Lost in Madrid

My name is Fernando and I am a CrossFitter and MMA/Kick boxing fighter from Spain. I discovered your site a few months ago and I think it is really great, but I am really surprised and confused about some information. I will tell you my story:

Here in my country, Spain, there is no information about Paleo diet, CrossFit, etc. There are just three CrossFit boxes in the capital Madrid, and two of them suck. Even in my box most of the people don’t know what is Paleo.

I have been following Paleo diet from more than one year and a half, according Loren Cordain's book "Paleo Diet for Athletes", and I am very glad with the results. I eat a lot of meat and fish, lot of veggies and good fats, quite a lot of fruit, some nuts, eggs and starch only after training sessions, and a whey protein drink after training, with juice and a banana. I do not eat DIARY or GRAINS. But I have two problems:

- From several years ago I have serious problems with recovery. In fact, I cannot train hard more than two followed days (more or less 4 days per week), so my physical improvements are very slow.

- There is another problem. I was a really big guy, more than 240 lbs. I was fat, but I was strong. When I got in shape, of course I lost a lot of weight. It was about ten years ago (now I am 30). The problem is than now days, I cannot gain weight, I suppose because my metabolism has changed. Now I am over 180 lbs and 1.85 meters tall, when my weight should be about  200 lbs.

So...how can I improve this problem?

I also have two questions about the nutrition plan that you propose on your web:

- You recommend a high ingest of dairy, which surprise me a lot in a Paleo Diet nutrition model. ¿Why should I ingest milk? I hate milk since I was a child, and also it doesn't feel me good. ¿Should I ingest milk for my athletic performance? ¿Non fat milk? ¿Pasteurized or raw? ¿Are there problems with PH equilibrium and insulin pikes because of the consumption of dairy products? ¿Can I replace milk by another product, like whey protein, cheese or yogurt? ¿Cow or goat/sheep dairy products? And the most important question...HOW MUCH dairy and WHEN should I take it? ¿Just after training, for breakfast, along the day...?

- You also recommend a high ingest of high ingest of roots, tubers and bulbs along the day, but...¿Does it mean that should I eat potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc, all along the day? I just take potatoes or sweet potatoes in my second meal after training session.

A last two questions...

- ¿Really Robb Wolf contributed to this nutrition plan? It is strange because he has always defended nutrition free of dairy products.

- ¿What do you think about Progenex supplements? ¿Are they so good like people said? I have a little shop of functional equipment and nutritional supplements, and I am thinking about Progenex products distribution (and consume). But it is very expensive to import those brands to Spain, so I don’t know if it is a really good idea. 

I hope you can help me. Thanks very much for your attention and keep on going with your great work¡¡¡ I love our web site.

lost in madrid #1


First, you exceeded your question allowance. Usually, we have a one-question rule but since you are lost, I will break my rule.

I am not purposing a 100% Paleo diet on my site. While many of the foods listed in diet recommendations are on the Paleo diet, I include foods like tubers and recommend the use of supplements, as I know they will increase performance.

The recommendations on this site are based strictly on performance. And we gauge performance by increases in size, strength, speed and increased work capacity.

In your email you tell me, you lost 60 lbs, but can't recover enough to train more than two days in a row. Because you can't recover, your progress is slow and therefor can't put on muscle. And you are pleased with those results...

We must have different levels of expectation with a training program. In my life, we train to meet goals and eat to make these goals a reality. If the training or diet is not helping us meet our goals, we start tweaking things. We don't lower our expectations.

Second, where my diet recommendations align with a traditional Paleo diet is with heavy meat and fat consumption and the avoidance of grains and processed foods.

Grains are a diet staple in the world’s food supply. And while they have allowed for our global population to grow, they are counterproductive to health and performance. Grain consumption results in the producing of toxins that damage the lining of the gut. These toxins bind essential minerals, making them unavailable to the body. These same toxins inhibit digestion and absorption of nutrients, including protein.

The most dangerous of these toxic compounds is the protein gluten. Gluten is found wheat, rye, barley and most commonly eaten cereal grains. As gluten is digested it works to damage the intestine and destroy the lining of the gut.

Not only does it damage the gut, but gluten can affect every system in the body, including the brain, liver, kidneys and endocrine system to name a few.

Personally, I find it is hard to recover from day-to-day to make gains while consuming grains.

Where we differ from the Paleo diet is in the consumption of starchy vegetables and tubers. Starchy veggies and tubers are great sources of carbohydrates and should be consumed in place of grains and legumes.

What are starchy veggies and tubers? Yuca root, carrots, parsnips, potatoes (peeled), squash, sweet potatoes, yams and taro root. *Plain white Idaho potatoes or the ones favored by the Irish should always be peeled before consuming. Do not eat the peel.

And to quote Dr. Mat Lalonde, “At the end of the day glucose is king…” The best way to replenish those glycogen stores in the post workout feed is with starchy veggies and roots.

Third, how can you improve upon your problem of not gaining weight and lack of recovery? How much time do you have?

I have done over 130 blog posts on this site and have given away almost three years of free programming addressing this very issue. I say you start with the first blog post on TTMJ and work your way forward. Also, go to CrossFitFootball Dot Com, go back in the archives and start with April 1, 2009 and work your way forward.

By the time you get to November 23, 2011 you should be sorted.

Fourth, if you hate milk and it doesn’t make you feel good, then don’t drink it. I am assuming you are an adult and I am fairly sure no one is going to make you go to bed early for not drinking it.

Does milk have an anabolic effect? Yes.
Does milk increase recovery and aid in putting on muscle? Yes.
Does the increase in caloric intake from consuming milk increase size and strength? Yes.

What really confuses me is you adamantly state you avoid DAIRY, but then go on to tell me you drink whey protein shakes. You know that whey protein comes from cow’s milk.

And lastly, Robb Wolf is a close friend and contributed to the diet recommendations on the site. If you are read Robb’s blog or listen to his podcasts, he recommends the consumption of dairy for high performance athletes and special population.

You need to understand the difference between the metabolically deranged individually standing in line at MacDonald’s and an athlete training for performance.

The only experience I have had with Progenex is when Dr. Scott Connelly showed up at my gym with a big box of samples. He spoke for an hour about how his protein was better than performance enhancing drugs.

lost in madrid#2

I tried the product for a few days but stopped due to stomach problems. I never noticed any effects beyond the horrible gas. But, I recommend you try it out and see if it has the effects you are looking for. But remember…whey protein is made from cow’s milk.


Posted in Diet, Supplements, Talk to Me Johnnie | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

31 Responses to Lost in Madrid

  1. Joe

    Hi, i wanted to ask Fernando to which CF BOX is going?? and just say that a trainer that has the balls to open a CF BOX in a new country, like Spain, and with all the economic situation in the country, you could have a little respect for his business, not just say that out of 3, 2 suck…..

    have fun and follow Jhon’s advises, i’ve been following the swod & dwod in this page, and noticed a big change!!!!

  2. Thomas

    I just went back and forth on taking a post workout protein supplement and ended up going with Lactaid milk since I’m lactose intolerant. Between that and the BCAAs, Glutamine, and Creatine I feel set.

  3. Mike Hollister

    John, I suppose fatherhood has given you near superhuman patience. I would have started and ended w/ the “you need to READ TTMJ”–if I’d even responded at all.

    Congrats on the kiddos. I have #6 due in February but all mine came one at a time. Can’t imagine two at once. My best advice is to follow the sequence of “eat, awake time, lay down to sleep when still awake, repeat when they wake up”. This is for during the day. Do what you can do to survive the nights. The hard part is making sure the “eat” part is a full feeding, not a snack. Sometimes you gotta bust out a cold wash cloth to keep ’em awake. But following this sequence slowly expands their food capacity while teaching them the important skill of putting themselves to sleep (rather than nursing to sleep). Babies #2-#5 all were sleeping through the night by 8 weeks and the n=5 constant was the sequence, not timing, volume, or anything else.

  4. Jake

    What’s wrong with the potato peel?

  5. James

    I don’t want to get personal, but damn dude, how do you run your shop?

    Probably an unnecessary comment, but it bothers me when people put themselves in the position of an expert (i.e. shop owner/sales rep/etc.) while having no knowledge of what they’re selling.

  6. Big Josh

    I got lost in Madrid once. We got drunk on “Punta Madres” and I wondered the streets until 4am. Fortunately, Madrid is a very safe city….

  7. Ingo B

    Potatoes are ok? Inconceivable!

    PS – joking. Just a nod to Princess Bride. Best movie ever.

  8. Josh, I have never been lost in Madrid. I did get lost in Amsterdam…twice.

    I did get stuck in Lodi once with a busted radiator. I know what John Fogerty was talking about in his song.

    And I am glad someone got my inigo montoya pix. You kill my father, prepare to die.

  9. Steakhouse

    I couldn’t help but read the Fernando’s whole letter in Inigo’s voice.
    Sounds like he has more fructose than glucose mind of deal. Best of luck Fernando.

  10. Steakhouse

    Sorry “kind of deal”

  11. C. Lake

    Got lost in Amsterdam too. 21st birthday.

    Saw the “inconceivable” guy on a bus here in New York and yelled his line to him as I got off. Don’t think he appreciated that too much. Had five or six too many beers in me before the OU game.

  12. CMD

    Knowledge is always king and you can read in ttmj for hours and find different tidbits. Not a progenix fan, but I do like the chick;)

  13. Big Josh

    Lake – I do not think that word means what you think it means.

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  15. Rubis

    Man, you guys came down hard on this guy. He was just asking some questions…he is fom another country

  16. Derrick

    “I know something you don’t know…”

  17. C. Lake

    Probably not. I took the literal meaning.

  18. Mark K

    A lot of people like whey isolate protein, as it has all the lactose removed and is much easier on the stomach. It is a bit pricey though, but worth it if you need the extra protein.

    I will second the question, what is wrong with the potato skin? I always heard that’s where all the nutients are…

  19. Steve

    I do not mean to pry, but you don’t by any chance happen to have six fingers on your right hand?

  20. If remember correctly from Lalonde’s nutrition dealio I attended a while back, the skin of a potato has an alarmingly high heavy metal content, namely arsenic.

  21. Mike Hollister

    My understanding is that the skin of the potato contains all the gut damaging antinutrients. If you are eating a potato, you are doing so to ingest the starch that your physical training regimen demands. There is no starch in the peel, so thus no reason to consume the antinutrients. (there is fiber there too but there are far better sources of fiber, like leafy green veggies). It’s not like it’s going to kill you but not eating the peel is pretty easy thing to optimize for most people.

  22. Ingo B

    Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

  23. Garage Dweller

    Boomer Sooner? Class of 04′ here.
    last time i was in norman (TAMU game) i saw a huge CFFB sticker on a truck. it was parked in the driveway across from a park on flood st.
    small world?

  24. Matt

    Email for Fernando:

    Oye, mi sueño es abir mi propia caja CrossFit en España. ¿Hay mucha gente interesada? ¿Podría tener éxito? ¿Qué te opinas?

    For all who are curious: It’s my dream to open my own box in Spain. Are there many interested people? Could it be successful?

  25. Multibomber

    Tell me more about the Progenix girl…

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  27. Jared

    I would treat the Progenex hype the same way Westley treated Inigo’s promise to give him a rope to help him to the top saying, “I give you my word as a Spaniard.”

    “No good, I have known too many Spaniards.”

  28. Dennis

    “Stop that! and I mean it!….anybody want a peanut?”

  29. Addi

    This is late, so maybe irrelevant by now, but I think the missing piece here may be adequate fat. Fernando says he’s following Paleo as put forth in Paleo Diet for Athletes. First, that book was written with endurance athletes in mind, not power athletes. Different requirements. Second, since writing that book, Cordain has dramatically changed his stance on the importance of fat intake, particularly animal fats. Fernando, try upping your fat intake – more fatty meats from good sources, etc. I imagine that will help with both recovery and gains. As for Progenex, most people I know who don’t eat garbage don’t tolerate it well.

  30. Pingback: Gluten « Phil's Crossfit

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