Normally I eat a paleo/primal diet, but lately I've been so busy that my source of energy is becoming less food-like and more along the lines of protein powders/bars, multi-vitamin pills, omega 3 / cod liver oil, canned fish, health optimizer bars, and whatever raw vegetable I can grab....
It feels like I'm not really eating food at all.
Just a bit of background. I have an office day job and a startup on the side, I also train 2-3 times a week in thai boxing, I'm on the bike an hour everyday, and sometimes I do a bit of running(5k) and hot yoga on the weekends. I'm trying to safely cut 5-10lb before a fight in August and it's been really tough with all the stress / lack of sleep. Right now I'm at 20-21% bodyfat(yes, I'm female). A month ago I was at 23% and I think I can definitely go lower.
If anyone has any tips on how to optimize a paleo-diet for a busy lifestyle I would really appreciate it.
I would look at your training schedule (or other free time, as in time not obligated to anyone but your own choices) and think about how many hours of that you could convert to kitchen time which you could use to make some do-ahead dishes, or at least plan for how you could simplify fresher foods. Also, a lot can be done in a nice low-heat crock pot with simple ingredients while you are at the gym or work, and very easy to clean - one cutting board, one knife and one pot if you're careful about doing it all in order.
I've also found a good convection toaster oven is great for me, since I can make meats or veggies or anything else in small portions quickly, without heating up the whole kitchen or feeling like I am making some big production.
And if you're into hard boiled eggs, make a dozen of those before your week starts and you work them into all kinds of things!
Cook BIG! Eat BIG.
It takes about the same amount of time to cook 6 - 10 serves as it does 1-2. Freeze the left overs into meal size packages. If it wasn't for this strategy some weeks I just wouldn't have time to eat.
Don't have time to eat real food? Fast and eat bigger later. I generally eat twice a day, leaves more time for a busy schedule.
Use healthy paleo happy snacks as a crutch - jerky, nuts (macadamias for me) coconut milk,, fruit.
I am employed full time + 3 kids under 5 and a husband. I train 4-5 days a week (Crossfit mostly), 2 work outs per day maybe twice a week plus all the kid insanity. I think it's all about planning ahead. I try to cook a big batch or two of something on the weekend or whatever day things are marginally less busy. Usually paleo chili, stew or something similar. I boil a whole bunch of eggs, make sure I have bags of paleo friendly trail mix (mostly jerky with nuts and maybe some dried fruit cut up into smaller pieces) and if I'm super motivated I'll throw a big green salad with chicken breast into multiple tupperware containers so that if things are getting really hectic I'll at least have some veggies and protein to hold onto. I also make egg cupcakes - check out the everydaypaleo blog.
I also try to scope out the restaurants wherever I'll be - usually looking for a breakfast place since it's hard to mess up eggs and meat so if I don't have something with me, at least I'll get some eggs in.
If I don't prepare in advance I fall off the paleo wagon hard - mostly in the form of sugar. Don't get me wrong, I fall off the wagon a fair amount. It's hard to be super organized and get all this together, but on the weeks that I do, I eat super clean all week.
Finally - this is just a random thought, do you think all the time on the bike might affect your body fat? I dropped from 20+% body fat to 11% just eating paleo and doing Crossfit. I'm not saying that 11% is the place to be by any means, just wondering if less cardio and more intensity would help drop the fat.
Stick with the thai boxing training and the yoga. Cut the running, cut the biking (unless it's your mode of transportation). This will allow you to sleep better which is totally key for me when leaning out. High stress and little sleep is going to send your leptin through the roof, making your body hold on to fat. For me and other female friends, getting lean is about 40% diet, 40% sleep, 20% exercise.
Totally crockpot for the win.
Good luck! I'm with you on the busy schedule. :)
Oh great question... meal planning is key. But so is not putting stress on yourself. When I travel I always make food for the plane and I always scope out restaurants. Its good to contact a xfit box in the town you're visiting to see if they have restaurant recomemdations. I have two kids and work a lot....making food in advance helps. CSA 's are great because You can pick up the veggies every week and bypass the grocery mart. Steaks and burgers in the broiler or George foreman rock. If you have people who share your diet, hit them up to do cooperative cooking. A few people sign up to cook and you all share your meals.
These have worked for me...2 kids, single mom, tons of work, outside projects, exercise...it can be done.
Crock pots are great- I'll make up a big batch of chicken thighs for the week over the weekend, pop them in the freezer, and bam, lunches (or snacks, or whatever). There are tons of recipes out there- the Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook has some good ones, though not a paleo book.
Making stuff ahead is key. Someone else mentioned hard-boiled eggs- those are great. You can make little mini-quiches in a muffin tin. Little things like that.
Also- check and see if there are CSAs near you that are still open. There are meat CSAs as well as the traditional veggie CSAs, and in my area, we even have a place called Harvest Kitchen (http://www.harvest-kitchen.com/), which is a prepared foods CSA, that also (and most importantly...) sells their surplus from a storefront. It's locally-made, locally-grown, premade/frozen meals. Not all paleo/GF/etc, but still, there may be something like it in your area that you can take advantage of.
Miss one gym session...
In a couple of hours in the kitchen you could knock up the aforementioned boiled eggs, make a big frittata you could cut up and keep in the fridge over the week and a caveman sized batch of paleo chilli you could freeze in individual portions.
[Blend down a cauliflower head and keep in an airtight container for rice.]
Make a Big Ass Salad to keep in the fridge, enjoy a glass of Cab Sav, and relaaaax. :)
And good luck with the startup, in the middle of one myself [and beginning to wonder why].
I know a lot of folks who don’t eat eggs (they’re allergic, for health reasons, or concerns about animal cruelty). Here’s an awesome site that gives tips on cooking and baking without eggs: http://EggFreeLiving.com
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