Paleo & Intermittent Fasting

Posted at 19:27 in Food, Personal, Progress, Training

Since I switched to a mostly Paleo/Primal diet 8 weeks ago and started Intermittent Fasting 6 weeks ago, there have been questions from a few readers – what are the benefits, why cut out grains, dairy, legumes & sugar, what do you eat, how much do you eat, how often do you eat?

I hope to cover all of those questions in this post but it there’s something I miss, feel free to hit me up in the comments section at the bottom of this post and ask it there and I’ll be sure to answer.

So, I guess the first and most common sense question to start with is why? Why change my diet, that was already quite restricted by some people’s standards (mostly whole foods, very limited processed/junk foods/sugar/refined carbs/alcohol) and restrict it even further?

I’d been reading about the benefits of the paleo diet for a few weeks and I knew a few buddies that had seen some really positive health changes whilst following that way of eating. Most of all, I wanted a challenge. I’d been going through a tough time and my motivation was low so I needed something to give me a boost – mentally and physically.

My love affair with oats has been very well documented on the blog over the last few years, along with luscious pancake stacks…

I know it sounds mental – why give up something I love so much? Because they didn’t love me back :(

I had gotten used to the sluggish feeling after eating oats/pancakes. I accepted that my stomach ballooned within half an hour of eating and stayed like it the rest of the day. I thought I was destined to follow in my mum’s footsteps with IBS symptoms that often made life crap.

Then I read about grains and the effects they have on the body and I had a light bulb moment! I didn’t have to suffer with the lethargy, sluggishness, bloating and IBS!

I read all I could about Paleo/Primal eating and decided to give it a try – it was a 2 week challenge, anyone can do anything for only 2 weeks right?

As I have never really over consumed carbs, I didn’t suffer as much as many people do with the dreaded low carb flu.  The first 2 days I had a fuzzy head and a little nausea but on the third day it had gone and left in place was abundant energy that has not left me or my body since.

I’ve got a natural glow that has been noticed by many…

and my mood has lifted dramatically although that has no doubt been enhanced by circumstances in my personal life taking a turn for the better!

The biggest things I have noticed since eating paleo/primal and starting intermittent fasting:

No bloating
No lethargy
No mid afternoon slump
Improved mood
More relaxed
A constant “buzzing” supply of energy
No gas
Naturally glowing
Clearer skin
Stronger nails
Shinier hair
Gums not bleeding when I brush my teeth
No upset tummy after consuming dairy
More “regular”
Not sweating as much
Skin is softer (thank you saturated fats!)
Weight loss
Appetite is satiated easier
No bingeing
No stressing or obsessing about food
No longer eating to the clock
Enjoying food more
Eating bigger meals
Strength gains in the gym

A whole list of positive side effects :D  It’s been noticed by those closest to me that I am a lot happier, more relaxed and mellow but that could easily be down to my personal life finally turning around.  However, I’m certain the diet has contributed to that feeling and I don’t get stressed over things that would have me breathing fire in the past.

So, onto what everyone is wanting to know – what, how much and how often do I eat?

When I first switched to paleo I was very creative in the kitchen…

But then after two weeks, I began Intermittent Fasting.  I read about how good IF was if you were looking to shed fat without obsessing over calories/food.  As a previous binge eater, obsessing is something I’ve spent plenty of time doing about food, to the point that I was on the verge of seeking professional help as I didn’t think I would ever overcome it on my own.

If you’ve not heard of Intermittent Fasting (or Intermittent Feeding as it’s also called) I highly recommend reading Martin Berkhan’s guide – it’s an excellent source of information.

I fast for a minimum of 16 hours per day, with most of that time being overnight whilst I’m asleep.  I typically eat my first meal anywhere between 1-4pm.  Most people I’ve come across who practice IF go for the 16/8 split which gives a 16 hour fast with an 8 hour eating window.  However, I am still trying to listen to my body so if I’m not hungry after 16 hours, I don’t eat.  I’ve been known to go for 18, 20 and even a single 24 hour fast without any ill effects.

However! I know for a fact I could not have succeeded with IF prior to switching to a paleo/primal diet as the carb withdrawals would have been horrendous.  I waited until my body was adapted to burning fat for fuel before making that final step as it would have resulted in me getting trembly, shaky, agitated, light headed and sent me to the nearest carb source to inhale – typical addiction withdrawal side effects!

Most of all, IF has liberated me. If I go out for the day, I don’t have to stress about planning what I’m going to eat or freaking out in case my food requirements are not catered for.  I’m not constantly looking at the clock, waiting for the next meal time and I’m not sitting thinking about food and planning what I’m going to eat. Food isn’t controlling me any more and it’s the most amazing feeling.

So how much am I eating?  Well, here is a screen shot from my food diary with the nutritional breakdown since switching to paleo on 13th March…

You’ll see I haven’t completed it every single day – either I forgot or I was away for the weekend having too much of a good time to worry about logging my food :D On the days I didn’t log, it’s safe to assume I was WAY over!

I’m averaging around 1700 calories per day which is where I should be to lose ½lb. By the calculations of my food diary/weight loss site, by consuming that amount over the last 8 weeks, I should have lost a total of 4lb. In reality, I have lost 22½lb.

Since changing to IF, I won’t lie – food has become a lot more functional and I eat because my body wants food.  That’s not to say that I’m not eating delicious food or that I’m not enjoying food because I am – I’m actually loving my food probably more than I ever have.

However, meals tend to consist now of:

Protein – Ribeye/Sirloin steak (including fat), pork loins (including fat), chicken thighs/legs (with skin), lamb steaks (with fat), beef or lamb mince (non lean, fat not drained away), 97% pork (gluten free) sausages, bacon, proper ham, eggs

Vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, green beans, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, lettuce

Carbs – Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, parsnips, swede

Fats – coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, beef dripping, almond butter, coconut butter, pecan butter, macadamia butter, cashew butter

Fruit – Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, clementines, apples

Nuts – almonds, pecans, cashews, macadamias, walnuts

Treats – 85% or 90% dark chocolate, red wine

The above list is what I stick to pretty rigidly.  I only consume fruit post workout and since I started IF and stopped snacking, I rarely eat nuts now though sitting with a spoon in a jar of nut butter is becoming part of my PWO routine :D  Dark chocolate I try and keep to training days only but it’s not always possible – sometimes a girl just needs chocolate yeah? And red wine is a very occasional treat, probably once or twice a month.

There has been a couple of occasions where I’ve consumed a milk chocolate (and suffered for it!) and one weekend not so long ago I indulged in some Ben & Jerry’s which upset my tummy dreadfully.  I’ve not cheated and touched ANY grains at all and I don’t plan to.

A typical day for me would look like:

5.45am – wake

2pm – weight training

4pm – PWO meal (generally epic!)

8-9pm – smaller meal (if needed)

If I’m not training my first meal of the day tends to be between 1-2pm.

The physical progress I’ve made whilst following this plan really does speak for itself…

HOWEVER! And it’s a big however – I had a decent base already built up underneath the flab from weight training over the last 2 years. I have no doubt that this has contributed to my progress being so dramatic.  The average woman with no history of weight lifting probably couldn’t expect to achieve the same or similar results – no doubt she’d just end up skinny fat.

Above all, I’m not recommending this way of eating to anyone.  I believe that EVERYONE is different and just because something works for me, it won’t necessarily work for others.  If you are interested in Paleo/Primal eating or Intermittent Fasting, go and do some research and make up your own mind :)

Finally, some invaluable links that have helped me with my transition:

Mark’s Daily Apple


Everyday Paleo

Rob Wolf

If there is a question you wanted answered that I haven’t covered, feel free to ask in the comments section and I will reply :)

27 responses to “Paleo & Intermittent Fasting”

  1. gettinglean says:

    am so tempted to give it a try. loving the fact your skin is better. i think i get ibs with hormones in last part of cycle. think i will nee to read up alot more tho. is it expensive? AND most importantly…are you allowed coffee? my cuppa in the morning is like the biggest treat. i can drink it black..??

    • Just a Girl says:

      I always suffered with IBS symptoms – either constipation or looseness and it was always more noticeable at the time of the month but 2 periods have come and gone symptom free now :)

      As I was already eating a relatively “clean” diet with no processed/packaged foods, I’ve not noticed an increase in food costs. However, I do eat a lot of meat which might be expensive for those that don’t consume very much.

      And hell yeah, coffee is allowed though I’m not a coffee drinker since I gave up milk :)

  2. Sue says:

    That’s a truly epic post, and very informative, too. Your awesome progress makes me wonder if there’s a ‘paleo for vegetarians’ diet? ;)
    I do have a few questions: So you have no breakfast on most days? Don’t you miss or crave oats, grains, dairy at all?
    Anyway, keep up the great work!

    • Just a Girl says:

      Hi lovely, I don’t see how it could work for veggies really as a big bulk of the diet is meat and animal fats. However, it might be worth you having a research to see what you can come up with.

      I don’t eat a traditional breakfast in the morning any more at all, though it could be said that my first meal of the day is still breakfast as it’s breaking the fast – I just eat it later.

      I’ve had no cravings for oats, grains or dairy whatsoever :) and I don’t miss them either.


  3. Vicky says:

    Between your experience and reading marksdailyapple, I feel absolutely sold! I’m committing to binning the grains and dairy because I really want to kick this carb binging which has been plaguing me for years. Also, I’ve read so many people say their skin has cleared up – huge motivation for me!

    Thanks so much for recording your journey with Primal/Paleo in detail – so so helpful to read! I don’t think I would ever do the IF (but then again, I’m just starting out so the thought of only eating 1-2 times a day no doubt seems scary ha!). I love that you get to eat WHOLE eggs, bacon, steak – all these stuff we’ve been told for years to cut out and eat whole grains instead.
    Congrats again! S inspiring!

  4. Rose says:

    Thank you for posting this!

  5. h.a.lyne says:

    Thanks for the long post, can see you put a lot of effort into that, really informative. You do look really healthy and glowing in your pictures, obviously found a way of eating that fits you perfectly!

    Just on the topic of vegeterian paleo, Sue, there’s a piece about it on this blog http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegetarian-paleo-diet/ (hope you don’t mind me linking on your blog Jag) and lot’s of comments and opinions etc it’s really interesting.

    • Sue says:

      Thanks a lot for the link! I just read it and find Matt’s approach very interesting. With a few adaptions a ‘veggie paleo’ diet might be possible.

  6. Alex says:

    Fabulous post which has definitely answered my questions!

    As much as I know that this way of eating isn’t for me it’s fascinating to see how wonderfully it’s working for you – you look (and sound) like you’re in fantastic shape in body and mind. :)

  7. Leanne@Coffee&Claptrap says:

    Arghhh! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post girl! :D :D

    You look amazing as always and I’m loving the progress, keep it going gorgeous!!!


  8. shauna says:

    Epic post, love it!

    Do you do the fasting thing every day? I was confused as to whether the word intermittent refers to the frequency of the fasts themselves or if it just means intermittent periods of time, if that make sense!

    Can I ask a dorky question, you mentioned you eat pecan butter and macadamia butter – do you make those or buy them? I’ve found all the other kinds before but not those two :)

    • Just a Girl says:

      Hey lovely, sorry for such a late reply! Yes, I fast every day though it is said on certain sites that you can relax and eat regularly at weekends, I just prefer to fast each day and stick to a routine.

      The pecan and macadamia butter are from iHerb – the artisana brand, they are seriously lush!

  9. Lisa-jane says:

    wow you look fab-u-lous!

    Loving the progress – fantastic

  10. Az says:

    Great results, welldone you look fantastic !

    Quick question how much water do you drink a day, I presume that during the morning when you are in IF you still drink water ?

    I have never been a morning eater and so have always eaten this way most of my life, it has suited me fine up to now but now Ive dropped the carbs in the past week, that wierd fuzzy head/brain fog feeling hasnt gone away, any tips ?
    Many thanks x

    • Just a Girl says:

      Yeah, in the fasted state I drink water and green tea and nothing else. I drink 2-3L of water a day and around 4-5 cups of green tea :)

      Tips for the fuzzy head is to persevere – by now I imagine it will have stopped but depending on the level of carbs you were eating prior to going low carb, the longer it could take. Mine were relatively low so I only had the fuzziness for 3 days.

  11. Az says:

    Great results, welldone you look fantastic !

    Quick question how much water do you drink a day, I presume that during the morning when you are in IF you still drink water ?
    I have never been a morning eater and so have always eaten this way most of my life, it has suited me fine up to now but now Ive dropped the carbs in the past week, that wierd fuzzy head/brain fog feeling hasnt gone away, any tips ?
    Many thanks x

  12. Sarah says:

    Great blog, thank you! What kinda things do you take for lunches? Also, just tried to cook with coconut oil (I kept it in the fridge so it was hard) and it smoked the kitchen out! Is there a special technique to cook with it?


    • Just a Girl says:

      Hi Sarah, I’m lucky that I only work part time so eat lunch at home. If I were to be taking lunch to work it would be protein and salad for ease.

      Keep the heat moderate with coconut oil, you don’t want it up too high and use an extractor fan if you have one


  13. john says:

    Really an inspiration. I always believe that determination and focus
    plus effort and pain will really help you achieve everything especially
    your fitness goal. I am happy that you reached it with optimum effort.
    I really appreciate you sharing this to us
    check this also:

  14. SJ says:

    I find this all fascinating…! I think the fact that is truly is very low carb would concern me over the long term, and I’m slightly upset that there is no easy veggie translation as I was looking forward to trying paleo. However, I will do some research like the ladies above and let you know if I hit on anything… Keep up the great work x x Look forward to hearing more about the love life : )

  15. Lexi says:

    You are looking AMAZING! Great progress, inspiring as always. xx

  16. Alli says:

    Hi Jag,
    You have inspired me to go paleo! I came accross you on twitter, read your blog and other resources, and have now started this journey. It’s nice to see someone doing this in the UK and also weight training too as you can feel quite alone in this country when everyone else is doing constant cardio!
    Keep writing and best wishes. I hope I have success like yours :-)
    Alli x

    • Just a Girl says:

      Hurrah! thanks so much Alli, it’s always lovely to know I have inspired someone. Please do keep me informed of your progress and if you have any q’s, drop me a comment via the blog or at jagsfitnessblog@gmail.com


  17. Max says:

    I like your site, I just stumbled across it and have been reading your posts with interest! The Paleo/Primal diet sounds a lot like Metabolic Typing and judging by your post it sounds like you are thriving on a high protein diet.
    Good luck, you are looking great!

    • Just a Girl says:

      Thanks Max! I’ve always eaten slightly higher protein than average as I find it suits me better but I’m really loving the paleo diet right now :)

      Thanks for the kind words!

  18. Paleo Diet: Low-Carb Fasting for Weight Loss & Disease Prevention » Paleo Diet News says:

    [...] For more on this check out this article on intermittent fasting and the paleo diet. [...]

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