Well dang! It’s my birthday! What better way to celebrate than to bring YOU some kick ass information from a kick ass lady friend?

This week I’m thrilled to welcome my NTP friend Madison Luikens from BeWellByMadison.com to guest post for me in my series on women, athletics, aesthetics, and carbs. So why did I ask this specific lady to write something for me?

First off, she’s totally my speed. She even emailed to ask if it’s ok to use ‘colorful’ language. I told her it would only provide a better flow between her posts and mine. She’s a CrossFit L1 Certified Trainer down at CrossFit Tall City in Midland Texas and she’s got a great point of view when it comes to creating a plan that works for YOU.  She’s my only disappointment from Paleof(x) this April. That I went all the way to Texas and didn’t even get to meet her in actual not-Instagram life and jump into a WOD with her. One day…one day…

I reached out to Madison recently when I was having my own issues with the carb struggle. Here’s the thing that you may not know – even Nutritionists, health experts, and Nutritional Therapy Practitioners need the help of OTHER practitioners sometimes. If everyone didn’t need some help with this shit every no and then…the job wouldn’t exist! I had seen that she was implementing some specific macronutrient work into her diet that included, what I felt to be, a huge amount of carbohydrates. As someone who had come to believe that I was uniquely carb sensitive, I was hesitant to bring them back in in such high amounts….despite knowing that I seriously needed to. After some back and forth with Madison, I used her as a huge resource in starting my carb reload. It was important for me to have this conversation with someone who I knew was doing it with REAL food. Not saving daily carbohydrates for daily donuts. I trust her perspective, knowledge, and opinion and I wanted her to join me here to share her own experience with you all! Follow her on Instagram and Facebook. Do it. She’s badass.

Enjoy!


 

“Is Butter a Carb?”: Aesthetics, Gainz + Other Concerns as a Female Athlete

So, you drank the koolaid, too? You joined a CrossFit gym because it made you feel empowered, strong and completely bad-ass. You jumped on the Paleo bandwagon because “everyone is doing it” and felt great. That’s awesome….until your progress (whether that be performance or aesthetics) slowly plateaued. Welcome to what I call the “Puffy Paleo People” club. It happens. And yes, it happened to me.

Hi, I’m Madison, and I’m a recovering carb-o-phobic. When I first started CrossFit, I jumped on the Paleo bandwagon and while I felt great, I felt like I wasn’t seeing the results I was working so damn hard for.

For many, a Paleo approach is GREAT for people taking charge of their diets in a healthy way for the first time. It is an amazing platform to get started. BUT for many serious athletes, especially women, we need to make sure we are getting an adequate amount of each macronutrient in our diets to feel, think, sleep, perform and look our best.

First, it was the fear of fat, and THANK GOD that is finally being debunked in the mainstream advice outlets. But as nutritionists, we still have more work to do on educating the importance of carbs, too.

I think most people associate all carbs as “bad,” when in reality, we just really need to avoid the processed cakes, cookies, pastas, and sugary treats due to their empty nutrition and insane spikes they cause to our blood sugar levels. But there are good carbs, too. And as athletes, we ABSOLUTELY need them to fuel our workouts properly. But lesbihonest…we all want to see some aesthetic changes as well, and if you say you don’t, well, then you are a liar.

After about two years of eating “clean” and then eating “Paleo” I never really saw any major improvements/changes in my progress at the gym or my body composition. I got frustrated and tired because I felt like I was eating the best I ever had, but didn’t have anything to show for it. And damnit, I wanted to look like I actually worked out. Can ya relate?

So, for a few months, I went down the rabbit hole of Instagram and Pinterest, health + wellness blogs, and athlete performance books, praying I’d find my answer. And sure enough I did. Enter: Macronutrient Ratios.

When I first came across this community of Macro-focused “IIFYM” eaters, I had a few thoughts/concerns:

1) Dude, give me your six-pack!
2) How are you getting away with eating so much junk?
3) Tracking/measuring looks like a major pain in the ass.

I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that these health “experts” are promoting a way of eating that seemed completely against my training and beliefs as a soon-to-be Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (come on June!!) So, I left it alone.

Last fall’s Lurong Living Paleo Challenge came and went, and I felt like I was killing it. Eight weeks of recording clean or cheat meals and benchmark workouts, and what did I have to show for it? Not much performance improvement, and like 1/8 inch lost off my waist. And all I could think was that this is bullshit. So, I was fired up and motivated to give this dang macro-tracking thing a try.

I picked up a book about macronutrient-based plans, and got after it. But I decided that I wanted to do it on my terms, knowing I’d still be eating quality nutrient dense foods, this time with a little more focus. Marrying the two worlds in hopes of obtaining optimal health as well as performance + body recomposition.

Man, did it work. Took me awhile to find a groove in what my body needed, and how to get the in habit of tracking without overwhelming me, all the while trying to avoid sitting at the end of the day with a plate of plain chicken breast or 3 protein shakes. Blegh. In a matter of 2 months I PRd my Clean + Jerk by 15 pounds, had more energy for longer metcons (endurance is my nemesis, y’all), and without being concerned with weight, I lost 6 pounds and a FULL INCH off of my waist. Can I get a HELL YEAH!?

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Ever wonder why you went on a low-carb diet and felt like shit, but lost the weight, but then instantly gained it all back? Because your body NEEDS carbs to function properly. And if you were Paleo (which is already pretty low-carb in and of itself), and then decided to completely cut carbs, your body is screaming at you and potentially breaking down your muscles as a way to survive, hence the “Puffy Paleo Person” comes to existence, along with major suckage in the workout department. Not cool.

So, why do we need carbs even though we’ve been scared out of our minds to consume them?

Carbs 101: Roles of Carbohydrates

  • Provide fuel for the brain
  • Provide a quick energy source for our muscles
  • Help regulate protein and fat metabolism
  • Provide a source of fiber, which helps with regular elimination of wastematerials (yes, poop!)Carbs + Females/Athletes (Dudes, you need them too!):
  • If you are pregnant or nursing, mommas… EAT YOUR CARBS!The Good Carbs
  • If you train at a high-intensity, multiple times a week for more than 20minutes at a time, you might consider stacking the majority of your carbintake around your workouts for quick and easily accessible energy.
  • If you are very active or work a physically demanding job, your bodyneeds carbs to function.
  • Unrefined carbohydrates exist in nature.
  • These energy-providing carbohydrates are linked together with vitamins,minerals, enzymes, protein, fat, and fiber—the bodybuilding and digestion-regulating components of the diet—to support life.The Bad Carbs
  • Refined carbohydrates are manmade concoctions.
  • These “bad” carbs are hostile to life, because they are stripped of their bodybuilding nutrients (i.e. empty calories)
  • Digestion of these “empty” carbs actually depletes the body’s own reserves of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.For proper balance in nutrition, our intake should be close to 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs. This can vary depending on your specific macro calculations, but these percentages are a great place to start. The key here is the source of carbohydrate you want to incorporate into your diet. Your carb intake should consist of unrefined, mostly complex carbohydrate sources.But let’s be real, every so often we gotta have a glass of wine or that piece of chocolate. That’s the nice thing about tracking your macros…it allows for a little wiggle room when you want it, but with the main goal being nutrient dense foods for optimal health. Understanding this allows you some freedom to indulge every now and then, without derailing your goals, which is pretty dang awesome. Just please don’t go hog wild on a whole ice cream birthday cake, would ya? I will cry.So, how do you add carbs in without eating a bunch a junk? It takes some planning, but it can be done. Once you get in the habit and know what foods look like measurement-wise, and understanding how you body needs to be fueled for workouts, it will start to become second nature.What does a typical day look like for me? Here are a few days from one week I had. SPOILER ALERT: nutritionists aren’t perfect either. Some days were ON POINT on nutrition and numbers, and others were on-the-go and included some damn good Mexican Food. Regardless, at the end of the day, it is all about consistency + quality. Check out these logs on MyFitnessPal:log 3 Log 2Using MyFitnessPal will be the best and easiest way to track your macros! Create an account at myfitnesspal.com and be sure to download their app on your phone for on the go tracking! Make sure you have your diary public to friends (my username is madisonluikens) so I can see how it’s going and help you if it’s needed!

    Tips for using MFP:

    – Download this bookmarklet to your computer. Follow the video instructions to download the bookmarklet properly for your particular web browser. It will allow you to customize to the exact gram for your macros. (right now it is just %… if you need help with this, please call me or Kristin!)

    – Use a food scale + measuring cups to get exact portions! This will help train your eyes for amounts and make sure you are logging exactly what you are eating. That way, when you dine out, you have a good idea for how much of each macro you are getting on your plate.

At first, tracking can be very overwhelming (trust me, it freaked me out, too!) but it is manageable and easy if you have somewhat of a plan each day! I have found that inputting my breakfast and dinner first has allowed me to be the most successful. I log my breakfast as I am eating it, and then pretty much pre-log everything else. (You can also do this the night before if your schedule allows). After I know what I am having for breakfast/dinner, then I can see what I need for lunch and snacks in order to hit my goals.

Don’t get caught up in hitting exact numbers, just focus on getting as close as you can. You’ll start to get the hang of it…by thinking in macros (protein, fat, carbs) as you plan for every meal. Right now we have you calculated for maintenance at your current weight. Try to be consistent at these numbers for at least two weeks, watching the scale to see if it fluctuates. If it is steady for two weeks, then we know where your baseline is, and can cut accordingly. Too big of a cut too soon can set you back…slow and steady is the goal to sustainable fat loss!

PROTEIN is most important! This is what helps us maintain our muscle mass and shed body fat. Make sure you hit this first and foremost! We can have some wiggle room with fat/carbs, so don’t be super focused on getting those at first. You will most likely be a higher carb or higher fat eater, and so be watching this to see where your baseline is!

The cool thing about tracking macros is that you are able to indulge once in awhile and still be able to sustain your progress towards your goals! Eating pizza and having wine one Saturday night? Pre-log it, and then plan your breakfast, lunch and snacks accordingly! 🙂 Pretty cool, huh!? Just don’t starve yourself all day because you want to have a pint of ice cream at night. Be smart, thoughtful and keep quality in mind with your choices.

You can enter in RECIPES on the website from the computer, and save them for regular use so you don’t have to consistently enter in individual ingredients. This is a great feature, so take advantage of it!

It’s all about consistency + patience. Try it out and trust the process. Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions!! I truly love this, and am so passionate about helping people feel their best and reach their goals!

beWELL!