High fitness levels and eating paleo

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 26, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Hi! I currently exercise for about an hour to hour and a half about 3-4 times per week. Som mornings I run 8 or 9 miles and am starving after! I am trying Paleo because I eat crappy and therefore am not really getting anywhere weight wise, even with all this crazy working out. I am 5'4" and about 145 on an average day. My goal is to get down to around 132ish. I also work full time and have 2 very small kids. I have been living a life of conveninence! Lean cuisines, special K bars, you name it. Now that I have cut that out- I am dying! I need protein, but it needs to be convenient! i am fine with cutting up fruits and veggies everyday, but can I eat canned meat and seafood if its organic? Also- how about rotisserie chicken with the skin removed- think that is ok?

ANy other tips for getting in my proteins and also tips for making sure I don't over or undereat based on my exercise?

I know that was a two fold question but any help for this newbie is appreciated!



on February 27, 2013
at 08:54 PM

Some more wisdom: "Your health and happiness are more important than a 16-hour fast, carb/protein/fat breakdown, 6-pack abs, single digit body fat percentage and number on the scale. Don’t let food run your life – use it to fuel your body!" - See more at: http://robbwolf.com/2013/02/27/14306/#sthash.nG81yex9.dpuf

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7 Answers


on February 26, 2013
at 07:20 PM

So what is most important to you? Your workouts/exercise or your diet?

Once you have identified your priorities, this question will be easier to answer.

Let me share my personal experience with the hopes that this will shed some light on your situation. I used to workout a bunch too (running & strength training). I also could not shed the weight that I wanted to lose (remember, the number on a scale does/should not define you). So in November, I decided to focus on one thing--my diet, my eating habits alone.

I adopted the Paleo diet after reading It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig. This book plainly lays out our biology and the reasons for following a Paleo-like diet & lifestyle. By focusing just on the foods I was putting in, my body started to shed the fat. I had to spend some time dialing the foods so that I could eat meals without getting super-hungry between meals.

After 2 months of dialing my diet in, I made my way down to my goal weight (body composition improved too, yay!). Then I started easing back into my exercise. Awesomely, the workouts were easier, and the benefits of the workouts were far more noticeable.

So I ask what your priority is because I think focusing so much on the exercise and the diet at the same time to try to drop weight leaves your body & brain overwhelmed.

My suggestion: Focus on your diet first. There is an old saying, "Abs are made in the kitchen." Meaning that your diet almost always matters more than your workouts. And focusing on your diet will benefit your family more in the long run. And will benefit your long run in the long run if you know what I mean. Drop the exercise for a bit of time just for the benefits of figuring out the Paleo thing.

Resources: It Starts With Food by the Hartwigs & my blog Purpose in Every Step



on February 27, 2013
at 08:54 PM

Some more wisdom: "Your health and happiness are more important than a 16-hour fast, carb/protein/fat breakdown, 6-pack abs, single digit body fat percentage and number on the scale. Don’t let food run your life – use it to fuel your body!" - See more at: http://robbwolf.com/2013/02/27/14306/#sthash.nG81yex9.dpuf


on February 27, 2013
at 05:59 PM

Thank you so much for helping me out! I appreciate all of the great feedback so far! Here is what I have done for the last 4 days (like I said, really new!)

Breakfast- 2 cage free, omega 3 eggs, boiled- I have just been eating the whites, a serving of fruit (mainly a banana or a cup of whole strawberries)

Snack 1- handful of plain dry roasted almonds

Lunch- salad with grilled chicken, or just chicken whithout the salad, with a ton of veggies- cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, avacodo

Snack 2- sliced apples (5 or 6) with about a tablespoon of almond butter and coconut water

Dinner- so far, boiled shrimp, chicken and broccoli, chef salad made with veggies/applegate farms deli meat and lots of veggies- mushrooms/peppers/tomatoes

What do you think? I haven't been super hungry even through my workouts and have lost 4 pounds since strting the process...

However, I have been down this road before and have lost 5 or 6 then get stuck- which is why i thought paleo would be a great way to nix the extra 6 or 7 I have been trying to lose. Am I eating enough to support my workouts? You think I should add or delete foods?



on February 27, 2013
at 11:09 PM

I would say, cut the carbs and increase the fat. It takes a while to get used to and you'll have a couple of weeks when your body is detoxing and you'll feel like crap.

When the body is fully adapted to use fat as its fuel source you'll have no trouble working out. I run 60-120km a week and do heavy weightlifting and crossfit on top of that and I generally stay below 30g of carbs a day without trouble.

It's just a matter of finding what works for you and your body. If you're hungry (really hungry and not cravings) eat! If you're full, don't eat despite being time for lunch or tea.



on February 27, 2013
at 09:36 PM

The first thing that jumped out at me, from your original post, was when you mentioned taking the skin off of the chicken...which leads me to my first suggestion, which is related, because my first suggestion is that you need to eat more fat!

Also, looking at your diet example, your carbs could be slightly low for the amount of exercise that you are doing, especially if you are doing extended runs. I might suggest that you rethink your workouts a bit, too. 3 days a week is completely fine, but maybe replace the long runs, which some tabatta sprints, and do some weight sessions. It should free up some time for you and could help with your weight loss goals.

Overall, if you are feeling hungry, then you need to increase the amount of food you are eating, especially when it comes to fat and protein. Eat those egg yolks.. Add olive oil to the salad.. maybe try including coconut oil in your diet.

As you get deeper into the Paleo lifestyle, I would suggest paying more attention to the sources of food you ingest, free range chicken, pastured eggs, grass fed beef/butter and even dairy, if you can tolerate it. Have you been over to marksdailyapple? Primal and paleo are similar...but different.

Overall, just eat more, much more fat, and more protein through lean cuts of quality meats, eggs, nuts, and whole fat dairy/yogurt/cheese...if you tolerate them well. When you eat fruits, trend towards lower GI fruits, like blackberries and blueberries. Maybe throw in a sweet potato, especially on days where you had a tough workout, but don't forget the butter and cinnamon. Especially while you are trying to lose some weight, keep the carbs on the low side, preferably below 50g per day, or < 100 if your exercise habits leave you overly drained. I agree with one of the other posters though, try not to focus on the scale too much, but pay attention to your body comp as you might put on some muscle, while losing fat.


on February 26, 2013
at 10:54 PM

I think some rot. chicken is fine. The one I generally buy at whole foods only have one ingredient, chicken. They have some that have seasonings and oil, but I avoid those. You could eat moderate amounts of canned tuna.. I personally wouldnt exceed 2 cans per week, also sardines. Other than that you can keep frozen packs of tilapia around.. all you need to do is defrost for 30 minutes and then it is ready to cook. I know Trader Joe's has pre cooked packages of salmon and also chicken and turkey.

If you're looking for go to foods you could make a big batch of your own trail mix once a week or something.. maybe a mix of almonds, mac nuts, dried cherries, etc. You could hard boil tons of eggs and keep them in a bowl in the fridge. Last suggestion--Pre cook a bunch of potatoes one day a week, keep in fridge and then just throw in the microwave to reheat.

I do agree that we need to see what you're eating to try and help with further suggestions.



on February 26, 2013
at 10:28 PM

I would not go with rotisserie chicken- read the label. They usually put just about everything Paleo people try to avoid in that meat. I think they use syringes and inject it into the meat. I used to be able to eat that stuff without blinking, but now the meat seems awful and somewhat slimy too.

Sardines, canned oysters, there are a lot of convenience proteins you'll find people on Paleohacks eating. You could even cook something once a week and package up the leftovers in handy portion sizes.



on February 26, 2013
at 07:23 PM

Can I ask what you diet looks like, now that you are cutting out the convenient foods? I am interested to see how you are applying the paleo principles before making any suggestions.

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