You’ve been working hard in the gym and you’ve seen results. You’ve been steadily getting stronger. But your clothes still aren’t fitting the way you would like and the PR’s are not coming as quickly as they were. You’ve chalked up that nagging elbow and knee pain to “getting older”. Guess what…now it’s time to address your nutrition. This part is harder than coming into the gym and putting in the physical work. This part requires more from you because it is not as straightforward as picking up a barbell or doing a set of pull-ups. You will need equal parts dedication, curiosity, tenacity, and determination and you will use these qualities to help you find and stick with a plan that brings you the best results.
Where do I start?
There are so many options out there and it’s hard to know where to start. This seems to be the limiting factor for many. We get conflicting information about what is healthy. Am I supposed to eat a low fat or high fat? Healthy whole grains or no grains? Does a healthy breakfast really start with Cheerios, oatmeal, a banana and some orange juice? This is where I’ll step in and cut to the chase. I’ve tried a LOT of different things in my fitness journey and it wasn’t until 2010 when I tried the paleo diet for the first time that I started to understand the impact of food quality vs food quantity. I’m no expert, but I’ve read enough to play like I am, so just roll with me. In this post, I’m going to try to give you a better understanding of the paleo
diet lifestyle and how to use this approach to feel better, look better, and enhance your performance in the gym.
What exactly the Paleo Diet?
How do we do it? We eat a variety of quality meats, poultry, fish, and eggs. We enjoy healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, and avocados. We eat plenty of vegetables and some fruit, preferably berries. We eat nuts (in moderation) and occasionally enjoy good sources of dairy like pastured cream and butter.
What do we avoid? We stay away from grains, dairy, and legumes, specifically because they are known gut irritants and can cause inflammation.
Here is what you need to do to get started:
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf
It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
The Protein Power Life Plan by Dr. Michael Eades
The Paleo Answer by Dr. Loren Cordain
Primal Body Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas
Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis
Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes
Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilipo
2. Buy a paleo cookbook or surf the internet for good, paleo recipes. To make this “diet” sustainable, it’s important to try new things and stay out of a rut. Often, I google a recipe I’m interested in and put the word “paleo” in front of it. You’ll be surprised how many options come up. Print up the recipe and try it out. If it is something you didn’t like, throw it away and try again. If you DID like it, save it and put it in a 3 ring binder and begin creating your very own paleo cookbook of tried and true recipes that you know you like. Below is a list of some of the cookbooks I have tried and love. More and more are coming out every week.
Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield
Make it Paleo by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason
Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan
Well Fed 2 by Melissa Joulwan
Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso
The Primal Blueprint Cookbook by Mark Sisson
Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam3. Decide that today is the day you are going to make a life-changing decision. Define your goals. What do you want to do? Lose weight, get off medication, improve your immune function or just plain feel better? A 30-day intervention may be the right place to start. Dallas and Melissa Hartwig of the Whole 30 blog will point you in the right direction. Their website has helped thousands of people regain their health. Their Whole 9 Life and Whole 30 blogs are jam-packed with information on nutrition, staying on track, and working out among other great reads. Be sure to check them out.
Other wonderful blogs include:
Whole 9 Life
Mark’s Daily Apple
Each one of the sites has extensive lists of resources and guides put together to help you be successful in your paleo lifestyle. Explore each of these sites and read their blogs, use their resource and getting started pages. These guys have been at it for a long time and have helped a multitude of people get healthy. While there are many good blogs out there, this is just a good start. I will list other places for you to surf as well.4. Clean out your fridge! Get rid of anything that has high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, and weird man-made stuff that doesn’t even qualify for food. Robb Wolf has a good place in his getting started section of his blog where he gives tips for getting on the paleo track.5. Go to the grocery store and buy real food. Shop the perimeter of the store. Load up on veggies, fruit, and quality protein like grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, pastured free range poultry and eggs. Ditch the bread, pasta, and sugary cereals. Diane Sanfilipo of Balanced Bites has some good guides to help you shop at the grocery store. This is a LOT of information, but don’t feel like you have to digest it all at once. (heh heh…she said digest). I want this to be a resource page for you so you have lots of info in one spot. These are the places I go for info too. Then, you need to get planning and create some meal plan for yourself. If you’re not sure how to do this, read this post from Stupid Easy Paleo. If you’ve already been experimenting with a paleo template and have found yourself struggling because you’re still feeling hungry or not losing weight, you should check out these posts here and here. That should do it for now. In my next post, I’ll expand on the idea of paleo, but help you apply zone principles in the event you want to quantify. Until then, read up and give this a whirl. It really is all about doing the basics well.