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Paleo for athletes and weight lifters

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 16, 2012 at 5:06 PM

I posted a question about IF and Paleo about a week ago (wanting to incorporate them both). I find myself struggling at times with Paleo (when serious weight-training and athletic performance is involved) and especially struggling with doing both Paleo and IF (attempted both this last week). Help!

For the most part I find that eating sweet potatoes before workingout, and say bananas after, are a good way to stay energized without consuming grains ( a no-no on Paleo) This satisfies me for the most part about 3/4 of the month. As a female just prior to my monthly cycle (7 days leading up to it) I find myself wanting/needing carbs because my appetite increases. When this happens I find myself eating more quinoa, sprouted grain bread, lentils and brown rice pre and post-workout. Ugh! I'm assuming it's because of the hormone swings and other factors. Should I feel bad about this even though the food I'm eating is still 'clean', just not strictly 'paleo' ?

So this week I attempted Intermittent Fasting (IF) with my Paleo diet....and I couldn't do it. Given, i only tried TWO days. I began my day WITHOUT breakfast, (just lemon/lime squeezed in water for drink) and attempted to fast until 1pm. CAVED-IN both days. I was up at 8am and by the time 10:30am rolled around I was crabby, irritable, felt weak in the arms and found myself eating the 3 squares of organic dark choclate in my desk drawer at work. So the question....

Is this a sign my body needs breakfast and IF isn't a good idea for me? Or is it merely a sign that I need to be stronger, and more disciplined for a few days before it hopefully gets easier to do on a daily basis?

I'd like to remind people that I crave working out and enjoy all types of athletic endeavors, such as running, spinning, plyo, swimming, and serious weight lifting and usually do 1-2hrs per day 5-6 days a week. My diet is 'clean'and about 90% Organic too.

166f449979d83186bd876e8f466d0a69

(1317)

on February 17, 2012
at 02:34 AM

+1. One of the main points of IF is not to eat carbs beforehand. If you eat sweet potatoes, say, two hours before working out... then it's not a fasted workout and you won't get as many benefits.

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on February 16, 2012
at 06:46 PM

It definitely takes patience and self-experimentation to get to what is ideal for you. Hang in there.

E58d839e75d4a9a2ceaf40392ba6cfd7

(20)

on February 16, 2012
at 06:18 PM

Thank you. I appreciate everyone' opinions. I will continue to push towards my 'ideal paleo IF' plan. I guess it might just take some time and 'tweaking'.

E58d839e75d4a9a2ceaf40392ba6cfd7

(20)

on February 16, 2012
at 06:15 PM

Thank you for your advice. I don't mind working out on an empty stomache...this isn't the hard part for me. However, 2hrs is all I get to fast before working out around 8pm. I don't have the long window as most do just because of my schedule.

E242ecf1fecbac866894059f5304b4c6

(318)

on February 16, 2012
at 05:18 PM

you could probably think of a more appropriate tag than 'paleo'...on paleohacks

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9 Answers

3
35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on February 16, 2012
at 06:09 PM

First of all, you shouldn't "feel bad" about what you're eating based on anyone else's opinion but your own gut. If you physically feel bad than that's a fact, if you're asking strangers if you should emotionally "feel bad" because something is not paleo you need to rethink your approach. Whether you want to be eating those things or not is fundamentally up to you.

As an active woman, I think IFing 2 days a week to start out with is pretty aggressive. If you're doing it on a daily basis then it's not really intermittent fasting, it's a daily routine where you skip breakfast. I do IF some of the time and it's usually a once a week thing for me, if I'm really hungry on a morning where I planned to IF, then I listen to my hunger and don't fast. Sometimes I break my fast at 1pm, sometimes at 3pm and sometimes not until dinner. I'm flexible about it. And I don't IF on days when I have heavy workouts planned. Also, if you crave foods the 7 days before your period then don't IF during those days.

E58d839e75d4a9a2ceaf40392ba6cfd7

(20)

on February 16, 2012
at 06:18 PM

Thank you. I appreciate everyone' opinions. I will continue to push towards my 'ideal paleo IF' plan. I guess it might just take some time and 'tweaking'.

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on February 16, 2012
at 06:46 PM

It definitely takes patience and self-experimentation to get to what is ideal for you. Hang in there.

1
F25ac7fa62bb88e547ddae69e79f9dee

(100)

on February 16, 2012
at 05:24 PM

Athlete here. IF (skipping breakfast) got easier the longer I did it. I am currently on my 3rd week and it isn't too hard. I drink coffee, tea, or water throughout the morning until 1pm - this helps a lot. I'm not sure if it has something to do with putting something in my mouth or just staying hydrated, but if I don't drink a lot of (non-caloric) liquids the fast is a lot harder to get through.

I eat a meal at 1pm and head to the gym for 2 or 3 hours after work (usually around 4:30-7:00pm). Then I eat starchy carbs (sweet potato or winter squash) and protein with tons of vegetables. I have never felt the need for pre-workout carbs.

166f449979d83186bd876e8f466d0a69

(1317)

on February 17, 2012
at 02:34 AM

+1. One of the main points of IF is not to eat carbs beforehand. If you eat sweet potatoes, say, two hours before working out... then it's not a fasted workout and you won't get as many benefits.

1
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on February 16, 2012
at 05:09 PM

First, don't IF if it's not easy. IFing shouldn't be putting any stress on you. The only times I IF are if I'm to busy and not hungry enough to grab lunch.

Second, I'm not a woman so I can't comment about that special time; however, if you're craving more carbs, just eat more sweet potatoes and bananas. Don't have bad carbs like quinoa, grains, lentils, etc. Maybe you do need more carbs, I'm not going to question that. But it's not an excuse to eat crap.

0
B7e1ad6bb9ab814b8e90bdad4a472d5e

on April 05, 2012
at 05:34 PM

hey have you tried taking Maca apparently it balances out women's hormone levels. And it's paleo because it's made from a root. For the intimates of fasting lemon juice is cheating. water and black coffee is the way to go. And the first time is the hardest time when fasting. And don't go crazy with maca start off taking low amounts and then build up side effects you might find yourself a little bit more Randy if you can call that a side effect.

0
Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on February 16, 2012
at 10:24 PM

I IF from dinner until 14:00 (only a double espresso and water) with no problems, but earlier this week I had a taste for grapefruit juice and so had a glass in the morning. I found it suddenly being quite difficult to fast until lunch. My assumption is that just that small glass of juice (less than 30 grams carbohydrate) actually made quite a difference.

My point being that maybe just that squeeze of lemon juice may be triggering a craving that just having water or unsweetened coffee/tea may not?

Also I found that if I increase my carbs my cravings for carbs go up. Thus for me only eating carbs in any significant amount is always post-workout.

Maybe you should play around with this all in three to four day cycles and journal the results.

A sidenote, I take BCAA pre-workout fasted which I find gives me the energy I need.

0
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on February 16, 2012
at 07:02 PM

It may not be more carbs that you need, it may just be that that's all you and your body knows to fix hormone levels. Don't feel bad about it, but I don't think it's necessarily a good idea to excuse eating grains. It may be the best option for where you are right now but it shouldn't be confused with being the optimal thing to do. If you can I'd keep experimenting in that area with how to respond to your appetite.

IF does take some getting used to, and will depend on what and when you last ate. Making food less available can help, after all that's the paleo thing to do. If you have to put some time and effort in to get food to break your fast then you'll get a better idea of just how much you actually need to eat. It sounds like you comfort ate, and it may or may not have been the fact that you hadn't eaten that was making you feel miserable. If it was then that's something you need to fix, but honestly these days it takes a proper intense workout for me to see any relationship between how strong I feel and what I've eaten. For sitting at work, when I last ate is much less of an issue than how well I slept and how much fresh air and exercise etc. I'm getting.

0
Ee70ee808f748374744404a00e1c22ed

(1163)

on February 16, 2012
at 06:46 PM

Intermittent fasting is definitely something that takes a little getting used to- I would start out slow. Once a week, I would try going for as long as you can without food, and then every week maybe just push back the time you break your fast by an hour or so. Patience is the key. As for the carbs, if you're craving them, eat them. I'd stick to white rice, sweet potato, or bananas though.

0
273729a18d2f18903815d2644a4d64de

(1683)

on February 16, 2012
at 05:30 PM

Ive tried IF so many times since I started Paleo 9 months ago...only recently (within the last 2 weeks) have I been able to do it. It takes a while to figure out your body, what works and what doesnt....I found that when I found what "works" I naturally fell into a 12 hour eating cycle...Id eat at like 7 AM then not again until 7 or 8 PM and then sleep until 645 and eat at 7....occasionally Id have a small snack. This natural eating pattern for me showed I had finally found "MY Paleo" and that my body had adjusted. Only after this did I find that I could IF on the 16/8 leangains style. I'll have coconut oil in my coffee in the mornings and then continue on my fast until about 12:30 or 1, depending on what time I finished eating the night before.

As for pre-cycle cravings...if its the carbs you crave try stuff like Bananas with Almond Butter or Coconut Butter (or both...delicious) or more sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon and coconut oil. Pair your carbs with a fat. Or just eat A LOT of bacon (thats what I do).

0
166f449979d83186bd876e8f466d0a69

(1317)

on February 16, 2012
at 05:22 PM

Sorry, but I disagree with miked; IF is hard to begin with and it will put some stress on you. You have to retrain your hormones for some extent. After years of coffee-and-grapefruit breakfasts, my fried eggs in the morning were a meal I looked forward to. The first two weeks of giving them up and waiting til lunch or late afternoon, however long I felt, were difficult. I found that tea or coffee with coconut milk really helped. Perhaps there's an issue here with jacking up cortisol levels with caffeine; I'm not sure. But if you want to give IF a shot you have to give it longer than just two days. Try two or three weeks... again, caffeine helps. Or perhaps you could ease into it using advice from Paul Jaminet (of the Perfect Health Diet) to eat coconut oil or fermented vegetables, which won't disrupt your fasted metabolism.

In the week before your period, as miked suggested, simply eat more sweet potatoes, or fruit if you feel like it. Dark chocolate or, say, stevia-sweetened coffee could also be an option. You don't necessary need quinoa, lentils or grains... if you're craving them I'm sure a banana or carbs could help.

Also, if you're doing IF, many of the benefits come with training fasted, i.e. not eating anything (especially carbs!) before the workout. You'll have to get used to the hunger first--like I said, about two weeks-- but after that it should be plain sailing, and you'll feel high as a kite lifting weights after 18 hours of eating nothing at all.

E58d839e75d4a9a2ceaf40392ba6cfd7

(20)

on February 16, 2012
at 06:15 PM

Thank you for your advice. I don't mind working out on an empty stomache...this isn't the hard part for me. However, 2hrs is all I get to fast before working out around 8pm. I don't have the long window as most do just because of my schedule.

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