Let’s take the following assumptions about be to be true:
1. I work out more than the average person.
2. I sleep less than I should.
3. I worry a hell of a lot more than I should.
4. For the amount of exercise I do and the steadfastness of my diet, I’m not seeing the best aesthetic results.
This all paints a picture of someone who needs a whole lot of calories and as few added stressors as possible. So the question becomes, where should these calories come from, and when they should be eaten. I’ve transitioned from intermittent fasting to eating breakfast everyday (and meals when I feel like them, usually 3-4 large ones) and it hasn’t made much of a difference in my energy levels or body composition. Conclusion: IF just wasn’t cutting it for me. My breakfasts are for the most part high in fat and low in carbohydrates. I’d hate to cause a huge insulin surge in the morning from the combined effects of lack of sleep, a big mug of coffee, and a couple bananas. But at the same time, I’d like to break the (minimal, but possibly amplified in me) cortisol effect of fasting by filling my belly within an hour or so of waking up.
I’d like to do a little bit of exercise on an empty stomach, and the 20-25 minute (1.2 mile) brisk walk to work may be the safest (least-draining, lowest risk for overtraining) way to go. How does this work logistically for someone who should be at work at 7:45?
– 20 minutes to walk = 7:25.
– 10 minutes to get dressed = 7:15.
– 10 minutes to shower/brush teeth = 7:05.
– 15 minutes to drink coffee and loaf = 6:50.
– 5 minutes to roll out of bed, groaning and whiny = 6:45.
This presumes I don’t cook breakfast, which it seems I don’t have time to do anyway. So I plan to hard-boil some eggs (4-6) the night before, put them in a baggie in the fridge, and carry them to work along with a handful of macadamias. I also have to iron my shirt and slacks and put them aside the night before as I scramble out of the shower, but that’s doable.
What about the rest of the day? My emotional and logical attachment to a low-carb diet has been pretty strong for the past 2 years. The times I’ve started it up, it’s helped me drop 5-10 pounds in a month, but after the initial joyride, the results stop. The tide has turned. Low-carb is not for everyone. It could work wonders for the not-so-active person who needs to lose 50-60 pounds and reverse their diabetes or hypertension. But for the other population of Paleo/Primal enthusiasts, the ones who are in great shape, lift heavy weights a couple times a week, have no health problems, and just want to look more like Rich Froning without all the effort, adding some more starchy carbs into the diet may be enough to de-stress an overworked hormonal environment.
There’s a lot of argument over how much sugar your body really needs in a day. Some say zero grams. Some say your neurons can absorb 100g a day, and muscle glycogen stores (used during weight training) add even more to that number, just for daily maintenance. It could be individual for everybody. But at least over the past 2 months (and this is not counting carb grams from plant fiber, which as Perfect Health Diet says, your gut bacteria turns into fats *anyway*), I’ve been wavering between 0 and 70g of “real carbs” a day. And while I saw some fat loss in that first month, eating a strict Paleo Diet, that hasn’t continued into February and March, despite keeping my carb counts pretty low. Two possible conclusions: 1) dairy and the occasional sugary treats are single-handedly stalling my fat loss, or 2) I’m burned out from being chronically low-carb, and my body is going to semi-starvation mode.
I’m going to approach this by testing hypothesis #2. A potato with every meal (except for breakfast) The average pound of potatoes (sweet or otherwise) has about 100g of carbs, so 1 pound (2 large potatoes, or 3 smaller ones) should do me on a non-workout day, and add an extra 50g on lifting days. Sweet potatoes absorb a bit slower than the regular ones, so I may lean towards those on my non-workout days. Also, adding some fat (grass-fed butter!) to your potato slows the digestion and curbs the insulin release. Highly recommended, unless it’s right after a weightlifting workout.
I have to say, though, a mashed sweet potato with coconut oil, cinnamon, and a bit of nutmeg is about as perfect a mix of healthy and rewarding as you’re gonna find. Let’s get eatin’! I plan to continue this experiment for at least 3 weeks, or unless I can’t see my feet anymore.