Combining Leangains/Carb-Cycling with Paleo

by 130 · July 23, 2012 5:57 PM

I've been doing the Leangains style of IF since January with really great results (lost 7kg, maintained muscle, increased strength), and more importantly started learning more about foods & macros.

More recently I've been reading around Paleo and would like to adapt my diet towards a Paleo style of eating. I've slowly started to cut out non paleo foods (dairy, grains, sugars) and used "safe starches" to meet my post workout carb requirements (325-350g): potatoes (sweet & white), white rice, high gi fruit, endless veg.

I would like to hear experiences from others who have adapted to Paleo eating with IF/Carb Cycling, has it worked over the long term, have there been any detrimental effects with cycling both carbs and fats (low fats on workout days), do you strictly stick with paleo (my 1 post workout vice is baked beans - good protein/carbs), how much fruit intake is advised?

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5 Replies

3854 · September 07, 2013 at 12:44 AM

I'm using Leangains + Paleo-ish in order to reach single digit body fat percentage. I'm currently hovering just above 10 and have discovered my first abdominal vein (SWEET). I really like the approach and have had quite a bit of success with it. I'm not sure the benefits of IF are so much physiological as they are psychological, at least as it pertains to fat loss--eating all of my calories within 6-7 hours dispersed between two meals is much easier than hourly bird meals.

I do not cycle calories/carbohydrates, but do include a once weekly re-feed during which time I increase calories a bit and carbohydrates A LOT.

As far as sticking to paleo goes, you'll notice I stated "Paleo-ish," in that I do not shy from good ice cream, homemade cheesecake, or the occasional bowl of plain oatmeal. I absolutely love the former two and the latter one seems to satisfy a childhood appreciation for hot, rib-sticky goodness. I know it's not ideal, but frankly, I don't really care. I'm not sensitive to anything but literally the worst nutritional substances (see: battered, vegetable oil-fried county fair food topped with instant "cheese product"). This may be a cop out, but I feel pretty good about my approach considering my college-aged peers consume dorritos and coke ad libitum.

Finally, regarding post workout fruit intake: I wouldn't worry about it unless you take in a massive amount of carbohydrates composed solely of high-fructose fruits. I am by no means under the fructo-phobic influence of diet doctor shills like Lustig, but glucose is probably better for refilling muscle glycogen than is fructose. Quoting Berkhan directly:
"However, recent studies suggest a combination of glucose and fructose is better than glucose alone, so I wouldn't worry too much about keeping the pwo carbs strictly glucose. I regularly eat fruit pwo and so [do] my clients."

On a final note, regarding PWO carbohydrate deliciousness, last night I made pumpkin rice pudding . . . This will do the trick, me thinks.

253 · July 23, 2012 5:57 PM

I've been on a pretty strict Leangains/Paleo carb cycling "cut" for 3 weeks now in combination with crossfit training. Here is what I do. Leangains Macros
To get my carbs, my typical post workout meal is 1/4 of a watermelon, 2 kiwis, 2 chicken breasts, 1/2 large onion, 1 tomato, 1 red pepper, 1 habanero pepper, enough olive oil to coat the pan, 2 medium sweet potatoes and a large russet potato. This meal is very very filling to the point of being uncomfortable and generally takes me 2 hours to eat in the order listed above with the chicken and vegetables being part of a combined entree. But I have been seeing some great results.

Honestly, this type of eating isn't something I plan on maintaining forever, as I feel more fat and fewer carbs are generally healthier for your body than daily carb cycling. But it's definitely getting me cut. I'm considering picking up some dextrose to use post workout to lower the amount of fructose I'm getting though.

840 · July 23, 2012 5:57 PM

The leanest I've ever been is when I eat predominantly very low carb (VLC) paleo with strategic carb replenishment post work out (PWO)... I've done everything from high carb paleo to strictly low carb paleo and everything in between, but for some reason cycling between VLC and carb refeeds PWO has a "leaning out" effect.

This is very similar to the Leangains approach (using only Paleo foods), except I do VLC during all meals besides the meal PWO (if you don't workout that day, then VLC all day). Adjust fat per meal accordingly; High Carb/Low Fat/Moderate Protein, High Fat/Low Carb/Moderate Protein.

50 · July 23, 2012 at 11:37 AM


I've been doing Paleo Leangains for six months. Although I've only loosely been following my macros whilst carb cycling. I've decided I really need to make sure I hit my macros.

I'm finding it difficult to hit my carbs on workout days. I normally don't eat rice or white potatoes. I get my carbs from sweet potatoes/banana/parsnips/butternut squash. I'm having some financial woes at the moment, so am looking to cut down my monstrous food budget by including white potato and rice with my meals.

1579 · July 21, 2012 4:33 PM

Are you training fasted as well or with the BCAA recommendation? I do IF but don't train fasted. I get 30-79g carb pre WO 1-2hrs before Thai boxing. Cycling fats/carbs are by far the best strategy for energizing you through grueling WO while staying lean IMO. are you breaking PRs to?

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