There are three main endurance sport diets out there:
1. The Vegetarian/Vegan - they claim to feel better than ever before, have more energy than ever before, and be faster than ever before and they have scientific data that suggests that it works.
2. The Paleo / Primal / Low-Carb People - they claim to feel better than ever before, have more energy than ever
before, and be faster than ever before and they have scientific data
that suggests that it works.
3. The Eat-Whatever-You-Want-People - They claim to train and race simply so they can eat whatever they want and they have fun doing it.
For the most part, I've been a number 3, with dashes of number 1 and number 2. I eat what I want within reason, I try to eat lots of healthy fruits and veggies, I enjoy holidays and the food that goes along with it, I have an indulgent meal at least once a week and a glass or two of wine on the weekends. When I'm training all-out (usually Jan-June) I can maintain my weight on this "diet". The rest of the year I cannot.
Last September I tried a month of vegetarian diet. I liked it a lot, felt good, and gained several pounds. Was it my normal September weight gain? Was it the diet? Was it because I let myself eat crap JUST because it didn't have meat in it? I dunno. All I know is that I didn't lose any weight.
So - I decided that in January, I would eat a Paleo / Primal diet for one month and give that a test. As with anything, there are plenty of versions of this diet. I am actually following the rules for the Primal Blueprint diet by Mark Sisson primarily because he allows some dairy products and puts a little sugar in his coffee in the morning.
I will eat: meat, chicken, fish, eggs, vegetables, nuts, fats, some fruit (berries are best), coffee, and a little red wine and dark chocolate
I won't eat: any form of sugar, any grain including rice and quinoa
I will avoid: dairy products, especially during the first week, but will likely add back yogurt and some cheese.
Why Paleo / Primal?
Since I "hang out" with a lot of endurance athletes on Twitter and Facebook, I have plenty of opportunity to listen to the debate about the various schools of thought on what constitutes healthy eating. I guess you could say I'm jumping on the bandwagon, but really, I just want to give each of these diets a try and see if I can notice any positive effect on my body and my training energy. But the main reason I decided to finally try a version of paleo is because a pair of real life friends have been eating that way for several years and it seems to really be working for them. I chose Primal for the reasons I noted above, plus Sisson talks about an 80% rule. He says follow the rules 80% of the time. Makes sense to me. Seems manageable.
So after one week, how's it going?
I have just finished my first week (6 days) of primal eating and so far so good. One thing I can say about this diet is that it's really easy to incorporate into a regular family meal. For the most part, I replace the starch at dinner with an extra vegetable and/or salad. I have cut back on any sauces that contain flour or sugar, but for the most part, I don't think my family have noticed any change.
The biggest challenge for me is the morning - I love sugar in my coffee and since I am avoiding dairy, I can't have cream either. My friend suggested a coconut milk coffee creamer that is low in calories, has no sugar (in the plain version) and tastes great! I put quite a bit into my coffee in the morning, and I seem to be surviving without sugar.
Since I was still on holiday this past week, I wasn't always having a full breakfast AND lunch but most days I had a couple of eggs for brunch (2 strips of bacon on a couple days). Some days I also had a cup of frozen berries with a little coconut creamer.
Lunch was leftover chicken or steak from the night before or a can of tuna or salmon plus either a salad, or a bowl of homemade chicken vegetable soup.
I had at least one snack per day. I had 1/4 cup mixed nuts each day, and usually an apple. I also made some parmesan flax crackers that help to fight my craving for a cracker-type snack.
Here are the dinners I had this week.
* Grilled Chicken, large tossed salad with oil/vinegar, spinach, squash
* Fish Tacos - home made, I used a large lettuce leaf instead of a shell. Sour cream. Salad.
* Taco salad - the boys had tacos one night, I just dumped the meat on a big salad. I did indulge in a little cheddar and sour cream.
* Steak, salad, carrots
* Chicken Cacciatore - I ate mine without pasta, had a big salad, and spinach.
I did some form of training every day (I ran twice, biked twice, and went to the gym for a strength workout twice).
Since Tuesday, I have lost 2 lbs. Tomorrow is my official weigh in day, I hope I'm still 2 down then as well.
So - I'll keep you posted on how this experiment goes. So far so good.