Man, I wish I had attended PaleoFX. Why would someone who doesn’t define his eating style as ‘Paleo’ want to go? Because, all things considered, the Paleo folks still have the best overall approach to nutrition and performance going.
If you’re not familiar with PaleoFX, you should be. It is basically the one conference that is actually useful to real people, with what look like some good sessions. Unfortunately though, like a lot of potentially great resources, you either have to attend in person, or pay quite a bit for videos after. For now, I’ll pass.
Just saw this post come up on my newsfeed. For those of us who didn’t/can’t attend PaleoFX, it’s a nice recap of one of the days, and the author has been tweeting good tidbits throughout the conference. Disclaimer: he has no idea who I am, but I met him a couple of times as he also happens to be one of the few really good CrossFit coaches I encountered during my 5 month CrossFit experiment (that ended not so well…). I wish I had gone to more than a couple of his sessions, as it was obvious to me that he was one of the couple with a deep understanding of olympic lifting and how to apply it correctly.
Can’t Miss Podcast Episode
I plan on writing about this soon but, in a nutshell – I’m no longer on the Paleo bandwagon. Don’t get me wrong: I won’t be buying any whole grain bread for myself anytime soon. I know I’d put on 15lbs immediately if I started eating that stuff again. But I’ve noticed over the past year that the ‘Paleo Movement’ has gotten out of hand. The statements some of these guys/gals are making is downright suspect. And, let’s face it, Paleo is now more a branding vehicle for the countless cookbooks and other stuff out there. I don’t know about you, but I’ve purchased 3 or 4 Paleo cookbooks and every single recipe I’ve tried out of them tasted mediocre at best. I guess it could be my cooking skills but I followed the recipes to the tee…
But seriously – is anyone else sick of the marketing, branding, and otherwise whoring of the concept of Paleo? I know I have been for quite some time. And I believe it will be the death of Paleo as a fad, just like so many other diets.
Back to what I really wanted to share:
This podcast from Matt LaLonde is priceless. I’ve read/listened to a lot of LaLonde’s work on this subject in the past and I’m starting to think he may be the one guy you can trust in this shell game we call nutritional/diet/fitness research. He’s the only one not selling something (that I’m aware of). And he has the balls to go right at the ‘experts’ who make some of the wild declarations, “based on research”. Highly recommend you listen to the latest Abel James’ Fat Burning Man podcast, where LaLonde takes on some of the bullshit. It was recorded in video format tube and is on YouTube, so I’m including it here for you:
Let’s face it: from the selling of a ‘Whole30’ program, to the barrage of books/cookbooks, etc., it’s just a little bit much and really makes things more confusing for people than it needs to be. Don’t misinterpret this as anti-Paleo. It’s not. It’s anti-bullshit. It’s anti-“forking” of the content just to make a few bucks.
It’s simply things that we all have to think about as we seek to define what works for our bodies.
I know what you’re thinking after reading the title of this post, but I assure you – it’s not not eating bread, or potato chips, etc. At least, not for me.
The biggest struggle I’ve had is that I’m doing this almost entirely alone. And that makes it one hundred times more difficult. I probably should go out to Google Images and grab a photo of a violin right now, to cue the whining. Writing this post has been on my mind for months, and every time I start I quickly delete it as it’s way too personal and, quite frankly, a bit painful. But it’s too important as I know others out there are dealing with similar situations.
Let’s get this out up-front: this recipe is a once in a while thing. I’m not advocating that everyone go making this often, but if you’re a drunken fool then this is better than 99% of the alternatives. So, if you’re going to drink alcohol, aside from red wine I suppose (which I personally haven’t the taste for), then this is the ticket.
This Drink Rocks…Truly
I know, I know…you have tried lots of recipes off of the internet and it’s always a disappointment, kinda like my attempt at making Almond Flour Pancakes. They were okay I guess, but not something I’d bother trying to make again.
But this time, my friends, I’ve stumbled upon a recipe that absolutely kicks ass and will be made probably more often than it should be, because I won’t be able to help myself. Introducing the Paleo Margarita!
It’s so simple it’s silly. And surprisingly tasty. Honestly, I expected it to taste like a too strong or too watery weak imitation of those margaritas we’re all used to, you know, the ones with the pre-mix full of sugar, or the shit the vegans have been going Lady GaGa over lately – agave nectar, which is actually worse for you than table sugar.
Paleo Margarita Recipe
This margarita recipe is absolutely perfect and so simple.
3 parts Tequila
2 parts Triple Sec
1 part lime juice
Lime for garnish (if you care)
Pretty obvious but heck, I’m Captain Obvious so I’ll blog about it anyway:
Put the tequila, triple sec, and lime juice into a shaker (or pint glass) full of ice and mix it/shake it up well.
Rub slice of lime around the rim of the the glass you intend to drink from. Coat it with sea salt. If you’re not an alcoholic and don’t have one of those rim salter contraptions, then do it barrio-style like I did and just place the sea salt onto a paper towel and rotated the glass around it (holding the glass sideways of course). If you put enough lime on the rim then it will stick well enough.
Pour the margarita into the freshly salted glass, add your lime slice for garnish.
Take a sip, delight in how amazing it tastes, and then leave a comment below exclaiming how it is better than those shitty margaritas you’ve been paying $7 apiece for at Friday’s or Applebees or your local Mexican non-authentic place of choice.
You’ll notice that it isn’t that fake slime green color you’re used to. It’s more like a cloud color.
Time for Some Props
Now for some proper attribution. This recipe apparently is the original margarita recipe and has been around since the first margarita. I’ve heard that some authentic Mexican restaurants still make their margaritas this way, but most now use pre-made mixes full of sugar, or they add simple syrup or other crap to the mix. Once you’ve had one of these you will never want that other stuff again. Last weekend my wife and I went to an overpriced Mexican restaurant that had two great things that made up for the real meal: the margaritas and the tableside guacamole. This margarita recipe tastes just like it. Except it costs a lot less than the $9 apiece we were paying.
If you love it or hate it, leave a comment and let me know!
So I’ve been avoiding most sweets, aside from the occasional ice cream indulgence, for quite some time now. But I don’t avoid dark chocolate, so long as it is 85% or higher. I could probably go down to 70% but I find that’s too sweet. A year ago, 85% tasted like garbage. And some brands still do. But trust me – you have to ‘build up’ to the good stuff, and over time, as with other foods, your taste buds change dramatically. Dark chocolate is no different.
I’ve been thinking about trying this famous Paleo program for quite some time, and I figure I need to just jump in and do it instead of simply thinking about it.
Starting today I’m going to do a Whole30.
If you don’t know what the Whole30 is, clicking on the image above will give you plenty of info, but the summary is that it is super-strict Paleo. Meats, fish, nuts, seeds, some fruits. Nothing processed at all. No dairy. That’s a killer, especially after buying 2 packages of Kerrygold butter last night : )
I’ll be sure to blog about the experience, particularly about the toughest challenges. I’m certain that to be successful I will need to do a lot more cooking than I currently do. A lot of cooking for the week in advance. Wish me luck.
This site is now getting over 100 unique visitors per day. Unfortunately, I’ve done a lot of things to botch up its success. I started this blog simply as a way to document my struggles with my weight, and I’ve done lots of whining on it. In fact, the site was originally LearnAtMyExpense.com. A fabulous domain that still points here. But a number of the first posts were mainly just me spouting off about my success, looking at them now the tone is in quite a cocky manner. I was so excited about my success in dropping weight via a low carb high fat diet that I decided I wanted to teach the world. So I changed to the current domain name, LowCarbLearning.com. I quickly learned some hard truths:
There isn’t much to say about this stuff unless you want to geek out on the science, which I really don’t enjoy. How many posts about how fitness is not a way to lose weight, how lowering carbs is how you lose fat, and how eating fat doesn’t make you fat can one write?
Outside of the rough basics (i.e., ditching the fear of dietary fat and lowering the carbs), everyone needs to find their own way through self-experimentation. The best diet books stress this. See The Primal Blueprint for a perfect example.
So, I’ve secured a new domain – PaleoLearning.com – and am considering how to incorporate that without ruining the current traction of the site. If anyone has any ideas, I’m all ears. One of the things I want to do is not only blog about how I get along with Paleo, but offer some sort of public service. Not sure what that looks like right now though. I just want to give to the online community as it has me during this transition.
Why No Comments?
Last thing for today…it has become increasingly clear to me, aside from my domain name issues, that although this blog has gained many subscribers (as show by FeedBurner stats), it hit me yesterday that no one ever leaves a comment. I get emails from people time to time asking questions, commenting on the site, etc. But no one leaves comments. Why? Let me know you exist! : )
The other night my wife and I went to this Mexican restaurant where they charged ridiculous prices for just okay food that was so tiny in portion size it was laughable. But the margaritas kicked ass. It was fun.
The one dish we had there that was really, really good was the freshly made guacamole. The waiter just made it tableside and I got to watch the process. I know it sounds stupid but I guess I never really thought to make it myself before, even though I love it, and I knew avocados were a superfood.
Tonight, I attended an excellent Paleo 101 seminar at the CrossFit box. It was taught by Laura Pappas, who really knows her stuff. She mentioned avocados a number of times and it got me to thinking that I have, especially since starting CrossFit, been struggling with my energy levels the day (or two) after a hard workout. I’ve been thinking it is the lack of carbs (you’d think I’d kno better) but I’m wondering if that old nemesis – not eating enough fat – is nipping me in the ass again. Not nearly as badly as last Summer, but enough to hold back my energy levels. Towards the end of the seminar I asked about pre/post-workout foods and she recommended sweet potatoes, which I’ll continue to do for really hard metcons. But I’m also going to make a concerted effort to just eat more fat. I haven’t shied away from dietary fat in a long time now, and should know by now that I need to consciously eat more of it, but I need to consciously eat plenty AND THEN SOME. And not just the bacon in the morning.
One of the best tips I got from the seminar – Laura mentioned that some of the folks at the box love Kerrygold butter, a high-quality butter from grass-fed cows. I’d heard of it online but never thought my local Acme would have it so never bothered looking. Between that and the avocado talk making me think back to that Saturday night tableside Guacamole, I headed straight for the grocery store once the seminar was finished. And guess what I found, in plain sight, but had never noticed before? Kerrygold butter! And I must say, it tastes incredibly good. Noticeably better than any other butter. It’s $3.95 for the equivalent of about 3 sticks of regular packaged butter, but I don’t think that’s too high. I also picked up some avocados and other stuff to make the homemade guacamole (recipe below!). It’s probably silly to post a recipe for such a simple thing, but had any of the blogs I subscribe to posted it I likely might have tried it sooner, so here it goes.
2 Ripe Avocados
4 Small Cloves of Garlic
Dice the tomato.
Cut up the garlic cloves into small bits (I just sliced them ala Pauly from Goodfellas while in jail)
Cut each avocado lengthwise, separate the two halves, and then pluck out the big ass pit.
Schuck (i.e, scoop out) the avocado (everything except the skin) with a big spoon. If the avocado is ripe then it should pop out pretty easily.
I forgot to buy one but I recall the waiter at the restaurant squeezing a half a lime into the mix. I made mine without it and it was 98% there. The lime was missing, but not crucial.
I don’t remember for sure but I think they put in some salt. I used sea salt.
That’s it. And no, you don’t pair it up with tortilla chips and Dos Equis like this guy. Eat it like a man – with a spoon. Straight.
Seriously thinking about doing a Whole30. Anyone want to give it a shot with me?
“If you are going to do high-intensity exercise, you should eat the carbohydrate that goes along with it.” – Matt Lalonde
<UPDATE – 05.28.2012 1600>
DISREGARD THIS POST UNTIL AFTER YOU READ THIS THREAD:
Notice that the one reply mentions that Mat Lalonde eventually came to the conclusion that carbs were necessary to sustain CrossFit workouts. I will look for the podcast that the thread mentions to confirm, but in the meantime, I am going to either increase my daily carb intake or do carb ‘refeeds’ a couple of times per week to ensure I don’t ‘bonk out’ doing CrossFit.
<UPDATE – 05.28.2012 1600>
I found the podcast in which Matt discusses the ramifications of going low carb while doing CrossFit. You can listen to it here:
The relevant section where Matt speaks to when he finally ‘bonked’ (my term to describe it, and based on his telling of what happened to him, an understatement) starts at 44:07. Key summary:
“If this article had been a published piece of scientific literature, I would have retraced it….it was foolish, stupid, and naive….and no one should attempt what I did…”
Was seeing results improve, but after writing that up “I completely crashed”
A workout consisting of rowing and sumo-deadlift high-pulls caused him to fall to the floor and go into and out of consciousness. He realized his brain was running out of glucose.
He composed himself and quickly went to the nearby Ben & Jerry’s and picked out 3 pints of gluten-free ice cream. He ate all three right at the counter “in a matter of minutes…and I could feel my body soaking up the sugar”
Bottom line from Matt – “Don’t do that.” “If you are going to burn carbohydrate, eat carbohydrate.” He recommends starchy stuff like yucca root, peeled potatoes for this. “If you are going to do high-intensity exercise, you should eat the carbohydrate that goes along with it.”
As for me….once I heard this you know what I did? I went to the local store and bought a pint of Ben & Jerry’s “Everything But The…” (Kitchen Sink), gave 1/3rd of it to my wife, and then ate the rest in anticipation of tomorrow morning’s CrossFit. And, so long as I am still seeing the muscle definition/toning as a result of the super-intensity CrossFit, I will continue to indulge in a super-sugar treat like this once a week if I feel it’s necessary : ) Otherwise, it’ll be a mashed large sweet potato (with butter, heavy cream, and cinnamon) per day to supplement.
So I’ve finished week one of CrossFit and, so far, am experiencing some amazing changes already. I’m very surprised to see a ‘V’ shape starting to form from my chest/arms down to my ‘still-10-extra-pounds-around-it’ of gut. The strength training from the two sessions, which admittedly weren’t really full WODs even, have been enough to stimulate some serious and noticeable changes in my body already and I’m really stoked about that. Yesterday I did 50 air squats consecutively (was easier than I thought it would be), as well as some shoulder dislocations. I’ll continue to do that through this weekend minus Monday, so my body is well rested for Tuesday’s CrossFit session. I gotta admit, if it’s not obvious already – I’m already obsessed with CrossFit and I haven’t even done a group WOD yet. I have my final Fundamentals personal training session on Tuesday, which should be a real monster of a session since my coach is fixing to fit in Fundamentals 2 and 3 into a single session. From there, she said I would be ready to join the group sessions for WODs. I don’t think I’m ready, but what the heck.
Back to the topic of this post. A very important topic that has never been answered fully. At least not that I can find. Conventional Wisdom on diet/nutrition/fitness is dead wrong on most things, so I can’t turn there for any legitimate, research-backed advice on this simple question:
Can I Do CrossFit While Continuing on a Low Carb Paleo/Primal Diet?
With the exponential increase in physical activity that something like CrossFit (or P90X, etc.) incurs, is a low carb paleo (or primal) way of eating still ideal? I know it’s ideal for the day-to-day, and I know it works for active weight loss if one restricts carb intake appropriately. And for those not looking to lose weight, I know that a Paleo/Primal diet will result in that person feeling better overall, with more energy.But what about when one decides to make the jump from a reasonably fit (for a 40-something year old) person to a hardcore athletic training program such as CrossFit?
Do I need to carb-load before or do carb refeeds or just generally increase my carb intake daily to supplement?
Or do I up the fat and protein? Or just the protein? Natural gluconeogenesis, theoretically, should be enough to replenish my glycogen stores without adding any extra glucose (i.e., sugar aka carbohydrate) back to my diet.
This article by Mat Lalonde is the best source on the subject I’ve found:
I felt a little sluggish for the first two weeks and CrossFit metcons really kicked my butt. It seemed like I had to work twice as hard only to come up a few seconds, sometimes a few minutes, short of a PR. However, my energy levels returned between the second and third week of low-car paleo eating. At this point I felt no energy slump in the afternoon (a problem I had previously) and I was having much less of a problem matching my PRs on CF metcons. Most important were the noticeable increases in strength and loss of body fat around the abdomen.
Mat goes on to say:
So where to go from here? I’m going to keep this up because I know I’ll be healthier in the long run by consuming fewer carbohydrates. Does this mean that post workout carbohydrates are bad? Absolutely not! In a situation like the CrossFit games, with multiple workouts throughout the day, PWO carbs are essential. Replenishing glycogen stores takes approximately a day on a low carb diet whereas wolfing down some mashed sweet potatoes will get the job done in a few hours. In addition, the fact that fat slows down gastric emptying probably means you don’t want to be eating a whole lot of it during competition. Easily digestible protein and carbohydrates are still the way to go in a games setting. However, I think my experiment highlights the fact that PWO carbs are a powerful tool that should be used sparingly under the right conditions. Avoiding a carb load after a workout will allow you to hold on to the insulin sensitivity you gained from exercising. This is a huge boon, especially for clients who are trying to improve their body composition.
I urge you to read the full article! It’s well done and gives the proper context.
My Conclusion (For What It’s Worth)
So what does Mat’s experience tell me? I need to stick it out for a couple of weeks eating the way I’ve been eating for the past year and a half, which has been successful for me and, most importantly, I *feel best* day to day as a result of.
But last night I went out to eat with my family with the sole purpose of doing something I haven’t done in months – eat a high-carb, junk food meal. Thinking it would ‘replenish’ the glycogen stores. It resulted in a shared appetizer of nachos piled on with cheese, peppers, chicken, guacamole, etc., one of those big ass cheeseburgers with fries, a ‘Kolsch’ beer (I think Rock Bottom Brewery’s beer generally sucks, and this one didn’t change that opinion) and then a kid-sized TCBY Greek Yogurt (garbage worse for you health-wise than straight-up ice cream). Felt like shit afterwards (physically, not mentally – I know I can absorb meals like that without issue). Very sluggish, and my heart was racing as a result of the influx of sugar from the carbs. We ate at ~7pm and my heart didn’t stop until ~10pm.
And, quite frankly, the meal wasn’t all that good. I only ate half the fries. When you eat healthy, consistently, for as long as I have now, stuff like that loses its appeal. Especially the fries. The burger was decent.
So, I’m gonna try to stick it out and hope that, after a couple of weeks, my body will adjust to the rigors of working out hard and legit while still eating healthy. I just want to avoid getting on the hamster wheel – eating bread, rice, and other poisons only to *have* to workout just to mitigate the effect. That’s not a way to live, but unfortunately it is Conventional Wisdom’s prescription – eat shitty food under the pretense of ‘Healthy Whole Grains’, etc., and then burn it off on a treadmill. How’s that working out for ya?
I’ll be sure to post often as I continue through the CrossFit experience. Jumping into it has reinvigorated my focus on sharing my story via this blog.