Success in Using Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Just kidding, but perhaps, based on Dr. Attia’s latest post, where he asks the question, “What do anabolic steroids, EPO, and carbohydrates have in common?”, I think he’s onto something.

Do we need carbohydrates to sustain an exercise routine?

The above question is what this post is about. And, for me, I must sheepishly admit that, yes, I have to ingest complex carbs in order to sustain a workout routine. Particularly an anaerobic (i.e., resistance) routine. After a year of stopping and starting a resistance routine, and having to always stop within a week not due to lack of drive but due to lack of energy, it turns out that I am one of the unlucky ones that cannot replenish glycogen reserves either enough or quickly enough to sustain a routine. I’ve tried numerous times a simple, relatively easy full-body resistance program consisting of just a handful of compound movements, only to feel completely exhausted after the first or second set of chest presses, or, if lucky, it wouldn’t hit me until soon after the workout. And then the next workout (3 days later) was worse in terms of the lack of energy.

While I have repeatedly stated the fact that working out and losing weight are mutually exclusive, there is no doubt that working out is both good for you and, more importantly to me – I just feel much better when I do it.

It appears, based on the countless discussions on the topic of glycogen reserves/replenishment, that the vast majority of people can do fine without having to resort to ‘carb refeeds’ after a workout. Unfortunately for me, I’m not one of them. How do I know?

Well, as my prior recent posts outline, I decided to try a new approach and took the risk of adding some complex carbs, in the form of sweet potatoes and greek yogurt, back into my diet on weightlifting days. I started this a week ago and, so far, it is more than just working. I’m feeling phenomenal. I did my second weightlifting routine this week today and am energized. I am following the typical advice and making sure to do the ‘carb refeed’ within an hour of the workout, in order to replenish my glycogen reserves.

My Weightlifting Routine

So that no one thinks I’m over-training and hence that’s what caused the need for the post-workout carbs, here is the routine so far:

  • 3 x 8 Chest Press
  • 3 x 8 Squat (not real squats though, for now as I ease back into it – I’m using a Precor squat machine)
  • 3 x 8 Back row (the machine thing with the cables you pull straight back)
  • 3 x 8 Lat Pulldown
  • 2 x ? Crunches

That’s it. All compound stuff, and believe me – not extra heavy weight as I’m a weakling. Trying this same routine before adding the extra carbs in would always cause a crash.

My Weight Is Back Down

My weight is back to 195.5 today. I had put on a few pounds earlier in the week, likely as a result of the increased water weight from the added carbs. I expect, and hope, that with the added energy and confidence to really start pushing the workouts that I’ll start gaining some serious muscle now and will begin to ‘lean out’ in terms of bodyfat over time.

As a nice bonus – a year ago it was hard for me to fit into size 44 pants/shorts. I was at the ‘no-man’s land’ of needing to go to the ‘Big & Tall’ section/shop to get some trousers. Tonight I ran over to JC Penney to grab some shorts and I now comfortably fit into size 34 Dockers : )

I’m sometimes hitting 100+ grams of carbs daily now, particularly on the lifting days. But I will keep it to under 100 for sure. And make no mistake – I’m avoiding the simple carbs still. While I never resist stealing some of my kids’ french fries or snagging a bite of their ‘kid meal’ pizzas while we’re out to dinner, or the occasional ice cream/frozen yogurt trip, these are incidental indulgences and never planned.

So watch out. I may start exhibiting ‘roid rage’, uh, I mean ‘carb rage’.

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