What to Eat Prior to a Workout

The Red Wheelbarrow, William Carlos Williams

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

So I’m hit with the “what do I eat prior to working out” question frequently in my training practice, and I think my clients are a bit taken back by the complexity required in answering such a question.  So much, though depends upon what the diet is like to begin with; what’s the initial-conditions hormonal/enzymatic environment?  That I can fast for an extended period of time prior to a workout, suffer no blood sugar drop during the workout, and workout with the added benefit of not being encumbered by a bloated/heavy stomach payload is all predicated upon my having followed a Paleo diet for quite some time now.  I am, to put it succinctly, a fat-burner and not at the mercy of ingested carbohydrates as an immediate go-to fuel.  Do not attempt the fasted workout if you’re still a sugar burner — you will crash and burn, especially when face-to-face with one of my patented HIIT throw-downs.  No judgements here, just the facts of the matter.  If you’re still a sugar-burner, please do eat a little something prior to seeing me.  I’m not so egotistical as to consider that far-away look in your eyes as being the result of your absolute gaga-ness over my programming mastery — it is, however, signalling me that I need to prepare to scrape you off the studio floor here in just a few minutes 😉


Why raw dairy?  Why any dairy, for that matter?

A good buddy of mine, Bryan Barksdale, a pillar and founding member of the uber-fast-growing Austin Primal/Paleo/Ancestral Fitness community, asked me at a recent community Meet-Up, if I could quantify — and thereby justify/legitimize — my rather copious consumption of dairy; dairy not being, of course, “Paleo” by standard convention.  Good question.  And my answer, devoid, as it was, of any scientific underpinnings whatsoever (like many of my answers to questions pertaining to Physical Culture in general, and diet and training specifically) I’m sure sounded a bit New-Agey…”woo-woo”, as it were.  Hey, blame it on that evening’s super moon having hyper-sensitized my personal conviction for placing self-knowledge on at least an equal footing as that of scientific knowledge and in seeking “full truth” by way of emotional, spiritual — as well as Scientific — directions 🙂

Ok, so super moon or not, what’s my take on the whole (pardon the pun) dairy issue?  Well, again, it boils down to an n=1 assessment, evaluation and a resultant determination, of enhanced well-being.  More to the point, I relayed to Bryan how the inclusion of raw dairy (specifically here, locally produced, raw & unpasteurized heavy cream and whole milk) seems to significantly improve my workout recovery.  This means that I can train harder, and more often.  Also, I can just “feel” an enhanced well-being with raw dairy included in my diet.  Again, I know this sounds “woo-woo”, and in a “show me the science” day and age, not a very, er….shall we say, “ringing endorsement”.  Such as it is, though, those are my thoughts on the matter.  So it comes down to this: do I wait for hard science to justify what it is that I “know” to be true — at least for myself — already?  Do I need science to do this for me?  And will science ever do this for me?  In my mind, this is akin to waiting for science to acknowledge the legitimacy of my training methods before employing those methods.  And again, I stress that I am absolutely not a scientific Luddite — it’s just that science — and exercise science specifically — is way behind the n=1 curve here, and is currently playing catch-up to many, many years of trail-and-error, n=1 experimentation.  I choose not to turn a blind eye to that solid, empirical knowledge, simply because it was not lab/university produced.  In fact, one of the major downfalls to exercise science is that fact that the test subjects, by and large, aren’t drawn from the black-iron-and-chalk-dust dungeons — the very place where so much quality n=1 empirical “science” has been honed/refined over the years.  Know this: I am, if nothing else, an equal opportunity whore when it comes to matters of ascertaining what works — show me the proven results, that’s what ultimately matters to me.  Whether that comes from the lab/university environment or from the black-iron lab, to me, matters not.


On the workout front –

Tuesday, 3/15/11
Negative-only work with Skyler Tanner, with an emphasis on the XCCentric leverage equipment; check it out:

Thursday, 3/17/11 –

(A1) neg only flat press, XC bench: +140/7, 6, 6 (60×0 tempo)
(A2) blast strap flyes, feet elevated: BW/12, 12, 12
(A3) inverted L pull-ups: BW/10, 10, 6

Friday, 3/18/11 –

(A1) seated DB lateral raise: 25/15, 15, 15
(A2) front raise: 45lb plate/12, 12, 12

(A3) band pull-a parts: red/12, 12, 10

(B1) cable tri extension, lunge position: 125/15, 140/15
(B2) XC dual handle bi curl: (+20)/12, 12

Sunday, 3/20/11 –

Field sprints!   And other bodyweight, playground fun.

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In health,