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My Paleo Experiment, Part 1 of 4

19 Jun 2010

by Elizabeth

Summer time is here, which means that I am now free from the overly salted, sugared, oiled, and processed foods of my university’s cafeteria, woo! As a way to stretch my dietary freedom, I have decided to team up with a friend and tackle following the paleolithic diet as strictly as possible for 4 weeks.

What is the paleolithic diet?

  • The main philosophy behind the paleolithic diet is eating how our ancestors did before the rise of the agricultural revolution. This means no grains, no dairy, no potatoes, no legumes, no added sugar except honey, no added salts, and especially no preservatives.
  • I chose what my stance would be on a few “hot topic” foods in the paleo world where no unanimous opinion reigns. I decided that I will allow myself to cook with balsamic vinegar, wine, and coarse sea salt (the least refined), and if on occasion something I eat has traces of corn (actual corn, not corn syrups or products), cashews, or canola oil, I won’t feel too badly about it. I am permitting sea salt because, as I am living at home this summer, this serves as a good compromise for being able to eat paleo without being too terribly high maintenance for anyone cooking dinner. Beyond these conditions, though, I am trying to follow this diet as closely as is possible in the modern world.

Why have I chosen to do this?

  • The paleolithic diet is successfully making a legitimate name for itself (Robert H. Lustig, MD, of UCSF says that the paleolithic diet would cure type II diabetes…in about a week!), and my family and I have been advocates behind the diet’s principles ever since reading Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint. We have been “80% followers” for a while now, limiting our sugars, preservatives, and grains, but can we really stand behind this diet so fully without having fully followed it ourselves?
  • There’s always vanity. I want to see how effectively this diet leans me down for bikini season. However, one disclaimer I make when people compare my diet choice to the likes of the Atkins diet and South Beach is that this is not a weight loss diet. This is a healthy lifestyle change. Losing weight is not the goal.
  • For the month of July I will be studying abroad in France, and I think it will be interesting to see how my body responds to being fully paleo then fully embracing the world of croissants and pastries.

What are my expectations?

  • To feel fitter, to work out harder, to run faster, to have a more constant energy level (no sugar spikes), and to feel and look leaner.
  • To feel awful for the first two weeks. In the book the Paleo Diet for Athletes, successful athletic trainer and coach Joe Friel switched to the paleo diet from a high-carb diet, and said that for the first two weeks, his runs were weak and he felt miserable. His body was craving the fast acting carbs it ran on before. Not until week 3 did his body adjust to the lack of sugar and begin performing better than before.
  • To improve my health gradually, not drastically. Even if my workouts improve, I won’t be able to lift cars or wash clothes on my abs. I already eat fairly healthy, and I’m only fully immersing myself into this lifestyle for a month. As with any lifestyle change, it has to be over the course of a lifetime, not a month.

"What would Grok do?"

I still have a few holdbacks with the details of the paleolithic philosophy (I’ll address those in the next blog), but for this month at least, I’m not going to question too much and am instead going to follow the commands given to me as best as possible so that I can tap into my inner cavewoman!

Here goes nothing!

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