Paleo is quite the buzzword these days. This is my experience with the diet and how I got started.
Once upon a time last summer, I read a book called, “Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle” by Dianne SanFilippo. I devoured that book. I read it in three days and loved it.
It just made sense to me. I loved her simple, understandable approach to explaining the science behind the Paleo way of eating. It was easy to read and easy to understand for the average person. I read a lot about Paleo before, and had tried a lot of grain-free recipes, but after reading this book, I decided I wanted to try it out. I’ve always known that my body doesn’t respond well to a lot of grains (i.e. baked goods, bread, etc.).
This summer, I gave it a go. I went grain-free and sugar-free strictly for almost 6 weeks. I made eggs for my family EVERY single morning accompanied by either meat (aidells chicken sausage or ham) or some veggies (spinach, mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes). For lunch I made meat and vegetables, as usual. I turned my meatloaf into a paleo friendly version and my entire family gobbled it up. It became a weekly menu item and still is frequently seen on our table. I ate a lot of protein and good fat, and stayed away from sugar and grain like the plague. I was actually pretty impressed that I was able to do it. It was a lot easier than I thought!
One of the things that intrigued me was how the author explains that when we are eating carbs all the time, our bodies are burning carbs for fuel. But if we train our bodies to use fat for fuel, that is where we can truly lose all of the extra fat that never seems to go away. I had been doing Insanity for months by this point and lost my baby weight and felt great, but still had that little pooch on my belly that never seems to diminish (minus the time I did a juice fast and was off of ALL processed foods for 8 weeks). After eating paleo and cutting those grains out, my fat started to MELT. It was unreal.
I could tell things were just shifting and changing, and I was in awe that in such a short time, my body learned how to use that fat for fuel. Fat is GOOD for you (the right kinds, of course). I will never stop touting that message to anyone who will listen. The paleo diet promotes the consumption of good fats to satiate you and help you feel fuller, longer. The entire idea is that our ancestors (hence the name paleo – paleolithic) were able to go for hours and even days on the protein and fat they were able to consume. If you are eating a bunch of carbs and filling your body with them, your body burns the carbs, not fat. It runs through carbs a lot faster than fat, and you feel the need to eat more often, leading to over-eating. The book includes a section of recipes, but I didn’t try any of them. I just ate lots of eggs prepared the way we would eat them, and made more meat and veggies!
The paleo diet enforces exercise (cross-fit is a major workout plan of a lot of paleo followers) and I kept up my Insanity workouts and noticed a difference there as well. With eating paleo, you are encouraged to wait at least 30 minutes to eat anything after exercising, which goes against everything you have ever heard about “replenishing your body” after a work out. I thought that was intriguing and decided to give it a try. It was incredible.
By waiting until my body calmed down and was out of “fight or flight mode” after exercise, I could tell what I REALLY needed, and didn’t just automatically fill up on SOMETHING because I felt I had to replenish . . . something. I felt incredible. I noticed the biggest difference in my arms and belly, where the fat was leaving and the muscles I had worked so hard for were showing up more and more. I really grew to respect this way of eating and understood why all of these crazy “Paleo-ers” do what they do! I woke up each morning feeling great.
If you know me personally, you know that has NEVER happened. I usually wake up in the morning and HAVE to immediately eat breakfast, or I’m sick. I was able to wake up, make breakfast, eat, and feel great. I didn’t have to snack all day, because I was full from the meals I was making. I had snacks like hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, almonds, fruit, smoothies, fresh veggies, cottage cheese, etc. I made sure to eat some protein before bed, and that helped a lot.
I have to say, in my short “strict” paleo experience, I believe in it. I felt great, I felt energetic, I wasn’t hungry all the time, and my workouts were more effective. I also slept fabulously. My family benefited and my kids didn’t complain. My husband loved it because he was getting more meat (which he loves) and it really wasn’t a huge adjustment for us. I was already not feeding my baby any grains so that wasn’t hard either. She ate whatever we did and gobbled it up. When I started to feel I needed something bread-like, I found a great grain-free pancake recipe and my kids loved it. I still make them to this day (will post the recipe soon). It satisfied my need without cheating.
I will explain in another post how/why I slid off the Paleo wagon. But I love the idea and have still incorporated eating more protein and fat and a lot less carbs into our diet. We still eat eggs almost every day, and meat and veggies for our main meal at lunch. Stay tuned!