Is this you?
Low-Carb Endurance Exerciser
I run or do CrossFit 5 days a week. I’m on a Paleo diet – no grains, no high glycemic fruits, no starchy veggies because that’s what I heard I should be doing. But I have these intense cravings for sugar and I end up bingeing on cookies because I just can’t control myself. What am I doing wrong?? Maybe I just need more self control…”
Low-Carb Moderate Excerciser
I lift 2-3 times a week. I’m on Paleo and I’m doing really well with my carbs – keeping them below 50 or so grams a day. I feel awful after my workouts – like really tired – and all I want to do is eat carbs. I’m starting to see declines in my lifts, too. What am I doing wrong?”
Low-Carb Light Exerciser
I’m a 50 year-old woman and I walk for an hour 3 times a week with my dog. I’ve stopped losing weight on Paleo and I’m getting really bad headaches and having to take naps at around 3pm every day. I also get these terrible carb cravings almost every day in the afternoon. I’ve been really good, though – no fruit, very few starchy veggies, mostly just chicken and veggies for me. What am I doing wrong?”
Are you seeing a trend here? Do any of these sound remotely like you? If so, read on.
Carbs are not inherently evil.
I don’t know where we went wrong with Paleo (ahem… Loren Cordain, Jack Kruse, Ron Rosedale, etc.), but it’s not a no-carb diet, guys. A lot of people do very well with a moderate amount of carbs (between 100-150 grams a day). Even if you’re trying to lose weight. Some people even need way more than that. I have a world-class rower as a client who eats no grains, legumes, or dairy, but he eats about 350 grams of carbs a day in the form of fruits, veggies, gu-type foods, and juice. He’s super healthy, very strong, and freaking ripped. He doesn’t need to take naps every afternoon, either.
Don’t get me wrong here: No, Jimmy Moore can not tolerate anywhere close to that amount of carbs. He’s admittedly metabolically deranged after years of obesity. He, along with a lot of type 2 diabetics and otherwise metabolically challenged people, should not be consuming 100 grams of carbs a day or more. But you? The people who have some weight to lose, but are generally healthy? Athletes? Me?
Eat some carbs! And eat them often.
If you’re craving carbs, it doesn’t make you a glutton. It doesn’t make you a bad person. And it doesn’t mean you’ve failed on your Paleo diet. It means your body is hungry for carbs and you should give it what it wants. Yeah, we get good at using fat for energy blah blah blah on Paleo, but our bodies still prefer carbs. And if we want to live our stress-filled lives, exercising like compulsive maniacs, and sleeping very little, we’re going to need all the energy we can get, in whatever non-toxic form we can get it. Carbs are really easy for our bodies to use.
Now, I’m not saying you should go ahead and eat that box of Oreos. Not at all. But fruit (all kinds – not just berries), potatoes (yes, they’re fine to eat if you don’t have a sensitivity to them), sweet potatoes, tapioca flour, plantains, honey and other sweeteners (gasp!), chocolate, and all the other delicious carb-y foods are your friends. Eat them regularly. Eat some of them every day, and, for a lot of you, every meal.
That way, when you hit 8pm (or insert your own binge time here) – when you’re usually lingering in the kitchen hunting for dessert – you’ll actually feel satisfied, instead. Imagine that. It’s a novel concept, I know: not feeling deprived and incessantly hungry on your Paleo diet.
How many carbs?
Even if you were to eat a medium apple, an entire medium sweet potato, a banana, and two Paleo Pumpkin Muffins made with honey, along with your other fibrous net zero carb veggies, you’re still only looking at around 91 grams of carbs for the day. Mark Sisson’s magical carb curve says below 100 grams a day will still allow you to lose weight in general. If you’re an athlete working out hard at least a couple times a week, you’ll probably need more than that. I do.
Don’t feel guilty.
Stop it! You’re feeling guilty just THINKING about eating carbs, aren’t you?! Liberate yourself from the unjust carbism that is running rampant and unchecked in the Paleo and Primal worlds. Eat some carbs.