OK guys. Whether or not you're taking part in our 6-Week Paleo Challenge that starts on Monday 2/22, take a minute to read this because it might inspire you to join us!
But first, read my post Why I'm Going Paleo And You Are Too and you'll have a better understanding of why I'm doing this challenge and why I think it will benefit you.
Eating healthy isn't easy, especially for busy dads. Yes, it's just an excuse but it is a legitimate issue. The time it takes to shop, prepare, plan, cook, and eat is a commodity that many dads just don't have.
But as you know, the results we see in our physical appearance are not the result of how hard we are training, but rather of how well we are eating, so we MUST make time to eat well.
Enter the Paleo.
First off, I've been a coach for the last 18 years and have never recommended eliminating entire food groups (fast food doesn't count), and think there are benefits to incorporating them as part of a balanced diet.
With that said, I also believe that eating a diet rich in nutrient dense foods like fruits and vegetables and free from hormone and chemical filled products is a great idea. It just makes good sense.
There is also the belief that eating refined grains and pasteurized dairy, foods that have become available in the last 10,000 years, are not particularly healthy, especially for those who may have some form of gluten or lactose intolerance.
I personally have no issues with either but still can see the benefit of eating the way we did in our "caveman" days. Does this mean a Paleo/Primal diet is best? Of course not.
In my opinion, the "best" diet is the one that works for you, your body, your wallet, and your available resources.
In the last 20 years, I've tried plenty of diets. From the South Beach, Zone, Weight Watchers (don't judge), and Mediterranean and the best success I had was from eating a Paleo Diet. It just worked for me.
Some of the biggest benefits are:
- Better gut health
- Better digestion
- More nutrients and antioxidants
- Eliminates processed foods
- Fewer allergies
- More muscle building foods
- Increases natural energy
- Increased fat loss
There are countless more as well. And yes, I realize that Paleo haters can find just as many things wrong with this diet and there are two sides to everything. You have to decide if it's for you or not.
The rules are simple, really. You eat Paleo approved foods for the next 6 weeks and that's it.
The Paleo is flexible in the sense that as long as you stick to the approved foods, you can eat what you want. Eat when you're hungry, not every 3 hours as many suggest.
The reason being is that much of your diet will be revolved around vegetables. And it's very hard to overeat them. Very.
Of course, exercising is an important part of this and I encourage you to do so. A good approach to training might look like this:
- 3-4 days of strength training
- 1-3 days of conditioning exercise
- Use HIIT/sprint/hill sprint work 1-2 days each week
Don't underestimate the power behind good, hard work in the gym. Your testosterone levels will thank you for the hill sprints as well.
Below are a number of resources you should familiarize yourself with before you start this challenge. I'm not an expert in this by any means and encourage you to research the ins and outs of this type of diet before getting started.
I'd also highly recommend reading as much info online about this diet (there are 150 million results in Google for "Paleo") so there is no shortage of information available.
Here are some of my favorites though:
- The Beginner's Guide To The Paleo Diet
- Primal Blueprint. This has a TON of information.
- The Total Beginner's Guide To Paleo and Fat
I'd also suggest downloading an app or two on your phone to make tracking and shopping easier.
Shopping for Paleo approved foods will be fun. Or not.
Get ready to spend a few hours looking over labels, using your "is this Paleo" app to check if you can eat it, and sorting through all types of fruits and veggies.
Here are a few places to find good shopping lists to get you started:
- UltimatePaleoGuide. Download their free stuff too.
- Paleoonabudget. They have some free resources to help you eat on a limited budget.
In all reality, you'll be spending your money on high quality foods instead of all the usual processed and packaged foods you normally buy. It probably is more expensive to eat Paleo, but you have to determine if you're willing to give up other things you're spending money on.
I suggest tracking your expenses for 2 weeks to see where your cash is going. Chances are, you are spending more on discretionary items than you think. Use that "wasted" money towards your healthy foods instead.
Most Paleo advocates don't see the need to count calories and I agree. But not initially.
The Paleo Diet is not specifically a "low carb" diet, but because of the lack of starches allowed, it essentially becomes one. And because of that, it's pretty difficult to overeat them. Trying to get 40% of your calories from carbs on the Paleo, which is mainly fruits and veggies, is extremely difficult.
So in the end, most people end up eating between 15-25% of their calories from carbs and the rest from fat and proteins.
My suggestion for macronutrient breakdowns are as follows:
- 25-35% protein
- 25-40% fat
- 15-30% carbs
You can manipulate these numbers as you see fit and some people like Mark Sisson of MarksDailyApple.com suggest much higher portions of fat. There certainly is plenty of science to back up his claims, so it will be up to you to decide how you want to break down your calories.
Also, according to Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint (a damn good book), he suggests that the "sweet spot" for carb intake when your goal is fat loss is 50-100 grams per day (200-400 calories).
Again, hard to question his rationale and science based approach, but it's not an easy thing to eat so few carbs.
I will say that it's a good idea to know how many calories you need in order to lose body fat. And once you know that number, make sure you're in that range. That's why I suggest using an app like MyFitnessPal to track calories in the beginning to get a feel for how many you're eating.
To find how many calories you need, use the Harris-Benedict Formula.
- First, use this calculator to determine your BMR (not your BMI, which is a useless tool).
- On the next page, you'll see your Daily Caloric Needs (you don't need your BMR).
- Take your Daily Caloric Needs number and reduce it by 20-25%.
- That is the number of calories you should aim for daily if your goal is fat loss.
Ready To Take This Challenge On?
If you want to be a part of this challenge, I welcome you. This is for dads only, so if you're not, feel free to wait for a future challenge.
This isn't for everyone and will take quite a bit of adjusting to life without processed carbs and (initially) possibly dealing with the carb flu and withdrawal symptoms.
I've created a private Facebook group for this challenge and it's open by invite only. If you are interested, leave a comment here or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now let's go eat some meat!!