Food as Fuel

I’m just about through my first Whole30 session.  30 days of focused attention into what I shove in my pie hole.  I dropped all grains, dairy and sugar from my diet during January to see how my body would react and how it would affect my training.  The results are pretty awesome.  I dropped  over 5 pounds (from 162 to 155) and lost 3% body fat (18%-15%).

The Whole30 program is a really strict approach to a Paleo diet, which is based around the theory that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were healthier, stronger and lived longer (excluding accidents and being eaten by saber-toothed tigers).  During my experiment, I focused on good quality, organic meats and eggs, lots of vegetables and fruits.

Some of the stuff I ended up eating weren’t Whole9 approved.  For example, Lara bars are considered a “sweet” and should be used sparingly in the Whole30 program.  I love Lara bars, and would occasionally use them as breakfast or a mid-morning snack when I had a early morning workout.  I also ate Kind bars for the same reasons.  Kind bars are less paleo because of the added honey as a sweetener, where Lara bars are just fruit & nuts.  I kept adding Hammer Whey to my breakfast smoothies because having a chicken breast for breakfast isn’t my thing (yet).  I also used Hammer Recoverite right after a hard workout because this stuff just works for me and really does help me recover faster.

I also had a couple of days where I just threw out all the rules and ate what I wanted for a particular meal  Those days were interesting experiments to see how my body reacted to the different foods.

So what have I learned from these last 30 days?

  • I’m much more tuned into my body’s fuel needs.  Sometimes feeling hungry is my brain telling me I’m over-stressed.
  • Having too FEW calories are as bad as having too MANY calories.  I get really grumpy the day AFTER I’ve shorted myself calories.
  • Real foods taste great.  I’ve always liked fresh vegetables, salads and fruits, but I’m finding that I start CRAVING them right after a day where I’ve had stuff that isn’t paleo.
  • I may not be celiac, but I have much less GI distress by eliminating all grains.
  • Sticking to a paleo diet means that I’m thinking about my next meals frequently.  It takes more work to eat this way.

At the start of this experiment I was worried that I’d have problems keeping my energy levels high enough to maintain my workouts.  This was never the case.  In fact, I never had a serious bonk or even “afternoon dip” in energy levels.  I used to have both of these problems on my standard diet.  In fact, my energy levels seemed HIGHER when I’m on this eating plan.  That’s likely due to increasing complex carbs from fruit & veg and eliminating simple carbs from sugar and grains.

So what’s next?   Part of the program is the “reintroduction” phase where I’ll add back some of the eliminated foods one at a time to see how my body reacts.  I’ll probably start with some limited dairy.  Before I do start the reintroduction, I want to get my blood work done to get a new baseline.

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