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Thread: Paleo diet?

  1. #1
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    Paleo diet?

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    I know some TE members have moved to the Paleo diet, or other primal diets. I am curious what you think of it after having been on it for a time. As someone who once had insulin resistance issues, I am starting to research the Paleo diet to see if it might be a good move for me.

    Has anyone regretted moving to the Paleo diet? Are you glad you made the move?
    Last edited by Catrin; 08-02-2012 at 04:08 PM.

  2. #2
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    I've been paleo for almost a year now over periods of lots of activity (and races) and periods of zero activity (due to injury). In addition, I have been on a very clean paleo elimination diet for the past 30+ days and I feel fan-freaking-tastic.

    I'd be happy to answer any questions, but the real answers can only come if you try it yourself because everyone is different.

    As a start, I would highly recommend two books. First and foremost: It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. They are the founders of the website Whole9 and the concept of Whole30 (30 days of clean/strict paleo to reset your hormonal response to food). Book number two is called The Paleo Solution and it's by Robb Wolf. Robb is sometimes a bit 'in your face' and his style can be kind of offensive, but I find him amusing. His book gets into more of the science than ISWF does.

    And if you do decide to try it, the best cookbook out there is called Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan. It's actually a pretty awesome cookbook whether you are paleo or not, but every single recipe we've tried from her book as been amazing. She also gives you tons and tons of ways to change things up and mix and match to keep everything interesting.
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  3. #3
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    DH and I are starting to experiment with the idea of paleo. It's been less than a week. So far, we've made a concerted effort to reduce grains, eat more produce and lean meat, and eliminate dairy. Neither of us are sure that we can go totally grain- and legume-free, but we're both enjoying veggie-laden meals and less sugar. We've both noticed that our allergies are less severe since we dropped dairy.

    Thanks to Catrin for starting this thread, and to GLC for the cookbook suggestion. I've been thinking about buying Well Fed, whether we commit to paleo or not, so I'm glad to hear that it's worth it. I'm looking forward to reading in this thread about others' experiences.

  4. #4
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    I work with a guy who tried it. He said he was hungry all the time.

    His diet was pretty healthy to begin with, in terms of things like avoiding fats and sugars, choosing whole grains, stuff like that.

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  5. #5
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    NYBiker- avoiding fat while on the Paleo diet will definitely leave one starving. I did the same thing the first time I tried it. Fat is key to satiety and to general satisfaction! It took me weeks to learn to tolerate it after years of low fat living, and months before i could enjoy it, but now I can comfortably embrace healthy fat with every meal. In fact, a meal is not complete to me without it now!

    I can share more of our actual experience on the diet tomorrow. My husband is also paleo.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by GLC1968 View Post
    NYBiker- avoiding fat while on the Paleo diet will definitely leave one starving. I did the same thing the first time I tried it. Fat is key to satiety and to general satisfaction! It took me weeks to learn to tolerate it after years of low fat living, and months before i could enjoy it, but now I can comfortably embrace healthy fat with every meal. In fact, a meal is not complete to me without it now!

    I can share more of our actual experience on the diet tomorrow. My husband is also paleo.
    Whatever you would like to share would be helpful I must admit that the idea of increasing fat in my diet for an energy source in the place of carbs is...a bit scary. That being said, I know it is about good fats, and our focus on low fat diets since the 80's have caused more problems than we realized at the time but it's been difficult to not have absorbed at least some of the idea that "fat makes you fat". The reality is far more complex than that. As someone who has reversed diabetes 2, I recognize that insulin resistance will always be a concern of mine - and apparently there is research that has shown primal diets to have a very positive effect regarding insulin issues. I need to check out this research myself.

    I know a couple of fitness professionals who were once against the Paleo/primal approach but felt it their job to research it carefully as these issues could impact those they work with. What got my attention is they are starting to change their original negative opinion and they are encouraging their clients to do the research and base our decisions on what we find. They aren't pushing us to do this - but to do the research and base our decisions on that.

    Our library has the books you mentioned on order, I am now in the que. They have an electronic copy of "The Paleo Answer" by the same author of The Paleo Diet and I've checked that out.
    Last edited by Catrin; 08-03-2012 at 02:43 AM.

  7. #7
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    There was a recent study that showed a low glycemic diet helped people lose weight & keep it off. It was superior to the low fat/high carb or high fat/low carb diets.

    My only concern would be the calcium and minerals that dairy provides. Granted, we can take supplements but I do believe that whole foods deliver nutrients in ways we don't understand yet. For women, especially as we become more mature (cough - I have a birthday coming up) osteoporosis is a concern. Most dieticians are against cutting out entire food groups.

    That being said - everybody is different. Some cannot tolerate a low carb diet due to lifestyle and the neurotransmitters that are manufactured with the help of carbohydrates. Others have no problems. I guess the real answer would be to try it & see how you feel.
    Last edited by Dogmama; 08-03-2012 at 03:45 AM.
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  8. #8
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    From what I've read, there seems to be different perspectives in the Paleo community regarding dairy. I doubt that I will cut it out entirely as I've the same calcium concerns but I've just started my research. I do think I need to give this a chance but want to do my research first.

  9. #9
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    I've been Paleo for ~11 months now and I cannot see myself ever returning to a Standard American Diet ever again. I didn't have weight to lose when I started, but I definitely leaned out and built some muscle without really changing my exercise habits. For me, the biggest impact it made on my life was the elimination of constant daily heartburn, horrible terrible acne (which is still clearing up slowly), being tired all the time and being hungry all the time.

    The key in my mind is that you have to do it with lots of fat and whatever carbs you eat need to be low glycemic index. I'm not 100% Paleo - I cheat every now and then, but I try to make smarter choices if I eat a grain or have some dessert. I do regularly drink red wine and eat dark chocolate.

    The books I recommend most are Well Fed (as previously mentioned), Paleo Comfort Foods and Make It Paleo (the one I use most often). There are two more books coming out this fall - Practical Paleo and Paleo Slow Cooker (something like that).

    On a regular basis, I read Mark's Daily Apple, Nom Nom Paleo and Paleo For Women. I have found the discussions in the latter to be especially intriguing because it talks about how as women, our different set of complicated hormones can make the Paleo diet tricky for us, as well as learning to accept your body the way it is. I found this especially important because for a while I was obsessed with getting my body fat percentage below a certain set point I made up in my mind, and now I feel more like I am eating to simply be healthy and feel good.

    My mom and I both eat this way now and we love it. We're trying to get my dad on the gravy train, but the man is addicted to Cheez-Its.

  10. #10
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    I have been eating low glycemic for a long time. In January, when DH and I wanted to lose 5 lbs. we bought a Paleo cookbook. I like some of the recipes, but I just can't totally give up whole grain carbs. I was able to almost totally not eat them for 3 months, but since cycling season has ramped up, I just can't do it. I've maintained my weight, so it doesn't seem to affect me. Also, when I had that high cholesterol reading, it was right when I had been eating lots of meat, semi-Paleo for 3.5 months.
    I am not against Paleo, I just don't want to cut out a whole
    food group. I am hungry all of the time, no matter what I eat!
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankin View Post
    I have been eating low glycemic for a long time. In January, when DH and I wanted to lose 5 lbs. we bought a Paleo cookbook. I like some of the recipes, but I just can't totally give up whole grain carbs. I was able to almost totally not eat them for 3 months, but since cycling season has ramped up, I just can't do it. I've maintained my weight, so it doesn't seem to affect me. Also, when I had that high cholesterol reading, it was right when I had been eating lots of meat, semi-Paleo for 3.5 months.
    I am not against Paleo, I just don't want to cut out a whole
    food group. I am hungry all of the time, no matter what I eat!
    Crankin, You sound just like my DH. He would completely blow away if he didn't have carbs. As mentioned, everyone is different. I can tolerate a more "paleo" diet than the DH and am currently doing just that as I am trying to dump some menopausal weight gain so am just supplementing meals for him with lots of rice, etc. Then he eats whole grain pancakes and sandwiches, etc to keep the fuel he needs. I will say, I am enjoying eating more almonds down 4 pounds in 8 days, know that will taper off but am good with it
    Once I am where I want to be I will add more carbs but will be paying attention, giving up beer hasn't been as bad as I feared but I will enjoy having it again in six weeks
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  12. #12
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    I wouldn't worry too much about eliminating the dairy. If you eat healthy and eat your leafy greens, you will be taking in the calcium you need (and you can also supplement).
    I was reading something recently (can't quite remember where online but I know it was a respected site like the Mayo clinic or something) that said that using dairy to get all your calcium (or most of it) was actually not the best way to get it into your body and was not the healthiest for your bones. I need to go try to look that up.

    I'm not paleo- I'm vegan- but I have eliminated all dairy (which is why I was reading up on calcium and dairy and such).
    Last edited by Tri Girl; 08-03-2012 at 07:37 AM.
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  13. #13
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    Dairy has more calcium than other sources, but you absorb it more efficiently from other sources. That said, I am unconvinced by the arguments that dairy is bad. My biggest concerns about dairy are the hormones & chemicals, which is an argument for local & organic dairy, not for cutting out dairy.

    A friend asked me to read the Blood Type Diet. The idea is that your blood type can tell you the ideal diet for you, and that might be vegan for one blood type and paleo for another. Seems pretty silly to me and the evidence was unconvincing, but the idea that really resonated with me was that our ideal diet is individual. Paleo might be great for some people but that doesn't mean everyone is going to thrive on paleo. Or vegan. Or whatever someone is trying to push on us.

    I suspect my ideal diet leans toward paleo but includes whole grains and dairy.
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  14. #14
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    I've seen some of the same reports that TriGirl mentions about how dairy is actually a relatively inefficient way of getting calcium (and Vit D) to our bones. I'm not going to quote the science (mostly because I'm sure I'll get it wrong!) but there have been studies. I believe that the ISWF book I mentioned includes the information. As an example, my bones are so strong even after 8 months of almost zero dairy that when I fell on my foot while it was folded under me in a totally unnatural position, I ripped ligaments from bone....I didn't break any. I did have one tiny fracture in a metatarsal but it was minor and it healed extremely quickly. My brother did the same thing to his foot (many years ago) and broke 4 of 5 metatarsals. I know it's totally anecdotal, but my bone strength is excellent even on paleo.

    The list of what I've gained going paleo is long.

    smooooth digestion - zero issues...even when running when I used to have 'problems'
    wiped out my acne (yes, zits at 44 suck)
    improved memory and clarity of thinking
    recovered from workouts faster
    a little weight loss (mostly just bloat)
    elimination of heartburn (it was getting to be a real problem)
    and the biggest one for me: feeling 'normal' about food, no cravings, no thinking about it, no longing for it, no desire to hoard it, etc (I've been food-obsessed most of my life and on paleo, I'm not)

    Then, a little over a month ago, I went Whole30 (stricter paleo) and saw the following improvements on top of the above:

    unbelievably steady energy levels
    reduction in hunger - no need to snack all day long anymore
    sleeping like the dead (this is also HUGE for me as I've always been sleep-deprived as a very, very light sleeper)
    weight loss - I'm down 10 lbs since June 27th on almost zero exercise

    My cholesterol has improved (total the same but HDL is way up) and my triglycerides didn't even register on the meter. And I had excellent numbers before I started, too.

    I also just kicked what promised to be a pretty nasty cold bug to the curb in a day and a half!

    I have zero cravings (except often for veggies and sometimes red meat), I'm happy, I feel fantastic, and I'm just giddy on a daily basis about this. I will admit that the first two weeks of Whole30 were not easy and I'd already cut out grains and legumes when I started it, but once I got past that phase, I've felt spectacular since then.

    After having seen what following the Whole30 has done for me, I would recommend it to anyone. It's worth it just to see! I'm still stunned at how much it helped me and I was already paleo. It's not easy to do in today's world (chock full of hidden bad ingredients), but it is SOOOO worth it. Hell, if my husband could do it, anyone can. Seriously!

    And I wanted to add that the experts out there on Paleo (not the crazy zealots who think it's all about cavemen!) agree that eating grains and dairy are not going to kill you (unless you are celiac, of course). The point is that they are NOT the most healthy choice. If grains are all you have to survive, then yes, eat them. They are not poison. Same with dairy (and in some cases and some dairy, it is encouraged). The point is that grains are dairy are not the best sources of nutrition and there are compounds in them that many, many humans cannot tolerate. This is individual but until you eliminate them 100% for a long enough period of time, you cannot know if you are sensitive or not.

    Example: I love corn. Corn on the cob was one of my favorite foods. When I finished my Whole30, the first item I tried to 'reintroduce' was corn chips. I should have known better because about 10 years ago, I eliminated popcorn from my diet because it made my stomach hurt something awful. I thought it was just popcorn but now I have learned that it is all corn. I no longer eat it and now that I know, without a doubt, what it does to me, I can make that choice rationally and I'm ok with it. It's not worth it to me...no matter how good it tastes. I suspect that once my husband tries icecream for the first time, he'll have a similar reaction (though he'll probably decide that it IS worth it to him) .
    Last edited by GLC1968; 08-03-2012 at 08:42 AM.
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  15. #15
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    This is all really good info- thanks!

    GLC, can you provide some examples of meals and snacks in your house? I'm struggling a little with meal ideas beyond salads and grilled meat and veggies, particularly when time or sanity are in short supply.

    DH did make some rocking stuffed peppers last night with ground turkey and spinach. He has a gift for inventing dishes without recipes.

 

 

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