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Old 07-21-2011, 07:33 AM   #1
Michael Plank
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Zone Diet and Sleep

I've been crossfitting since January and have been strict Zone (with 2 cheat meals per week) for the last 3 weeks. I'm 27 years old, male, 6'1" and I weigh 182lbs. at about 9% body fat, which puts me at 19 blocks with 2x fat. Other than a few days in the beginning of extra feelings of hunger and light-headedness after workouts , I've been feeling great. I've gotten leaner, my endurance is better, and my energy and mood throughout the day are fantastic.

However, coinciding with the beginning of my zone eating, it's been a lot harder for me to fall asleep at night. For the last several years I've usually been able to fall asleep within 5-10 minutes of lying down, but now it's taking me 30-45 pretty regularly. My daily routine is no different except for how I'm eating, and I'm going to bed and waking up at the same times I did pre-Zone. Interestingly enough, it has been easier for me to get up in the morning feeling refreshed, but it's just been much harder for me to fall asleep.

The only other times I have trouble sleeping since starting crossfit are when I've overtrained. I can usually hit the WODs hard for at least 8 weeks before I get overtrained though, and I just took a week of active rest 2 weeks ago. I don't feel any of the other symptoms of overtraining, like exhaustion, low motivation, or lower performance.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this on the Zone diet? Any idea what might be going on? Thanks.
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Old 07-26-2011, 07:19 AM   #2
Eric Schubring
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Re: Zone Diet and Sleep

I had the same exact problem. I tried a ton of different things, even sleeping pills, and never really found the problem. I fixed it by taking 5g L-glutamine and ZMA right before bed. Don't know how you feel about supplements, but this combo knocks me right out.
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Old 07-26-2011, 09:32 AM   #3
Renee Lee
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Re: Zone Diet and Sleep

or you could stop putting a bandaid on your cortisol problems and solve it instead.

crossfit + zone = two big stressors. our bodies can general handle one before it starts to revolt. elevated cortisol levels can cause some sleep disturbances.
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:55 PM   #4
Doug Davidson
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Re: Zone Diet and Sleep (

I am having the same issue but with Paleo.

I have just started Paleo. I eased into it prior to some vacation in early June. When I came back just last week I became more strict with it.

I'm currently 259 pounds (down from 272 when I started in early June). I'm trying to get down to 215 (a forced weigh in based on my height from Boy Scouts weight requirements for their high adventure camps) as a goal.

I'm crossfitting 3 on 1 off 2 on 1 off mostly in early mornings.

The thing is that no matter what time I go to bed I can't sleep. It is as if I have "too much" energy".

Anyone else experienced this? Suggestions? A WOD at 6 am after 4 hours of sleep and 4 hours of tossing and turning sucks. And that night I can't sleep all over again.

I've done ZMA before and it helps.

Like to hear others experiences.
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Old 07-26-2011, 05:00 PM   #5
Michael Plank
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Re: Zone Diet and Sleep

Renee, that's interesting about cortisol levels. It makes sense to me that crossfit would elevate those, but it surprises me that zone eating would do that too, especially since the whole thing is based on achieving a good hormonal balance. I slept like a baby on crossfit alone. I would think that zone eating would make my hormone levels even more favorable, rather than knock them out of whack.

Quote:
or you could stop putting a bandaid on your cortisol problems and solve it instead.
What would you suggest for solving cortisol problems?
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Old 07-26-2011, 05:33 PM   #6
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Zone Diet and Sleep

Eating Zone tends to put people at a severe caloric deficit, seeing how the Zone block charts are designed for sedentary people. Severe caloric deficits do bad things for cortisol levels, especially if you're trying to be very active.

When I was at my L1 cert 3 years ago I had a L2 HQ trainer tell me I should be on 17 blocks a day (roughly 1700 calories) even though I was severely underweight and understrong at 6' tall and 175lbs. Eating 17 blocks while trying to do CF on a 3/1 schedule would have done bad bad things to me.

There's nothing magical about the Zone in terms of hormonal levels, despite whatever Dr. Sears might tell you. Its only benefits come because it recommends lower processed carb intake (and in turn, lower inflammation) than the standard American diet, and because forcing people to weigh and measure means that 99% of the time they end up taking in fewer calories than previously.
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Old 07-26-2011, 06:00 PM   #7
Renee Lee
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Re: Zone Diet and Sleep

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Plank View Post
Renee, that's interesting about cortisol levels. It makes sense to me that crossfit would elevate those, but it surprises me that zone eating would do that too, especially since the whole thing is based on achieving a good hormonal balance. I slept like a baby on crossfit alone. I would think that zone eating would make my hormone levels even more favorable, rather than knock them out of whack.



What would you suggest for solving cortisol problems?
Zone "theory" is based on normalizing insulin/glucagon hormone levels. I don't think Sears ever even addresses cortisol in his books.

Basically, what Eric said. The zone as rxed is extremely low calorie. You can either be sedentary with a calorie deficit, or you can be as active as you want and eat to support your activity level. Doing both (low calorie AND intense exercise), on top of the regular daily life stress most of us encounter is usually too much for your body to handle all at once. cortisol gets all out of whack and BOOM! sleep problems arise.

Solve cortisol problems in 3 basic steps:
1) stop overtraining
2) stop undereating
3) take relaxing walks and minimize real world stress

if you want some bandaids while getting the above in line, you can try ZMA, Natural Calm magnesium supplement, pitch black, slightly cold, room, shutting lights/computers/phones off an hour before bed, no caffeine after ~noonish. (or no caffeine at all)...etc
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Old 07-26-2011, 08:48 PM   #8
Shane Skowron
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Re: Zone Diet and Sleep

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renee Lee View Post
if you want some bandaids while getting the above in line, you can try ZMA, Natural Calm magnesium supplement, pitch black, slightly cold, room, shutting lights/computers/phones off an hour before bed, no caffeine after ~noonish. (or no caffeine at all)...etc

melatonin is good too.
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:11 AM   #9
Dave Traeger
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Re: Zone Diet and Sleep

Do you have any other stress in your life such as work/school or relationships?

Alternatively, maybe theres a food that you're partially alergic too. You could try going pure paleo (still in zone proportions if you wish) for a few weeks then slowly add back in other foods to see which one messes with your sleep.
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Old 07-27-2011, 06:17 AM   #10
Michael Plank
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Re: Zone Diet and Sleep

This is all really helpful. Thanks everyone! My life is quite stress-free right now. Work, relationships, and finances are all in order. And like I said, I don't feel overtrained at all, so I think it's gotta be food. I think my first step is going to be adding a few blocks per day to my eating and I'll see how that goes. If it's not changing anything after a few days, I'll try upping my fat intake (that's a suggestion I saw on a related thread), and if none of that works, I'll look at supplements. Thanks again!
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