Honestly, I've been thoroughly enjoying the paleo diet. I almost find it liberating (who would have thought eating bacon is liberating?). There have been a couple times where I "cheated" on the diet, but honestly I'm not going to be so strict that I am miserable or turn down a piece of chocolate raspberry birthday cake that my mom baked for me.
Being in PhD candidate in a nutrition department I struggle with the concept of going against what is classically defined as a healthy diet (low saturated fat, high carb, moderate/low protein) by the higher ups. This includes the American Dietetic Association (maybe most prominately), but one thing I know from first hand experience is that members of the ADA aren't always great at understanding the biochemistry behind a diet (no offense!), and stick to memorizing guidelines. Well what happens when those guidelines are outdated, lack incorperation of the latest scientific knowledge, straight up wrong, and perhaps motivated by politics?
Ok, I am not going to go all conspiracy theory, overzealous, paleo promoting. There are lots of other people out there doing that, so if that's what you want, check out Robb Wolfs blog. Hah. But seriously, he has some great ideas, and his podcast is fun to listen to.
Lets see, first hand impressions from the diet. I've been avoiding grains, especially wheat. When I am hungry, lacking paleo snacks, I'll still try to avoid wheat, sometimes I can find nuts at the cafe's on campus, but I am not totally opposed to some corn chips, or Mediterranean chicken kabobs that are served on rice. I'll occasionally grab some hummus, and although legumes are a no-no on paleo, hummus is high in healthy fats, so I am ok with that. As I said, this is a generalized way of eating, where 90% of my food is within the optimal window, and most days are 100% paleo, but sometimes I want to sprinkle some goat cheese on my salad, so I do. When in a tough situation and I am hungry, I will resort to high-fat low carb foods that are free of processed ingredients.
Following a paleo style diet has also encouraged me to reintroduce foods to my diet that were somewhat lacking following a high carb, low fat runner diet, like butter.
Coffee in the morning + 1 tbsp (grassfed) butter + 2 tbsp heavy cream. Ummm that is dang tasty. Put some cinnamon in there and you are good to go for a couple hours. I'll will have this for breakfast before long runs on the weekend and find it keeps me quite satietated.
|nom nom nom|
Other foods I have been recently been experimenting with include kale, parsnips, squash, sunflower seeds, various vinegars, eggs from birds other than chickens, buffalo, and venison. No longer am I perusing the grocery store isle looking for lean ground beef (96/4), but instead try to buy grassfed beef with normal 85/15 lean/fat ratios, and honestly, it costs a similar amount.
As a runner, who occasionally does a glycogen requiring run (ok I like lazy, slow fat burning running, most of the time), I still do need to make sure I am getting enough carbs. Carb sources for me include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, squash (butternut and pumpkin mostly), fruits, and occasionally I will eat rice.
Another thing I have been doing on my longer runs, besides having mostly fat for breakfast before running, is that I have been avoiding consuming calories during them. Doing this "hopefully" will help optimize my bodies ability to run on fat (mechanism), and I have completely multiple 3 hour runs with no calories and felt no ill effects. If I can keep this up for the rest of the winter, it'll be interesting to see how this influences my racing in the spring. I think the concept of becoming fat adapted endurance athletes is becoming more and more popular, and I am guessing this is going to be a HOT topic in the next couple years.
Several blogs are in preparation, including an overhaul my interpretation of the data on how diet influences cholesterol levels, something grossly misrepresented by the ADA, and most MDs. I will also explain data from the EPIC study conducted in 2003 in the UK which compares several indices of health between vegetarians and meat-eaters with a HEALTHY diet. Lastly, I'll give my two cents on celiac disease versus gluten intolerance versus wheat intolerance.
Lastly, I keep hearing the diet term FOD-MAPs being thrown around. I think one of my classmates is doing a presentation on this type of diet, and will listen to what she has to say, and try to synthesize some of my own thoughts on the topic.
** Just saw this on the twittersphere thought id post it here too! Duncan Callahan (Elite ultrarunner) talks about 1 year paleo **