Many people struggle to lose weight. They try their hardest—maybe work out more than they ever have and are disheartened to see that they are gaining weight. Though I wasn’t trying to lose weight, this happened to me recently. When I’m running consistently, it’s hard to eat enough to maintain weight much less gain weight, but it happened to me this summer. I couldn’t help but wonder why?
One of the most important components of Zero to Paleo is appropriating one’s diet. In other words, you should eat certain foods at certain times: snack on low-sugar, high-fiber foods throughout the day, and a large protein meal at night before sleep. This optimizes the metabolism and provides a complete and nutritional diet over the entire day.
What we’re learning now is that one should appropriate one’s exercise as well. Exercise fits in the appropriation of your diet after a period of snacking on veggies, nuts, and fruit and before a large protein meal. In the hunter/gatherer framework, exercise is the “hunting” and should be followed by gorging on high-protein food. This places exercise naturally in the afternoon or early evening to set you up for a large protein meal at dinnertime and great sleep. If you deviate from this plan, there could be unexpected adverse effects.
I have always run in the early evening according to the plan, but my local Louisiana weather isn’t always the most accommodating in the summer when rain tends to come out of nowhere in late afternoon. As a result I mixed up the time of my run and worked out in the morning regularly instead of the late afternoon. And even though I was running daily and eating normally, I was gaining weight.
I had shifted my workout to an unnatural time and my weight was affected. My hypothesis is that when I became hungry after my post-run water emptied from my stomach, I snacked on low-sugar, high-fiber foods, but more than I would normally. And when you eat too much of those foods, you’re body stores the energy as fat. And the large protein meal at dinner wasn’t necessary because I wasn’t as hungry then. Running early accelerated my metabolism and I met that with the wrong food.
I know many people like to work out in the morning and it’s possible to make that work in the Zero to Paleo plan, but you must eat a high-protein meal after your morning workout as you would in the evening. Then, you’ll need to snack for the remainder of the day (no large meal at dinnertime). This will maintain the natural eating metabolic physiology and keep your calorie count in line with your needs.
We recommend however that you try your best to exercise in the late afternoon or early evening to optimize metabolism.