Category Archives: The Paleo Athlete

Strawberry Lemonade Gummies

Strawberry Lemonade Gummies | stupideasypaleo.com

Making homemade gummies with fruit and high-quality gelatin is one alternative to making lots of bone broth / soup stock for its gelatin content.

These Strawberry Lemonade Gummies are a recipe I develop for BreakingMuscle.com. The combo of the berries and lemon give it a sweet-tart flavor that’s really refreshing. (This is the only high-quality gelatin I use.)

Click here to get the recipe → Strawberry Lemonade Gummies

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Strawberry Lemonade Gummies | stupideasypaleo.com

Strawberry Chili Grilled Chicken by Beyoutifully Delicious

Strawberry Chili Grilled Chicken | stupideasypaleo.com

Steph’s note: Please welcome Candace from Beyoutifully Delicious to the blog again. A couple weeks ago, I featured her PeaNOT Pineapple Slaw, and it’s gotten rave reviews. Candace is all about good food with big flavor, and this recipe will not disappoint. Without further adieu, take it away Candace!

Last Easter I came up with a fresh strawberry dressing that gave a subtle sweetness to a spring green salad. For the protein to compliment the slaw, I updated it as a marinade with some heat. There’s nothing like salty, sweet AND spicy. Now we’re talking game-changer.

I love this marinade on mahi-mahi, it’s a flakey fish that has a really clean taste to it. None of that “fishy” business that tends to draw people away from ocean proteins. If seafood is not your thing, this is perfect for chicken too.

You can easily flavor swap blackberry or apricot for the strawberry as they work well with chili peppers. I would use fresh apricots rather than dried just because I want to keep my sugar in check. It’s very easy for that to get crazy if I’m not intentional about food preparation.

Ingredients for the Strawberry Chili Dressing / Marinade

This is enough for two (6 ounce or 340 grams) filets of mahi-mahi or chicken breasts.

  • 1-1/4 cups fresh strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons coconut vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freeze-dried strawberries, crushed into a powder (sub: 1 Tbsp apple juice)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried Thai chilis or 2 teaspoons chili paste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Directions for the Strawberry Chili Dressing / Marinade

  1. In a blender, add all the ingredients except coconut oil and blend on high.
  2. Turn down the speed a little and slowly drizzle in coconut oil.
  3. Marinate the meat or fish for at least 2 hours and grill it until it’s no longer pink inside, about 4 minutes per side. Discard the leftover marinade. Or, bring the leftover marinade to a boil and cook it for 5 minutes to kill any bacteria.

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Strawberry Chili Grilled Chicken | stupideasypaleo.com

Questions? Leave them in the comment box below!

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Steph’s note: Give a hearty welcome to my guest blogger, Cassy from Fed & Fit. Cassy is a quadruple threat: She has mad kitchen skills, is an ace behind the camera, gets her sweat on at CrossFit and is one of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet. On her blog Fed & Fit, Cassy brings approachable yet flavor-packed recipes with her signature step-wise photography that always leaves me drooling on my keyboard. I’m super excited to introduce you to her today! Make sure to make these Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers and go follow her on social media…you won’t be disappointed. Take it away, Cassy!

Oh my word…I’m on Stupid Easy Paleo! I just adore Steph, and you know what? I adore you, too. I adore you because you’re here, you’re a part of the Real Food movement, and you probably have a thing for crispy chicken fingers. All reasons we can be great friends.

Crispy buffalo chicken fingers and I go way back. Once upon a time, I was a student at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX and I LIVED off of buffalo chicken fingers from a lovely little dining establishment called Wings ‘n More. While my health was rapidly declining, I was rapidly falling in love with comfort foods. Since going Paleo about 4 years ago, I gave up those delicious little strips of perfectly spicy, salty, gooey, but still miraculously crunchy chicken wonders. I gave them up plus the fries and ranch dressing that went with them.

Like a message was sent to me from above, I woke up one morning with the conviction a Paleo version MUST exist in this world. It needs to happen for you, for me, and for all those 20-something college students who think the gluten-coated, MSG-dusted, filler-fed restaurant chicken is their only option.

This Paleo-friendly crispy buffalo chicken finger is made possible by my good friend, the pork rind. Sometimes called chicharrones, sometimes called cracklin’s, pork skins are a crunchy, light, fluffy chip made by frying pork skin in it’s own rendered fat. They make for an occasional crunchy treat or can substitute as breading!

In an effort to create that reminiscent thick buffalo breading, I crafted a hybrid between my famous Paleo buffalo sauce and an egg wash.

Keep scrolling for my step-by-step photo instructions, tips and tricks.

I also recommend you check out my Paleo-friendly ranch dressing! Crispy buffalo chicken fingers and ranch dressing are a match made in heaven. Just saying.

Our recipe starts with about one pound of (ideally, pastured) chicken strips.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Next up, the buffalo egg wash! Crack two eggs into a bowl.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Now add 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Then the juice of one lemon.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Now add 2 teaspoons of garlic powder.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

2 teaspoons of onion powder.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

And then 2 teaspoons of paprika.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Now you get to choose your level of spice! For HOT add 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper, add 1 teaspoon for medium, or add ½ teaspoon for mild. I opted for medium.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Lastly, add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt or sea salt.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Got all your ingredients loaded up?

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Whisk until well combined and set aside while we focus on our crunchy breading.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

The most important thing to remember when you’re buying pork skins is to read the label. You want to make sure the ingredients only read, “pork and salt.” Avoid bags with anything else listed.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Measure out about 5 cups of pork skins into a gallon-sized plastic bag.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Smash ‘em up! You’re also welcome to pulse the pork rinds in a food processor for a few minutes but A) I like to avoid washing more dishes than necessary and B) think smashing things is fun and therapeutic.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Once they’re mostly broken up, pour them in a bowl.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Make sure your oven is set to 400°F (200°C) and grab all your components!

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Dip each chicken strip in the buffalo sauce.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Make sure it’s well coated.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Then lay it in the breading.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Pull it out when the crunchy pork goodness has it all covered up.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Lay the strips on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Pop them in the oven for about 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Ta-da!

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

I recommend you plate with some crunchy vegetables and a side of Paleo-friendly ranch dressing.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Enjoy!

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers

Serves 4-6

Prep Time: 10 minutes; Bake Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients for Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers:

Directions for Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Whisk the eggs, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, onion, paprika, cayenne and salt together in a medium bowl.
  3. Dip each chicken strip into the buffalo egg wash then lay in the pork rind breading, coating both sides.
  4. Place breaded strips on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Follow Cassy on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter

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Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers—Fed & Fit | stupideasypaleo.com

Questions for Cassy? Leave them in the comments below.

Plantain Protein Pancakes

Plantain Protein Pancakes are a great way to get some more good carbs into your post-workout recovery window.

Plantain Protein Pancakes | stupideasypaleo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I created this recipe specifically for Breaking Muscle, so head on over there to check out the ingredients and the directions! (For 10% off my favorite brand of protein, Stronger Faster Healthier, use the code SEPaleo on check out!)

Click here for the recipe → Plantain Protein Pancakes!

5 Ways to Make More Time for Exercise

5 Ways to Make More Time for Exercise | stupideasypaleo.com

Steph’s note: This is the last in a three-part series about your time and your health brought to you by my guest blogger Justin of Limitless365. (Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.) Justin brings his expertise as a one-on-one health coach to you here, and his philosophy on life, training and nutrition really jive with mine. Make sure to check out his site after you’re done reading the article! Take it away, Justin!

For some of us, making “exercise appointments” on our calendars is all that’s necessary.

Nevertheless, this straightforward and common approach doesn’t work for everyone. To help you make “exercise appointments” and actually show up, you’ll want to consider five indispensable, yet often overlooked tactics.

Step 1: Put Fun In It

Don’t fall victim to the belief that exercise or fitness can’t be fun. That’s a lie.

The truth is that the only way you’re going to stick with it is by making sure it’s fun. There are countless ways for you to give your body the physical activity it needs while also enjoying the process.

Don’t do a particular exercise just because someone else is doing it, especially if you hate it. Do what works for you—whether walking, hiking, swimming, running, cycling, yoga, aerobics or going to the gym. Whatever works for you is best.

If you like doing home workouts such as P90X, Zumba or Hip Hop Abs then go for it. You’ll enjoy it and look forward to it. That means you’ll do it.

Step 2: Baby-step It 

Don’t try to become a world-class athlete or lose 30 pounds in a single month.

Such an “all or nothing” philosophy and approach usually results in failure. It’s important to be realistic and practical when setting your fitness goals.

Instead of starting your fitness regime with 60 minutes of strenuous activity each day, break it down into smaller pieces of 30 minutes each day. By the week’s end, you’ll have racked up a whopping 210 minutes of activity.

And, if you’re coming from 0 minutes of activity each week to 210 minutes, then you’re a winner. You’ll get results.

In fact, it’s okay to start with only 10 minutes each day. It’s alright to start small. It’s fine if you begin with baby steps, just as long as you begin. As your body adjusts to your new routine, you can then gradually increase the routine or intensity of each routine.

Step 3: Get Out With It

Mentioned earlier is the need to “put fun in it.”

One of the ways that many people “put fun in it” is by going outside. They mix nature with their exercise.

This could be a walk around your neighborhood. You might choose to run outdoors instead of on a treadmill. Or you might prefer to swim in the ocean or walk along the beach. Finding a place outdoors for physical activity can make your experience energizing, enjoyable, and sustainable.

Step 4: Work It In 

Regardless of how or where you choose to exercise, you have to work it into your schedule.

Again, you don’t have to start with a 60 minute routine. It’s more important to build the exercise / fitness habit, even if you begin with 10 minutes a day. That 10 minute consistent routine will serve as a wedge, allowing you to easily make more room for more exercise.

Other ways for you to “work it in” include adding physical activity or exercise to otherwise sedentary activities. Here are two suggestions:

  • Active Conversations. Get an earpiece for your phone so that your hands are free during conversations. You can walk around the house or anywhere while talking on the phone. Nowadays, there’s no need to sit still or remain stationary while on the phone. In fact, while talking on the phone—with an earpiece—you can ride an exercise bike, walk, run on the treadmill, etc.
  • Television Fitness. While watching TV, do sit-ups, pushups and much more. In fact, with a little thought and rearranging, you can ride an exercise bike or free weights while watching TV. Walking or running on the treadmill are also a few more options.

Step 5: Make It Social

Instead of chatting with a friend for hours on the phone or over coffee, get out with them for a walk, game of tennis, or perhaps a fitness / yoga class.  This allows you to make exercising “social.”

You’ll be surprised how quickly a one hour walk goes by while you’re talking with a friend. Likewise, a game of tennis—or other sport—will pass by so fast that you’ll likely opt for another game.

We are social creatures. By making our physical activities “social,” we make them more fun and desirable. Not only will you provide your body with precious activity, but you’ll also cultivate a stronger relationship with your friends or family members.

Life Without Health

Francois Rabelais (1483–1553) was a French Renaissance doctor, writer, and humanist who said, “Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering.” 

We all get the same 24 hours every day. And every week we are blessed with 168 hours. Are your health and life worth at least a few of those hours?

If so, make time for your health. Make your health a top priority. After all, it’s your life…and you only get one. Better to live a long, healthy, and energetic life than a short life that’s plagued with fatigue and preventable illnesses. The choice is yours.

You now have the tools to make time for your health, become healthier, and have fun in the process.

Best wishes,

Justin Miller

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5 Ways to Make More Time for Exercise | stupideasypaleo.com

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Gelatin: Not for Post-Workout Recovery

Gelatin: Not for Post-Workout Recovery | stupideasypaleo.com

Gelatin is not a good protein choice for post-workout recovery.

Now, let me note, gelatin is great for some things (click here to read), but I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately: bloggers recommending gelatin as a source of post-workout protein. This is not only misguided, it’s just straight up wrong. Yes, gelatin has amino acids, but when you look closely, there are some reasons it can’t substitute as a proper protein source for post-workout recovery.

What’s the Issue?

Gelatin is a type of protein obtained from animal connective tissue and is rich in collagen. You know how when you cook a chicken and refrigerate it in the pan and there are jiggly meat juices at the bottom? That’s because of gelatin.

It’s got lots of two amino acids—protein building blocks—called proline and glycine. Keep those two names in mind for a moment. These amino acids are considered non-essential which means our bodies can manufacture their own supply. Adding gelatin to your diet—be it through bone broth or gelatin supplements—can certainly have benefit to the digestive system and to your joints (click here to read more), but it’s relatively useless at building muscle tissue because it’s so low in branched chain amino acids.

And that is a problem.

Building Muscle is the Name of the Game

When you train, you incur microscopic damage to muscle tissue, and the goal of protein intake in your post-workout nutrition (and frankly, the rest of your diet) is to provide substrate to begin the rebuilding it. If you want to be fancy, this process is called muscle protein synthesis (MPS).

Here’s the rub: The high proline and glycine content found in gelatin are not helpful for MPS.

Rather, a special subcategory of amino acids called branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the ones most important to MPS. Leucine, valine and isoleucine are the three BCAAs—so termed because of their non-linear structure, and they’re found in most abundance in animal protein sources. One other key: The BCAAs are essential which means they can’t be directly manufactured by the body, unlike proline and glycine.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 4.55.00 PM

Putting It All Together

To maximize muscle repair and growth—important processes for all athletes regardless of sport—adequate intake of nutrient-dense dietary protein from animal sources provides the best bank of the amino acids needed for these mechanisms.

Yes, you can get protein from plants but it’s far less dense and you’d have to eat far more food volume to get enough. Not to mention, plant sources of protein lack B vitamins and other critical nutrients that are readily available in animal sources.

Gelatin, while it is rich in amino acids, does not contain the ones needed to build and repair muscle, and athletes need to make wise choices in the post-workout window; eating gelatin instead of meat, eggs, seafood or even a supplement such as whey protein is not one of them.

Get my free PDF of source of dense protein sources for athletes.

To read more about the importance of protein for athletic performance and how much to eat, check out my ebook, The Paleo Athlete.

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Gelatin: Not for Post-Workout Recovery | stupideasypaleo.com

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Paleo Zucchini Frittata Guest Post

Paleo Zucchini Frittata is one of my favorite make-ahead breakfasts, perfect for busy folks and athletes. You can make up a batch ahead of time, slice it when it cools and take it with you for post-workout or just along for the ride to work.

Paleo Zucchini Frittata | stupideasypaleo.com

I created this recipe specifically for Breaking Muscle, sohead on over there to check out the ingredients and how to get one of these beauties baking in your oven today!

Click here for the recipe → Paleo Zucchini Frittata!

Paleo Confused? 3 Steps to Help You Get Clear

Paleo Confused? 3 Steps to Help You Get Clear | stupideasypaleo.com

Paleo confused? Not sure how to navigate this ever-expanding world of grain- and dairy-free eating? I don’t blame you. This post will give you 3 easy-to-follow steps to get clear about what really matters.

Back in 2010 when I first “went Paleo”, I was wide-eyed and intent on following all the rules—admittedly without knowing the rationale behind them. There were as many books about Paleo as you could count on one hand (not kidding) and a few bloggers starting to put their spin on things. And then…*BOOM*.

Paleo explosion.

Hundreds of blogs, dozens of books, podcasts and magazines and companies with products and services are here to help you in your Paleo journey. Such a fantastic change from even 4 years ago. But have you noticed that when you go to a restaurant with an enormous menu, choosing your order is far more difficult than when the menu is just one page long? You start to go back and forth, back and forth, mulling over your choices until you realize you get more confused about what you want. That’s sort of what Paleo’s like now.

Don’t take my word for it, though. I hear from readers all the time, wondering why Paleo recommendations all over the board are inconsistent, or worse, contradictory. In other words, they’re Paleo confused. Here’s a 3-step plan for staying clear:

Step #1 for the Paleo confused: Be clear about your current state of health and goals.

If you want to know how to steer the boat, you’ve got to have a map. Put another way, if you’re going to look for the resources to best fit your lifestyle, needs and goals you have to be clear about them, ideally before you get started. Getting a full workup from your medical doctor and any relevant blood tests is the way to really have a baseline of understanding for what you’re up against if you’re trying to improve your health.

Once you have a clearer picture, start following sites and collecting resources that cater to your goals. Trying to lose a significant amount of fat? Torturing yourself by following all the gluten-free baking blogs is not going to help. Dealing with an autoimmune condition? Start seeking out resources that deal with that (like this and this). Brand new and want to do a 30-day system reset? Check this out.

Step #2 for the Paleo confused: Accept that there is no one “right way.”

Simultaneous to step 1, do some basic research about what Paleo really means. It’s hard to get a cohesive picture from the bits and bobs on blogs and through social media. If you’re into minimal investment and you want a free intro, consider signing up for something like my Quickstart mini-course. It’ll give you a little taste of what Paleo is without having to pony up for the full meal deal. Want something more extensive? I can’t recommend these two books enough: It Starts with Food and Eat the Yolks. They’re both comprehensive guides to why real food rocks and how to get started on your own journey to badassery, er, wellness.

On that note, you’re likely to encounter what seem to be completely different viewpoints along the way. Some folks are so Paleo-strict, they won’t eat salt, fruit, ghee or even vinegar. Yeah, no duh…cavemen didn’t have vinegar…let’s not pretend we are running a historical reenactment of 10,000 years ago. Others are so lax that it’s all crap food in sheep’s clothing, dressed up to look healthy. I fall somewhere in the middle. I salt my food and use vinegar and ghee because they make food taste good, but I’m not kidding myself into thinking that a preponderance of sweets is a good choice.

So you see, there’s never going to be a universally agreed upon definition for which foods are or are not Paleo. You’ll hear people arguing about green beans and rice wine vinegar and other foods to the point you’ll want to get your nuclear bunker ready. Just choose what’s best for you (given your findings in step 1) and you’ll be okay.

Step #3 for the Paleo confused: Choose a trusted circle.

A surefire way to muddy the waters is to try to follow every single Paleo blog and to try adopting everyone’s philosophy (see step 2). Again, there are some pretty large disagreements about food between influential folks in Paleo-land so listening to everyone only contributes to the confusion.

What to do?

Based on your current health status and goals or other priorities—such as having limited time to cook—choose a trusted circle of three to five bloggers or experts you can follow. More’s generally not better, and I’m not saying I have to be one of them. Keep an eye out for new folks that come along, but have your old standbys that you know won’t let you down. Be wary of anonymously run sites that don’t have a clear face behind them; often these faceless sites are in the business of sales and ads, not caring about your health.

Avoid resources chock full of sensationalized articles and huge promises. “Gluten is death!” “Never eat a grain of salt again!” “Lose 5 pounds in 7 days!” Gimmicks rarely produce lasting results. Look for folks who produce quality, balanced resources, who make you think and who help make you better.

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Paleo Confused? 3 Steps to Help You Get Clear | stupideasypaleo.com

Questions? Let me know in the comment field below!

Too Busy to Cook? How to Unlock More Time!

Too Busy to Cook? How to Unlock More Time! | stupideasypaleo.com

Steph’s note: This is the second in a three-part series about your time and your health brought to you by my guest blogger Justin of Limitless365. (Click here to read Part 1.) Justin brings his expertise as a one-on-one health coach to you here, and his philosophy on life, training and nutrition really jive with mine. Make sure to check out his site after you’re done reading the article! Take it away, Justin!

Too busy to cook? How to unlock more time!

Too often, people are simply told to eat healthy but they’re not told how to make it happen. Eating healthy involves more than just the act of putting food in your mouth. The “healthy” part of eating requires you do at least two essential things.

In this post, you’ll discover two powerful and fundamental principles that you should consider when making time for healthy eating.

Without them, it’s virtually impossible for you to eat health.

What’s On Your Menu?

Phil Jackson, the winningest coach in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) history, was once quoted saying, “We came here with a plan: We’re NOT going to let this game get by us.”

Jackson won eleven NBA championship titles, six with the Chicago Bulls and five with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Like Phil Jackson, we’re all attempting to win a championship when it comes to our health. That’s why we can’t let important aspects of our health, like good nutrition, get by us. We have to come with a plan; otherwise, anything goes. And, instead of winning the game of health, you set yourself up for defeat.

That said, when it comes to eating healthy a plan or menu is crucial.

A weekly or monthly menu frees you from the burden and hassle of having to think about “what to eat” and “how much to eat” every time you get hungry. Furthermore, having a pre-planned menu allows you to shop and gather everything you need so that you’re ready to do some healthy cooking or eating when it’s time.

Here’s what to do:

  • Each week, sit down and write out a menu with at least your core three meals for the day. Also, it’s very helpful to consider two or three healthy snacks (or post-workout snacks for athletes).
  • Creating a menu isn’t as hard as it might appear because most people are very comfortable eating the same “breakfast” or snacks each day. When it comes to lunch and dinner, you can mix things up as you see fit. Also, leftovers can sometimes make for excellent snacks.
  • You can even schedule in a day to dine out and / or enjoy your favorite dessert, etc. Making a date for such “fun foods” allows you to more easily enjoy healthier foods for the other six of the week.
  • (Steph’s note: You can also find monthly pre-paid Paleo meal plans here!)

Your weekly menu will take into consideration:

  • Main meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Snacks—two or three
  • Dining out, fun foods, desserts, etc.

Are You Prepared?

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Preparing for your tasks, goals and health is crucial to their success. You cannot succeed with healthy eating until you’ve prepared.

Part of the preparation is creating your menu (plan). Your menu then allows you to prepare for healthy eating / cooking by stocking your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer with the essentials.

Review your menu. Then purchase and stock those items in your home. And be sure not to go grocery shopping while hungry; otherwise, your cart will be sprinkled with bad choices.

Also, avoid storing your once-a-week “fun foods” or desserts in your home. If you, allow yourself to indulge in these foods once each week, then only purchase those on that day—and just enough for that day. Stocking calorie-rich, nutrient-poor foods almost ensures that you’ll grab them instead of a healthy choice, especially on those days you are feeling down or tired.

After shopping, there are a few other important essentials to make sure you’re prepared to eat healthily, such as: 

  • Setting aside or scheduling time each day—or a few times each week—to prepare your meals
  • Preparing more than one meal at a time. Instead, cook large portions that can be refrigerated or frozen for use later in the day and/or week.
  • Preparing breakfast, lunch and other meals the night before, when possible

It’s important to be patient with yourself until you succeed at planning and preparing healthy meals. It’s a great idea to focus on consistently improving only one meal each week. Breakfast is often an excellent meal to start with. Therefore, if completing an entire menu or preparing for every meal seems too much, then start with only one meal per day.  This will keep you from becoming overwhelmed or quitting. Again, be patient.

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Too Busy to Cook? How to Unlock More Time! | stupideasypaleo.com

Questions? Leave them in the box below!

Faster Recovery: Does This Product Deliver?

Faster Recovery: Does This Product Deliver? | stupidesaypaleo.com

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know I’m not huge into supplements. It’s my belief that most athletes need a solid base of nutrition from whole, nutrient-dense foods with thoughtful pre- or post-workout refueling strategies, and perhaps—if the circumstances warrant it—smart supplementation.

If you’re a casual athlete without competitive aspirations, a strong focus on nutrition will take you very far, and supplements really aren’t necessary. However, if you’re hitting your training and competitive season really hard, pushing the boundaries of your physical potential, carefully chosen supplements can have a place in your routine. (In case you’re curious, I regularly include Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and Vitamin D in my regimen, but I’d be taking those even if I wasn’t training.)

In the interest of experimentation, I recently agreed to test out a supplement called HMB from Blonyx and report my findings to you. The short answer: HMB seemed to help my recovery.

What exactly is it?

If you’re after a longer answer, let’s back up a second. HMB is an acronym for beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate, and put into simple terms, it’s produced when the body metabolizes the amino acid leucine. Leucine, if you’re savvy about basic biochemistry, is a branched chain amino acid which is implicated in the body’s muscle protein synthesis pathway (mTOR).

Put another way, HMB is known to help recovery by promoting muscle repair. For more details—including studies and further technical information—click here and here.

Faster Recovery: Does This Product Deliver? | stupidesaypaleo.com

What was my experience with it?

I’m now doing olympic weightlifting full time for my training, with an eye on a couple local competitions later this summer and fall. Returning to the platform after a surgery, some time living abroad, writing my book and just general life chaos left me with some major flaws in my technique and some serious ups and downs in performance. I started using Blonyx’s HMB Sport in mid-January, just as my training started to find some consistency (i.e. lifting 4 times a week).

I noticed that my sessions felt punchier and I could lift heavy on back-to-back days without feeling as sluggish as I had been. In May 2013 I hit PRs in both the clean (91kg) and snatch (63kg), but since that time had struggled to reach those numbers again. In February, I cleaned 90kg and snatched 63kg.

Whether my improvement was a sole result of testing HMB Sport or not is hard to say because training frequency, sleep and nutrition are certainly possible factors. If you’re putting a premium on consecutive training sessions with short recovery windows, HMB might be worth experimenting with.

Wondering how you can naturally bump recovery up? Be sure to get adequate dietary protein from leucine-rich foods such as meat and eggs.

Note: I did not receive any financial compensation for reviewing this product. The opinions expressed here are my personal ones and do not substitute for professional medical advice. Always check with your medical professional before adding supplementation to your routine.

4 Steps to Find More Time for Your Health

4 Steps to Find More Time for Your Health | stupideasypaleo.com

Steph’s note: This is the first in a three-part series about your time and your health brought to you by my guest blogger Justin of Limitless365. Justin brings his expertise as a one-on-one health coach to you here, and his philosophy on life, training and nutrition really jive with mine. Make sure to check out his site after you’re done reading the article! Take it away, Justin!

What If You Don’t Have As Much Time at You Want to for Your Health? 

Meetings, phone calls, emails and projects never seem to end.

And, when you consider how many people, obligations and responsibilities are competing for your time, it feels damn near impossible to make time to improve or even just maintain your health. That’s why “making time for your health” can feel overwhelming…especially if you don’t know where to start or feel like you “don’t have the time.”

The good news is that you do have the time. In fact, everyone does. We all operate with the same 24 hours in a day. It’s just that a few of us are better at managing those 24 hours.

Here’s how to CREATE more time for your health.

Step 1: Eliminate or Reduce?

Perhaps, the easiest way to make time for your health is by simply eliminating non-priorities.

You can instantly make time for your health by eliminating or reducing non-priorities, especially those that provide little benefit. For some people, it might be reducing or eliminating time spent gaming, surfing the net or watching television. For you, it might be something totally different.

To find out the best candidates for elimination or reduction, keep a time log for a day or two this week. Track how you spend every 30 minutes of your time. You’ll be shocked at how many 30-minute chunks of time are squandered each day. And, you’ll love seeing how easy it is to make or take an additional 30 to 60 minutes each day for your health.

Step 2: Recruit Assistance 

After eliminating “time-wasters,” look at the tasks, responsibilities and obligations that fill your day.

Next, sort your activities into:

  1. Things I must do myself.
  2. Things someone else can do.

What are the items (tasks, etc.) that absolutely have to be done by you? For example, your health is all yours. You can’t delegate or outsource it.

Now, what items can you get help with? Too many of us suffer from the “lone ranger” mentality that has us trying to do everything on our own.

Housecleaning, errands or other tasks can be delegated. In fact, there are probably several items on your plate that can be handed to someone else. You can enlist the help of family, friends or professionals when it comes to handling those non-health priorities, tasks, or responsibilities.

So, get rid of the “do it myself” mindset. Instead, recruit the help of others. This will free up time so you can immerse yourself, more fully and consistently, in taking care of your health. 

  • How can your kids pitch in a little more?
  • Significant other?
  • Co-workers?
  • Family?
  • Friends?

Step 3: Prioritize Your Schedule for Health

Now that you’ve eliminated, reduced and delegated as many responsibilities as possible, it’s time for you to prioritize your schedule for health.

If you agree that health is a priority, then you’ll need to schedule it in. Some considerations are:

  • What time each day is best for exercising?
  • When will you relax or sleep each day?
  • Which day(s) each week will you do your grocery shopping?
  • When is it best to prep your meals?

And remember, when scheduling in health activities, they are a priority. At first, your health activities might not fit comfortably into your current schedule. However, if you’ve taken the time to eliminate, reduce and delegate, then you should have a few time slots available on your calendar for your health. Nevertheless, you still might have to move some things around.

For example, it might be “best” to schedule your fitness activity into the first part of your day, or first thing in the morning.

This might mean that you have to:

  • Go to sleep at an earlier time.
  • Wake up a little earlier.
  • Reschedule any other activity that currently occupies your first waking hour.

Remember, priorities come first…not after other tasks.

Step 4: Put Your Health on Autopilot

Having to recall the steps necessary to complete an activity—before taking action—can be quite agonizing. It doesn’t matter whether it’s preparing a presentation or taking care of your health. In fact, the repetitive daily process of having to think or decide what to eat, how long to work out, and when to go to bed can be a royal pain in the ass.

Most successful and healthy people set routines.

Routines reduce the amount of “thinking” or decisions necessary to complete a task. It frees up your brainpower for other things. Routines allow you to place activities on autopilot.

For example, the most successful athletes follow set routines each day and before events or games. And because they’ve completed their routine numerous times, they don’t have to think about it. It’s automatic. It’s on autopilot.

Setting a morning routine is a powerful way to make time for health.

To set your morning routine, make a list of the key activities you do (or need to do) every morning.

Here’s a sample routine list:

  1. Wake up. (6:00 a.m.)
  2. Brush teeth and put on fitness gear. (6:10 a.m.)
  3. Walk. (6:15 – 7:00 a.m.)
  4. Enjoy a healthy breakfast. (7:15 a.m.)
  5. Shower, get dressed. (7:30 a.m.)
  6. Review list of today’s priorities. (7:45 a.m.)
  7. Begin the day. (8:00 a.m.)

Your routine will likely involve other items, in quite a different order. Instead of a walk, you might do yoga, run, or go to the gym.  Or, you might decide to awake earlier…if you have children.

That’s okay. In fact, you might need to tweak the list a little or a lot over the first week of your morning routine. The important thing is that your routine allows you to begin your day in the healthiest way, fitness and nutrition wise. So, be sure to include whatever health activities necessary.

  • Create your morning routine on a piece of paper.
  • Place it beside your bed.
  • And, for the first week or two, review it when you awake.

After doing this for one to two weeks, you’ll notice your morning routine runs on autopilot. It will be easy for you.

You’ll appreciate that it requires no thought, but delivers such great benefits. You’ll feel great. You’ll start your day by having given your body a vital dose of physical activity and healthy nutrition.

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Tasty Taco Salad by Living Loving Paleo

Tasty Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing | stupideasypaleo.com

Please welcome Kristen, my guest blogger and a special friend of mine, to the blog. I’ve come to know Kristen through her Instagram, and her story of sickness to wellness so touched my heart that I knew I had to share it on the blog. (Click here to read it, then come right back!) Kristen’s passion for food is clear in her super awesome blog, Living Loving Paleo, and her recipes are simple, approachable and nourishing. Take it away, Kristen!

One thing I super, duper missed when I first changed my diet to a Paleo diet was definitely sauces and dressings, especially creamy ones. I honestly thought I’d never see them again. I drew a blank when it came to making my own, as I never had before. Honestly, making my own dressings intimidated me, and I figured it would be difficult and time consuming (neither of which I’m a fan of). Then, I discovered just how easy and fast it is to make your own, and I knew I could never go back!

My life was completely turned around by changing the food that I put on my plate, and for the first time in a really long time I was healthy. I was determined to make recipes for my own sauces and dressings that fit my new lifestyle, and that were completely delicious! I love a great salad, and to me, a salad is completely made by the dressing. I must say, the dressing that I created for this taco salad makes it extra special. Store bought dressings don’t even compare! I hope you all love it as much as my family did. Happy cooking!

Ingredients for Tasty Taco Salad:

For the base of the salad, I used romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes & avocado. Feel free to use any veggies you like.

Ingredients for Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing:

  • 2/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1.5 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2.5 teaspoons cilantro, minced

Directions for Tasty Taco Salad:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the coconut oil has melted, add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the meat and cook until no longer pink. Add the taco seasoning to the meat and mix well.
  3. While the meat is cooking, make the simple dressing. Place the oil, egg, mustard powder, lemon juice, lime juice, garlic and salt in a tall container. (I use a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup). Place an immersion blender at the bottom and turn on. Once the mixture starts to blend together and become thick, move the immersion blender towards the top, until it is well blended. This should take less than a minute! Stir in the cilantro. [Steph's note: No immersion blender? Place the egg, mustard powder, lemon juice, lime juice, garlic and salt into a blender and let these come to room temperature. Run the blender for about 30 seconds, then with the blender on medium speed, very slowly (in a thin stream) drizzle in the avocado oil until the mayo has thickened.]
  4. Top your salad with the meat and dressing! Enjoy!

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taco salad 2

 

The Problem with Macros

The Problem with Macros | stupideasypaleo.com

When it comes to the quest for healthier eating, there are two ways to approach things: quality and quantity, and what’s become abundantly clear to me in this Paleo world is that we have a problem with macros. And blocks. And points. And whatever other made-up-system is used to count and measure food.

The problem with macros (or blocks or points) is multi-faceted and let me just say that it’s possible to do any “diet” or food paradigm poorly. Putting your hand in a bottomless jar of Paleo cookies is no better than snort-laughing and eye-rolling at the thought of vegan cheese on top of a tofurkey sandwich.

The 1st Problem with Macros: Quantity does not equal quality.

Not all foods are created equal. An apple’s better than a Snickers (like, duh) but the problem with macros is that simply counting them doesn’t mean the protein, carbs and fat you’re eating are optimal or even health-promoting. Buttery spread is not better than butter. (If you need more convincing, read Eat the Yolks.) Beans are not better than sweet potato. (Those gorgeous tubers have more micronutrition bang for the carb buck.) And isolated pea protein is not better than a steak from a grass-fed cow. (The amount of processing matters, yo.)

I get it. I used to do Weight Watchers-ish (counting without going to meetings) back in the early 2000s. Tallying up my “points” was a way for me to feel in control—and unbeknownst to me at the time, severely restrict calories—but damned if I didn’t look forward to my Skinny Cow ice cream sammies, my I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray and all kinds of other processed crap. So while I met my daily points, I did it in a way that was pretty horrifying looking back as 2014 Me.

Even if you’re within your macro totals, my question is: Are a majority of the foods you’re selecting whole and unprocessed? Nutrient dense? Anti-inflammatory? Do they promote a healthy hormonal balance? Stable energy levels? Good body composition? Slow and steady fat loss?

If the answers are yes, cool. If you’re meeting your macros or blocks or calories or whosy-whats-its with pints of Ben & Jerry’s and Lean Cuisines, then Houston, we have a problem. (And, you’ve come to the right place to start making positive changes.) 2000 calories of chips does not provide what 2000 calories of quality meat, fresh produce and healthy fats does. For the bajillionth time: Not all foods (or edible things) are created equal.

The 2nd Problem with Macros: Are you still hungry? Yeah, I thought so.

Even if your ducks are in a row with regard to the quality issue, I have to ask: Are you still hungry?

Honestly. Is the amount of food you’re eating leaving you satisfied and nourished, or do you suffer from constant hunger (or even worse, hanger), worrying about when your next meal is or if you’re going to go to bed hungry? In all seriousness, a little hunger now and then is fine, but when it’s your normal state of being, something’s broken.

Mild caloric restriction for the purposes of shifting body composition, whether you meet it through macropointcalories or just eating a little bit less *of the right foods*, should still not leave you with perpetually gnawing hunger.

If you’re not trying to shift body composition but you’re concerned that you need to keep tracking things, continuing to count long-term and ignore your body’s own hard-wired signals of hunger and satiety is doing you a disservice. You’re an adult who shouldn’t have to be chained to a spreadsheet, a food scale, an app or a website to track every morsel that passes your lips.

Ask yourself if your current plan is leaving you not just fed but nourished. Are you surviving or thriving? Even if your numbers are perfect, are you really healthier?

The 3rd Problem with Macros: It Robs Your Freedom

Tracking and counting have their place (like creating a food journal for a nutrition coach or getting rid of portion distortion), but doing it for weeks, months and years on end is not a way to live.

Planning and cooking meals with care, having body composition goals (muscle gain / fat loss) and steering the boat toward food quality is one thing. Let’s call that dedication. Worrying about food, not eating out because you can’t count your macros or figure out blocks and generally feeling like you’re beholden to the numbers is another thing. Let’s call that dysfunction. Even when the intention is good, in practice, things can quickly spiral out of control and leave you disempowered to make the real choices about food that will put you in a truly healthy place—both physically and mentally.

What to Do?

Before sending all the IIFYM folks my way, know that if you’re focusing on food quality in addition to quantifying, you’re doing okay regarding problem #1. But. BUT. You may still be struggling with #2 and / or #3.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Why am I counting macropointblocks?
  • Am I trying to make some distinct changes in body composition or am I just after overall health?
  • Am I truly nourishing my body?
  • Am I shoving poor food choices into a shiny looking macropointblock counting system?
  • Does this behavior cause me stress?
  • Am I really in touch with feelings of hunger and satiety?
  • Do I put a premium on food quality?

Only you can know if the answers are telling you to step away from counting macros and blocks and points.

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The Problem with Macros | stupideasypaleo.com

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Paleo Chicken Piccata by Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine

Paleo Chicken Piccata | stupideasypaleo.com

Please welcome my guest blogger Ashley from Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine to the blog. Ashley’s pretty special to me for two reasons: 1) She was my science student more than a dozen years ago and 2) she taught me what a blog was. True story! I’ve had the pleasure of watching Ashley transform into a bright, sharp-witted young woman and a passionate food blogger. She’s been exploring gluten-free / Paleo foods more recently, and though that aspect of her blog is developing, I knew I had to introduce her to you. In this post, Ashley’s got a super yummy Paleo Chicken Piccata recipe. Take it away, Ashley!

Before age 25, I just didn’t care about what I ate. Anything and everything, with a few bouts of meat-eater-guilt that resulted in short term vegetarianism (dating two vegans in a row didn’t help that), and a lot of bouts of “the drunchies” aka drunken munchies. As long as it was delicious, I ate it.

Little did I know, the “full” feeling you feel after a meal shouldn’t actually hurt. Bloat, tightness, pain, it was all because I just ate too much, right? Whatever, my waist stayed slim and my eating habits stayed…terrible.

Then I turned 25 and, as I like to say, the Butt Fairy paid me a visit. Suddenly, none of my pants fit me anymore (even my “that time of the month” pants—yikes!) and for the first time in my life I realized that every action has a reaction, and every double bacon cheeseburger has to GO somewhere. I also noticed the telltale signs of a gluten allergy and lactose intolerance, and though my first introduction to paleo was from a jerk coworker who scoffed at my sandwich lunch and bragged about his new diet that was “totally going to get him RIPPED”—I was a bit more intrigued when Steph saw my Facebook plea for gluten / dairy free recipes and suggested I try out Paleo.

Honestly, my first true experiments in Paleo were simply a way to lose weight. And, even more honestly, I did not lose weight. However, I noticed that after a meal comprised mostly of meat and veggies, I felt happily full, without the pain. After a week devoid of wheat and starchy carbs I felt more awake, less moody, and my head felt more clear. It was an eye opening experience in a lot of ways, and has influenced my cooking ever since.

I’m a food blogger and a food lover. I know that I’m never going to totally give up that cheeseburger, but the “clean” feeling I get from clean eating is hard to pass up. These days, I go by the 75 : 25 principle: during the week, I eat as paleo as I can, and on the weekends I cheat a bit. However, I still try to balance the 25. If I know I’m going out for drinks with friends on Saturday night, I’ll try to pass up the plate of nachos at lunch and go for a more paleo option on Saturday afternoon. If you look at my blog, from the past year it, too follows the 75 : 25, with most of my recipes being Paleo, nearly-Paleo, or at the very least gluten-free, with a few extras thrown in.

My favorite thing to do is find a recipe that is nearly Paleo, and tweak it just a little. This way, I don’t feel like I’m eating an impostor, and I still get the flavors and textures I’ve always loved. Chicken Piccata was my favorite dish when I worked at an Italian restaurant, and I think I like this version even better! Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

Ingredients for Paleo Chicken Piccata

  • 4 chicken cutlets or two breasts butterflied and pounded thin
  • 1 cup (100 grams) almond flour
  • ~5 Tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or your oil of choice (coconut leaves a bit of a taste I am not fond of, but some advise against cooking with olive oil in high heat)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ an onion
  • ½ cup (120 mL) chicken stock
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) white wine (use chicken stock if you don’t cook with wine)
  • 3 lemons, two juiced & one sliced
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon capers
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley

 Directions for Paleo Chicken Piccata

  1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tablespoons of the the butter / ghee and 2 Tablespoons of the oil.
  2. Season chicken cutlets on each side with salt* and pepper. Dip into almond flour and cover well.**
  3. Two at a time, cook the chicken in the skillet until browned on each side and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side, depending on how thin you sliced them.
  4. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside, covered with foil or put in the oven on 200°F (100°C) to keep warm. Add a bit more oil to the skillet and scrape browned bits well to deglaze the pan. Or, if you’re me and you want a nice, clear sauce, scoop out any toasty almond bits that were left behind.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant and the onions are translucent.
  6. Pour in wine, chicken stock and lemon juice. Turn the heat to high and let liquid reduce by half. Add remaining ingredients, and reduce heat to low.
  7. Add the chicken to the pan and let it warm back up or, if chicken is to your liking, simply spoon sauce over the chicken on a plate. If desired, sprinkle with a bit of crushed red pepper. Serve with veggies***.

Ashley’s notes: *I used vanilla salt that I received as a gift and it tasted lovely. Experiment with flavored salts here if you desire. **For a thicker, crispier crust, dip your chicken in egg before coating in almond flour. ***Pictured is broccoli tossed with a bit of truffle oil.

Connect with Ashley and Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine on her blogFacebook pageTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

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Paleo Chicken Piccata | stupideasypaleo.com

Trading Sleep for Training? Why It’s Not Worth It.

Trading Sleep For Training? Why It's Not Worth It. | stupideasypaleo.com

Are you trading sleep for training time? Find out why it’s a raw deal.

Be honest. How many times have you woken up earlier than you should have to train? I know I have. Weekends used to prime time for long rides when I was racing bikes, and even early Saturday morning CrossFit training used to drag me out of bed too soon. On many of those occasions, I didn’t go to bed early enough to get 8 hours of sleep—the amount I need to feel my best—and heading out for a training session with less than 6 hours of shut eye was common.

Turns out, even though my nutrition was on point, lack of consistent sleep was hurting my training. Rest, recovery and sleep are even more important than the hours logged on the trails or in the gym, and if you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, you’re selling yourself short. If you care about your performance, keep reading.

A Simple (?) Equation

Want to train at your best? You need optimal fuel (nutrition), physical stimulus (training) and recovery time (active recovery, rest and sleep) in the right balance if you want to maximize performance. Eating poorly for the demands of your sport? Expect eventual plateaus or backslides in performance. Training too much or too little? You’ll either slip into overreaching or overtraining or the physical stimulus (hormetic stressor) won’t be great enough to see gains.

These aspects of athletic training and performance are pretty well understood in theory (though the exact implementation can be elusive) but it’s the sleep, rest and recovery pieces that athletes often neglect. Can you get by on suboptimal sleep for a while? Sure. How long? Depends on you and the other stressors going on in your life but eventually, it will catch up with you. As any dedicated athlete knows, suffering declines in performance, desire to train or getting injured can be devastating to a season, and if any of these are preventable by a commitment to better sleep, it’s a worthwhile pursuit.

If you’re sleeping less to train more, it’s time to rethink that strategy.

“…But What About That Guy At My Gym / My Training Partner?”

“He only sleeps 5 hours a night, and that guy is a beast!”

He’s also not you. You don’t have the same life, the same stressors, the same genetics. And, you may not really know exactly what’s going on below the surface of his beastly exterior. Sure, he might be able to do it, but the assumption that you can (or should) because he can is folly.

Need more convincing?

Recent research shows that even one week of sleep deprivation may have important negative implications on gene expression (i.e. how genes are turned off or on). In one study, the experimental group that slept for just under 6 hours a night—compared to the control group which slept 8.5 hours a night—had genes related to normal circadian rhythms, stress, inflammation and metabolism (among others) turned on or off when they shouldn’t have been. (Source)

These are certainly important physiological processes to keep on an even keel for everyone, but athletes in particular can incur significant physical / psychological stress and inflammation. Rest, recovery and sleep are the critical yin to all that yang. During sleep—and its different phases—the body undergoes physical and psychological restoration. That’s the good stuff that you need.

Is 8 the Magic Number?

I don’t know exactly how many hours of sleep you need to function at your best, but my general rule of thumb is at least eight on a daily basis, and if my training is particularly punishing, that number becomes sacred territory. During the day, I take steps to prepare for restful sleep, and in the evening, I’ve developed a routine to help settle me down.

(Note: If you train in the late PM, that extra cortisol bump can make it hard to wind down. Develop a solid routine around bedtime and do what you can to train as early in the afternoon as possible.)

Some things I do to ensure kick-ass sleep:

  • Eat a protein-rich breakfast. This is standard for me, but getting enough amino acids early in the day provides substrate for serotonin, which is later converted to melatonin, the hormone that ramps up in the evening to help put you to sleep.
  • Stop drinking caffeine before noon. I’m somewhat sensitive to it but in general, the earlier I stop caffeine, the better I sleep.
  • Go to sleep at a consistent time each night. The earlier, the better.
  • Develop a bedtime routine that helps me wind down, and start that at least 30-45 minutes before I want to be asleep. Rushing around like a crazy person at 9:45 and expecting to be lights out at 10…not so great.
  • Limit blue light exposure (from TV, computer, phone, etc.) as much as possible at night. Do what you can. Look into getting f.lux (free) or amber glasses. Read a book instead of catching up on Instagram or Facebook while you’re lying in bed. (Please, no hate mail.)
  • Make sure my room is dark and cool. Cavelike is what you’re after.

My Challenge to You

Don’t train unless you’ve had at least 6 hours of sleep. If you find you’re missing more days than you’re actually training, it’s time to evaluate why you’re not getting the rest you really need.

Need more help with training? Check out my ebook, The Paleo Athlete. (There’s more about sleep in there, too!)

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Trading Sleep For Training? Why It's Not Worth It. | stupideasypaleo.com

How much do you sleep? Do you notice a difference in your performance when you sleep more? Leave a comment below.

Sweet Potato Applesauce Mash

Sweet Potato Applesauce Mash | stupideasypaleo.com

When I competed on the team at the 2013 CrossFit SoCal Regionals, we had tubs full of mashed sweet potato with applesauce at the ready as one of our post-workout carb refeed options.

You can mix the sweet potato and applesauce in any ratio you want, but I’d do just a little bit of applesauce for flavor—a 4:1 ratio of potato to apple would be great—and to lighten the texture of what could otherwise be a very dense mash. For more awesome carb-dense recipes for athletes, check out my ebook, The Paleo Athlete!

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Applesauce Mash

  • 2 pounds (1000 grams) sweet potato
  • 1/2 pound (225 grams) apples or 1 cup unsweetened store-bought applesauce
  • Generous pinch of sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ghee, optional

Directions for Sweet Potato Applesauce Mash

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Roast the sweet potatoes for about an hour. Let them cool.
  3. If you’re making the applesauce from scratch, do this while the sweet potatoes are roasting. Peel and dice the apples. Put into a small pot with a 2–3 tablespoons of water and cover with a lid. Cook over medium-low heat until the apples are very soft. Remove the lid and cook until most of the water has evaporated.
  4. Peel the skins off the sweet potatoes. Combine with the applesauce in a large bowl and mash with a hand masher until it’s to your desired consistency, or use a food processor.

Change It Up

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Sweet Potato Applesauce Mash | stupideasypaleo.com

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Sound good? Would you use this for your post-workout carb recovery?