Paleo Diet Update

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I have indeed been going more and more "paleo" as predicted in this post.  I am now 9 pounds BELOW my pre-pregnancy weight, and my digestion has been fabulous.  At Joe's prompting, I even got a blood test to make sure all my levels are fine.   The only downside is that my hair is insanely oily, which I've heard is a common result of a high-fat diet. Yuck! Like all the butter I eat is coming out of my head?

I'm now 80% paleo, which essentially means I eat:

  • mostly protein (only top notch stuff- grassfed beef, free range chicken, new zealand lamb)
  • vegetables
  • certain starches (sweet potato, squash, taro, and yucca)
  • some dairy (kefir, raw milk, heavy cream, and butter.  Lots and lots of butter.)  
  • Oh, and coconut EVERYTHING (milk, oil, water, etc.)  
I don't (or shouldn't) eat:
  • pasteurized milk
  • grains
  • legumes
  • white potatoes
  • peanuts (which are a legume)
  • oils made from vegetables, nuts, seeds (olive oil and macademia nut oil are the exception)
  • soy (unless it's fermented, like tempeh)
  • sugar
  • processed foods
 In moderation, I eat:
  • fruit
  • nuts

The 20% of me that isn't paleo still loves iced mochas, pastries, an occasional coke, and small amounts of white potatoes and rice. I'm definitely still addicted to sugar, but eating so much good fat and protein has made it so most of the time, I just want sugar, not need it.

My #1 piece of advice to anyone thinking of going paleo/primal/gluten free:
EAT A BIG BREAKFAST.  HUGE!  Filled with all the things you've been told to avoid- oils, bacon, sausage, and eggs, raw cheese, etc. Even if you don't really feel like eating breakfast.  It's THE reason I've been able to stick with the diet. There's something about starting the day off with a large, nutrient dense meal that helps curb snacking and sugar cravings.  It's as if your body knows it's gonna be ok, and doesn't need to seek out food constantly to keep it going throughout the day.  Read a more scientific explanation of this phenomenon here :)

I'll be back in a day or two with a super tasty paleo breakfast recipe!


Rachel November 17, 2011 at 12:14 PM  

I am so curious about this, so I'm glad you updated us! I've been doing some weeks where I go for all protein/veggies, but it doesn't leave me feeling so great (zero energy for my usual cardio and just generally a little blah). Now I'm thinking maybe it's because I'm not incorporating enough fat during those weeks? Old diet habits die hard and I went through that super low fat obsession when we were in high school.

Also might want to pick your brain about your sources for the meat.

Cindy November 17, 2011 at 12:55 PM  

Wow, I've never heard of a paleo diet...thanks for opening my eyes!

Kristin @ Petal and Thorn November 17, 2011 at 3:35 PM  

Rachel- yes, low fat plus low carbs= STARVING! your body learns to burn fat for energy instead of sugar when you're on the paleo diet, therefore it's really important to eat fat galore. very counterintuitive, but it works.

Joe Branca November 18, 2011 at 12:20 AM  

Rachel - I ran into a similar problem last year when I started out because of years of fat-phobia. I wasn't getting enough meaningful calories and often hit energy lulls 2/3 into the day. You'll want to tinker with macronutrient ratios depending on goals. Here's a good blog post about the low down on fats:

Of course high protein + fibrous veggies is another way to maintain satiety, since the fiber slows the protein digestion, and protein is in fact very satiating. But as you've noticed you don't get the energy you need for your activities. So either carbs or fat will be needed to convert to energy. We can run on either, but it seems for most purposes we run more efficiently (i.e. with less oxidative fallout) on fat.

Here's another post from that same blogger arguing why fat is preferable over carbs as a fuel source:

Personally I save the vast majority of my carbs for the post workout feeding window, since that is when we are most insulin sensitive, allowing the glycogen stores in muscle will get its replenishment.

Back on the subject of fat for fuel, as a simple experiment just pick up a jar of virgin coconut oil at your local ranch market or Whole Foods, and start taking two tablespoons of it each morning (if you're not used to the taste, mix it in coffee or a smoothie, or cook eggs with it) and note how your energy for the day will start to improve. CO is also notoriously effective for burning sub-q / abdominal fat (when taken in conjunction with high intensity interval training or heavy lifting) not to mention all its other benefits.

just some thoughts!


Rachel November 18, 2011 at 1:04 PM  

Kris + Joe - love you guys! Thanks for the advice. It's such a huge change that I would have to do some serious thinking, but I'm tempted to start with baby steps (focusing on protein, veggies + increased fat and lowering but not cutting out carbs).

The straight up protein + veggies was keeping me nice and full but about 15 minutes into my workouts my legs would start feeling like they were buckling. Such a bummer. In the future I'll bump the fat significantly if I'm foregoing carbs.

Thanks, guys!

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