As mentioned last week, I decided to embark on a 100% Paleo experiment for 30 days, and document the pros and cons and anything I learn along the way.
First, the answers to the five questions I originally posited.
1. Is it affordable?
My boyfriend and I spent $247.00 for the week. We had olive oil and some other foods we needed in our pantry, but not a lot. $123.50/person is ~500 bucks a month each, which is a bit more than we would like to spend.
We did buy almost all organic produce, much of which was purchased at a food co-op. We also bought all grassfed beef and free range chicken, which made things more expensive.
Ways we want to save money for week 2 include buying some food at Trader Joe’s, using some leftover grassfed beef we purchased in bulk from a local rancher, and being selective about which organic produce we purchase and which we can get away with conventional produce. (I actually wrote an article about this for the Performance Menu which you can read for about $3 if you’re not a subscriber.) We could also stick completely to seasonally grown produce, get a CSA membership or garden.
We could, of course, save money by eating grain-fed beef, but I feel pretty strongly about only consuming animals which are allowed to freely roam and are treated humanely.
2. Will it make me crazy?
My mood has been pretty decent for the past week. Ups and downs as always, but I do feel a bit more even-keeled. So no, avoiding grains and legumes has not made me crazy yet.
I was a bit hungry at first, but simply increasing portion size seems to have taken care of that.
I’ve also been sleeping fairly well most nights (though haven’t gotten to bed as early as I maybe should on most days).
Lastly, my digestion is pretty great on this diet.
3. Any cravings?
I am not going to lie. I always want sugar. This week I was specifically tempted with creme brulee, and I saw some amazingly sugary drinks at various cafes which had all sorts of whipped cream toppings. I know you’re not supposed to covet, but I did indeed, and my green tea and dark decaf coffee did not improve things. We did eat one dark chocolate bar each, which wasn’t all that helpful. I also had some sugar-free gum, which was okay. So I did crave sugar, but not grains, which I can live with.
4. Will it support my workouts and sport?
I’ve been primarily working on strength endurance and metabolic conditioning, and I’m happy to report that my work output is steadily improving. My recovery is also quite decent. I don’t know how I’d feel if I was still lifting very heavy things, but it is the type of work I’m doing now that I thought I’d need the most carbs for, and it looks like carbs in the form of vegetables and sometimes fruit are working just fine.
5. Am I going to lose weight?
My boyfriend and I both lost about 2.5 lbs. of fat, mostly around our bellies, in just one week. I’m in fairly decent shape already and he is in amazing shape. Needless to say, this was a pleasant surprise. I would’ve been happy with anywhere from 1/2 lb. to 1 lb. Not sure if this will continue, but of course I will keep you posted.
Other lessons learned:
We were very impressed with the amazing variety of foods we were exposed to. Who knew that raw cabbage with tuna and toasted sesame oil = yum? Or that leftover rotisserie chicken is so good with salsa and avocado for breakfast? The diet made me remember that Paleo isn’t just eggs, chicken and salad greens but also salmon, tuna, pork, ham, bratwurst, lamb, shrimp, zucchini, cauliflower, green beans, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, asparagus, spinach, purple cabbage, berries and broccoli slaw.
Scotty’s recipes have very liberal doses of oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, cinnamon, cumin and turmeric, as opposed to the teeny tiny amounts I’d been using (and never really tasted) in my meals. Balsamic vinegar, unsweetened marinara sauce, Dijon mustard and various nuts were used in ways I hadn’t imagined. They all seemed pretty strange on paper, but when we actually tried them they were absolutely delish.
A week on the Paleo diet has offered great digestion, slightly improved athletic performance/recovery and slightly improved body composition. The recipes offered variety and the yum factor mostly made up for the foods we’re missing (namely sugar, for me.) The price of groceries wasn’t crazy but is a bit more than I’d like to spend, so I’m looking into adjustments.
Back next week with the second update.