Not losing the extra weight you hoped you would eating Paleo? That may be because your carb intake is out of whack. Here’s how to achieve a more balanced Paleo diet that will help you shed those pesky pounds. . .
Today’s awesome guest post is by my good friend Bob Bernotsky. If you’re on Instagram, you may know him as “That Paleo Guy” or from his website “Simply That Paleo Guy.” I have been blogging buddies with Bob and his wife Katie for a while now so I invited Bob to guest post on Paleo Newbie. Bob should really be a health coach – I mean look at the guy! Plus he’s got an easy, no-nonsense approach to healthy eating and fitness I love. Obviously, I’m not alone. He’s constantly bombarded with questions online – and graciously answers them all. He’s the real deal peeps, and despite his tough-guy approach, he’s actually one of the kindest and most sincere paleo bloggers I’ve met. Enjoy! – Trina
Losing weight with a higher fat diet like Paleo and consuming carbs at the same time is a balancing act that can be tricky to get right.
Here’s the good news – it can be done! I’m definitely proof of that.
I lost 63 pounds switching to Paleo…and paying close attention to my carb intake.
Getting the results you want does take work. But if you’re already Paleo, all you may need is a Paleo diet tune-up…and a little extra discipline. Do this right and the scale will go in the direction you want. Get it wrong and you’ll be buying the next size up for your upcoming holiday parties.
Here’s why this balancing act is so tricky…
All the fats, proteins, and carbs you eat each day add up to a certain number of calories. If you’re sticking to the Paleo diet, most of those calories will be nutrient dense, and that’s a good thing – but, they’re still calories.
So just in case you didn’t know:
One gram of fat = 9 calories
One gram of carbs = 4 calories
One gram of protein = 4 calories
That means 100 grams of fats = 900 calories
100 grams of carbs = 400 calories
100 grams of protein = 400 calories
Let me tell you, it is extremely (and I mean EXTREMELY) easy to consume over 100 grams (900+ calories) of fat daily on the Paleo diet. Between all the cooking fats, avocados, fats in your protein sources, egg yolks, and nuts, it adds up fast! Did I mention your Bulletproof® coffee? – that’s 30+ grams of fat right there in one drink!
Don’t get me wrong…fats aren’t a bad thing. All these fats are good, healthy sources of consistent energy. Plus they play vital roles in your body. Just keep in mind all those fat grams add up to calories.
So what happens when you throw carbs into the mix? Now you’re adding more calories to your already calorie-dense diet. And guess what? Those carb calories sneak up on you pretty damn fast…especially if you’re a “Paleo treat-aholic.”
And besides piling on more calories, you’re also adding an additional fuel source. A fuel source your body will snatch up first and leave the fats behind. Now you’re stuck with a lot of “extras” – if they’re not utilized correctly.
All those unused “extras” (which add up real fast) are the one’s pissing you off every time you look in the mirror.
Okay, so that’s the basics – knowledge you should keep in your pocket when trying to figure out your Paleo/carb balance.
Now it’s time for a REALITY CHECK. Ready? Take an honest look at yourself and figure out how much fat you need to lose and what your activity level is.
Don’t kid yourself…this is important. This will determine how many extra carbs (if any) you should be adding to your Paleo diet.
If you bust your ass in the gym, and you LOOK like you bust your ass in the gym (buff and well defined), then you’re doing a good job balancing your diet. But if you bust your ass in the gym and you look like you’ve never touched a barbell in your life (chubby and smooth), then you need to dial in your balancing act. (Plus you might want to revisit the definition of what “busting your ass” really means.)
If you’re athletic, carbs can be very beneficial if you incorporate them correctly. They help fuel you up for intense workouts and replace muscle glycogen stores afterwards.
When carbs are consumed at the right times and in the right quantities, Paleo athletes get the explosive performance and muscle gains they’re looking for without gaining fat.
Timing and quantity is the key here. If you’re not taxing yourself in the gym and depleting your muscle glycogen stores, you won’t be utilizing that stack of “Paleo friendly” pancakes you made with bananas or plantains topped with syrup and fruit.
Plus, if you go overboard on carbs after your workout, those will only add to the annoying pile of “extras” I mentioned earlier. Your body can only assimilate so much at a time.
Going for a power walk, a moderate bike ride, a yoga class, or heading to the gym for a fun workout with friends – none of those activities justify slamming back the carbs. Healthy fats will provide you with plenty of energy for all those activities.
If you’re on Paleo to shed some pounds, keep your carbs to a minimum and time your intake to speed up the process. If you don’t workout, easing up on the carbs will make managing your weight much easier for you as well.
Many people think they know how to balance the two. One look and I can easily tell if they’ve truly got it figured out – or not.
For most people (including many high-profile Paleo people) it’s much easier said than done.
Remember, muscle doesn’t make you look chubby. Fat makes you look chubby. Again, reality check…the mirror doesn’t lie. Balance them correctly and that layer of unwanted “extras” you’re carrying around will gradually melt away to reveal the truly awesome you.
Here are some tips on how to balance Paleo and carbs for building lean muscle without gaining excess fat…
1) On days you don’t train intensely, limit your carbs to the bare minimum and consume them earlier in the day.
2) If you do have a few carbs, never, ever eat them by themselves. Make sure to include some fats and proteins along with your carbs to reduce insulin spikes – very important if you want to keep the weight off.
3) For those meals that you do include carbs, choose a leaner source of protein or cut back on your fats – this will help offset the carb calories you’re adding.
4) Avoid carbs at night when you’re inactive. Stick with proteins, fats and veggies if you must snack.
5) On the days you train intensely (and make sure you know what intensely means), include carbs in your pre-workout meal. Your pre-workout meal (1-2 hours before your workout) should consist of a lean protein and a nutrient-dense carb source like a sweet potato. Keep your fat intake low for this meal.
6) Your post-workout meal (within 30 minutes after your workout) should consist of a lean protein and a good carb source as well. Again, keep the fats low.
7) Measure your carbs for your pre- and post-workout meal if necessary to figure out what your magical numbers are.
People say “I thought you didn’t have to measure foods on Paleo!” Yeah well here’s my thought on that: If you have your shit in check, then no, you don’t have to measure. But the problem is most people don’t have their shit in check. If you’re struggling with weight, measuring will give you solid data you can use to make the necessary adjustments. A simple digital kitchen scale works wonders for this.
Those 7 steps are exactly how I stay lean and gain muscle on Paleo. I only measure my carbs for my pre- and post-workout meals. I keep track of those because they’re the most carbs I eat all week and I don’t want to go overboard.
Plus I know my eyes will lie to me when I’m hungry.
I consume just enough carbs before my workout for explosive energy, then just enough carbs afterwards to replace my glycogen stores without leaving any excess.
On a higher fat diet like Paleo, carbs can be the tipping point on the scale. If you eat too many, you’ll be a chubster.
Choose your carbs wisely, time them correctly, and utilize them thoroughly.
Pay closer attention to your balancing act and you’ll be on the fast track to hitting your goals!