Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Exploring Whole30 and the Merits of a Paleo Diet, Part 3

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Paleo Breakfast with Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
You’ve got a picture of what a Whole30 diet looks like from parts one and two, so now it’s time to understand the science behind this dietary lifestyle.  The fundamentals behind the Whole30 paleo diet is based on the 4 Good Food Standards, which requires that all foods should:
1. Promote a healthy psychological response.
2. Promote a healthy hormonal response.
3. Support a healthy gut.
4. Support immune function and minimize inflammation.
All of the Whole30 food and dietary recommendations unfold from these 4 principles.
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Endive, Watercress and Radish Salad with Walnuts and Goat Cheese
With the assumption that all food has a positive or negative impact on overall wellness the impact may be greater to lesser depending on the individual. Dallas and Melissa Hartwig applied these principles and developed strict dietary guidelines based on science and their personal experiences.  The result has been the Whole30,  a 30 day application of the strict diet, in order to allow each individual to identify the degree to which a given food type has a positive or negative effect on them.  Using this information, individuals can determine the optimum foods and diet for them while taking ownership of their own wellness. Ultimately, it’s an education and empowerment experience.  It just so happens to be built on a “paleo” platform, because that platform most closely accommodates the 4 Good Food Standards.
The science is vast and somewhat complicated, but from my perspective, and summarized in my own words, here is the upshot of it:
By eating a combination of foods that most closely resemble earth-to-mouth foods , and the proportions to which these are naturally available (without the intervention of high-tech agriculture), we can allow the body to appropriately self-regulate its craving for certain types of macro-nutrients, and stabilize our hormone levels throughout the day.  Then there are the less-obvious effects of improving gut health, lessening systemic inflammation and daily immune activity – all of which help a person have more energy and fight off illness.
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Garlic and Herb-Crusted Pork Loin
Despite all this, my first week on Whole30 was kind of a disaster. I was craving oatmeal like wild. My energy and moods were all over the map.  My first go-around, I hadn’t read It Starts With Food yet, so I only had so much patience with the process, and still really wanted my grains and sugars…I mean, I REALLY wanted them.
In my next post, I will discuss grains a bit more…they seem to be the cornerstone of the Engine 2 Diet, yet they are a bit of a gateway food for me to decline into inflammation and poor dietary choices.
Images and recipes courtesy PaleoSpirit.com:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Exploring Whole30 and the Merits of a Paleo Diet, Part 2

Before I go any further with this series, I should outline a little bit about the paleo diet and the Whole30 challenge.  In my previous post, I mentioned that I once thought that the Whole 30 sounded too restrictive for me to succeed.  Well, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, creators of the Whole30, suggest framing the paleo/Whole30 diet in terms of what you can eat, rather than what you cannot.
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LEAN MEAT + VEGETABLES & FRUIT + NUTS & SEEDS + HEALTHY OILS
Image courtesy AllPaleoDiet.com
I eat “real” food – fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit.  I choose foods that are nutrient dense, with lots of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition.  And food quality is important – I’m careful about where my meat comes from, and buy produce locally and organically as often as possible.
It’s not a low calorie “diet” – I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy and a healthy weight.  In fact, my diet is probably much higher in fat than you’d imagine.  Fat isn’t the enemy – it’s a great energy source when it comes from high quality foods like avocado, coconut and nuts. And I’m not trying to do a “low carb” thing, but since I’m eating vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal and pasta, it just happens to work out that way.
Eating like this is good for maintaining a healthy metabolism, and reducing inflammation within the body.  It’s been doing great things for my energy levels, body composition and performance in the gym.  It also helps to minimize my risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Exploring Whole30 and the Merits of a Paleo Diet

Note: This series of blogs about my experience with Whole30 is one I am writing for ASM Wellness, and I am cross-posting from their blog to mine:

For the past month, Mycah Kirkland has followed Atlanta Institute of Aesthetics Instructor Carol Venclik’s journey, growth, and successes with the Engine 2 Diet. I’m very happy for Carol...she is an amazing person, and everyone who knows her wants to see her healthy.
But, as I read the blog series, I kept thinking that the amount of grains involved in the Engine 2 Diet would absolutely not be a good match for me. Personally, I don’t think I could get on board.You see...I am more of a “paleo” kid.  
For those not familiar with “paleo,” it is also often referred to as the “caveman diet,” and it’s a big deal in the CrossFit community. I personally feel that the paleo lifestyle is an optimal path to health and wellness. More specifically, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s Whole30 program which began with a paleo template.
Before I tell you the reasons why I’m such a fan of paleo, let me first tell you how I discovered this lifestyle. My wife eats a pescetarian diet, and while I’m not opposed to eating vegetarian, I’m not a big fan of fish. For the longest time, we ate a lot of soy-based protein products, and a generally vegetarian diet. Sometimes, I would have meat and she would have fish.
My wife wanted me to try this thing called the Whole 30 - a 30 day paleo challenge. It sounded so restrictive that I was certain I couldn’t do it. Finally, I committed to doing a Whole 30 with the folks in my gym. Except I only halfway committed. I knew that I had some special events during that month, so I planned days “off” the program.  

It was a good enough “dry run” that eventually, I would go on to commit to and execute a full 30 days of the Whole30 Program. I also read the companion book It Starts With Food. The combination of the two changed my relationship with and perspective on food...permanently.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

If knowledge is power, then here's a book you need to own...

He's already pretty well known in the CrossFit scene, but Kelly Starrett's work has a place in all athletes' self-care arsenal.  It feels cliche' to say it but the guy is really smart.  Beyond being smart, though, he has a way of organizing and presenting what he knows in a way that is very accessible...and not dumbed down.

I can't tell you how many times I've pointed clients to his website to find their self care instructions.  I will demonstrate or describe what I think they ought to do, but after a session, I'm often throwing more information at them than they are likely to remember.  So I like to give them an internet link to their reference material, instead of asking them to memorize everything.  I have found that this increases their compliance, since they only have to remember to pull up the info and do it.

Now Kelly has put an awful lot of that information into one very comprehensive, very approachable book, Becoming a Supple Leopard:

In the book, he lays out his approach to the body and movements.
He gives you the rationalization for this system, and  keeps it all very straightforward.
Then he breaks down common exercise movements, and the faults many of us are subject to in those movements.
Finally - and here's the payoff - he tells us how we can work to fix them.

When you move more healthily, you will see less pain and less injury, and greater performance.  Pick up Kelly's book, Becoming a Supple Leopard from the Amazon link below.  Get powerful.  Get knowledgeable.