Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Confessions from a month of Paleo/Primal from a runner

I have been so good about eating Paleo/Primal for about a month.  Some things were easy like
  • finding recipes many great blogs/websites out there devoted to Paleo
  • eating what I cooked
some things were harder
  • finding recipes my whole family liked, the kids were very skeptical of a lot of the stuff
  • finding quick snacking ideas
  • giving up sugar!
There were some things I really liked about it
  • how great I felt
  • no/minimal bloating ever
  • lots of veggies and meat
  • healthy meals
  • I felt like my muscles especially in my arms got more defined
What I didn't like
  • I felt like I was spending a lot more time in the kitchen
  • my running suffered
  • I missed carbs, namely I missed grains.  I got a little tired of sweet potatoes and squash for carbs.
There I said it.  I missed grains and I felt like my running suffered. 

I felt validated yesterday when I found this article on  I felt like some of my best runs lately were this last week when I experimented with adding carbs back in a little.  So this morning instead of eggs and fruit for breakfast like the last month, I ate a bowl of oatmeal with raisins, pecans, chia seeds, cinnamon and honey.  It was good. 

Here's part of my thing.  I want to be healthy.  I don't want to feel like a criminal for eating grains.  I like grains.  I think they are good, delicious and can be a part of a healthy diet.  and I really do think they help my running.

I do also think you can be very healthy on the Paleo plan but I just don't know that it is compatible with endurance type running and let's face it.  I am a runner.  I am not happy with having runs that feel craptastic, I want runs that feel amazing.  I am also kind of a competitive person, so I want to be as well fueled as I can to put out the best effort I can and feel good doing it. To do that I think maybe I need some grains.

It might be different if I had celiac disease or gluten intolerance, but I don't. 

So I am adding them back in and just in time for my half marathon next month too.
I do still want to keep the processed crap out though. 

Have you tried Paleo with distance running?


  1. Great job Christy! I am leary of anything that tells us to delete a whole food category. I have never tried Paleo, sounds like a lot of work:)

  2. Right on! This is what I've always said/thought about Paleo. You really can't do it if you want to be an endurance runner, it just doesn't make sense. Runners definitely NEED carbs and not just carbs from veggies. I'm glad you experimented, there is no way I could give up carbs, so now this validates my opinion. Lol, I'm such a jerk.

  3. I say if God gave it to us it must be good, of course he gave us pot to so there might be some holes in that theory ;-)
    I think it is all about balance and staying away from processed foods is high on the list.
    Good job on sticking with it for a whole month!

  4. You should check out Solana's blog - she runs marathons and ultras on a paleo-type diet and blogs about it all the time

    Paleo isn't terribly veg friendly so I don't think it is something that would work for me and my family, but it is terribly interesting to read everyone's experiences with it.

  5. Good points! I did it for a month last year, and yes the loss of the bloat was amazing. I although I will admit I cheated and allowed proper fueling for runs, like PB Sandwich and fuel when running. I think you can find a happy balance of 80/20 and still get all the benefits form Paleo eating.

  6. I love that you have such a reasonable, balanced review of your month on Paleo. I've wondered how it works for endurance athletes, vs the strength focused that usually use it as a diet... interesting!

  7. Can I get an Amen! I loved your post. I can no live without carbs! I try and make healthy carb choices bu eliminating them all together is not going to happen!

  8. Haaa! Sounds good to me! I could never give up grains because I'm a vegetarian triathlete, enough said :-) but on top of that pasta is my favorite!! Happy Running!

  9. I'm really glad to read this! I tinker with the thought of paleo, but have always worried about the lack of quality carbs for endurance. I think you went about this the right way. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

  10. I think you're right on as well! I tried to get away from grains and then regretted it. What I do now is I eat grains but I only eat them for breakfast or lunch, no later. Thanks for sharing with us!

  11. I'm attempting it now! I'm not a long distance runner, but I do notice that it does affect me on heavy workout/strength training days. I feel like I'm not fueled properly. I'm hoping it will pass, or that it gets better!

    1. That was my problem with it too. The first couple of miles would feel good and then ... Blah

  12. I have sort of tried Paleo and I feel great so far...but I haven't been sticking 100% to the plan, so I can't say that I actually truly "tried" it. I do know that I feel SO much better in the afternoons! I used to feel tired all the time and now I feel great. I think a balanced diet overall is what's best - nothing wrong with a little oatmeal! :0)

  13. Interesting! I haven't tried it but the pre-run carbs made sense... Especially for a runner. Everything in moderation is what I lean towards.

  14. I haven't tried the Paleo Diet, but I feel like it's so important to listen to your body--it will tell you what it needs. I tried training for a marathon while eating a vegetarian diet and I got sick and injured, which was a real learning experience. I think you're doing the right thing by giving your body what it needs, especially when what it's craving isn't junk.

  15. I had the same experience with it! I think that I feel better eating minimal carbs, but my running is not so great when I completely cut out all grains. I just need some in the morning :).

  16. I haven't looked into the paleo diet, so I don't know. But based on no grains, I'm not. I don't eat grains that often other than home made bread (we do eat Eziqiel bread for sandwiches) and occasionally pasta. Other than that, I eat a lot of fruit and veggies as well as adding chia seeds and ground flax to some foods. Quite a bit of nuts as well as nut butters, too. I went completely vegan aout a month ago and haven't looked back! I missed cheese and yogurt at first, but it was easier to give them up than when I gave up sugary stuff 4+ years ago. As for how this new diet has effected my running? Well, the past 16 months have been spent with low running miles (about 500) with no long runs or races. But it hasn't hurt the shorter runs.
    You definitely have to do what works for you!

  17. I agree that you have to do what works for you. I am very carb sensitive so cutting put the grains and pseudo grains/grasses has worked well for me. I cannot see myself ever going back.

    I do eat a lot of fruit and squash and sweet potatoes so enough starchy carbs there for me for sure and if I have to eat more often for longer distances, so be it.

    Good to keep paying attention and I think we all need to listen to our own bodies... cannot imagine why you would feel bad cause you want to eat grains!

  18. I liked reading your perspective and what you liked and didn't like about trying paleo. I love my carbs too much, but I also struggle with finding a happy balance of them. If I over eat carbs I feel yucky, but if I don't eat enough my running also suffers. Glad to hear that you decided to add some carbs back in!


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