View Full Version : Appetite for construction

Will Walshe
06-29-2007, 12:22 PM
Hey folks, first post here so I suppose greetings are in order: hello there!

I'm looking for advice on how to feed myself while working on a building site. Having adopted the glamouris lifestyle of the manual labourer a few weeks ago, my enthusiasm for working out has disappeared. I'm tending to just collapse from exhaustion at the end of the day. I used to do that most evenings anyway, but it was usually after lifting a pile of weights or something fun like that.

Right now I'm on a pretty standard paleo diet: your basic meat, vegetables, nuts and oils job. I've been trying the brute-force-and-ignorance approach of downing shots of olive oil after each meal to take in a whole heap of kcals, but this doesn't seem to be getting the job done.

So any thoughts on how I can keep training while working? I usualy end up doing construction work every summer, so it's not like I've never been exposed to these kinds of physical stresses before. This is my first year of paleo eating though, and i really don't want to go back to surviving on sandwiches and soft drinks all day. That just wasn't pretty.

Would more carbs helps? More meals? More sleep? More kcals? Is it even possible to combat the effects of 8-9 hours of physical exhertion with food? Help greatly appreciated.

Scotty Hagnas
06-29-2007, 05:01 PM

You'll probably just need to eat more! You may want to eat a few more carbs, as it's summer when fruits are actually in season, but I'd add up the fat primarily. However, swigs of olive oil won't make you ever feel full, so I'd eat plenty of veggies also so that you actually feel full. I try to shoot for 1/2 lb of veggies at every meal; this keeps me satisfied for a good while.

Good luck!

Scotty Hagnas
CrossFit Portland

Will Walshe
06-30-2007, 02:46 AM
Cheers Scotty. Dunno if I'm getting a 1/2lb per meal, but the amount of veg I eat already scares the hell out of normal people. I often need 2 plates for dinner:D

Feeling full isn't really an issue, I'm just severely tired by the end of the day. Adding more fat was the direction I was leaning too, guess I'm just wondering how much more olive oil I can actually tolerate...there must be a theoretical lethal dose at some point!

I suppose I should start tracking exactly how much I'm eating, seeing as the seat of the pants approach isn't working.

Garrett Smith
06-30-2007, 05:46 AM
If you're sweating a lot, one of the minerals you may be depleted of in particular is magnesium. I like a product called Natural Calm (PM me if you'd like some). Also, there is Electro-Mix, which is made by the EmergenC people and is just electrolytes and some lime flavor (no sugar).

In terms of your fatigue and working out, what about the idea of "doing more" at your physical job, staying in shape through that, and leaving the workout-specific stuff until after the summer?

Scotty Hagnas
06-30-2007, 07:41 AM
You might consider really keeping your workouts to a minimum, as Dr. G mentioned. If you are doing heavy physical labor, you are not going to have much left for heavy training. It would be pretty easy to push yourself into overtraining.

Be sure to get in some regular dynamic joint mobility work, though. In the gym, I'd just try to maintain some of your lifts with an infrequent, low volume approach.

Good luck!

Scotty Hagnas
CrossFit Portland

Will Walshe
06-30-2007, 10:57 AM
Yeah, I realise it's going to be really, really hard to mix a physical job with any kind of effective training, but I love a challenge.

I'll start out with a maintainence approach, then slowly dial things up and see how I react. This will be while eating like a horse and hopefully sleeping 9+ hours a night. I think I can make this work, but this is probably because I'm 22 and don't have enough experience with over-ambitious projects crashing down around my ears yet. You guys can reserve the right to hit me with an "I told you so".

Garret, I'm supplementing with ZMA already, is Natural Calm vastly superior?

Chris Forbis
06-30-2007, 12:47 PM
I had a hard manual labor job (stacking lumber coming off a saw) one summer... it about killed me (this was when I was 6'4", 150 pounds). Doing it again I would try to abide by these things.

1. Eat a hearty breakfast. I'd make it as big as possible without it hindering my work.
2. Eat as much as you want after work.
3. Have a light lunch, and keep some raw nuts (I like almonds) around during the day. Drink lots of water during the day. I also like Dr. G's electrolyte idea (electro-mix).
4. Add or subtract carbs as you feel necessary.
5. 9+ hours of sleep a night.
6. As you feel like it, throughout the day, throw in little physical challenges. A nice, quick set of pushups. A few pullups on an overhead beam. Lift something explosively. A short sprint across the job site. Just base it on how you feel.
7. On days off of work, if you feel like it, do something mildly exerting and fun. Pickup basketball or something, but only if you're feeling up to it.

Garrett Smith
06-30-2007, 06:07 PM
Natural Calm is a powder, supposedly a pH-balanced and very bioavailable form of magnesium citrate, made to mix into water. 1 Tbsp has 600mg magnesium.

On my hard workout days (metcons in the sun), especially now that I'm in the Tucson summer, I find myself taking around 1600mg Mg from various sources in two separated doses (typically a combo of Natural Calm and a buffered mineral ascorbate powder). I recently became acquainted with the Natural Calm product within the last couple months.

Considering I took a dose before my fixie ride (very hilly, on purpose, a very common ride for me) this morning, added 5# of water to my (normal) load, and then basically went and nearly tied my PR for that ride, I'm going to say that I'm noticing significant stuff from this product. It wasn't until I almost finished the ride that I realized how fast I had gone, I was absolutely expecting a tough ride--I hadn't gotten on my bike in three weeks!

I've been doing a ZMA approach as well, with the Zinc Tally/Challenge liquid. It's the same stuff that Poliquin talks about, when one reaches zinc saturation, the stuff supposedly tastes like licking metal. I'm definitely not there yet, and the combo is likely restoring my T balance to where it should be.

There's my input. For hydration, I prefer herbal teas on a regular basis. I don't know about sipping the Natural Calm all day.

Yael Grauer
06-30-2007, 07:05 PM
I second the water and Electromix recommendations. Also good salt is important.

I used to do a lot of Natural Calm and learned the hard way that Mg glycinate or taurate has higher bowel tolerance than Mg citrate. I can do Mg citrate but only in way smaller doses than 1 tsp of Calm.

David Aguasca
07-02-2007, 09:45 AM
i believe scotty and garrett have got it right.

i've been working as a theatre carpenter for nearly a year now. i'm not a big guy by any means, especially compared to the guys at the shop. i have to keep up to their pace, as we have very definite deadlines (the opening of a show.)

when i started the job, i unwisely tried to maintain my workout schedule: 5 days a week, a mix of GPP and heavy lifting days, usually 3 days and 2 days, respectively. i'd also climb on the weekends. that soon burned me out...

i toned it down and found a comfortable balance. for me, that was 2 days a week, with climbing on the weekend occasionally. for you, it could be different.

things that i've learned:
-sleep was THE most important thing for me. without it my job is enough to wear me out, without the help of training on top of it.
-keep a sharp eye out for overuse injuries if you're planning on continuing training. i've been staving off tendinitis in my hands and left bicep successfully. the sleep is important for this. fish oil is fantastic too.

-just doing 2 strength sessions a week kept me satisfied. through the winter i was doing upper-body gymnastics, and then in the spring i switched to modified Starting Strength (3x5 squats, an upper body lift, and then L-sits or Windshield wipers). i kept these workouts to under 45 minutes.

-be aware of how you're lifting at work. i have a tendency to pick things up with my right hand, and if you're bending down to lift objects off the floor hundreds of times a day, it'll cause undue wear and tear, and muscle imbalances. my right anterior deltoid and forearm are noticeably bigger than my left ones, from handling nailguns, screwguns, and hammers 50hrs/week.

good luck!

Will Walshe
07-02-2007, 11:46 AM
Thanks for the input guys, I'll be implementing a lot of this. I'm gonna try for around 3 strength workouts per week to start out with, keeping them on the short side. Lots of mobility work and stretching too.

I'll let yis know how it works out.

Chris, picking stuff up all day at that size must have really sucked, I'd say things on the floor must haved started to look like they were an awfully long way away by the end of the day!

Jonathan Owen
07-03-2007, 12:24 AM
I come from a construction background. Ceramic tile, framing, concrete, and tree service. Even though back then I was training like a moron (I liked Muscle & Fitness that should say it all) I had to cut things way back. I just tried to get what I could when I could. It was very hard to find energy after 10 hours of framing or concrete work. What everyone else has said is great advice, especially to get sleep and drink lots of water. It was actually that type of work that inspired me to seek out legit training. I was surprised when my awesome bodybuilding program built around benching and no leg work did not transfer to carrying sheets of 3/4" 4X8 plywood up a ladder, or many of the other tasks I was required to do.

Will Walshe
07-03-2007, 02:09 AM
That sounds very familiar Johnathan! I was a "3 sets of 8" with plenty of isolation guy for years. Didn't see the point in training legs back then. Why bother? I never wear shorts:rolleyes: I used to think benching just made you "strong". Like in general...

Been doing crossfit since last october and SS for the last few months, and I'm finding my job by itself to be a walk in the park this year. My job + training at the same time now...different story.

Jonathan Owen
07-03-2007, 06:00 PM
Yeah, my excuse for not training legs was " I run, so that should make my legs strong." I got into crossfit a year and a half-ago. Totally blew me away when on my first workout (Cindy) I only got 8 rounds and I thought I was dying; then when I saw on the comments what other people doing I was blown away! Especially seeing the #'s of that chick that at first I thought was a guy! (Kelly Moore) For the past 7 months I have mostly dropped the wod's and have been focusing on o-lifting because I had trouble mixing the two. I really like what Dan John says, "a little over the long haul." Especially lately; I think I am just now realizing in my own training how important consistency is. Sorry, for the tangent!
Good luck on your training

Will Walshe
08-15-2007, 05:41 AM
Hey guys, here's how things are going:

I think Dr G nailed it with the dehydration angle. Things are pretty much back on track now that I've upped my mineral intake and starting emptying a 2L thermos of green tea every day (I'm officially addicted). I wasn't paying any real attention to hydration before, which is probably the rock I was perishing on. We're having the wettest summer I've ever seen over here (I'm referring to it as Monsoon Season these days). You tend not to notice how much you're sweating in the rain methinks.

I'm presently in a state of what I guess you'd call unstable equilibrium: every day at work is different, so training is a bit of a juggling act. When I get the food/sleep/rest/work/training ratios right all is good, although I've slipped up a few times and become a drooling zombie for a day or two.

The major shift has been abandoning trying to follow a program as such and just doing as much lifting as I feel like I can get away with 3 days a week, based on how I'm feeling that particular day. Not an ideal system, but I've managed to improve some lifts by a couple of kg and at least maintain a few others.

My work capacity has definitely improved a good deal. There's nothing quite like a building site for randomised functional movements executed at a high intensity.

I'm calling it a success.