Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 21 - Updates

I feel like i'm getting the hang of this. I still have cravings here or there for carbs (just one bowl of cereal please!), but one the whole it's not too bad. I'm used to eating 5 times a day plus snacks. My body doesn't know what to do when it's waiting 5 hours for food. It gets bored, especially at work.

I have started to watch the Cooking Channel on TV. I really do love Giada, she makes wonderfully simple and delicious foods. And being Italian doesn't hurt either. Today, I made a chicken salad with my own vinaigrette (courtesy of Giada). Olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. So easy and tasty.

The weather outside has been horrible recently, and I've wanted to go out for a run, but it's so un-appealing when it is pouring rain outside. Not to mention, I probably only have an hour left until sundown. Maybe I can get up early and run.

To supplement my Paleo diet I purchased a few things that Robb Wolf recommended: Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Probiotics. I got a quart of Goodbelly Probiotics - it is really yummy (i got the watermelon flavor). But I'm going to try to hold off on using the Vitamin D and Magnesium until I'm done with my 30 days. Then I'll start adding and subtracting things to my diet to see how I feel.

I don't feel sluggish, but I do wish I could go out for a run. This rainy season stinks!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 17 - Fantastic Crossfit Workout

As my dad and I drove up to West Chester Crossfit I already had a good vibe about this experience. We drove up to the warehouse and parked. The garage door was 3/4 closed. Inside I could see a handful of enthusiastic crossfitters all doing various warm ups. Meanwhile, I had no idea what we were going to be doing.

I spoke briefly with Jimmy one of the gym co-owners. He was very welcoming, and we talked a little bit about how I was trying to follow the paleo-diet. A solution that he say many crossfitters follow (with varying degrees of leniency). Then I walked into the gym area and met with everyone else who was going to be working with us. There was 6 or 7 cheery people who were eager to introduce themselves. I instantly felt welcome.

We warmed up with two laps around the gym, followed by various lunges, and stretches to warm up the muscles. Following that we played a rousing game of hot-potato with a medicine ball. This was pretty funny. After everyone was warmed up we began our workout.

15 minutes. Starting with jump-ups, then moving to a rotation of hand-stand push ups, dead lifts, and bar jumps (jumping over the dead lift bar). Simple right? Only 15 minutes, how hard could it be? WOW, way intense. I realized I'm not used to that sort of intensity, even in my roller hockey games I get a break. I managed to get 6 or so in 15 minutes, which I was pretty proud of considering I had never done it before.

I had a great time. It was highly motivating to see everyone else competing and doing their best. It made me want to do my best and push myself. I guess that's how they see so much success. I would definitely go again if I had the money to join a crossfit gym. It was a great experience, and I know I got a lot more out of it than I would if I had just gone to the gym by myself.

Summary: Definitely recommended.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 16 - Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Now that I got that out of the way... My family is very traditional usually cooking a lasagna for Thanksgiving. This year however, that was not going to fly for me so, I scrounged up some recipes from the web, and sent them to my mom in advanced. We used:

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Cranberry Sauce
Paleo Pumpkin pie

Recipes from EverdayPaleo.

We usually host thanksgiving at our house, but this year the relatives were going to be in San Fransisco (I don't blame them). So, it was just going to be my mom, dad, sister and I.

After watching the Patriots dismantle the Lion. C'mon! Didn't anyone see that coming? I can't even believe that the Lions had a lead at one point. Look at this nice, easy 79 yard td Deion Branch had today.

Like I said, after the dismantling, we had already put the turkey in the oven and were working on our other recipes. The paleo pie was so easy; the crust is only three ingredients (hazelnuts, pecans, and butter). The cranberry sauce was equally as easy. I tossed in the ingredients and let it boil down. I thought it tasted fantastic too, definitely tart, slightly sweet, and bursting with real cranberry flavor. Much tastier than that store bought crap. Eventually, my sister and dad walked in the kitchen and we had the whole family cooking. It was great.

I usually help my mom with a side dish every year, but this is the first year I had my hands on a bunch of dishes. I think everything turned out great. I owe a lot to Sarah at Everyday Paleo. Her recipes are simple, delicious, and paleo (grain, dairy, legume free).

This year my brother was still in San Diego working on more films. But that didn't stop him from making an appearance at our table. We propped him up at the head of the table while we ate dinner, and it was almost like he was with us.

Being home reminds me of how great family is.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 15 - YAY for Ketosis

Let me begin by saying my dad is a fitness nut. Year after year, and he continuously puts me to same with the amount and variety of activities that he performs. A short list of his activities (that I know about):

He played college hockey
Then proceeded to play roller hockey until the age of 50
He is a black belt 4 or 5 stripes?? With tons of other self-defense knowledge
Races mountain and road bikes
For perspective a quick mountain bike ride is only 2 or 3 hours
Professional body-builder (college era?)
Racquetball, tennis, soccer goalie - you name it

Okay, so why the lengthy intro? For years, my dad has been a fantastic role model on my and the rest of my family's fitness ethic. Some families play rousing card games when they get together. My family likes to work out - except for my mom who just goes along to make everyone else happy (love you mom!). I am in no way saying we are better than other families, this is just a strange tradition of activeness that I've grown up with. I always loved working out with my dad, because he knows a lot about weight lifting (something I don't have a lot of knowledge on), and he knows when and how to push someone to do their best. Point of all this is, that I ALWAYS get a good workout when I'm with my dad and my brother.

Typically, when I go to the gym I have an excess of energy from the fantastic meal that I eat beforehand. Loaded with carbs! Whole-grain slow dissolving carbs though. Those should last a while right? Well, I feel great for about 30 minutes of hard working, and then I'm spent, and I just feel like I can't work out any more because I don't have any energy.

A funny thing happened when I went to the gym with my dad today. I had my usual paleo breakfast. Today was bison burger (I'm spoiled being at home for the holidays), one egg, and a massive salad. Hardly any carbs. I felt mediocre when I go to the gym, not feeling my usual surge of energy, but after I did a couple sets of lifting I started to feel a little better. It was like my body was waking up. I did a few more exercises and I started feeling great. I think we ened up working out for an hour and a half, and I didn't mind it at all. Usually, I'm in the gym for 30 minutes and I'm ready to go eat, because I feel like I have no energy. Not only that, but after we worked out I wasn't starving. I felt great, not exhausted, and not super hungry. I ate as soon as I got back to my parents house, but it was a really good feeling to be able to workout that long, and not feel depleted, I felt awake and ready to go.

I am still adjusting to the low-carb diet, because I still feel like I have a lower level of energy through out the day. I have reduced my carb intake from roughly 500g a day to around 50g. Hopefully, this is what Robb is talking about by the adjustment period. But now I am taking in adequate amounts of fats and proteins, eating lots more vegetables and kind of coasting through out the day.

Despite feeling a lower level of energy, I consistently am able to outperform (at least in terms of time worked out) my old self. On Friday, my dad and I are going to one of his friends crossfit classes. I've very excited even though I don't know much about it. I have heard good things.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 14 - Ketosis I Finally Made It

What the crap is ketosis? Did I miss this in his book? It was my "understanding" (and I say that very loosely) that you could only use carbohydrates as fuel, but what I am learning is that your body can also run on fats for fuel. Apparently, there is a whole sub-sub-culture of people who follow a low-carb approach (without being paleo) who know this ketosis - which just means that your body is entering fat burning mode. (Side note: apparently, only women like to use a low carb approach, since it only appears on the womenwebmd web site).

Two things I know: I kind of like this, and it makes your breath stink. I noticed a few days ago that my mouth had sort of a metallic taste to it. I brushed my teeth, and it went away, but it came back a little while later. This is supposed to be a (good) sign that my body has entered ketosis. I haven't noticed my breath being bad as much recently, but I'm not sure that's a good thing. I've read a lot of places that this is just what happens when you go on a low carb approach. Not cool.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 13 - Make it Simple Stupid

Robb Wolf has a great idea of how to get people to buy into his "solution." He says just use a hunk of good meat, use good fats, add lots of vegetables. Simple enough right? It was actually. By not focusing on quantities and just the quality of ingredients people are more likely to buy-in. I believe that. Anything that stands in people's way of change just makes it harder.
However, there can be problems from someone trying to follow an un-weighted unmeasured paleo program. After listening to the first 10 podcasts from his website I found a lot of more helpful advice that wasn't spelled out in his book. For one, his recommendation on protein was 1 gram for lb of body weight. I had heard this before, but I didn't know that it also applied to this "diet." Taking this into consideration my target grams of protein would be as follows.

= 150lbs
= 150g protein per day
= 50g per meal (at 3 meals a day)
= 8oz of meat per meal (at 7g per oz)

Okay, now I can visualize what I need to target, because essentially I was eating half of what I needed on a daily basis. No wonder why I lost weight. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the idea of not having to weigh and measure, but having a target is so much more helpful to make sure I am getting the most out of these 4 weeks.

I am going to have to get pretty thrifty now that I am basically doubling my protein intake, and all of it from meat (things with faces and souls Robb says - HA). I wish I had a big enough freezer to go in on half a cow. Yes, people really do that - and I'm jealous.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 12 - Most Common Food Allergies

Again, and again I see the same list of items. This one from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
  • Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)
  • Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Aside from fish and nuts all the others are on the paleo "no-no" list. I'm beginning to wonder if these are just coincidences or something more.

Ps. does anyone else think the new Planters Peanut commercials are a little creepy?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 11 - Real Quick Updates

So, I fell off for a little bit (of the blogging not the diet). Okay, well let's make this one quick and I'll just bullet my findings and observations thus far after a week and a half of changing my diet.
  1. I still feel sluggish in the morning, and a little like I have lower energy through out the day
  2. This being said I feel lighter, more agile, and not weighted down. Paleo meals tend to leave me satisfied, but not stuffed like my other diet.
  3. I love cooking 3 meals instead of 5 per day. Love it. So, much more convenient. And the guy over at lean gains says it doesn't matter how many you eat. Sure it takes slightly longer to cook, but I do it less.
  4. I am starting to like cooking again. Before I was just combining grains in different forms to get 100g per meal and then tossing in a little fat and probably no veggies. Now, I feel like I am actually making meals. And, I've made some tasty ones (like the fiesta lime salmon above).
  5. I can taste vegetables now. I realize that before I was just drowning everything out with grains, and condiments. I couldn't taste and of the "real" food. I would use ketchup or BBQ on anything, and it never allowed me to taste the food. I was addicted to the sugar and salt just like other people.
  6. I feel like I have less energy, but I consistently have performed better in my training. I played great at my hockey game the other night. I had energy to skate all three periods for once - hard. I didn't feel like my legs were shaking and going to fall off. They were just burning because I was pushing myself. It was a good feeling.
So all in all I've been pretty happy so far. The only thing is the lower level of energy I feel - even though it hasn't really altered my fitness. Robb Wolf says that it could take any where from 3-4 weeks to adapt to this lower carb diet. So, I'm not too surprised I feel like this. Let's keep it up, and see how I after the adaptation period.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 4 - The Lactic Acid Mystery

I went for my cardio workout today. I was unsure how the changes in my diet would affect my run, because I felt like I had no energy (from the lack of grains). I started out slowly on the green way near my house, which has an excellently marked 5k course, so I don't have to think about how far or where I'm going I can just enjoy the run.

Everything felt normal, but I still felt like I didn't have a whole lot of energy. I kept at a slow/medium pace for about 3/4 a mile, and then I started to ramp up the speed. I felt surprisingly good. Still a little foggy in the head, but my muscles felt great. I kept going faster and faster and my muscles didn't burn like they usually do when I run. I actually felt great and I had no intention of slowing down, but I wondered if I could keep that quick pace.

I didn't time myself because I forgot to bring a watch, but just from observation I know that I was running pretty hard, and I definitely was able to run at a higher speed for longer than I normally can. Normally, my muscles are burning for me to slow down, but not this time. I remember reading somewhere that a high carbohydrate diet (like the one I was accustomed to) is shown to increase lactic acid.

There seems to be all sorts of confusion as to what lactic acid really is. In an article from The New York Times, Gina Kolata writes,

"Everyone who has even thought about exercising has heard the warnings about lactic acid. It builds up in your muscles. It is what makes your muscles burn. Its buildup is what makes your muscles tire and give out.

Coaches and personal trainers tell athletes and exercisers that they have to learn to work out at just below their "lactic threshold," that point of diminishing returns when lactic acid starts to accumulate. Some athletes even have blood tests to find their personal lactic thresholds.

But that, it turns out, is all wrong. Lactic acid is actually a fuel, not a caustic waste product. Muscles make it deliberately, producing it from glucose, and they burn it to obtain energy. The reason trained athletes can perform so hard and so long is because their intense training causes their muscles to adapt so they more readily and efficiently absorb lactic acid.”

Most articles say that lactic acid is fuel for exercise that helps you avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This is contrary to the popular belief that lactic acid is excess waste our body produces. I’m in way over my head with all this science speak, but I was able to tell first hand that I didn’t have the same lactic acid build up (or whatever causes our muscles to burn), when I was running today, that I had the past 8 months of running.

I know, this is just the first experience running on the paleo diet, but it was a good one. And I look forward to seeing how I perform at hockey, because I always feel like I have no energy by the third period, no matter what I eat.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 3 - So, I cheated

Just a little, but it was my birthday, so I don't feel bad (some of my close friends and I went to see the Flyers spank the Hurricanes in Raleigh). The only thing that wasn't "paleo" was the one beer (IPA) I had. Besides, that I decided to have my fill of tequila and lime (alla norcal infamous margaritas).

The game was great, but trying to recover from a hangover without grains was tough. I felt awful; really awful. Perhaps, that can also be attributed towards dehydration. The nausea and headache went away by about 5pm that night, but let's be clear. This is the alcohol's fault. I just didn't have my usual crutch of clifbars to help me recover.

I have kept the changes in diet so far. Some things to note.
  • I'm not sure if the cravings have gone away completely yet, but they aren't as bad.
  • I'm still roughly the same weight.
  • It's slowly getting easier to figure out what to eat.

Day 2 - 3 meals, 4 meals, five meals, more?

When I went to the nutritionist at school three years ago, she recommended I double my carb intake for the kind of cardio and lifting I was doing. With that guideline my diet roughly equaled; 80/90g carbs, 20g protein, and 15g fat per meal (I confirmed this with other online research). But this was me eating five times a day.

Most of my friends thought I was crazy, and a lot probably still do. But I managed to make it work. I would eat burritos (sometimes homemade), kasha pizza, cereal (almost every morning), lots of brown rice, homemade muffins, peanut butter and jelly, and sometimes two sandwiches a meal just to get enough bread. I hardly ate any meat, because of cost, and I hardly ate vegetables because of taste. So most of my protein was acquired through beans, grains, ect. Robb calls these “third-world proteins” which I find pretty humorous but also slightly alarming. I ALWAYS had to have food with me, I was constantly eating. I always had a cliffbar with me when I went out, because I would always get hungry. I was so used to having carbs pumped into me at the speed of light that they were always within arm’s reach.

To be honest, it was a real pain in the ass, but I kept up with it because I thought I was doing my body good. I would tell my friends that “I’m paying for my hospital bills early” when they asked about how I could afford “healthy” food. Then today I find a blog that goes against eating five times a day. It’s a pretty scientific sounding blog, but in essence he refutes the commonly held belief, legend, myth that it is healthier to eat more frequently. This would certainly make things a lot easier for me. In fact, Robb recommends eating just three meals a day. Thank god! There’s no way I could cook five meals a day and have time to live.


Robb recommends having some measurements, as well as pictures to document the 30 days, so I will do the same.

Blood work - I got some blood work done a month ago, and I don’t see the need to do it again. Plus I already started eating paleo, so I don’t want the results to be tainted. I have to contact my doctor to get these.

Weight: 152 – my concern is that without all the grains I usually eat I will lose weight, and I don’t want that to happen

Height: 5'11" - this better not change

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day One – Carb withdrawal

I know they say that sugars can be addicting, but this is serious. I never have cravings for really sweet food, but I find myself craving a lot of food I wouldn’t normally, and it has only been ONE day without grains. What I really miss is a bowl of cereal, it pains me to even see the words on the screen. This is not a topic that Robb talks about in his book. I’m not sure that he says how hard it will be to give up grains AND dairy, perhaps this is just on a person to person basis.

But I found some forums online that say that carb width drawl is perfectly normal, and that my body should adjust in about two weeks. TWO WEEKS – are you crazy! Now, I feel like I know what it’s like to give up smoking. I’ve never wanted to compulsively do something this bad before. What makes it worse is that I am constantly bombarded with foods all filled with grains! Cupcakes, banana bread, muffins, bagels – holy crap. I don’t mean to alarm anyone who is thinking about doing this for 30 days, but I just want you to be aware of the reality of the situation. I certainly feel worse (energy-wise), but my stomach feels fine – unless you count a gnawing feeling of wanting to swim in a river of cheerwine and krispy cream doughnuts. I didn’t think I would have carb withdrawal this bad. I typically eat at least 90% whole grains. I figured it would be worse for people who eat simple sugars like white bread and white rice. But this is what Robb says in "The Paleo Solution",

"So folks, this is an opportunity to see “complex carbohydrates” for exactly what they are: Lots of sugar. No matter what type of carbohydrate we absorb, it all goes into the system as either glucose or fructose, aka sugar."

I suppose this makes sense. That would explain the cravings even though I eat "healthy" grains". There is still so much info to digest in his book (no pun intended). I don’t feel bad, just off. I feel hungry. WAY hungry.

Paleo-what, is this Atkins Part 2?

What is this?

Eat all the meat and fats you want? Is this the Atkins diet? Not quite.This new, revolutionary, fad, diet has actually been around for a while. In gist – the paleo diet recommends lean meats, good fats (yes there are good fats), and lots of veggies, while abstaining from grains, dairy, and legumes. In essence, this is the diet that our hunter/gatherer ancestors ate. I came across this “diet” from Robb Wolf’s book “The Paleo-Solution” while browsing Amazon. It was recommended based on other books i looked at, but what surprised me were the rave reviews. Ten minutes looking at reviews, 2 seconds purchasing, and another 30 seconds until I was reading it (thank you kindle). The book is both fascinating and counter intuitive to most of what I have learned about nutrition, but I won’t go into detail about its content yet. The core message from the book is basically “try it”. Try it for 30 days, then re-introduce the foods you took out of your diet and see how you feel. The author is convinced that you will be pleased with the results enough to keep with it (as a LIFESTYLE mind you, not a diet). After reading half the book the night I got it, I decided to take the bait for a 30 day trial (no money-back - guaranteed).

A little about myself

I think of myself as generally healthy. I eat what I thought was healthy (isn’t that what they all say): whole grains, lean meats, good fats, dairy, legumes, and some vegetables. I exercise regularly, and I have also gotten into running recently, so my cardio is going way up. Other then that I play sports when I can find people to play with, and I have gotten back into roller hockey for the past year.

Why a blog?

Who cares what I have to say? Well, first off, I do. I was going to document this offline, but then I thought I might keep up with it more if I have a fun way to express myself. Also, what I have come to realize in my limited research on the paleo-diet, is that there is a nice little (yet growing) community of followers. What better way to keep myself interested then plugging myself in with other people who are trying it out as well. My hope is to find out that;

  • A. this diet is a load of crap, and I can begin eating dairy, grain, and beans again, feeling satisfied that I gave what some consider as the holy-grail of diets. Or
  • B. That Robb Wolf is actually right, and I just started the first steps to transforming my health for the better.

As I will be looking to others during these 30 days, I offer my experiences to the community, so that people down the line will have a better idea what they are getting into.