Eric Emms MD + [paleo]

Taking advantage of a injury - eating like a caveman

People don't talk about it much, but you've been there. A injury puts you on the sideline for a few days, maybe longer. Those days turn into a week or two. Maybe three. And the discipline that you apply to your workout regimen also applies to your nutrition. But, when the workout regimen goes south so does the diet and the time off from injury not only results in lost fitness, but a few (more than a few?) extra pounds that makes the road to recovery that much longer.

Last week on a run, I pulled up lame with a strained calf muscle. I felt it starting to hurt about 3 miles into the session and at exactly 3.86 miles (gotta love my Garmin), a sharp pain and I was limping back to car. Fortunately it was only a mile walk back to the car.

I'm not going to lie and say that I'm not frustrated. I am hugely frustrated. This is my third significant, activity-limiting injury, in the last 12 months. Getting old(er) sucks. Last spring, it was achilles tendonitis that had me abandon running for 8 months. In November, I strained a back muscle during an overly vigorous sprint effort on the Concept2. And now this.

For the twenty minute walk back to the car and most of the remaining day, I pondered what to do and how I could preserve the fitness gains I've made over the winter. Running is out for at least a couple weeks. Cycling too. Maybe rowing after a few days since there it's not weight-bearing. Ramp up my strength work. But how do I avoid the dreaded injury-related weight gain.

The Paleo diet had intrigued me for some time. Put simply, it focuses on lean meat, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. No dairy. No grains. Granted, I am still learning what is "allowed" and what isn't, so I'm sure I'm eating some things that aren't strictly on the program. And I refuse to cook myself totally separate meals, so there will be some compromises as I prepare meals that both my family and I can eat.

So, on March 1, I decided to give it a try. It is the perfect time as it is never good to drastically change eating habits during a heavy training cycle and my current activity level is low due to the injury. I'm not going to journal every day, but thought I would share the first few days to provide a sense of how it's going.

Tuesday, March 1, Day 1 - Weight 209.6

Breakfast - coffee w/sugar (drinking it black is something I need to work up to), scrambled eggs, sliced apples
Lunch - fruit smoothie (almond milk, strawberries, melon, banana, soy protein powder)
Snack - handful of almonds
Dinner - sauteed chicken thighs (in olive oil), steamed broccoli, green salad with homemade vinaigrette dressing. The rest of the family had brown rice which I skipped.
Snack - 2 oranges

No exercise today. Feel pretty normal, actually. A little hungry at night, but not too bad.

Wednesday, March 2, Day 2 - Weight 204.8 (seriously)

Breakfast - Coffee w/sugar, apples with peanut butter (peanuts are not strictly Paleo, but I haven't had a chance to buy almond butter).
Snack - fruit smoothie (almond milk, strawberries, melon, banana, soy protein powder)
Lunch - mixed green and spinach salad with sliced deli turkey, ham and homemade vinaigrette dressing
Snack - Muscle Milk protein drink
Dinner - Sauteed chicken breast (in olive oil), green peas, pinto beans (opps, not Paleo). Kids had rice as well.

Did an morning 10K (40:49) on the rowing machine. Felt more tired than usual, but that could be due to the fact that I haven't done an aerobic exercise in a week. Evening strength workout. Pushups, core plus 30 min of 30:30 circuits on TRX. Energy a little low today, but surprisingly no hunger pangs.

Another update in a few days.