Recently I posted a question as a my Facebook status: "Why is dietary fat weightlifting gold?"
I posted this after I had a pot roast supper with mashed cauliflower followed by an awesome evening of lifting at my Olympic Weightlifting class. I felt great. I could lift heavier weight, faster, better form, etc. I
've been a strict Paleo eater for the last month and have noted some great improvements: muscle recovery (reduced soreness), strength and physique. I have had some energy fluctuations and wondered how the heck to resolve them. Of course I thought: "eat fruit" the fructose jolt to my metabolism will boost me up, burn up and then let me down hard - but anything for a "healthy" turbo boost. Not as bad as caffeine or white table sugar... but the net effect is similar, I think. This is of course a short cut. I'd like a long sustained unfluctuated energy flow. I think I'd have to be caught up on my sleep (child rearing has put me in arrears for years now). I'd also have minimal stressors in my life. La ti da, dream on. Until then, I do what I can with what I am able to do.
The role of fat in diet. I've recently learned at the Level 1 CrossFit Cert that dietary fat act like an insulin-production buffer. The insulin response is slow. This is a good thing when trying to maintain even energy levels during the day. I'm still researching and hoping to comprehend the key to even energy issues (it's not just insulin management althoug h that's an important part). I truly believe that the female menses cycle plays a role in energy balance as well. Something the guys don't worry about. This makes me sensitive to what men have to say on dietary effects on hormones specifically about women. Sure they can read studies and I apprecite it. But part of me thinks they have to experience it to truly resolve it. They are credible, but a woman's perspective is much more appreciated by me - just saying. Regardless, I came across this on The Paleo Diet website created by Dr. Loren Cordain - a paleo expert.
I have a client who is lacking energy after having switched to the Paleo Diet. I have experienced this with clients in the first few weeks before but she has been on the diet for a little over a month and this has only just surfaced. Do you have any thoughts?
Mark J. Smith, Ph.D.
Hi Dr. Smith,
Thank you for your question. This is a temporary occurrence for some people when they transition to the Paleo Diet. I believe the low energy stems from the combination of 2 factors:
1) A lifetime of metabolizing glucose and stored muscle glycogen. When you get your only carbs from fruits and veggies, the carbohydrate content of the diet is severely reduced, and thus may initially lead to low blood sugar and lethargy.
2) The inability of peripheral tissues (i.e. muscle) to effectively use beta oxidation of intramuscular triglyceride as a substrate because flux through these pathways has been neglected for a lifetime. Once dietary CHO is reduced, then muscle must rely upon lipolysis from adipocytes as the major energy source, along with esterification of these free fatty acids at the muscle/blood interface in order to increase the intramuscular triglyceride pool.
This process takes about 1-2 months to occur in typical muscle glycogen compensated Westerners, and longer for women than men. Increasing the fat content of the diet and increasing fruit intake during the transitional phase will probably help with these energy issues.
I welcome opinions and comments.
Paleo Challenge update: Being strict Paleo for the month of January - here are the stats. I continue to be Paleo with some cheats making me more of a primal eater. Still, lots more veggies and "real food".
- 3% body fat reduction to 16% total
- Body Weight reduction total of 4.5lbs -2 gained pounds of muscle, total 126lbs
- 0 strict pulls ups to 2.75 pullups
- 0 chin ups to 3.5 chins
- Snatch weight from 72lbs to 80lbs and gaining momentum
I workout about 3-4 times per week. I attend Oly class 2x per week and Crossfit 2x a week. If I can't get into a CrossFit WOD, I'll do another Oly class (it fits in to my schedule). I'm getting stronger and working towards completing my first muscle up. I've taken smaller steps toward achieving this goal: improving dead hang pull ups, improving pull up using a false grip, kipping on rings with a false grip (the false grip is like a grip flat tire. It enables one to make a transition into the dip portion of a muscle up, but does no favors for the dead hand pull up required to get to "dip position"). After every workout I do a few rounds of chins and pull ups. If I'm toasted from lifting, then I use a the thinnest band to assist me and crank out as many as possible (usually 3). My rule is, if I complete one (no matter how slow or difficult) I must attempt the next one. This has served me well, as I get farther than I think when I feel I couldn't.
What are your physical fitness goals! Speak out! I want to hear it!