Last month I embarked on a 30 Days of Paleo* challenge for a few simple reasons... a) to understand what it's like to change your eating habits and to get a feel of what my clients may be going through in terms of cleaning up their nutrition; b) learn more about the 'Paleo' diet, it's scientific background, it's benefits and its downfalls; and c) just for shits and giggles. And yes, there were both of these.
On March 13, 2015 I publicly announced starting this 30-day challenge on Facebook to give myself some accountability in a means to really stick it out!
Here are some things I learnt along the way...
I’ve learnt that Paleo limits what you can and can not each so much that I think at times it’s just dumb. Yeah I said it. Dumb! Eating out get’s hard and expensive really fast. So I learnt it was best to always be prepared and be creative with dishes so I didn’t get sick of the same type of foods. This soon became fairly easy and I’ve learnt that I can live off just meat and vegetables as my main source of foods.
I’ve learnt that cutting out certain foods such as wheat and dairy has cleared up my eczema and as soon as I went out for a cheat it flared up again. Unsure of the actual food that causes it but better to just leave these foods out of my system and look after my skin.
I’ve learnt that my body doesn’t like so many raw eggs in one day and that I lost about 3kgs in one night due to this mistake. On the upside I found an egg based protein which is quite good in milkshakes so I can stay away from whey based proteins to avoid dairy and still get enough protein in my day.
I’ve learnt that there is more to paleo than eating like a caveman and that it’s about a certain ratio of omegas but I didn’t look into it enough to follow it to a tee. I’ve also learnt that one of the main idea of cutting out foods is to avoid foods that cause inflammation upon consumption hence cutting out foods that we for so long have been told are healthy, such as legumes, dairy. Now I’m not saying these are bad for you, I’m saying the reason they are excluded from a Paleo diet is because of the effect it has on our bodies.
I’ve learnt that I’m functioning pretty well, maybe even better than before. Except whilst training in things such as sprints, which require you to utilize your anaerobic glycolictic system, possibly due to having a smaller storage of glycogen compared to before.
I’ve learnt that in 30 days I dropped 1.2% body fat, 1.3kg on the scales, a few mm in my skin fold total, but added a couple cm’s in my girth measurements, which I am associating to muscle mass gain! I even took some selfies for this project, for scientific purposes of course..
So to conclude, would I recommend going paleo? Sure, if you have the time, commitment and money to stick to it. But, in my opinion you don’t need to go Paleo to eat healthy, you just need to choose fresh, whole foods and understanding what your body needs in terms of macros to suit your goal. Once you figure out what works for you it’s about sticking to it and not just going on a diet for x-amount of days/weeks then going back to eating crap. If you’re going to change the way you eat make sure it’s a sustainable change not just a phase you’ll go through. Everyone is different and everyone needs a nutrition plan that works for them as an individual. Just like physical training there is no one nutrition plan that fits all.
And if you’re wondering… No I’m not still following a strict Paleo diet. But somehow most of the meals I cook still end up being paleo because all I really crave these days is some meat.
Just another health and fitness professional putting in their 2 cents. 2 cents may be all you need one day.