Monday, August 15, 2011

Countdown to Ironman: Week 45: The Paleo Ironman

Everyone knows what endurance athletes eat: bagels, pasta, bread, gatorade, and Gu. Right? Isn't this necessary? Any endurance website or forum will tell you this much, it's an accepted fact. And if you're going to do an Ironman, better buy stock in the wheat farming industry, because according to many experts, it's "foolish" to eat otherwise than a heavy dose of grain-based carbs.

So what the heck am I thinking? I started eating Paleo when I was doing more intensive and less endurance-based training (Crossfit and Karate as opposed to Ironman). But I feel so darned good, I don't want to give up the benefits and go back to eating grain, sugars, etc.. For one thing, all of those niggling little joint pains I used to have? Gone. The creaking knees, the arthritis starting in my knuckles? Gone. Muscle aches and pains after a hard workout? Gone baby gone. Still think I'm nuts? Read 10 Reasons to go Grain-Free and get back to me on that one.

So that leaves me with the Great Unknown, which is how to train for an endurance event on a diet that doesn't give you a whole lot of carbohydrate replacement easily. I mean really, just how many yams and bananas can I be expected to eat? The guy over on the Castle Grok blog can answer that (he's transitioned from Paleo to a high-carb fruit-based diet that involves way more bananas than I will ever be able to stomach) but I don't think I'm cut out to be a fruitarian. Still, I know that as I ramp up my endurance workouts, my body suddenly gets this very intense carb craving, and I'm tuned in enough to my body to tell the difference between OMG get me a Cinnabon NOW and I really need some healthy carbs or my muscles are going to feel dead tomorrow.

So part of this new Ironman journey for me will be figuring out how to do it without the 80,000 boxes of cereal, bagels, and bowls of pasta I consumed last time. As my general guide, the book The Paleo Diet for Athletes will come in handy, although I think it didn't really go far enough in explaining what to eat during workouts. The book covered eating Paleo pretty handily for meals, and essentially says that during racing you need to revert to simple sugars like gels and sports drinks, but it doesn't really say much about how to eat during training, so I may be forging my own path in that direction.

Still, although the Ironman is a huge goal in anyone's life, my real aim is this journey to strive for ultimate health and fitness in all aspects of life. Finding a way to merge my desire to train for ultra-endurance and my need to eat in a way that fuels my body healthily is just part of the challenge.


JenniferLeah said...

I started eating Paleo this winter during base training and I really felt like I was going to die on long workouts. I HAD to add in those grains again (oatmeal, rice, quinoa mostly) to feel normal and finish my workouts :(
I'll be interested to see what you can develop!! Good luck

Robin said...

It took me awhile to ditch that feeling too. The body takes awhile to get used to relying on burning fat instead of carbs. But everybody is different for sure!

Robin said...

Also wanted to add that since I've upped my workouts again, I've had to be on the ball about getting enough carbs into my daily eating. It's easy on Paleo to get into a really low-carb state, but for those us who are training hard, that's probably not the best thing. Dates, bananas, yams, etc. are my best friends these days!

Maria (maslife) said...

My husband and I don't eat Paleo per se; however, we do limit our grain intake severely, following a diet that only permits the intake of grains immediately before, during or after workouts (which if I recall is somewhat in line with Paleo for athletes).

In training for IMLP this year, I didn't eat any pasta, any bagels, etc. But, I did eat a good deal of beans, every once in a while some quinoa.

For workouts, I was sure to properly fuel during the workout, and doing that, I found that I wasn't super hungry later - more like "normal" hungry.

It also helps to make sure you have a recovery drink of some sort immediately after working out. You can add some bananas here.

Juicing is another way to consume high volumes of fruit w/o the belly bulk.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with fruit juices on long workouts instead of frankenfoods. Orange, apple, grape juices available on most routes. Medjool dates is what I use a lot of the time.

Blender makes short work of getting in a lot of fruit if needed. Fruit is a lot easier to eat if it's truly ripe. You'll see huge improvement in recovery with fruit over anything else.

I'm just a lazy beat up fat kid, but the fruit has allowed me to go long.

Thanks for the link love.

Anonymous said...

wow, so fruit during a work out is good for you. I'm start training next week for the Haines City, FL 70.3 and I've been doing the Paleo plan for almost 4 weeks now. Feel great, just not 100% sure how to stay fueled when I start all the training... :) a tad worried.

SB said...

I have been committed to paleo for a year and a half, and I have also made the leap to cross off a bucket list item, IM Cozumel, I turn 50 this years, yikes! I have been training with infinite nutrition but I don't start long training unti June, so we shall see? has some pretty detailed nutritional plans that might be useful for endurance training, and Paleo especially if you are in hot and humid climates. I'm looking forward to following your progress and you'll rock it sister during your race sounds like you are prepared!