Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Paleolithic Diet

The Paleo Diet is designed to loosely mimic what man would have eaten 10,000 years ago. In other words, pre-agriculture. The premise is that we have not changed genetically since the advent of agriculture, yet our diets have changed drastically. All of the "diseases of affluence" seem to relate to modern diet.

I'd heard a little bit about this over the years, but I never knew anyone to do it. I read a bit of stuff online and watched a couple YouTube videos, but other than that, I don't know much. I intentionally didn't want to get caught up in the minutia and endless distinctions with this. Yet, of all things 'savage' and my interest in primal man, it sounded like something I had to try.

I started on February 15th. Two months later, this is my progress report.

The first thing to realize is that this is not a raw food died. I can cook and I do. The idea is to just not eat the kinds of foods that have to be cooked or otherwise processed. So all cereal crops are out. No corn, no rice, no wheat. This means no bread, no pasta, no ramen. Beans, legumes (including peanuts), and potatoes are out. And no dairy products.

I eat vegetables, fruits, and meats. Nuts are okay. Seafood and mushrooms would also be okay, but I hate these thing. I've been eating a lot of soups, salads, and things like meat wrapped in lettuce. (It's like the 'Protein Style' on the hidden menu at In-And-Out).

What I am most proud of is getting off of caffeine, high fructose corn syrup, and candy. Man, I used to be addicted to candy and soda and energy drinks.

Avoiding cereals and grains has been surprisingly easy. Mainly because I cook more than I eat out, and I can cook well. With very few exceptions, I have been able to avoid pizza, pasta, chips, queso, rice, and bread. These used to be some of my favorite foods. The times I have slipped have always been in a social context, so I have to be more resolute when I'm out.

Anyway, my favorite thing now is the soup that I create. I make it with chicken about 80% of the time and beef once in awhile. I use fresh vegetables. I usually make two pots per week. Granted, I still eat a lot -- but it has been important for me to change quality before quantity.

Here's what goes into a pot of soup: three pounds of carrots, two onions, a celery stalk, two bell peppers, at least six jalapenos or serranos, two habaneros, and a bunch of green onions. I then add one additional ingredient that I try to change every time, like: zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, asparagus, tomatoes, or kale. I season with garlic, chillies, black pepper, bay leaves, saffron, basil, and different hot sauces.

What I do not add are the things that "cheapen" soups that you get commercially: pasta, rice, corn, potatoes, beans, etc...

That's my staple. Soup. It's good stuff. There are only a few fruits that I like: bananas, strawberries, and pineapple. I eat apples and oranges once in awhile, but I'm not a big fan.

The things that I crave and still allow myself are breaded chicken fingers and popsicles. Bad stuff, I know. Oh yeah, and beer. This is a big no-no. I'm working on it.

The main thing is the near-total elimination breads and grains, dairy, and the super-bad stuff like soda and candy.

All that said, I have lost twenty pounds in two months with little exerted physical activity. I can't really say that my overall energy level has improved. I think I have greater issues concerning motivation. I still hate running and going to the gym. But, when I am doing something social or physical, I really don't have cravings. It's when I'm in my house and in my head that I have the familiar bouts of emotional eating.

So that's the next step: Eating less (even of the good stuff). Working out more. Identifying and curbing emotional eating.


Blogger Aaron said...

Suggested reading:
Body by Science, by John Little and Doug McGuff
The New High-intensity Training, by Ellington Darden
(Body by Science will be your favorite book, if you hate exercise.)
Omnivore's Dilemma; In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan

Also, the Paleo Diet works because it's effectively a higher protein diet. Higher protein intake makes one feel satisfied sooner--as would higher fat intake--thus causing you to eat less. It all comes down to eating fewer calories than you use in a day.

The premise of the Paleo Diet--that we haven't evolved to eat cereal grains, etc.--is based on a flawed understanding of evolution.

In Richard Dawkins' The Greatest Show on Earth, he explains that it's been discovered in the last few decades that evolution can be a much faster process than originally thought. Put simply: there's nothing wrong with bread; eat what you like, just eat less.


April 20, 2010  
Anonymous Hammer said...

As Steve has probably mentioned to you, I'm a big proponent of this diet.

Aaron, you're speaking total nonsense. Read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" to learn more about that. Weight gain is about hormones, and insulin in particular, not calories. I do back your choice of Body by Science for exercise though.

Jason, if you want to expedite your results, up your fat intake and decrease your vegetable intake. Bottom line is that vegetables aren't really (human) food, and if you don't eat anti-nutrients, you won't suffer nutritional deficiencies eating all grass fed meats.

Cutting your carbs to zero or near zero (below 50g per day, including vegetables) and increasing your fat (mostly saturated) intake to 60-80% of calories is an important aspect of the weight loss. You want to be in ketosis for optimal weight loss.

The other thing that will speed up your results is to eat less frequently. Once or twice a day max, but for really fast results you're going to want space these meals 4 hours apart (assuming an hour of consumption each time) so that you have an 18 hour fast in your day every day. Once you're in ketosis, hunger will be a total non-issue.

Once you get down to your optimal weight, you can start playing with adding things back in in moderation, but until then be strict. Your metabolism has undergone substantial damage that takes time to repair.

April 20, 2010  

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