View Full Version : Energy Production?

Michael Klobucher
12-03-2007, 06:56 PM
I am a football player recently graduated from college and pursuing professional football. My training is high-volume and high-intensity, consisting of 3 days of speed, agility, plyometric work and 4 days of lifting (clean, squat, clean, etc.). I started the zone diet yesterday after reading the book and researching it on the crossfit website. Everything I have ever been taught says that the majority of energy is produced from carbohydrates, especially during high-intensity bouts of work. Therefore, I was wondering if the zone diet will alot me enough energy to perform at my highest level in my training. What do you think?

Robb Wolf- I have read some of your writing, and I like what you have to say. (I was a science major too, Applied Biology.) I would really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

Garrett Smith
12-04-2007, 04:48 AM
The short answer to your question is yes.

Many folks here have actually found that the standard Zone Rx is actually too high in carbs for their physiology, and thus up the fat and lower the carbs (if they actually count, many just do Paleo foods and ditch the counting).

The CrossFit message board will have tons of info on your early Zone questions, just do a search there. Also, the CrossFit Journal issue #21 is completely devoted to the Zone. Start there.

Mike ODonnell
12-04-2007, 05:22 AM
I would guess you are correct in assuming alot of your work based output is glycogen based. (I am sure you have looked into the energy systems ATP/CP, Glycolitic and Oxidative). I'm guessing most your work is ATP/CP or Glycolitic. Oxidative is not something you would see in Football.

The real question is how much glycogen do you use training and how much is required to replenish. All those variables will depend on your insulin sensitivity (how easily you can use blood glucose to replenish muscle glycogen stores), your training (length of, kind of, goals of, etc), your position (do you need speed, power, heavy lbs, lighter kbs, etc) recovery days and game days. Professionals tend to use cycling of carbs especially for a sport like football where you may only play once a week. So you want to time to be at your peak saturated glycogen level. That also requires enough calories during the week in the form of protein and fats to keep you from overtraining.

It really goes to a see how you feel and perform method. If your performance is going down, then you probably would need more. Zone standard carbs and calories (which are typically low) may be very different compared to what you may require because of high volume training and recovery needs (I dont think many pro athletes who train 4+ hours a day can survive on zone carbs...and most need 5000+ calories to recover and train daily). PWO carb replenishment (up to 2 hours pwo) after glycolitic based training is highly recommended to refuel for the next day and take advantage of the increased insulin sensitivity. You can also cycle weekly with lower carbs to start and then move into higher day(s) of carbs right before a game to supersaturate the muscles.

Hope this helps somewhat although I know not a definitive answer. If I was training someone I would seriously have to see how their performance goes day to day and make adjustments using the methods above.

Garrett Smith
12-04-2007, 07:29 AM
Let us not forget that the Zone also has the activity modifier, so if one needed more Calories for 4 hours of exercise a day, that's where they would come from (along with increased fat blocks if BF% and performance dictated so).

Michael Klobucher
12-04-2007, 07:53 AM
Thanks for the help guys. I really appreciate it.

A little more info: I am 6'2'' and weigh about 238-243 with about 14%-16% body fat. Using the zone strategy, I took in about 2500 calories. This is quite a large reduction from my usual 4000-4500 a day, which I found adequate to meet my energy needs that were demanded from my training. After one day and the following morning with zone, I found myself very hungry, to the point that it was uncomfortable. I am not speaking of a psychological desire to eat because something looks good. I am speaking of physical pain and discomfort in my stomach due to lack of calories. Therefore, I am thinking I should be eating more, especially since it is not my goal to lose weight. So here are a couple more questions I have:

1. If I consume more calories, is it vital that I maintain the 40-30-30 percentages recommended by the zone, or is it logical to take in a higher percentage of carbs in the form of low glycemic index carbs?

2. Glycogen replenishment is a concern of mine. If I spend an hour of hard sprinting, plyometrics, and agility work with only 20-60 sec rest between reps followed by an hour of demanding lifting (Olympic lifting with 60 sec rest between sets and circuits with minimal rest with high functional demand), is it logical to replenish post workout with a high glycemic source like gatorade,and if so how much? Is 50g enough, or should it be more like 100g?

3. Should I try to stick to five meals, or is it okay to eat when I am physically hungry (of course without eating in excess)?

Again, I really appreciate your help, especially the scientific basis, since I was a biology major (with knowledge of physiology and biochemistry), as well as a certified personal trainer.

Mike ODonnell
12-04-2007, 08:05 AM
Let us not forget that the Zone also has the activity modifier...

I forgot about the Zone longggg ago, Ha!....as I shifted to Paleo eating with more PWO carb timing/replenishment because the zone never worked for me and my "recreational" performance playing competitive ice hockey for 2 hours....Plus I am not convinced of a program that has constant insulin spiking meals is the ideal way to be fit and healthy. Does it help to lose weight? Sure it does. But I also see more benefit in having periods of lower carbs and exercise followed by properly timed carb intake to maximize insulin sensitivity, supersaturate muscle glycogen and stimulate faster recovery. That and I didn't want to be a person carrying food everywhere and live to eat....and not eat to live.

2. Glycogen replenishment is a concern of mine. If I spend an hour of hard sprinting, plyometrics, and agility work with only 20-60 sec rest between reps followed by an hour of demanding lifting (Olympic lifting with 60 sec rest between sets and circuits with minimal rest with high functional demand), is it logical to replenish post workout with a high glycemic source like gatorade,and if so how much? Is 50g enough, or should it be more like 100g?
Michael, I really don't think 2500 cal is going to cut it as you are training very hard. You will see muscle and fat loss...and if that is not your goal then you need to add more calories in. As far as what is best, a combination of carbs/protein is the best mix pwo or even during workouts to keep intensity high. Something along the ratio of 2:1 to 4:1 carbs/protein. Could always go for the cheap and easy pwo replenishment of skim (no fat) chocolate milk which falls into the 4:1 ratio. You can try aiming for 50-70% of your calories and carb intake to be in the 2-3 hour pwo window (Protein and carb only, no fat)...keep it light the rest of the day with more proteins/healthy fats/veggies.

Note that this really isn't Zone advice as I don't like it....but with any eating plan, you have to monitor your body composition and performance. If either is going in the wrong direction, you need to change something up quick.

Garrett Smith
12-04-2007, 10:21 AM
So as not to shock the body's homeostasis mechanisms, I always think it is best to reduce Calories gradually when changing intakes so drastically (as in ~10% a week).

I think you needed a much higher activity modifier than you used.

Also, you may even need peri-workout supplementation with marathon sessions like that. At the very least some BCAAs during the workout period.

Also, if your nutritional intake was meeting your needs before, what incited you to change? You might try sticking with a similar caloric intake and simply change a couple of things:
1) Go to Paleo food choices
2) Work on peri-workout and PWO nutrition (this may be where you let the Paleo rules slide a bit and take in the majority of your CHOs, as MOD explained). This is just rearranging your intake throughout the day, not overhauling it.

A half gallon of raw goat's milk a day could be very helpful in your situation in terms of ease of prep and travel.

Matt Lawson
12-09-2007, 06:47 PM
if your like me your wanting to give the zone a chance because you feel it may hold the key to some performance enhancing breakthroughs.

I've been concerned about the caloric restrictions for some time but these are addressed by the athlete's version of the zone. For more tweaking ideas check out 42 Ways to Skin the Zone by Robb Wolf in the Performance Menu. Wolf, in his article, suggests the addition of fat.

I dont know if it is a mental thing for me or not but i feel like crap if i dont get some simple carbs prior to a killer workout as well as after. To combat this I usualy follow the guidelines of the book Nutrient Timing basically downing carbs with protein just prior to working out (long enough so you dont yack) and again directly after.

A better and more calculated approach to a similar idea also outlined by Wolf in Issue 27 of The Performance Menu in the article From Glycogen to Cosmology: Nothing New Under the Sun.

The Performance Menu is a hell of a good deal man. I just bought a butt load of articles and got a membership. Very worth it. If you just buy the articles and issues suggested here and by the other posters you wont spend that much; moreover, you will be better educated than you would were you to buy one of Dr. (can someone tell me why everyone says he doesn't follow his own diet without saying "its because he follows his own diet") Sears'

Hope this helps friend.


Robb Wolf
02-02-2008, 08:08 AM
Sorry, late to the party on this. I can't add much to the above...the Zone can work fine but you may feel a bit lethargic for the first week. If you do not want to lean out you will need to jump in at the 3-5x fat level as per an athletes zone.

Keep us posted!