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Going Primal

Posted Sep 05 2012 8:42pm
Over the past year I've had many people ask me my thoughts on the Paleo diet. Long story short, I wasn't a fan.


While I feel Paleo has some very well supported principals, I have also personally found flaws in some oft he ideologies, particularly to what is deemed "bad" foods. Many of these "bad" foods (e.g., grains and legumes) have been very well studied and have proven research supported benefits.

With that said, it's difficult to argue against the recorded results Paleo enthusiasts have claimed. For example, in the July/August issue of OnFitness Magazine, in an article entitled "Eat like a caveman", Dr. Chad Woodward claims that after 30 days of eating only approved Paleo foods he saw the following success in his blood markers
- Cholesterol cropped from 221 to 154
- LDL cholesterol went from 140 to 73 (you want your LDLs to be low)
- HDL cholesterol went from 2.1 to 8.3 (you want your HDLs to be high)
- Triglycerides dropped from 93 to 47

Pretty impressive. So much so that I made the decision to go "Primal" for a 30-day period to see what is what.

What Does Primal Even Mean?

Generally speaking, the Primal diet emphasizes natural foods with carbs coming primarily from vegetables and fruit (versus grains and legumes) and rich in quality fats and protein. This type of diet causes the metabolism to begin using mostly fat for fuel (rather than glycogen).

Primal versus Paleo

By going Primal, I'm referring to Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint . This diet differs from Loren Cordain's Paleo diet, and I encourage you to Google both if you're interested in thoroughly dissecting the differences between the two. A great resource for information on the Paleo diet can be found at The Paleo Secret , which happens to be the brainchild of a friend of mine.

Basically, Primal is less restrictive and something that I feel I can better incorporate in to my lifestyle. Specifically, on the Primal diet you can include full-fat, sugar free dairy products (yogurt, butter, cheese), and you basically follow the 80:20 rule by eating Primal 80% of the time and adding non-Primal foods 20% of the time.

The Plan

The Coach has decided to get a Coach.

Rather than test the Primal waters on my own, I hired a Holistic Nutrition Specialist who focuses on the Primal diet. We've been working together on compiling a 2-week menu plan to help get me started. I'll pull together a second 2-week plan and in total will be following a Primal diet for 30-days beginning 9/11/2012.

If you're wondering why I'm putting off my official start date, 9/11 was the earliest date I could get an appointment for a complete blood work-up.

My Goals

7-months post shoulder surgery I'm having a difficult time staying focused on my diet. I lost most of my muscle mass and while I'm back to working out, my vestibular disorder has been slowing me down. As such I really feel that I need to get my diet in check ASAP and I need a kick-start.

Goal 1: Lose the last 7 lbs that I gained over the past year and reduce overall body fat

Goal 2: Quantify the impact a Primal diet will have on my blood markers*

Goal 3: Reduce inflammation in my body, thus reducing my Meniere's symptoms

* To quantify Goal #2, immediately following my 30-day Primal re-boot I will have my blood re-tested

Final Thoughts, For Now

Long term, I feel the best diet is going to differ individual to individual. In reviewing diet alternatives, I feel that the Primal diet is something I can live with for a 30-day period, and potentially longer.

One thing I particularly like about this diet is that it will enable me to further lower my daily sodium intake - something that I need to do in order to control my Meniere's symptoms.

As I've discussed here before on CFB, 100% compliance to any diet is not mandatory to realize results. My goal is 80% compliance. With that said, I won't be binging on :junk" food when I veer off path. My Nutritionist and I agreed that my diet should include a few servings of healthy started per week (sprouted brown rice, Yukon gold potatoes) so as not to allow my body to enter a state of ketosis.

Purists will disagree with this decision, and that's a-ok with me.

Have thoughts, questions or comments about your own foray in to the world of Primal/Paleo eating? I'd love to hear them!


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