Since the only working out I might do today is a run, I thought I might write a little bit about what my diet looks like, and how I eat to support my active life style. I don’t really get into it for multiple reasons. One being, I really do think people have unique metabolisms. What might work for one person, maybe have a different effect for another person. I also think activity level and even someones genetic make up (such as muscle fibers, height/weight, etc) will also determine what diet profile best fits you. But, since I’ve seen success with my diet in regards to body fat loss while increasing strength, I figured it might be helpful.
First, a brief history of stats
body fat: 28-30%
So, I am not a naturally lean person. This was little to no exercise except some walking, smoking cigarettes, and eating whatever I wanted. I am naturally “smaller”-I have a smaller bone structure, I am on the shorter side of average, and I tend to get kind of …squishy.
Body fat: 22%
This is without really taking diet into consideration, with some casual weight lifting and cardio. My body responds well to exercise, even without really watching my diet. I worked out 4-5x a week, maybe running 2 miles then doing some machines/free weight sets. Occasionally i did a workout class. I ate healthy maybe 70% of the time but would overeat regularly. While 22% is definitely healthy and acceptable amount of body fat, I tended to look “thicker” at this weight.
body fat :18%
I started doing very cardio based exercises with little to no formal resistance training. I ran long distances for awhile then gave that up for Muay Thai training. I don’t think I was eating enough to maintain the high level of training I was doing, and I didn’t really care about the types/quality of food. I ate fairly healthy, but I mostly counted calories (which is crazy in retrospect. I was training 3+ hours 4x a week, and 1-2 hours the other 2-3, with maybe one rest day). I started Crossfit around this time after a move to another state, around May of 2012. I did some measurements and weighed myself during a Paleo challenge, but during this challenge I found out I was pregnant. I ate OK during this time but definitely not great. I continued to exercise and Crossfit 4-5x a week until past my due date, and ended up gaining 40 pounds all together.
body fat percentage: 16.5%
This is basically almost a year after I started Crossfit, with a year of resistance training semi-heavy and good met cons, despite being pregnant. i believe this is just my body’s response to serious weight training-I lean out drastically. My diet is OK, I start eating Paleo the beginning of the challenge and also start lifting a little heavier.
body fat percentage: 14.6%
I kind of start seeing the magic of eating Paleo, for me anyways. I put on decent muscle, and am still recovering and re building my strength. Weight stays the same. Around September, i started to drop weight drastically, for a couple reasons. I began to do a little extra: following the Hatch Squat cycle, doing some extra running for a running challenge with a weighted vest, and doing some extra pressing at home. I also believe my body was just holding onto some extra weight, wether in the form of fat or lean mass I’m not sure. I drop 6 pounds that month and by November am at my pre pregnancy weight. We’ve started being a little stricter with Paleo around November (to combat all the holiday eating) and by January are at a comfortable balance of 80/20 balance (with 1-3 meals a week not being Paleo)
body fat: 11.7%
I am actually very surprised and concerned. I’ve been eating Paleo and basically gave up drinking. I’ve been getting a little foggy/ fatigued and I attribute that to too little fat. I’ve even seen a doctor at this point because to me, that’s a drastic drop in weight. It explains why I’ve been struggling to just maintain my PRs and why I haven’t been able to see the gains I want to. At this point i’m training 5-6 days a week, with an active recovery 1-2 times a week. Training includes whatever is programmed, with 3x a week an extra hour of Olympic lifting and accessory work. This body fat dunk was for more of a performance/lean mass gain challenge, so I know in order to do well I would have to figure my eating out.
I started reaching out, trying to find different ways to manipulate my dietary intake. I thought I was eating enough, but obviously I wasn’t. I didn’t want to count calories, but I knew I would have to measure food in some way because obviously I wasn’t getting the calories I needed. Finally, one of the coaches said he would help me by figuring out my Zone breakdown (for some great information on Paleo-Zone check out Jeremy Kinnick’s blog) since I thought maybe that would help.
After a WEEK of making sure I hit the macro counts my coach laid out for me, I could DEFINITELY tell a difference. I stopped being so hungry all the time, my squat sessions didn’t tear me up the way they used to, and my met cons got better again. I had more energy throughout my day and I didn’t need to sleep 9 hours a night to not feel so wrecked the next day. I also received some good news when I went in for my body test 6 weeks later…
body fat: 10.7%
I also hit a PR in my front squat 6 weeks into a 12 week cycle, despite squatting heavy back squats the day before. I improved on my benchmark score, while upping the weight I used. I added 3+ pounds of muscle, and dropped some more body fat. My body seems to be functioning fine at this low of a body fat, so I can only assume that this is just my body’s natural reaction to this type of training.
So the biggest changes I made that I think made a difference are…
- protein shake IMMEDIATELY following the workout. I would sometimes get home, and my daughter would be getting up and I would just run up to see her. Now, I take the extra 5 minutes to put what I need in my shaker bottle and chug it on my way to see her!
- Fat, fat, fat fat! I upped the fat and immediately felt better and not so hungry within 1-2 hours after consuming a meal. Paleo Pancakes in the morning work best for me, with sweet potatos+ butter and whole eggs for another meal, and being very liberal with my home made sauces.
- Making sure my carb intake was up to par. Because I eat Paleo and don’t really…LOVE vegetables, it’s hard to get the carbs I need. But it’s forced me to be creative with my cooking, and the volume I eat can be kind of unreal sometimes unless I decide to eat sweet potatoes or fruit.
- Calories don’t mean anything. I was so worried about my caloric intake, but once I focused on getting those macros where they needed, my body reacted well. I couldn’t tell you how many calories I eat a day, and that’s pretty skilled! Years of thinking they counted made me always automatically count them, but now I just focus on getting the food I need in.
- Alcohol is the enemy of progress. Seriously. Besides one weekend in Vegas in Feburary, I haven’t drank since early December and not only does that help my progress, but my abs are more likely to come out and play. Of course, I’m going to Stagecoach in April, so all bets are off, but I’m ok with that balance.
So that’s my experience with diet! My body responds best to basically a 30/30/40 break down, and fat is the key for me. Now to just get my lower abs to grow some more so they fill out some of the skin my daughter left behind…;)
Do you eat Paleo-Zone? or either or ? How does it work for you?