Friday, March 12, 2010

Paleo Report Card

So I think I've hinted at this somewhere along the line, but for the last month I have "gone Paleo" in my eating habits, (mostly) only consuming things that a paleolithic person would ingest. Of course, a paleolithic person wouldn't be able to eat a fresh mango in February, but I have definitely allowed myself the luxury of not keeping to strictly seasonal eating in the bargain (which in my climate would mean a vegetative diet of kale, and well kale at this time of year). That being said, the environmental wacko side of my personality has definitely tried to keep the out-of-season produce in check, and as always I endeavor to eat as locally as possible with non-local foods in the "treat" category. Fortunately, my corner market is very sustainability-oriented and they mark their meats, eggs, dairy, and produce so that you can tell which is local and which is not. In the local category for me: 85% of meat, 100% of eggs, 100% of milk (raw goat's), and at this time of year probably 30% of produce (closer to 100% in summer as I try to eat from our garden and the farmer's market).

For inspiration and information, I visit and read at:

And I was inspired to start by CrossfitPortland's Paleo Challenge at:

and by reading this article

I am especially trying to adhere to the Paleo Challenge's first couple of "commandments":

First, you must eat meat (fish is fine) at every meal.

This is a Paleo Challenge, which means you are consuming “meat and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch and no sugar.” We will not accept Tofu or any other soy product, beans and rice, or dairy as a protein source for this challenge.

“Eat meat that once had a face and a soul” – Robb Wolf

Second, you must consume vegetables.

You don’t have to like them, but you must eat them, ¼ to ½ pound per meal.

So there's what I've been doing in a nutshell, now how has it worked out so far? It's been one month to the day today. In weeks two and three I felt pretty crappy and I noticed that my harder workouts (anything over Z2 - Z3) left me feeling like I was almost immediately bonking. No carbohydrates stored up, so that wasn't surprising. This is the point at which I've stopped before when I tried to eat paleo. But reading that article convinced me this time around to give it a longer go, especially the parts where they discuss historic occasions on which people have switched from carb-based to more paleolithic diets. For instance, the article quotes Lt. Frederick Schwatka about the 1879–80 arctic expedition sponsored by the New York Herald and the American Geographical Society:

(The expedition) departed from the west coast of Hudson's Bay in April of 1879 with 4 Caucasians, 3 families of Inuits, and 3 heavily laden dog sleds. Totaling 18 people, they started out with a month's supply of food (mostly walrus blubber) and a prodigious supply of ammunition for their hunting rifles. After covering over 3000 miles on foot over ice, snow and tundra, all 18 members of the original party plus their 44 dogs returned to Hudson's Bay in March of 1880. Once their initial provisions were depleted, the expedition's only source of additional food was hunting and fishing, as there were no other sources of supply along their route.

In one notation, Schwatka provides an interesting insight into his weaning from their initial supply of carbohydrate-containing food.

"When first thrown wholly upon a diet of reindeer meat, it seems inadequate to properly nourish the system, and there is an apparent weakness and inability to perform severe exertive fatiguing journeys. But this soon passes away in the course of two or three weeks."

For me, the three week point was the turning point as well, and for the last 10 or so days I've been feeling better and better in my workouts despite the lack of what most triathletes exist on: massive amounts of carbs.

So now down to the nitty gritty: how has it affected my body composition? So far, in the one month of the Paleo challenge, I've lost nine pounds and 2.5 % body fat. That's kind of astonishing to me since at the level of general fitness I'm at I've found it extremely hard to effect any kind of large-scale change on my body. Especially with the complications of only having half a thyroid gland and being on mandatory thyroid medication, metabolism and weight are constant issues for me. So, the report card on Paleo so far is an A+. The weight loss has really leveled off to about a pound a week in the last two weeks, so I don't think I'll be dropping meteorically from here on out, and I always have the option to add in more calorie-dense foods like nuts if I feel like I'm going below where I should be at. I will also have to keep a close eye on how I feel as I begin to enter a more competitive end of my season, and I have to figure out what my racing nutrition strategy should be as well.


janasmama said...

Robin - You look awesome and I can really see the difference. You are inspiring me to stop making excuses and make a paleo-type diet plan for myself because I definitely feel that it is the best way to eat.

Anonymous said...

WOW...way to go...KEEP IT UP!!

Worldismyclassroom said...

Sounds like it's going well! Congrats on sticking with it through the yucky transition phase. Thanks for the links!