Hey everyone! I've been searching different cycling/paleo forums endlessly but can't seem to find anything that fits what I'm looking for.
I've been gluten/dairy free for about two years, I've always been active and maintained a healthy diet (relatively speaking; always room for improvement when you put things into perspective), but comparatively nonetheless.
I still have a super sensitive stomach which results in cramping during rides, constant bloating, etc. My acupuncturist recommended cutting out grains since they were more than likely the culprit. I had been toying around with Paleo the last few months anyway, but as a cyclist I was convinced I couldn't get the energy I needed (I also just started eating meat about a year ago after a vegan/vegetarian diet for 8 years)...I am happy to say I am no longer "readjusting" to meat. I'm totally okay with eating it every day, sometimes 2-3 times a day.
Here are some specifics (sorry for the super long post, I figure it's best to be detailed): I'm 5'4, hover around 130lbs, with 13% body fat. I'd really like to drop the weight in my pesky gut area, but that's about it. I train between 10-20hrs/week (which includes a few strength training sessions, but nothing intense).
Right now with Paleo, I feel awesome. Although I am definitely lacking energy on the bike and I'm trying to wrap my head around eating so much fat and protein. I am ALWAYS hungry. I know the simple solution is to "eat more" and I am trying to pay attention to my hunger cues but I feel like I just cannot get satiated. I'm used to eating a bunch of small portions throughout the day and now it feels like I can't stop eating, haha. I want to perform well while training, and I definitely do not want to gain weight.
I can't seem to find anyone who counts calories on Paleo, which I think is great. Before, I always struggled to reach my recommended intake (I mean, for a long time I was eating less than 2,000 even with so much training but since my weight didn't budge, I didn't change even though I didn't feel great). So I suppose I should just eat intuitively.
If anyone has any experience with endurance training and Paleo please shed some light! I just ordered "Paleo for Athletes" which I'm looking forward to reading.
Again, sorry for the long winded post! Thanks!
One thing that stands out is that 13% is low BF for a woman - so, I'd be surprised if you have much in the way of fat to lose. I'm also around 5'4" and 13-14% and pretty lean. Incidentally, I also have bloating issues (and an acupuncturist) -- and it makes the stomach look pesky.
BUT, more to the answer to your question. I think most people will answer with carbs. It will be difficult to sustain biking activity without them. You may adjust to some extent over time, but I'd recommend playing around to see how you feel. Sweet potatoes, parsnips, bananas, squash... I find I can usually train fasted before lifting in the AM followed by a post-workout meal, but that if I'm going on a long run or ride, I'll want some carbs in my system. Some people might say starches, some might say fruits, but I think you'll have to play around to see what feels good on your stomach and what gives you energy on a ride.
7-year vegetarian, 4 years something like paleo. Also a cyclist. I wanted to make two points:
I think you will find "Paleo for Athletes" enlightening. I was able to incorporate some aspects of it into my training and lifestyle. Not my favorite training or paleo resource, but definitely a good read.
Good luck with your goals. Please seriously consider the fact that your BF% is already very, very low.
For what it's worth, here's my two cents. I tend to follow Mark Sisson's advice. 1st, what are you trying to accomplish? Training? Races? High competition? Paleo can be challenging for the "chronic cardio" athlete, but increasing your potato intake (yes, even your regular Idaho Spuds). But more sweet potatos, yams, squashes, and even just plain white rice should do the trick. I would bet money on the fact you're very intolerant of wheat. Knock that out of the equation and you'll be fine.
If you're pounding out the miles, you should be able to increase the starch without a problem. ...just stay the hell away from wheat.
There's a LOT of good info on the Endurance Athlete on Paleo - Google it. Your book will be a big plus too.
Back to Mark's advice and now mine too. Knowing what you're after is really the issue. Do you REALLY love 4 hours in the saddle? 2 hour runs (in my case)? Or, do you really want to just look good? Or look "fit"? When you come to grips with that, it starts to make more sense. Less time stressing out and being anxious about pounding the miles, and more quality time with friends and family and self! THAT is more how we used to be, right?
Too many people are trying to fit the Paleo lifestyle into a "one size fits all" - not gonna work.
After about a year of tinkering, you'll find your sweet spot with what works for you. Experiment, it's the best.
I cant say I am a cyclist but ride a few times a week. I have never been vegetarian either. However, when I started Paleo I felt more fatigue for about a month. But now I actually have more energy than in years. It could be a temporary thing, that you are tired. I also had the bloating problems and other stomach disruptions before. Now my stomach is great. I believe it was random grains, because even after I became gluten free I still had problems. Now if I "cheat" and have rice my stomach is not happy. To me it was narrowing down things to eliminate specific foods that I am sensitive to. I have a random list of foods that bother me that are still "allowed" on paleo. Maybe you have a food intolerance. (example: for me it is bell pepper, tomato, most nightshade vegetables, fruit, etc.) at least now I eat such a small variety I can add something in to test how I feel on that one food and I generally KNOW what did it and avoid it. Then there are combinations that can bother you! ugh. I also checked out Eat Right For Your Type, which explains what you should ear for your blood type. Mine falls in line basically with what I am doing now. I've added back dairy in the form of lactose free whole milk, because for some reason it makes me feel good! So to me it's very individual. If I'm having a really low energy day I'll have some sweet potato and I immediately feel better, so maybe too low of carb or starch gets to me. :)
Hey, I'm the exact same height as you, and I used to row varsity and at that time I was the same weight as you! So, how's that for similarities. When I was rowing I was training typically 14 times a week, and I was initially vegetarian when I joined the team (I developed anemia in a month, haha, so yay for eating oysters and liver all the time and getting back on the meat train!). One thing that is different about us is the fat percentage- I agree with the above, 13% is really low, but everyone is different. I went just below 18% fat, and everything went haywire for me (hair got really thin, nails started peeling, lost my period, cold constantly etc). Bumping my fat % up just a little bit increased my performance drastically. That is always something for female athletes to consider- I'm not saying that it's the case for you, if you are comfortable and feel great at your point right now, keep doing what you are doing, but allowing just a small amount of weight gain (it doesn't have to be much at all) can really bump performance up to the next level (sounds counter intuitive, but I had a coach who was really strict about this and we were all pretty happy). Might be related to your feeling-hungry-all-the-time appetite. Something to keep in mind!
With that much athletics, you can handle having more carbs on your side. I ate a considerable amount of fruit, berries, and smoothies, and that worked great for me. Eating lots of potatoes and root vegetables generally made me bloated (rutabagas didn't though, interestingly enough). Grains also make me immediately bloated, especially oatmeal which made me look like I was pregnant after eating it. I would try out a few different carb sources to see if that can help with your cramping- try it out while training (not right before, or worse, at, a competition). Eating lots of big-ass salads for breakfast became my race-day trademark, because it was easy on the belly.
Post-workout is when I would tuck in a majority of my calories, usually in the form of some kind of seafood over a bed of greens fried in bacon. I would eat a lot of super thick, gelatinous beef stews, which were heaven after a long day (and did wonders for getting on top of hydrating). Usually ate berries and a bit of dark chocolate for dessert.
The insatiable appetite makes me think there may be some carbohydrate withdrawal going on here. Another clue is the lack of energy on rides. You may not be completely fat-adapted yet (if that's what you're going for, you can certainly go moderate-carb and fuel your rides with carbs like you're used to). Eating high-fat Paleo is about the best way to kill hunger, so carb withdrawal sounds like the issue to me.
Check out Jamie's Scott's excellent High Fat Diet for Cyclists series for the high fat approach, and The Paleo Diet for Athletes for the moderate carb approach. One or the other may work better for you. Some thrive on high-fat, and some have to have more carbs. I'd try high-fat first, then go moderate-carb if it's not working out.
Most importantly, give it time. It can take weeks for your metabolism to adjust and your performance to rebound.
Good luck from a fellow cyclist!
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