It’s now firmly February (NEWS FLASH!)
And with that, I’ve now done what I set out to do way back in late December; to exploit the guidelines and theories in a Christmas gift (Chris Kresser’s well renowned book: Your Personal Paleo Diet).
Before I elaborate further, may I encourage you to have a quick read of my two previous posts where I outlined all the nitty gritty stuff. How, why, who, what and where. I then did a mid-January update.
Those posts highlight that I’m not making or haven’t made, any drastic full circle lifestyle spins in terms of habits and particularly – eating habits. I’m just trying to optimise, a word I’m using more lately. Always trying to improve, move, evolve, learn and stretch my perceived boundaries.
Kresser makes strong references to the overbearing influence gut health makes on practically every element of health in general.
With my background of sensitive digestion which includes obvious symptoms of irritation to gluten (long since removed from my diet) and even casein (Dairy products/cottage cheese – I went into depth on this in parts ONE and TWO). It was something that really did “come at the right time”. It was also something I’d been longing to do for some time, but didn’t quite now how to start the ball rolling.
I have adhered completely to the style of eating recommended in the book for more than thirty days.
In summary, this just means eliminating all variations of dairy, even forms with minimal lactose such as butter. Consuming no artificial sugars or sweeteners (I hadn’t been anyway) with the exception of sugar from fruit and starchy carbs – which is very recommended in the book.
You’re also encouraged to keep a closer eye on your omega 3 to omega 6 fat intake ratio. Something I’d always been relatively aware of, but never to this extent. You’re also told to embrace fats and not fear them. I have always eaten a fairly ‘high fat’ diet and controlled my carbs anyway – as I’m sure readers will have seen.
No, the book doesn’t jump on the carb-bashing train and tout all carbs as evil, before anyone makes that assumption. Kresser actually advises a firm portion of your calories come from carbohydrates if you’re active, and engaging in regular exercise/activity of considerable intensity (that’s me!). Obviously the kicker is…….the carbs have to be ‘clean’ and ideally come from paleolithic sources. Winter squashes, yams, sweet potatoes and others.
With the exception of white rice, which is endorsed for those highly active as white rice is simply starch. And therefore does the job of fuelling and replenishing glycogen stores. You’re not allowed to consume rice of any kind throughout the thirty day journey. But you’re invited to experiment re-introducing white rice at a later date, should you wish/require. Something I intend on doing.
What I’ve gained from the experience –
I now consume organ meats. Which are very much a dying tradition nowadays. Particularly liver meat which is high in a plethora of vitamins and minerals and has just a monstrous nutrient density rating. A funny side note is that my father – who’s far from a ‘health freak’ or even enthusiast – has always eaten liver meat on and off throughout his life, was amazed when I wanted some too!
“Unlike you to mimic anything I do?”
Well, my mind is always as open as possible. Looks like my old dad knows a thing or two after all.
In addition, I’ve also began paying closer attention to my omega 3 consumption. I had always been a fan of various types of cold water fish, but my consumption had been somewhat sporadic. The book has made me place greater emphasis on this element of eating. So I now eat sardines and salmon pretty much every other day – I alternate.
I’d also been consuming a fair amount of farmed salmon, which is a whole other topic! But what we know is this: Wild salmon > farmed salmon every time. I had always known that, although due to availability/financial reasons etc…I had to resort to farmed………occasionally. However, tinned wild salmon is perfectly acceptable/affordable and is a rich source of omega 3. What most people don’t know is, the boned, instead of the boneless, is actually a great source of calcium! I’m now eating wild tinned salmon regularly – and it’s very convenient too.
On days where I may not be able to consume appropriate forms of oily fish, I have some good quality omega 3 capsules on hand. So whatever happens, my omega 3 – omega 6 ratio is decent – at least.
That’s another widely highlighted topic within the book, the severe imbalance in western countries of omega 3-omega 6 intake. I live in the U.K. where the average ratio of omega 3-6 is between 30:1 and 50:1! And in all honesty, when you see the condition of the average guy/girl here, you can quite believe it; excess body fat, no social motivation/confidence, poor memory and concentration and just overall sickness.
Don’t be another statistic. I’m not and won’t.
How I’m feeling/performing –
Quite frankly, I’m feeling as well as ever. This isn’t some immense miraculous transformation that you often read in magazines. As I’ve said in my previous posts, my life in terms of health, diet and exercise – even sleep, was way above the average man’s standards – maybe even quite above the average ‘fitness enthusiast’s’ standards.
My sleep is good and my strength is still gradually improving. Which definitely poses a decent argument for those “Paleo-style eating is useless for strength and muscle!” dogmatic claims. Hey, learn from doing, not talking. I’ve found paleo carbs to be quite sufficient.
In regards to solving the “protein gas” conspiracies, I’ve certainly noticed less. But there is still some, and some days are worse than others. Again, that could be down to subtle intolerances I have to particular foods I eat regularly, in spite of the fact that I do my best to rotate food sources as much as possible. Or it could also be part and parcel of consuming impressive amounts of vegetables – particularly cruciferous vegetables (sulphuric).
As I mentioned, sleep has improved. I’ve done precious little to try and improve it, other than front-loading my water and fluid intake and I’ve started doing my beloved cold showers again (which I gave up due to winter dry skin, for a few months) – or am I just a ‘pansy’? Your choice.
But I feel awesome having a cold shower out of bed and before bed. Not for long, just enough to bring my body temperature down a notch. If you haven’t guessed, I rate cold showers very highly!
Moving forward –
I fully intend to keep exercising the principles I’ve gained from Kresser’s book. And I guess I’m blessed that doing such a ‘experiment’, was pretty easy compared to others who may have tried it, coming from much worse foundational lifestyle habits.
There are numerous testing protocols for determining whether certain ‘grey area’ foods are in-fact, a source of irritation to you in the book. I shall be working my way through them over the coming months. And I’m quietly confident I’ll know with fair certainty, what’s good or bad for me.
In terms of performance goals, I’m still aspiring as always, to improve. Increasing strength is my primary focus at this point. Driving my numbers up in various compound lifts – particularly ones that I’m weak in and are ‘lagging’ slightly.
And of course, I’m getting back into sprinting (as I wrote about in a recent post) and unlike most, who present particular protocols, I’m actually doing the protocol I outlined in the post (Track sprints for conditioning: CLICK HERE). I’ve been doing six sets of 50 metre repeats at max, or near max intensity since the start of the new year. And my hip flexor has only just been ‘wined and dined’ into letting me hit full speed without making me pay for it with days of DOMS!
I have a background of competitive sprinting, so I’m sure my ceiling of potential (with intelligent training) – should be reasonable. Luckily I have a friend who is as committed as I am when it comes to sprinting and conditioning, who joins me once per week. That really is such an underrated aspect of fitness compliance, having an enthusiastic, hungry and accountable friend to train with.
Other experiments & projects –
One thing I’d really like to delve into is the whole ‘carbs vs fats’ debate. Obviously it’s a case of “different strokes for different folks” but, some do really well with Atkins/keto style diets. Some do atrociously. Some do great on higher carb diets, some feel sleepy. And I mean beyond the whole “activity level” dosage basis. The bottom line is: some people are highly active – and lean, but just don’t tolerate bucket loads of carbs – especially simple carbs. Whereas some people do wonderfully on all kinds of ‘dirty’ carbs.
Which one am I? Which one are you?
That’s firmly on my radar. The more we know, the more we grow.
When all’s said and done, I’m just trying to discover as much about myself as possible and use what knowledge I gain to help others as best I can.