The basic theory behind the Paleo diet is simple. For millions of years our ancestors survived on diet provided by a hunter-gatherer lifestyle which consisted mainly of meat, fish & foul, vegetables & fruits and nuts & seeds. With the introduction of the agriculture approx 12000 years ago that diet changed to include grains and dairy, which are believed to cause several autoimmune diseases and digestive distresses. By avoiding these and a few other foods you can expect to see a dramatic change in your health, performance and physique. For an in-depth explanation read The Paleo Solution.
What drew me to this diet, other than the amazing personal endorsement from my friend Kevin Dusi which you can read below, is that its all natural. There is nothing in this diet that you would not be recommended to eat by your own doctor or nutritionist. There’s no miracle potion you need to take, no supplement with additives you really have no knowledge of. Just wholesome great tasting food that you cook for yourself. I’ve always said for most food “If it comes in a box or a carton, its probable not that good for you.”
Before I began this 30 day Paleo Challenge experiment I’d been getting a lot of questions and also having a lot of conversations with people about the diet and their opinion of what it was all about. In order to get a personal take I decided to call my good friend Kevin Dusi, and avid Triathlete and soccer player. Kevin had been eating paleo for several months as a means to help with his training and I wanted to get his take on things. His answers were so informative and helpful I thought I’d post our conversation here:
Minds answering a few questions? Not at all.
Why did you decide to go paleo in the first place? I had hit a plateau. I was training 5-6 days a week, often twice a day, for my events. However, I was stuck at 210 pounds and still had a decent amount of ‘squish’ to my frame. My friend had the physique I was looking for and sent me some reading materials when I asked.
How long have you been eating paleo? Starting Jan 1, 2011, essentially.
What physical changes have you experienced since you’ve been eating this way? Weight loss, illness, how you feel daily? In two months I went from 210 to 190 with no effort. On a general day, I have a lot more energy. I haven’t gotten anything worse than a headache in 2011 (knock on wood) and that is generally more of a result of eating something I know I shouldn’t. I suppose a great overall comment for ‘physical changes’ would be that you get to be much more in-tune with how your body reacts to what you put in it. Eat a carne asada burrito? Tasty as hell, but expect a headache and a “food coma” after. Eat right? Expect what I refer to as a “food high”. You seriously will get a rush of energy. It’s weird.
What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome to stick to it? At first: wheat headache. It sounds odd, but when people first kick gluten they will get to look forward to something similar to a caffeine headache. Your body is addicted, in a way. Now the hardest issue is travelling for work, as I prefer to prep my own food. On a normal week, I’d say prep time for what I want to eat is probably the biggest thing, but you get into a routine with that… and you really do start to look forward to feeling great and dreading how you feel if eat wrong.
Have you “fallen off the wagon” on anything? What did you do about it? I fall off the wagon all the time. But each time you do, your body reacts and it’s enough of a lesson to get back into eating right. The beauty is that it is really easy to re-set. I’ll bounce from 190 to 193 any given week based on how “well” I’m doing.
Now that you’ve been eating this way for a while are there any variations to the diet you’ve added or recommend? I’d say I eat more “primal” than “paleo”, but even that isn’t a very big distinction. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/whats-the-difference-between-primal-and-paleo/a paleo “purist” would shun dairy (I love me some cheese and butter), alcohol, etc. Primal allows for a little more flexibility. I think the main thing I’d recommend is to go at least a month completely committed to the paleo way of eating. No booze, no dairy, no gluten, etc. and see how you feel. If you go into it feet first, it will be night and day. After 3 or 4 days when I started I was sold, but went the full 30. After that, tinker around and reintroduce some stuff. Like dairy? Add it in. Note how your body reacts and use that as a guide.
Where do you shop for most of your meals? Any great places to go? I love farmers markets. Poway has a good one on Saturdays, Hillcrest has an amazing one on Sundays, and if you have clients on the coast I’ve been to the one in Solana Beach on Sunday afternoons and it’s decent. Fresh vegetables are amazing. For stores, I live right next to a Henry’s and that’s typically where I’ll go. For eating out, places like JSix downtown (pricey but worth it), Urbane Solace, and The Linkery are my three favorites, and they generally have stuff that’s Kevin-approved.
What would be your recommendation for someone who’s thinking of trying to eat this way? What would you suggest to someone who’s never worked out, watched what they ate, or even heard of this type of diet until now? Do the homework and commit to 30 days. By homework I mean either read everything you can online or get a book. I went the book route. Either Robb Wolf’s or Mark Sisson’s is a great place to start. Also, keep in mind that it’s NOT just a gluten-free diet. A lot of things are hitting the shelves at supermarkets with “gluten free” stamped all over them. That’s great, but there’s other stuff besides gluten that you want to avoid. It’s just the big one. That’s why reading up on it first is what I’d recommend, so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot over it. I’d hate to see someone do what they *think* is paleo only to fail because they didn’t know the full story. Also, it’s easier in groups. As far as someone that’s never worked out… I’d say diet is 80%, sleep is 10%, and working out is 10%. They can see a ton of improvement by doing nothing more than walking and getting some sun. Mark’s Primal Blueprint goes into a lot of detail on that. Robb’s book does to a lesser extent. FYI, when I lost my 20 pounds, I cut my working out to maybe 1/10 of what I had been doing. Now I work out when I want to, which is maybe twice a week for 30-40 minutes, similar I’d imagine to your boot-camp.
Thanks Kevin! That was awesome! I think you just wrote my blog post!
I’ll be posting how we’ve been doing shortly. All I can say is that we’re feeling great, cooking more than every and loving learning new recipes we’ll share in a bit. Thanks for reading!
dedicated to your success,