2

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Cheating and Paleo Treats: Is 90% Paleo Good Enough?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 01, 2011 at 7:36 PM

New to Paleo - about 2 months. Switched because it was pretty close to how I already ate and exercised, I just cut out dairy and the few whole grains I ate before. I have a monster sweet tooth. As promised, eating Paleo for a while has drastically cut down on the cravings. My question is regarding "cheating" on the Paleo diet. I found a few Paleo treats, but I'm wondering if their frequent consumption (3 x week) is sabotaging any advantages I'm getting. These are the two (delicious!) recipes I'm concerned about.

Almond Joy Fudge: (via greensmoothiegirl.com) Coconut Oil, Almonds, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Coconut Flakes, Coconut Nectar (amounting to about half a teaspoon per serving)

Chocolate Pudding: (via everydaypaleo.com) Coconut Milk, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Coconut Nectar - same amount as above, just enough to bring out the sweetness of the coconut milk and chocolate

YUM. But I know sugar is sugar. The only other carbs I get are from veggies and a maximum of two servings of fruit per day. I even switched to black coffee (which has always been my dietary hold-out) Is 90%+ Paleo enough to see results? Or am I doing myself a disservice? I'm satisfied with my muscle mass, but I'd like to lose some weight.

I'm 5'3", 130, very active. A typical day of food (sans treats) looks like this:

Meal #1 11AM: 2 eggs with veggies and a green smoothie (sh*t ton of raw greens, 2 servings of fruit, some fat)

Meal #2 (post-workout 6PM): Usually some grilled meat and a heap of whatever veggies are on sale. Usually accompanied by fat in the form of sauce or dressing.

I really appreciate any comments/advice you might have!

Grace

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 02, 2011
at 01:14 AM

The only reason I would suggest getting rid of the smoothie is because you are looking for tweaks to lose weight (which I don't think you need to lose, your height/weight sounds great to me), so if it makes you happy, then go for it. I know I've read bad things about flaxseed oil, but I don't really remember what. If you want diverse oils, how about avocado or macadamia nut oil, both of which I've read good things about. I hate to see you lose your treats, have you ever actually tracked your calories? How about dropping your carbs some? Or maybe cycling them?

E35d651e011b3ad72d22decf79537749

(143)

on May 02, 2011
at 12:48 AM

The smoothies probably won't change. I'm not having a hunger problem. And I really love the way green smoothies make me feel. There's nothing not "real" about them. It would take me 45 minutes to eat all those greens! I actually don't know about the flax seed oil - what do you think? Is it not Paleo? I could sub in coconut oil, but I have some preconceived notion that I want diverse fat sources. I have no idea where I'm getting that from though :)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 01, 2011
at 11:18 PM

Well, that sounds better! I am not a big fan of the smoothie or the flaxseed oil. Could you find some real food that does the same for you? Liquid food creates more of an insulin reaction from my understanding from Robb Wolf. It also won't keep you full as long.

E35d651e011b3ad72d22decf79537749

(143)

on May 01, 2011
at 11:04 PM

Thanks! Great advice :)

E35d651e011b3ad72d22decf79537749

(143)

on May 01, 2011
at 11:03 PM

I think I'm okay on the calories - I left out the fat that I cook everything in. Eggs are fried up in coconut oil, as are whatever veggies I cook up and I add about 150 calories worth of flaxseed oil into the smoothie - Meal 1 usually comes out around 700+ calories. Since I usually eat only two meals per day, my meat serving is closer to 8 ounces and I'm not shy on fat there either. Add 200-250 calories of fat in say a dressing, and I'm usually pushing 800 calories. Adding treats usually puts me close to 2000 - and you're totally right, that's should be about right on workout days. Thanks!

Eeb593d6b6d7a939fdd5469b69347d5f

(1037)

on May 01, 2011
at 08:23 PM

You can try moving them to post-workout first. If you're going to have some sugar, that's the best time.

E35d651e011b3ad72d22decf79537749

(143)

on May 01, 2011
at 08:05 PM

That's refreshing to hear, but I have pretty high body fat, 23% pre-paleo. I could stand to lose at least 10 pounds off my little frame.

E35d651e011b3ad72d22decf79537749

(143)

on May 01, 2011
at 07:59 PM

No progress at all! It's killin' me! There hasn't been a wall cause I haven't been running haha. I definitely feel different when I'm eating Paleo, which is why I'm still working at it. But I do want to see the weight loss. Guess the treats will have to go .. at least for now!

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10 Answers

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0
C2cf53dae89fa380bd975dec7812c32d

on May 02, 2011
at 01:45 AM

Coconut nectar is 80% soluble fiber, not much sugar to it. Inulin is good fiber/food for the bacteria in your gut so I don't really think that the coconut nectar is a bad thing. 13gs of carb per tbs, that is 80% fiber, is not a bad thing. Flaxseed oil is only bad if not stored properly, ie. in the fridge in a dark container so it doesn't go rancid. Loren Cordain suggests it in his book. I went to a lecture with a speaker that got her degree studying under Dr Cordain and she recommended 15cal/per pound so you should be eating about 1950 calories. If you don't eat enough your body goes into starvation mode and stores everything as fat and you sabotage yourself, especially if your doing something like crossfit or are a generally active person. I would keep the smoothie in the pre workout time so you will have plenty of glucose available for your workout later in the day. The conventional wisdom nutritionist in me says you should eat within 2 hours of getting up to start you metabolism and stay away from starvation mode. I studied at Bastyr University and my fellow students would probably flip if they knew I was doing the Paleo thing, but it works for me. Oh ya and 23% body fat is great for a female.

3
98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

on May 01, 2011
at 09:55 PM

I think you are doing great! I don't believe in this idea that we have to be 100% or it's all just a big pile of crap and why bother. Good is pretty darn good especially being only a few months in. If you're in this for the long haul then I think you should be very happy with the progress you have made so far.

The recipes you are using don't need the coconut sugar in them. You can use Stevia. it works. I know it's somewhat controversial but Using in instead of sugar might be what you need to do to help with the cravings. Using sugar is just feeding the monster. Something to consider anyway.

I agree with Melissa that you need to examine your cravings to see if they are just in your head or if you are maybe just not eating enough and getting hungry. I would take a look at that.

You know you have an issue with sweets and you are making progress. You're down to 3x week and that's great. Maybe your next hurdle is to try for 2x a week? Maybe see if adding some extra fat into the diet might quite the cravings a little? Look at losing the fruit and see if that affects the cravings at all?

I think you're doing great and I'd put you at a solid 95%. What I know for sure is that total deprivation is the kiss of death. Take yourself where you find yourself and you seem to know your issues and are working to do better. I can't imagine doing any better than that.

E35d651e011b3ad72d22decf79537749

(143)

on May 01, 2011
at 11:04 PM

Thanks! Great advice :)

3
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on May 01, 2011
at 09:33 PM

So, if that is your typical day, when are you eating the treats?

Your typical meals do not sound like enough food to me.

Meal #1: The 2 eggs are 140 calories, 1 cup of veggies is usually 30/50. It's hard to say what the smoothie is but raw greens are no many calories and 2 servings of fruit would be around 200 calories, what fat do you put in a smoothie? Still probalby only around 100 calories. Maxiumum 500 calories

Meal #2: 6 oz of grilled meat would typically be 250/400 calories and again, veggies aren't much. Add maybe 1 tablespoon or two of butter at 70/100 calories each just to give this a quantity. Maxiumum 600 calories

Now, if you are eating your treats every day, that probably puts you in the 1200/1300 calorie range, which is LOW.

If I were you, I would add 200/400 more calories per day in meat and/or fat. Try to keep the treats to workout days or 2/3 times a week. Do this for at least a month and see what happens.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 02, 2011
at 01:14 AM

The only reason I would suggest getting rid of the smoothie is because you are looking for tweaks to lose weight (which I don't think you need to lose, your height/weight sounds great to me), so if it makes you happy, then go for it. I know I've read bad things about flaxseed oil, but I don't really remember what. If you want diverse oils, how about avocado or macadamia nut oil, both of which I've read good things about. I hate to see you lose your treats, have you ever actually tracked your calories? How about dropping your carbs some? Or maybe cycling them?

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 01, 2011
at 11:18 PM

Well, that sounds better! I am not a big fan of the smoothie or the flaxseed oil. Could you find some real food that does the same for you? Liquid food creates more of an insulin reaction from my understanding from Robb Wolf. It also won't keep you full as long.

E35d651e011b3ad72d22decf79537749

(143)

on May 01, 2011
at 11:03 PM

I think I'm okay on the calories - I left out the fat that I cook everything in. Eggs are fried up in coconut oil, as are whatever veggies I cook up and I add about 150 calories worth of flaxseed oil into the smoothie - Meal 1 usually comes out around 700+ calories. Since I usually eat only two meals per day, my meat serving is closer to 8 ounces and I'm not shy on fat there either. Add 200-250 calories of fat in say a dressing, and I'm usually pushing 800 calories. Adding treats usually puts me close to 2000 - and you're totally right, that's should be about right on workout days. Thanks!

E35d651e011b3ad72d22decf79537749

(143)

on May 02, 2011
at 12:48 AM

The smoothies probably won't change. I'm not having a hunger problem. And I really love the way green smoothies make me feel. There's nothing not "real" about them. It would take me 45 minutes to eat all those greens! I actually don't know about the flax seed oil - what do you think? Is it not Paleo? I could sub in coconut oil, but I have some preconceived notion that I want diverse fat sources. I have no idea where I'm getting that from though :)

2
072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on May 02, 2011
at 02:21 AM

I personally think you need to eat some more (protein) for as active as you claim to be and the menu you have posted.

Regarding "cheats," I think the word is a little cliche and if not that, then certainly overused. I'm probably an 80/20 guy who will have a beer when he wants one. I like ketchup on stuff (gasp, but at least the non HFCS kind). I don't drive myself crazy if I have a scoop of ice cream here and there. "Cheats" are what a person makes them out to be and seem to bring with them some level of guilt. You need to find what works for you physically as well as mentally. You could use some extra calories (IMHO), so the recipes you've cited seem to be reasonable options on occasion. Even if your "cheat" is a non-Paleo option, if it keeps you sane and locked in 80 or 90 percent of the time, then avoid the "cheat" label and the requisite guilt that goes with it.

2
64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on May 01, 2011
at 08:00 PM

You don't sound overweight.

E35d651e011b3ad72d22decf79537749

(143)

on May 01, 2011
at 08:05 PM

That's refreshing to hear, but I have pretty high body fat, 23% pre-paleo. I could stand to lose at least 10 pounds off my little frame.

1
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on May 01, 2011
at 09:26 PM

I think this is highly individual. Some people are going to tolerate more frequent and higher quantities of sugar than others. I think the best way to find out your tolerance is to go completely clean for, say, 3 weeks, and then introduce your treats.

1
Bb1ba0d71083ceaecd3a3b405a977454

on May 01, 2011
at 07:58 PM

Try this out for a treat. I made it last night for the first time and it was/is great!

http://sturdyblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/love-dark-chocolate-but-you-paleoprimal.html

0
39a1a0bc7855c084ac59df60fdf9c0dd

(1505)

on May 05, 2011
at 04:09 PM

You sound really healthy to me, so in that regard I wouldn't worry about much.

As a counterpoint, though, I would paraphrase Taubes: would a doctor say to a smoker, "we are going to put you on a low-nicotine diet?" In other words, if it's bad for you - it's bad for you.

0
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on May 01, 2011
at 10:10 PM

Cheating hurts me, with the exception of small quantities of alcohol and occasionally eating paleo fare prepared at restaurants (in an un-paleo way with un-paleo oils).

If I have 3 tequilas with a full glass of water between each one, I'm fine the next day. If I sneak a fry or two off someone's plate, and it's made from just potatoes, I'm probably gonna be fine the next day.

If I have ANY bread, beans, or milk, I'm gonna feel like crap the next day.

0
Eeb593d6b6d7a939fdd5469b69347d5f

(1037)

on May 01, 2011
at 07:44 PM

If you are having trouble leaning out, then yes, cutting down on fruit/sugar can help. At a minimum I would move them to post-workout meals.

But the real question is, have you hit a wall? If you are making progress, keep doing what you're doing. Your meal plan looks pretty good to this guy.

The most important thing not to cheat on (IMHO) is food containing gut-irritants: gluten, lectin, proline, protease inhibitors, etc.

Eeb593d6b6d7a939fdd5469b69347d5f

(1037)

on May 01, 2011
at 08:23 PM

You can try moving them to post-workout first. If you're going to have some sugar, that's the best time.

E35d651e011b3ad72d22decf79537749

(143)

on May 01, 2011
at 07:59 PM

No progress at all! It's killin' me! There hasn't been a wall cause I haven't been running haha. I definitely feel different when I'm eating Paleo, which is why I'm still working at it. But I do want to see the weight loss. Guess the treats will have to go .. at least for now!

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