Food Friday – Paleo

There is a trend I jumped on early in January, right after I finished the Goofy Challenge. The Paleo Lifestyle. Most people would call it a diet, and if it was temporary than I would say they were right. At first I was a little spooked by it, but my friend and coach Amy Bennett Eck, dared me to try the lifestyle for 30 days and see what results I obtained and how I felt.

Before Paleo

The first week was tough.  I was lethargic, my workouts suffered, and I felt like I had lost a lot of strength and endurance.  (Of course that might have also been from the Half Marathon and Marathon I ran the weekend before I started.)  Something happened about the middle of the second week.  I woke up on Wednesday and I felt better.  Interesting thing was, it was immediate.  I went to bed Tuesday night after strictly following Paleo for a week plus two days and I woke up on Wednesday, feeling like myself again.  I’ll talk about the hi-level science in a minute, but let me just tell you I thought I could take on the world.  The following Saturday I ran ten miles faster than I ever had.  It was just amazing the energy I had.  I don’t have that energy all the time, but I did for the next couple of weeks at least.  Ever since then I have keeping a pretty strict Paleo Lifestyle at about 85-90%.  The other 15% I attribute to pizza, beer, the occasional ice cream and a few items in my race nutrition.

On Paleo

So what is Paleo?  The word Paleo comes from the Paleolithic Era or the caveman era.  It is basically eating as the caveman did, before processing, before grains, before even beans and legumes.  It basically, consists of meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.  There are some items that are what I would call, “on the line”, specifically, milk and butter only if they came from a grass fed cow.  There are no grains, no legumes, and no other dairy.  I really thought it was going to be tough and the first week was, but after I toughed out the first week, I really didn’t even miss the bread, pasta, corn, cheese, yogurt or rice.  Sounds like a lot doesn’t it?  Well let me give you my results; I lost 12 pounds and 4% body fat in that first month.  Crazy huh?  Because of the Goofy Challenge, my workouts were even cut back that month.  Since then I have lost another 5 pounds, 3% more body fat, my race times are faster, I can run, swim and bike longer and I have found my love for cooking again.

Let me tell you about the results of my friend Susan Johnson-Velez.  Susan is a lawyer and single mom that was a little overweight, and had a severe case of asthma.  She started two months prior to me with just removing dairy, and then started Paleo strictly in December and January like me.  Now, she is down 35 pounds and the three medications she took for her asthma has been reduced down to a seasonal herb.  Isn’t that crazy?  I watched this beautiful woman go from baggy dresses and jeans to mini-skirts and dresses and skinny jeans, tight tops and boots.  She came with us as our sherpa for the Chicago Marathon last October and when I saw her again at Jet City Coffee in January, my jaw hit the floor.  The difference was amazing, and she has only gotten more fit, thinner and hotter since then.

My instruction book for this lifestyle started with The Paleo Diet for Athletes first printing, but since then Joe Friel and Loren Cordain, Phd have updated it.  For the edition I was using, Joel Friel, the father of triathlon training, was instructing the Paleo diet for everything except for pre and post workout meals, and race nutrition.  I have not completed my read of the second addition, but from what I can tell, Joel is not adding suggestions for those meals to be Paleo as well.

Why Paleo?  The theory is, that grains have two major disadvantages; One, they breakdown into sugar, which if  you do not use the carbohydrates right away they end up creating imbalances which increases your insulin levels causing the metabolism to slow down and store fat.  Second, a lot of grains contain gluten which is basically poison.  If the grain, for example oatmeal, does not naturally contain gluten, then there is more than a possibility that it was packaged a facility that also packages grains that do have gluten causing transference.  Interesting enough there is another risk of transference of gluten; through meat.  If a cow is grain fed, then the meat may have a high level of gluten along with the milk produced.  I have actually started buying meat from a farm in Texas that has only grass fed meat.   Slanker’s Farms also has chickens, buffalo, and some fish as well.  All of it natural without antibiotics, pesticides or hormones.

The benefits of Paleo start by eliminating all the excess sugar your body doesn’t need or use, and then instead of using sugar for energy it uses fat.  Since fat is a lot more dense than sugar, the energy production lasts a lot longer, which means you last a lot longer.  Can you imagine working out and being able to go a couple of extra miles, just because you want to?  Can you imagine a new outlook on life, not to mention cooking?  I found a lot deeper interest in cooking since I started Paleo.  Also, depending on your body and where you are at the moment, for every pound of excess you rid your body of, it could translate into a 10-12 second per mile decrease in your running time.

There are a lot of resources out there on Paleo.   I personally am only fond of books and articles written by Loren Cordain, Phd and Rob Wolf.  There are plenty of great resources for recopies on the internet.  Do you think you have to give up brownies?  Here is my favorite recipe for Paleo Brownies;

Ingredients

  • 1 16oz container Nutbutter (recommend MeeNutButter)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup agave
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, cut into chip sizes
  • Coconut Oil, melted for brushing

Directions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

    • In a large bowl add container of NutButter, cocoa powder, sea salt, baking soda, eggs, agave and vanilla.
    • Using a hand mixture blend until all ingredients are combined well.
    • Using a spatula combine dark chocolate chips into the mixture.
    • Take a 9×13 baking dish and brush with the melted coconut oil. Add mixture to the baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.
    • Let cool, cut into square and enjoy

    They are awesome, trust me.

    Check out the books and articles online and see what you think.  I suggest just thirty days, knowing that the first week to two weeks you will probably not feel great, but the energy will hit like electricity once your body converts from burning sugar to burning fat.

    I hope you are able to extract some good information and that it may at least increase your interest in this healthy lifestyle.

    Carpe Viam!

    (the IronGoof) is a certified running coach, triathlon coach, personal trainer and sports nutrition coach who's real passion is to help others enjoy the journey on the way to conquering their goals. He has written many articles and guest posts on the technical, nutritional and psychological aspects of endurance training. He currently lives and trains in Tampa, Florida.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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    One thought on “Food Friday – Paleo

    1. I try to be “Partially Paleo” as best I can, but it’s a hard ‘lifestyle’ good for you too! It’s definitely a great way to eat clean and perform better!