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I think I need to add carbs...

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  • I think I need to add carbs...

    In March I weighed 257, and was diagnosed with type II diabetes with an A1C of 7.5. 44 year old male.

    I went paleo, and in about 5 months, I dropped over 50 pounds, and brought my A1C down to 5.4. I am about to see the light side of 200 for the first time in a very long time. During this whole time I have been in ketosis... under 30 carbs a day.

    I did this with very little structured exercising. (I've have upped my activity level in yard work and stuff).

    A few weeks ago, I started long distance running training. I know this isn't paleo exercise. I don't care. I really enjoy it... In my teens, I used to run marathons.

    I'd run three miles every other day, then this Sunday, I ran my "long" run of 5 miles.

    All my runs have gone surprisingly well. And, they have all been done on nearly zero carbs. No problems.

    Except today (the day after my five mile run), I felt completely depleated, and unfocused, and lethergic. I could tell that my batteries were drained and my high fat, high protein diet was not filling them.

    So, after much debate with myself, I broke down, and ate some potato salad with my dinner to add in some carbs. I feel better.

    It seems clear to me that if I am to continue my running (working my way back up to marathons), that I will need to add carbs back into my diet.

    My fear though is that I will be taking a step backwards, because I have adapted so well to fat burning that I feel strong on my runs. Yet, without carbs to replenish my glycogen, I will be in for some rough recoveries.

    I'm also afraid that with the carbs will come the blood sugar and insulin spikes, and cravings, and everything else. My weight loss has really slowed over the last few months, but it hasn't concerned me.

    I know the obvious answer is not to run... But I really enjoy it.

    Anyone have any advice on how I can maintain a paleo diet, continue fat burning, and add long distance running?

    I have looked at:The Paleo Diet for Athletes (

    But, even this seems to be very high carb, and does not appear to address weight loss with endurace activities.

  • #2
    seems like a sensible plan to (slowly) add in some carbs, like a sweet potato or some rice (only) AFTER a run. I'm in the same boat. I've recently had the same experience, if I do consecutive days of Crossfit workouts, I'm draggin' ass the next day. Thinking about adding some carbs to my postworkout meal immediately after the first day's workout. We'll see later this week how it work's out.
    Last edited by befitby40; 08-22-2011, 11:41 PM.


    • #3
      I'm going through the same thing right now (only my intense exercise is Barre3 -- it's not running, but it's such a tough workout it makes me nauseous). I need more carbs. It's okay to up them a bit, PWO. You need not go from 0 to 60, so to speak. There's all sorts of middle ground. See how you feel. Also, as long as you are making sure to eat protein and fat along with your (slow burn) carbs, you will not be all spike-y with your blood sugar. But if you eat a banana by itself, you are gonna spike and crash. Today I had 15 cherries with my chicken salad. Felt great, steady as she goes. (ETA: formerly hypoglycemic, no longer; HbA1c formerly 6.1, now 5.4.)
      Last edited by TigerLily; 08-23-2011, 12:29 AM.
      "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates


      • #4
        First of all running frequently is not healthy for you, especially at such weight

        Second of all carbs are fine in the evening (optimally post weight training workout, or 45 minute jog)

        Eat 2 light protein meals during day (omlete + veggies, cottage + berries)
        Have your healthy workout (45 minute weight training / 45 minute jog)
        Eat a meat based meal with added crabs (probably low GI because of your diabetes)

        Carb depletion = low energy, self misery, and no benefit to a sustainable diet.

        Carb timing is everything


        • #5
          What intensity are you running at?
          I just read PB and adjusted diet on July 5th of this year. Since then I have gone to 4-5 easy runs of 6 - 8 miles and 2 interval workouts during the week. I had a rough time with energy levels and heat the first three weeks and then things leveled out. I now run similar distances to what I was before changing the diet with the exception of the longer runs I used to do on the weekend. I think the key is keeping the easy runs easy. I run with a heart rate monitor because my perceived effort is not a good indicator to how hard I'm working. (I'ts worse in hot weather). On interval days I'll do a 2-mile warm up, 10 x 200 m sprints with a jog back after each and finished with a 1.5-mile cool down. I do eat fruits and vegtables. They do not provide the quick boost that cereals and post workout drinks used to but I don't have the mid-day energy crash I used have either. Since the first three weeks the fade at the end of the run I had no longer occurs. I eat a salad with spinach, tomatos and ripe olives every morning, about 4 plums or peaches at lunch and blue berries or strawberries with bananas in the evening along with the meats. I also eat a small amount of dairy. ( cottage cheese or cheddar cheese) I will surpass 2,000 miles for the year this week and should make 3,000 before the year is over. I dropped my fall marathon plans but will do them again next year. Just run the easy runs easy. Especially the first 1 - 2 miles. Then gradually pick up the effort the remainder of the run. Keep your average heart rate below 80 or 75% of your maximum heart rate and you'll be fine with the energy level. It would take over three hours hard effort to really drain the glycogen levels. You just have to watch running hard when you feel good the first two miles and useing a high percentage of glycogen to fat in fueling that training run.


          • #6
            Why potato salad as its not primal ?

            According to the PB weight loss is ideally between 50-100g of carb and this can easily be increased by up to 100g if you are doing endurance athletics so I think its a bit down to trial and error. If you are very low carb already it will be easy to up your carbs and still keep to a weight loss level without using high carb foods - berries, carrots, low starch veg, dairy - personally I'd try that first rather than just go out and eat potatoes and rice. If you've been at 90ish grams for week and still need more you can always slowly up them further and tweak according to your results.
            1st June 11 to 30st Aug 11 - 36lb removed in 13 weeks
            Messed about on and off for the rest of the year

            June 2012 - Had the practice - now time to do it for real


            • #7
              the construct is to refeed-- as stated by befitby40.

              have a refeed after your long runs, sticking to more "paleo" styled carbs -- sweet potato, squash, root vegetables. anything that is just starchier than normal. rice if you feel you need it, but considering my husband and how he runs, works out, etc, I don't think grains are necessary.

              and, potatoes can count, as well. we find potatoes have a quality that leaves us feeling yucky (easy to overeat, then you feel yucky), whereas other starchy veg such as butternut squash, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, and root veggies do not.

              worth an experiment.

              and btw, congrats on your weight loss, and I hope that your health continues to improve. definitely continue running (becuase you enjoy it), and also do some LFT (body weight is fine), and some good stretching (yoga, pilates, whatever). the biggest health issue with runners is getting so tight you end up hurting the joints. but, keep the body supple, and you can keep on running!


              • #8
                Is it definitely the carbs? I mean, it could be, but since it was only once, could it be that you're coming down with a cold? I would try it again once or twice before taking any action based on it. Not that I'm against carbs, I eat lots of 'em, but then I'm a skinny malink.
                My primal journal
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                • #9
                  Suggestion to check the "Primal Blueprint for Athletes" section of the forum also. I know there is at least one thread there specifically about training for and running a marathon while trying to still be Primal.


                  • #10
                    My concern would be the diabetes. (Your low A1C means that you're now 'controlled,' not cured.)

                    I would advise you the check your BS carefully after any carb consumption to see how it affects you. It may be that the running will counter the carbs and keep your BS steady, but keep in mind that for any diabetic, the critical need is blood sugar control. That must always be your first priority.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Waskydiver View Post
                      Except today (the day after my five mile run), I felt completely depleated, and unfocused, and lethergic. I could tell that my batteries were drained and my high fat, high protein diet was not filling them.

                      So, after much debate with myself, I broke down, and ate some potato salad with my dinner to add in some carbs. I feel better.
                      Seems like you're describing two different problems. Feeling unfocused and lethargic would indicate the brain is low on energy, not the muscles. The fact that a quick carb hit made you feel better would indicate this. Jogging 5 miles isn't going to really empty your glycogen tank. If you're in ketosis, your muscles you used for jogging would happily burn fatty acids. Did you do your run in a fed or fasted state?


                      • #12
                        Thank you all for the responses.

                        A few responses and comments in no particular order:

                        Why Potato salad? I agonized over this decision. I can't stand sweet potatos, or squash. I didn't have time to bake a potato. I couldn't really imagine munching on a bunch of carrots. I wanted to stay away from grains. I figured some potato salad, covered with basically mayo (which is basically a fat) to slow the absorbsion would be a good choice. I still think so.

                        My intensity so far is very low. I'm doing about 15 minute miles. I plan to build a base where my 15 mile week (4 days a week) become comfortable before increasing my distance and working on intervals and fartleks and what not.

                        Since starting paleo, my blood sugar has been rock solid. Always hovering between high 70's and low 90's even after meals. Even if I went 24 hours without eating, I would not see any significant dips.

                        Yesterday, while I was feeling run down, my blood sugar was at 69. Low for me, and certainly would account for my unfocused lethargic feeling. About an hour after eating dinner, with the potato salad, my blood sugar was up to 105. High for me... but nothing to be concerned about for a post-meal reading.

                        Due to time constraints, the only time I usually have for my runs is first thing in the morning, in a fasted state.

                        Keep in mind that my 5 mile run took me 70 minutes on unconditioned muscels. Probably not enough to depleat my glycogen stores, but they probably took a big hit, unless the stores remained largely untapped due to my state of ketosis... I don't know.

                        My theory is that when I failed to provide enough carbs to start reloading my glycogen stores, my body started diverting some of my blood sugar (and other physiological mumbo jumbo stuffs) to replenish my glycogen stores. But, I'm just making this up, and is why I am seeking the great advice which is coming my way.

                        BTW, this morning, I woke up, still in ketosis. I went for my 3 mile run, fasted, and felt pretty good... About the same as last weeks 3 milers.


                        • #13
                          Quick question about carb refeeds after intense running workouts:

                          Would fruit be acceptable? I see a lot of advice to go for starchier stuff- squash, sweet potatos, rice, etc. I just happen to not really like those foods, but I do like fruit. So I'm curious. I want to restart running myself, but I find I just do NOT have the energy to work out like that at my current no-fruit, no-starch, 90-100g of carb from vegetables state.

                          And about timing. I like to go for a run or walk first thing in the morning. I prefer to work out fasted, though I forced myself to eat breakfast first for years due to CW. But is it better to time these carbs right after that workout, or as the latest meal as the other poster suggested?

                          I'm looking to maintain weight and prevent weight regain, not lose.

                          (thought this was similar enough to the OP's questions to not warrant it's own thread.)
                          Getting my Grok on in the Pacific Northwest.

                          "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me."
                          "Cookie is a sometimes food."
                          "Sometimes cookie monster eat APPLE instead of COOKIE. Sometimes eat CARROT."
                          -Cookie Monster, partially reformed sugarholic



                          • #14
                            I recently started adding back some carbs for many of the same reasons. I have been using those Boil-in-a-Bag white rice pouches, quick and easy to figure out portion size. That's the only real starch I've been eating for a month or so, other than a white potato here and there. Hasn't caused any problems with gaining weight back, but makes me feel lots better on heavy lifting days. I eat maybe 50-75g worth a couple times a week.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CandylandCanary View Post
                              Would fruit be acceptable? ... I'm looking to maintain weight and prevent weight regain, not lose.
                              Nobody can answer this question but you! I've had good success re-introducing things slowly and watching my waist/weight. Bananas eaten daily seemed to give me negative results, cherries OK, muskmelon Ok. Mostly though, I try to eat only 2-3 servings of fruit a week of any kind. I found myself scarfing bananas 2 or 3 a day for a while telling myself, "it's only 75g of carbs". I seem to operate much better with 1 banana a week, and maybe some melon or handful of berries every other day or so.