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The War on Breakfast

I’ve been quite busy over the past two weeks, reintroducing a lot of ‘borderline’ and decidedly un-Paleo foods into my diet in a less-than-organized fashion. For those keeping score at home, I’m currently consuming: potatoes, high-fat dairy, chocolate, bourbon, peas, and little bits of sugar. I’m still not touching: rice, corn, bread, lentils, beer.

(Not exactly true. I did have one beer during our trip to Nashville, which was quickly followed by a brief, albeit disappointing, bit of wheezing. There’s a fundraiser at a local brewery this week at which I’ll probably get the definitive answer on my beer-asthma connection.) The Nashville trip also featured an obscenely decadent baked cheese and duck fat tater tots courtesy of Merchants restaurant (HIGHLY recommended; the non-bison culinary highlight of the trip). I am, obviously, on the search for 1) duck fat, and 2) samples of smoky cheeses to mix together in tiny batches to see if we can recreate the “ooey gooey cheesey yumminess”, as they say in their menu.

Let’s talk about intermittent fasting (IF). I’ve been doing it regularly for the past year, so much so that breakfast seems a chore, and I’m used to eating my first meal after 1pm everyday. But a random tweet from Whole9 last week made me reconsider, and abandon, the practice. The body fat’s not exactly melting off like a Leangains before-and-after testimonial. I’ve been maintaining my weight, if not gaining a smidge of muscle, since branching out from the January Paleo Challenge. Which I like. The big argument against IF, for me at least, is the idea that if every other element of physical and emotional strain isn’t eliminated from your life, then IF is going to backfire.

How does this happen? Well, take my example. I try to get 8 hours of sleep, but it usually ends up being 6-7. I go to bed at 11, fall asleep by 11:15, and wake up between 6 and 6:30. Stress. I sip on a cup of coffee. More adrenaline response. There’s a delicate balance between caffeine’s fat-burning effect on an empty stomach and its blood-sugar raising, cortisol-releasing effect on a tired, hungry, occasionally panicky body. The best way to curb this situation, once it’s happened, is calories. Not necessarily carbs, which cortisol loves to shuttle to the liver to get stored as fat, but a high-fat low-to-moderate-protein load, just enough energy to keep your hunger at bay without spiking insulin. Bodybuilding guru Charles Poliquin recommends a “meat-and-nuts” breakfast to his clients, which gets the job done. I scramble up 6 eggs (one of the best slow-absorbing protein sources out there) with some spinach and a bit of hot sauce and voila.

I can, and I have, tried to do IF the other way (don’t eat anything after a 3-4pm ‘old man dinner’), but my new plan is just to eat something in the morning and let my hunger guide the rest of the day. We’ll see how it goes. I’m still trying to use the guidelines of the Perfect Health Diet to figure out what I should eat and how much of it, in order to stay within my 175-185 pound range while getting progressively stronger and fitter, one bit at a time.

Strength update: It’s working! I benched 200lbs x4 today (extrapolated to a 1RM of 225lbs) and squatted 255lbs x3 the other day (potential 1RM of 280lbs). The CrossFit Games open is starting up, and of course I miss those crazy WODs. Especially the first open WOD, a 7-minute max burpee affair, which used to be right up my alley. Used to be. My best-ever time for 100 burpees for time was 6:34, so I guess I could have gotten 105-110 in my prime. Right now, if I had to guess, doing it blind, I’d struggle for 80. No, I’m not gonna try. I don’t miss it *that* much anymore.

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