do, what we will continue to do and what has worked for us. This is not a topic of nutrition it is a topic of how Margaux eats, and why.
When I met Margaux 8 years ago, I was diving into low carbohydrate diets. My interest in those days changed from loving CrossFit finding I enjoyed lifting more, and I was doing just fine on ketogenic diets. Gary Taubes and Peter Attia were two of my favorite speakers and authors back then, two of the most influential movers and educators in this particular type of diet. I even attended a talk they held out in San Francisco, it was a great time and both were approachable answering questions after the reception. I really respected Peter Attia and read his work religiously, he was performing some experiments on himself, and what he was saying made a lot of sense to me in relation to health care. Where the Diabetes association page was prescribing diabetics 60 grams of Carbohydrates per meal, Peter Attia was trying to get people to eat less than 30 grams a day. I was hooked on his blog and I followed strict ketosis, the slang used to describe a very low carbohydrate diet, but If I got into CrossFit at all I felt fatigued and so tired.
One day I read an article by Peter Attia where he detailed and journaled how his performance when doing high-intensity workouts in the pool suffered while in ketosis. After reading this I began to believe, this sport, this highly glycolytic pageant needs carbohydrates as the essential fuel. The reason I was so fatigued was that my body was receiving the wrong fuel for the activity I was engaging in.
Then I did Lynne one day and crashed so bad! I was shaking, weak, my mouth was dryer (cotton mouth) than it had ever been, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the workout. So I changed my diet that day to a 40 carb/30 protein/ 30 fat, diet prescribed by CrossFit at the time and followed it! In a matter of days, I felt as if I was a new man. I started to get back into CrossFit workouts as the OPEN was coming, and my body instantly shredded up! This was just about the time I was getting to coach Margaux and she herself was complaining of severe headaches, and low energy levels. The gym she belonged to at the time was heavily invested in the caveman stuff, and she was persuaded to live that lifestyle. She was really into it, working out twice a day at the time but having a hard time feeling energetic. She was gaining weight, weighing close to 160 pounds and also suffering from fatigue and constant headaches. I suggested breaking up her diet into a 40/30/30 approach and she agreed.
In a matter of days she gained a boost in energy, headaches gone, and in a matter of months, Margaux lost 10 pounds and is now one of the leanest competitors out there. It was a balance of the macros that allowed Margaux’s body to use energy from stored glycogen and the protein and fats eaten to fill their duties in recovery. The biggest take away here is that Margaux is a competitor, training at obscene levels in a highly glycolytic world. Her diet calls for a particular ratio, while other sports call for different demands. Endurance athletes, for example, are finding ketosis as a very beneficial tool, but in our sport, balance is key, and complex carbohydrates are necessary.
What makes nutrition so complicated for athletes is the lack of answers in general from literature. It is very difficult to find accurate daily caloric demand. If I entered Margaux’s weight in most caloric calculators found on the internet she would fall 500- 600 calories short of what we have found to work best, (the mayo came closest still falling 250 calories short). Some people will defer to metabolic resting rates, but all this in my opinion just really makes things too complex, so we made things simple.
All of our training is geared on keeping things simple! We stayed away from heart rate monitors, general percentage templates because it was complicating our process and not allowing us to economize our time efficiently. I feel nutrition can also become too complex if we allow it to be, and most of us can become neurotic with nutrition. So here are our rules, apply them if you feel the need or ignore us and keep doing what you feel is best.
18-20 calories per pound of desired weight is our general rule for highly active competitors. ( 18 for the regional to games team competitors and 20 for individual regional or games programs) Margaux weighs 151 lbs and even though is training for games team is sticking to an individual template, so we take the higher end for her of 20 and the formula looks like this
151×20 = 3020 calories a day as a general calorie demand
We use 40% carbohydrate per day so we take
3020 cal/day x 40% = 1208 calories a day from carbohydrates
this is converted as 4 grams per cal or 1218/4 = 302 g/ day of carbohydrates
You can do this with the other Macros: 30% fats and 30% Protein to give you daily macro counts.
One of the more time-consuming things, when you start this, is finding out the grams of each item you eat. For example, what is the gram count for eggs, etc.! I promise the first couple of weeks as you track and log things it will be harder to monitor, but once you get accustomed and develop a pattern, it will become easier and there are also calculators that help keep track of your daily intake. Like anything else in this sport, you need a solid foundation before moving forward.
(here is a quick cooking show with macros included - we will be posting more goto meals easy and quick to make on your youtube channel.)
We DO NOT cut back calories when we rest. Again what others do is up to them, we just don’t complicate things with worrying about little things like this. If you are training at Margaux’s level then I assure you, EAT, balance it out and don't make food more complicated than it needs to be,
Majority of the Carbohydrates consumed need to come from Complex Carbohydrates. Complex Carbs fuel our muscles and also maintain euglycemia. A fancy word that means, we keep blood sugars within normal levels. Complex Carbohydrates we love are sweet potatoes, potatoes, wheat bread, oatmeal, and rice.
We DO believe in using, simple sugars as dextrose in PreWork Out shakes. 50 grams is enough to raise insulin levels which theoretically aids in protein synthesis. This is not at all proven but I really do believe by spiking insulin levels pre and intra workouts you will benefit in muscle regeneration or production. Bodybuilders put their lives at risk by injecting insulin, so if they believe that strongly in it, I will mimic their strategy intrinsically. If you are trying to get strong or gain weight, consider using 50 grams of dextrose pre-work out. AGAIN only if you are trying to gain weight NEVER if you are trying to lose fat.
Baby Food Pureed in Packets from sweet potato, or butternut squash and other complex carbs are amazing ways of fueling yourself through the long days in the gym. AGAIN if you are not in the gym 6-8 hours a day then you should not worry about this as you will not need as many calories as Margaux. Something that is extremely difficult is actually eating this much when working out as much. The body does resist, so we find that Baby Food and MILK are miracles in helping fuel the body.
TIMING- NOPE SHE EATS WHEN SHES ABLE. I found the best thing with Margaux is giving her two glasses of milk immediately when she wakes up because this will keep her full for an hour. As soon as the milk settles and her appetite comes back, we get her some breakfast. We do what we have to do and the body will adapt, again remember to keep it simple, don’t worry about timing, worry about calories and training. We eat when we can!
Enjoy your food! If you have a donut, pizza and a glass of wine, enjoy the Journey! It is part of our mantra so follow it! Have discipline of course but if you fall off the wagon, enjoy it!