The 21DSD for Athletes: Fast Five for Athletes

Are you new to the 21-Day Sugar Detox and unsure how it will fit into your current fitness routine? Are you an athlete looking to fuel your workouts in the best way possible – all while kicking your sugar cravings to the curb?

Our #21DSDFastFiveforAthletes have got you covered!

Here are the top five things we want you to know as an athlete diving into the 21-Day Sugar Detox, so you can rock your 21DSD, and your workouts.

#1 – Wait…am I an athlete?!

What qualifies as an athlete for the purposes of the 21DSD? Take this quick quiz to find out!

  1. I work out  _____ times per week.
    1. 0-2
    2. 3-4
    3. 5+

If you workout more than twice per week…

  1. I _____ break a sweat when I work out.
    1. Never
    2. Sometimes
    3. Always
  2. I _____ get my heart rate up during my workouts.
    1. Never
    2. Sometimes
    3. Always
  3. I’m _____ sore after a workout, and need a day to recover.
    1. Never
    2. Sometimes
    3. Always

If you answered mostly A’s: Cool! Your best bet is to work through the program as written, whether you’re following along via the free resources we offer online, as a member of the Online Program, or with The 21-Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide. Pay attention to your body, and adjust your plate and lifestyle accordingly. You’ve got this!

If you answered mostly B’s and C’s: Awesome! You’re probably an athlete – and you’re in the right place! We’ve got some extra tips and tricks to help make your 21DSD a success.

#2 – Know your goals – and your limits.

Before diving into any new program, take some time to reflect on your goals for starting it. What’s your WHY? Why here? Why now? Consider what else is going on in your life that could influence your experience on the 21DSD.

While the 21-Day Sugar Detox is a safe, effective, and comprehensive real foods-based program, knowing your goals is incredibly important, and that includes evaluating where you are with your workouts and training.

If you’re in the midst of an intense training schedule–something above and beyond your regular routine–to prepare for a competition or big race, it’s probably NOT the right time to do a 21DSD. And that’s okay!

Committing to a new way of eating is stressful enough. Adding that on top of pushing your body to the max physically, as you would to get competition- or race-ready, is a recipe for burnout and potential injury. So wait to hit that PR, or run that 5K, until after you’ve wrapped up your detox. Sound good? Good!

That said, you’re totally fine to keep up with your usual workouts, and should have no problem rocking your detox. Focus on maintenance and movement, more so than big gains. Be mindful of how you’re feeling each day, and scale back if needed. Whether it’s a shorter run or lifting a little lighter, give yourself time and grace to readjust to the detox.

Which leads into our next tip…

#3 – Be flexible.

Flexibility–in balancing your plate, in adjusting your workouts, and in managing other lifestyle factors like workout timing and sleep–is essential for a successful 21DSD.

Pay attention to your body. If something doesn’t feel right to you, change it up, and track how you feel.

Yes, this means writing things down! What’s your mood is like? What have you been eating (including when and how much)? What is your sleep hygiene and quality like (for more healthy sleep tips, check out this video)? How have your workouts felt? All of these details give you insight into what your body does or doesn’t need.

If you’re a member of the Online Program, or you’ve got a copy of The Daily Guide, use the journal sections provided to track your sleep, mood, energy, and exercise. As you move through the program, these journal entries offer a great touch point to see what’s working and what isn’t.

As Gretchen Rubin says, “You manage what you measure.” So, measure what’s happening with your body, and be open, willing, and flexible to making the adjustments it’s asking for.

This means that you might need to scale back on your workouts for a time, like we talked about in #2. It might mean you need to dial in on your sleep hygiene (getting to bed at earlier, sleeping in a cool, dark room), or even move an evening workout to the morning, so you’re not jacking your cortisol (aka, your stress hormones!) up too late in the day.

It might also mean that you need to…

#4 – Rebalance your plate.

You’ve identified it: something feels “off.” Maybe you’re feeling junky during or after your workouts while on the 21DSD. Maybe it’s taking you more time to recover than it did pre-detox. Maybe you’re not lifting as heavy as you did last week.

Take a look at your plate. What’s on it?

If all you’ve got is a big piece of meat and a pile of green veggies, you probably need to add more carbohydrates to your meal! We’re talking starchy vegetables, like butternut squash, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, or plantains. You could even add some gluten free grains, such as white rice, if you’re on Level 1 of the program.

Timing-wise, adding these foods into your pre- and/or post-workout meals will help replenish muscle and liver glycogen (your body’s stored form of carbohydrate). That’s where your body turns for quick fuel to power you through your more physically demanding workouts.

If you’ve got a copy of the Daily Guide, open up to page 22. Have the Online Program? Check out the Resources section for the “Building Your 21DSD Plate” PDF. Now, take a look to the right of each plate. See those Activity Carbs? That’s for you!

Without some kind of Activity Carbs making it onto your plate, you’re liable to feel knocked on your butt post-workout, and recovery time may take longer than you’re used to. So go ahead! Add a ½ cup of sweet potato, with a little ghee and a few pinches of sea salt to your plate, and see how you feel during and after your next workout.

Remember: listen to your body. What’s it telling you? The folks who are most successful on this program – athletes and otherwise – are those who pay attention to their bodies, and tune in to the signals it’s sending. Sometimes, that means more carbs. Sometimes, that means more calories, period.

If you find you’re needing more calories, try adding an extra tablespoon or two of fat to your meal. Whole food fats, like grass fed butter or ghee, olive oil, or even nuts or nut butters, are all great ways to get in additional calories – and nutrition – with a meal.

If for any reason you can’t enjoy some of the foods above, and your workouts and recovery are suffering, refer back to #3, and be flexible! While you’re on the 21DSD, taper your workouts to a point where you’re feeling good and not totally depleted.

Be mindful, track your progress, and remember: this program is only for 21 days. In that time you’re tackling a ton of things to improve your health for the long haul.

You’re knocking out your sugar and carb cravings. You’re resetting your palate. You’re developing new healthful habits that will keep you eating well for a lifetime. You’ve got a lot going on! Be respectful of your body, and know that modifying your workouts for a short period of time is a-okay!

#5 – Be Mindful: Hydration, Sports Drinks, & Shakes

We all know how important hydration is, and yet, many of us still don’t get in enough water each day. Be especially mindful to replenish fluids and electrolytes during and after a workout. Dehydration can exacerbate other symptoms you might experience early on in your 21DSD – such as headaches, brain fog, or dizziness – and we don’t want that!

Some folks may be used to rehydrating during and post-workout with sports drinks like Gatorade, which are not permitted on the 21DSD. Don’t let organic varieties fool you, either – they still contain sugar, sweeteners, and other potentially junky additives.

Instead, here are some great options to consider, in place of your old sports drinks:

  • Add a few pinches of sea salt to your regular water, with a squeeze of fresh lemon for Vitamin C (great for recovery!)
  • Drink unsweetened 100% coconut water (up to 8 ounces per day)
  • Drink unsweetened 100% maple water (up to 8 ounces per day)

You can also add 100% coconut water or maple water to a homemade, post-workout shake. Pro Tip: freeze coconut water or maple water in ice trays, and use that in your shake in place of regular ice!

While on the 21DSD, be sure you look at the ingredients in your usual protein powders, shakes, and supplements. If any of the ingredients are on the No list, these products are out for the duration of the program.

When it comes to a post-workout shake, making your own from real-food ingredients is your best bet. Ultimately, you may find they recharge you even better than their more processed counterparts.

In most cases, you’ll want to look for 100% whey protein, 100% egg white protein, etc. – essentially, ones that are made from a single-ingredient, and are whole food-based. It keeps things simple!

Here are few brands of protein powder that we love:

To learn even more about protein powders, collagen, and gelatin, check out this video.

See an ingredient in your protein powder, and not sure if you can have it on the 21DSD? Check out this great post for an up-to-date list of foods and ingredients that are either a Yes…or a No.

* Equip Foods is a sponsor of the Balanced Bites Podcast! Use code “Balanced” to save 20% off your first order.

An additional note: While collagen peptides are a good source of added protein, especially for those intolerant to whey or eggs, they don’t contain a significant amount of branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are particularly needed to aid in muscle recovery. However, collagen peptides are still a great way to support the gut, joints, hair, skin, and nails, as collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies.

We hope you found these tips and tricks helpful for rocking your 21DSD, and your workouts!

Are you an athlete going through the 21-Day Sugar Detox right now? Do you have more questions about how to make your 21DSD successful? We’re here to help! Drop us a question in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

Comments 2

  1. This is great info! I just started the 21 DSD but I have a 3.5-4 hour endurance event (50 mile bike ride with lots of climbing) scheduled for day 20. I knew this would be a little tricky but I was really ready to start the 21 DSD and there’s no going back now! I plan to take it easy on the ride but I will still dip deep into my glycogen levels. I’ll be doing several 2-3 hour training rides between now and day 20 using just electrolytes in my water. It’s already typical for me to ride 2-3 times/week 2 hrs each time. I’ll make sure to boost my pre/post workout carb servings while training and certainly around the event. Any advice on how to fuel during the ride without using sugar based products? I usually eat sugary stuff and/or use Tailwind in my water for efforts longer than 2 hours.

    1. Hey Matt – in the books I cover how I truly don’t recommend this type of endurance event during the 21DSD. It’s very tricky to fuel for them on compliant foods. I’d recommend working with a coach for that, perhaps even consulting for 1 hour if possible!

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