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Paleo and Workout Energy

January 17, 2012

I’m halfway through my month of paleo! Going strong so far. My energy levels are solid, and I feel good. Honestly, I can’t say my energy levels are substantially better than before I did paleo, but I didn’t use to pay as close attention (I’ve been logging comments on energy levels every day this month).

In any case, on Friday I did a longer hard workout. The kind of workout I would expect to be more of a challenge on paleo. So I thought it was worth using it to consider how my energy levels are doing.

My workout was 3 x 20′ on the erg, 5′ rest. In each 20 minutes, I did 9 minutes at full pressure, 16 strokes per minute, 1 minute easy rowing, 6′ full pressure at 18 spm, 1 minute easy, and 3′ full pressure at 20 spm. My crew team does this workout periodically, so it’s great to compare how I’m doing.

I’ve always been told you need lots of carbs for this sort of long workout. Oatmeal would be my classic meal of choice before a workout like this. Instead, for breakfast on Friday I had greek yogurt (I’m vegetarian, so need a couple minor variations from strict paleo — but I had plain normal greek yogurt, not non-fat etc.), raisins, walnuts, and flax seed. For lunch, I had a salad with spinach, black beans, cucumber, celery, carrot, olive oil and sesame seeds, and leftover red curry with tofu (again, vegetarian…). And for a snack an hour before my workout, I had an apple. Admittedly, the high carb side of paleo, but still a big change from my pre-paleo diet. And during the workout, I had water with Nuun, but no gu or other calorie source.

So how did I do? First just how I felt. My energy levels were solid throughout the workout. I never felt tempted to run and grab gu/fruit/whatever. (At some point I’m sure I would have needed that.) What about my times? My average split on Friday was 2:10.0. On December 9th, I did the same workout, except 4 x 20′. My average split was 2:14.6 (probably around 2:13 for the first 3 pieces). And on November 18 I did the same 3 x 20′ workout. My average split was 2:11.0. I looked back in my training logs, and neither of the last two times I did the workout were after particularly difficult weeks.

It’s tough to judge off of one workout, because there are so many other variables. But it seems safe to say that at a minimum, paleo didn’t hurt my performance. I was definitely a little faster this time than the last two times, but I think some of that is just being in a little better shape, so I’m not going to attribute the improvement to paleo necessarily. I did notice that after the workout on Friday, my energy levels stayed high. I did not feel like I was going to crash. But I rarely feel like I’m going to crash post-workout.

In any case, it’s enough to convince me to continue my paleo experiment. I’m not quite sure yet if it’s making me better, but it’s at least not making me worse. And I still have high energy levels before, during, and after workouts, even without grains. I’ll admit, it’s enough that I’m even considering extending my paleo experiment through Chicago Indoor Rowing Championships in late February. But for now, I just need to get through the end of January.

306 days till Ironman Arizona.


From → diet, motivation

  1. I am on the journey to IMAZ 2012 as well. i have seen lots of athletes post about paleo nutrition so I will be interested to see what your thoughts are as you progress through your training

    • jbkosbie permalink

      Exciting to hear from others training for IMAZ! Likewise, I decided to try the paleo thing because I heard so many athletes rave about it. If nothing else, it’s giving me the discipline to pre-prep food to bring with for lunch and such. Sometimes no small accomplishment in itself.

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