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View Full Version : Evening Climbing Sessions- PWO?


Greg Davis
12-05-2007, 10:56 AM
Now that the cold weather has setlled in again I'm back to hitting an indoor climbing gym about once a week and its usually an evening session since thats when my buddies can all get together. We're talking about 2-3 hours of route/boulder climbing starting at 5/6ish. So I typically might get home at around 9 or 10pm.

I'm kind of stumped on how I should treat a post workout meal here. These workouts tend to be quite long and exhausting (hard to explain a climbing session, but its like intense intermittent heavy rep exercise). I really try to avoid meals late at night, and generally don't eat anything 3 hours before bedtime, otherwise I feel crappy in the morning.

But what tends to happen every time is I feel so drained from climbing that I feel I have to eat after, possibly for fear of losing muscle mass if I wait til the morning for a meal. Do you think given a low-carb/paleo/IF diet I could get away with such an intense late-in-the-day workout skipping a PWO meal?

I was thinking maybe throw back a shake, but shakes tend to either have carbs or carb-like effects, which I definitely want to avoid before bed.

Robert Allison
12-05-2007, 11:10 AM
It's just a thought, but if you are consistently that drained after a session, your body is probably trying to tell you something.

I pretty much always eat after an evening WO at the climbing gym, for the reasons you alluded to above. It may not be a large meal (depending on how late) and it is usually higher in fat & protein, but my recovery seems stunted if I don't eat anything. But then again, my schedule doesn't usually allow me to eat (much) before climbing.

2-3 hours is a relatively long session, and I am not sure following a Paleo/IF approach would negate the need for some PWO nourishment. It doesn't seem to for me.

Mike ODonnell
12-05-2007, 12:40 PM
But what tends to happen every time is I feel so drained from climbing that I feel I have to eat after, possibly for fear of losing muscle mass if I wait til the morning for a meal.

Sounds like a drop in blood sugar. You activity really isn't so much aerobic that it is anaerobic. You burn either glycogen or muscle in an anaerobic state....so over 2-3 hours you are probably burning up some muscle. Best idea is sip on some mix of protein (whey/BCAA) and fats (coconut milk for example)....see if that helps sustain your energy while not providing an insulin spike so late at night that will mess up your GH levels during sleep. If you do that you should negate muscle loss and be fine once you go to sleep. You biggest muscle loss may be during the long extended anaerobic training sessions! (Also take some BCAAs prior to training)

Garrett Smith
12-05-2007, 12:52 PM
You could break the "whole food" rule here and throw down some BCAAs and fish oil before bed, or something similar...

Or just have something short of a meal, nearly all fat and protein.

If it is simply fear of losing muscle tissue, you might want to black box it to see if the fear has any merit (or if it is just the good ol' BBing nutrition mentality slipping in a bit).

Greg Davis
12-05-2007, 07:03 PM
I'm not really in to sipping anything while Im engaged in any sport or workout so Id rather not. I guess if anything I would ideally just have a small fat+pro meal but sometimes I feel like Id be too prone to overeating once I start.

Actually just got home from climbing, its close to 10pm and tonight didn't seem especially draining just cuz it wasnt the most aggressive session. Right now I don't feel the need to eat a meal. I guess I'll just play it by ear each time.

Best case scenario I finish early enough to get a small meal in after. Worst case scenario I eat a big meal too late and feel crappy the next day. So if I'd rather avert the worst case and not eat at all if caught too late or dont feel too drained.

I've been lucky enough to get some BJJ/SW workouts in the middle of the day and haven't had to go to night classes, but same logic would apply there for me if I was doing that at night.

David Aguasca
12-05-2007, 07:34 PM
It's just a thought, but if you are consistently that drained after a session, your body is probably trying to tell you something.

I pretty much always eat after an evening WO at the climbing gym, for the reasons you alluded to above. It may not be a large meal (depending on how late) and it is usually higher in fat & protein, but my recovery seems stunted if I don't eat anything. But then again, my schedule doesn't usually allow me to eat (much) before climbing.

2-3 hours is a relatively long session, and I am not sure following a Paleo/IF approach would negate the need for some PWO nourishment. It doesn't seem to for me.

Robert, it's possible that Greg overreaching, but i think it's something else. Also, a 2-3 hour session in a climbing gym might seem a lot if you think about it in terms of weight training time. the intensity can vary a LOT...there can be really, really long rest periods between boulder problems, or even trying things way below your limit. it's a HIGHLY skill dependent sport...think of it like training for gymnastics. I think i remember steven mentioning one time that a typical, full gymnastics workout can last 2 hours.

what i've found about climbing and that drained feeling is that a lot of it may be psychological. climbing is a rarity in that you're constantly aware of the fact that at some point you will fall. the closer you get to climbing at your limit, the more that fact comes into the forefront, and the fear it brings can be quite exhausting.

2-3 hour sessions in the gym will give me that feeling. but i can also remember one day in particular, an 8 hour day of outside climbing, where i didn't climb more than 400 feet, and no where near my physical limit, but on VERY scary terrain. granted, there was a short hike in and out, too (~40 minutes). at the end of that day, i had that same feeling: exhausted, only really thinking of a warm dinner and sleep.

that said, greg, it may be a personal thing, so consider the overreaching...

Jordan Glasser
12-05-2007, 08:57 PM
I just went through a similar experience, my problem being late night hockey games (8pm, 10pm or midnight starts).

Of course my results are from my study of one, but, what worked is what I didn't want to work.
And that was PWO carb/glycogen replacement. My eating approach is 100% paleo, IF 3-4 days a week (16-20hrs), and doing my best to eat only seasonally. Running real high fats, and protein, and my carbs were minimal, and geared towards PWO times. Because of trying to stay in season, and not wanting to eat tubers or a high glycemic veggie late at night I eventually crashed. I tried more fats, more water, way more water, more fasting, less fasting, more protein, more pre-carbs. But in the end, I was truly missing replacing that glycogen PWO. That's what worked for me. Yeah, the last thing I want to eat at 2 am is a sweet potato, but, in the end that helped me more then anything else I tried. Especially the next day. Not to mention the next hockey game. Actually today is a great example. Last night hockey, got home at 12:30 am. Ate 4 carrots and celery equalling about 30 grams of carbs along with a can of tuna. This morning was up at 6:30 am, worked for a couple of hours training, then did christine and hit a PR (9:20, 30 sec. faster). My previous attempts of what to do after a late night hockey game all left me tired and lethargic, just waiting for the day to end.

That's my story of what worked for me.....

Greg Davis
12-06-2007, 06:00 AM
Garrett- Its not so much the BBing mentality of fearing muscle loss, its more worrying about getting thrown off weekly training ie. not recovering.

Thats interesting Jordan- hockey is my other potential late night one too- as soon as I grab my hockey equipment from my parents place Im hitting up some of the outdoor rinks around here which are already in good shape. Now theres a game that you cant avoid getting drained from..

So you're saying if you ate nothing when you got home, just hit the sack, you would have missed the opportunity to replenish glycogen and feel drained the next day?

I'm just so adamantly opposed to late night meals out of plenty of food hangover experiences, that I'm hoping to come to the conclusion that skipping the meal won't matter.

Maybe:
(a) late night workout /wo PWO means you cant have a big next morning workout (or need to be able to sleep in a bit/have breakfast)
(b) late night workouts just suck and theres no easy answer

Garrett Smith
12-06-2007, 06:38 AM
I'd say it's most likely (b).

Having cortisol-stimulating exercise sessions at night completely whacks the cortisol curve (it's supposed to be getting lower so that we can sleep).

Greg Davis
12-06-2007, 07:12 AM
Cheers to being a grad student and being able to mostly work out during the day... not looking forward to going back to a 9-5 (desk) job.

Mike ODonnell
12-06-2007, 08:01 AM
Thats interesting Jordan- hockey is my other potential late night one too- as soon as I grab my hockey equipment from my parents place Im hitting up some of the outdoor rinks around here which are already in good shape. Now theres a game that you cant avoid getting drained from..

I play hockey and most my games are 10pm at night....so I am completely drained and done at midnight sometimes.....of course our pwo is beer....but I need food plain and simple and I am not going to worry about sleep as I will be up for a while and already f'd up my GH timing....so sipping down some gatorade with a mix of whey while I play works well for my recovery....on top of adding ZMA has made my next day recovery better. Realistically it will take me 1-2 days to really refill all the muscle glycogen....it just doesnt happen all at once. So having something pre game, during game and beer after has worked for some....ummmm...15 years? Of course this is a twice a week event at most....

Robert Allison
12-06-2007, 08:21 AM
David, great points all around. Your observation about the "pucker" factor is spot-on... some routes or problems are just plain scary, regardless of the physical difficulty.

To clarify, I wasn't implying that Greg was necessarily overreaching; that's his call. I just put it out as something for him to consider, given the "more is always better" thinking that we all fall prey to now and then. And overreaching on occasion is not necessarily a bad thing... depends on how often.

I guess what I was really trying to get at was this--if you are that drained, recovery is best served by eating something (fat & protein). At least that has been my experience.

I second Mike's recommendation for ZMA. Also, IIRC vitamin C taken before bed can modulate the cortisol-stimulating effects of longer exercise sessions in the evening.

Jordan Glasser
12-06-2007, 01:00 PM
Garrett- Its not so much the BBing mentality of fearing muscle loss, its more worrying about getting thrown off weekly training ie. not recovering.

Thats interesting Jordan- hockey is my other potential late night one too- as soon as I grab my hockey equipment from my parents place Im hitting up some of the outdoor rinks around here which are already in good shape. Now theres a game that you cant avoid getting drained from..

So you're saying if you ate nothing when you got home, just hit the sack, you would have missed the opportunity to replenish glycogen and feel drained the next day?

I'm just so adamantly opposed to late night meals out of plenty of food hangover experiences, that I'm hoping to come to the conclusion that skipping the meal won't matter.

Maybe:
(a) late night workout /wo PWO means you cant have a big next morning workout (or need to be able to sleep in a bit/have breakfast)
(b) late night workouts just suck and theres no easy answer

a) I wasn't even referring to energy levels for a workout, more in line with energy levels period. And fixing that instantly is a hell of a lot easier then slowly over a couple of days.
b) Yes, they do suck. But in the end, with a low carb approach, and failed PWO glycogen replacement, it's easy to stay tanked. (Again, personal experience here.)

Lastly, although I want to eat and emulate the way we were designed (aka, hunter and gatherer), I don't live like them; I differ in activities, workouts, sleep patterns, and almost everything else. And cheating often allows me to perform extremely well at my modern day activities.