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Keep Your Weekend Warrior in Check | The Paleo Diet

Does your life get in the way of your Paleo diet and how often you exercise? Our hunter-gather ancestors didn’t have near the demanding schedules we do today. Their lives revolved around sourcing food and attending to basic survival needs. They engaged in strenuous physical activity but recovered with ample rest on a daily basis. The activity pattern of modern hunter-gather populations demonstrates the intensity and duration capabilities of our body, as well the necessity of adequate recuperation time from these pursuits.1

Unlike our Paleolithic ancestors, we have the flexibility to select when and how to exercise, as well as what we choose as nutritional fuel. Great fluctuations can occur in these patterns due to the structure of our weekly schedules. Work and family commitments impact the lifestyle choices we make; is it time to get to the gym or should we eat cupcakes and pizza at a party. These obstacles may conflict with the intentions we strive to follow for overall, lifelong wellness.

Weekday Warriors workout and strictly follow the Paleo diet during the work week. The appeal? It syncs up with job commitments and school schedules to provide structure to stay on target. It’s the opposite of the Weekend Warrior who can exercise without limit during those fleeting two days off and becomes so sore he can’t move for another 5 days. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of both approaches as they relate to the success of your Paleo diet and exercise plan.

Physical Activity

At a minimum the CDC recommends either 75 – 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity combined with two or more days of total body strength exercise per week.2 Moving for at least this amount of time per week is a goal that can assist you in maintaining your fitness. To mimic hunter-gathers physical movement, do something active for any length of time on a daily basis, rather than solely on the weekends. Weekend Warriors may choose to stick with their current program, and add light walking or stretching during their recovery days.

After four days of consecutive exercise a Weekday Warrior’s muscle function becomes less effective and requires reducing intensity.3 The muscle damage leads to an immediate and prolonged reduction in muscle function. Specifically, a reduction in the force-generating capacity has been quantified in human studies through isometric and dynamic isokinetic testing modalities.4 These warriors can program workouts to balance the intensity and strength demands accordingly to preserve maximum function throughout the week.5

Diet

The Paleo Diet 85:15 Rule, permits for individuals to consume three non-Paleo meals per week. This doesn’t allow either warrior the luxury of falling too far off course, as the more closely the principles are followed, the greater the results yielded. The Paleo Diet for Athletes discusses in detail the role of adequate nutrition and its importance in aiding recovery from training.

You may find it is easier to stick with your diet intentions during the workweek, as there are less social obligations and a consistent routine, such as time for stocking up at the grocery store. However, sticky buns show up at coffee breaks, happy hour leads to non-Paleo choices, and meetings run late preventing you from getting your planned dinner made—all challenge your intentions for clean eating. Structure your meals on the weekends to match your workdays, including leeway for special occasions or dinner at your favorite restaurant.

The nuances of exercise programming and nutrition can impact your overall performance and goal attainment. Although discretionary, the success of how often you choose to exercise and what to eat should be measured on how you feel. Whatever options you choose, strive to feel energized, strong, and vital.

 

REFERENCES

[1] O’Keefe, James H., and Loren Cordain. “Cardiovascular disease resulting from a diet and lifestyle at odds with our Paleolithic genome: how to become a 21st-century hunter-gatherer.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Vol. 79. No. 1. Elsevier, 2004.

[2] Available at://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html. Accessed on February 10, 2015.

[3] Edwards, R. H., et al. “Fatigue of long duration in human skeletal muscle after exercise.” The Journal of physiology 272.3 (1977): 769-778.

[4] Byrne, Christopher, Craig Twist, and Roger Eston. “Neuromuscular function after exercise-induced muscle damage.” Sports medicine 34.1 (2004): 49-69.

[5] Edwards, Richard HT. “Human muscle function and fatigue.” Human muscle fatigue: physiological mechanisms. Vol. 82. Pitman Medical London, 1981. 1-18.

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