Like many other people, I’ve been experimenting with various different approaches to my daily diet, especially as I tried to find the best strategy for fuelling my running and recovery whilst also cutting my body mass down to an optimal level for marathon running. Reading around, and speaking to other people, about the Paleo diet I found I was soon nodding contentedly to myself thinking I had found a logical, common-sense diet that suited my needs perfectly.
Thus began an attempt to complete a 30 day ‘elimination’ diet, removing all grains, legumes and dairy from my daily eating and focussing on the Paleo way of quality lean proteins, vegetables (and some fruits), nuts, seeds and healthy fats like avocado and coconut.
Things started well, omelettes for breakfast, chicken or ham salads for lunch, chilli, steak or lamb burgers for tea. I felt much less bloated than usual which helped with my overall energy levels but I was finding it hard to stick to. I didn’t feel any particular cravings for any of the foods I’d cut out, I was mainly struggling with the issues of cooking, convenience and variety.
Needing to leave the house by 7am every morning made it challenging to cook fresh omelettes and I’m not a big fan of cold or warmed-up foods. I would try to keep pots of nuts and berries in my desk and the car for snacks, but found I was eating excessive amounts to keep me feeling full. The final obstacle was variety. Fish and seafood make up a large element of the Paleo diet but I’ve never really tried them and despite all the benefits I may gain I just cannot bring myself to eating them.
I was feeling some benefit from my attempts at the Paleo diet so I continued to look for ways around the problems. Whilst strict Paleo followers would shun the idea, my first solution was to try GoNutrition’s Paleo Protein. My first shake was nearly also my last as I battled to ignore the distinct odour and unique taste, the flavour certainly wasn’t like any dark chocolate I was used to eating!
However, I did manage to consume that first drink, and many others since, and it has now actually become my protein of choice as I find it much easier to consume and much more filling and satisfying due to its blend of egg and beef protein. Beef jerky became another addition to my snack choices and I also experimented with smoothies, using avocadoes and green leafy vegetables as the main ingredients and adding BCAA’s for some quality protein.
Despite my efforts, I never quite made it to the end of the 30 days, but I have learnt many valuable lessons. Whilst the key principles of the Paleo diet are sensible, focussing on natural, unprocessed foods (which I will continue to do as much as possible), I believe that it would be foolish to ignore the positive developments in the food industry that have occurred since our cave dwelling ancestors roamed the Earth, especially in making foods more convenient and accessible.
Drinking 2-3 protein shakes a day, I will definitely be using Paleo Protein more frequently to vary my protein sources and I will keep beef jerky within my snack options alongside nuts, seeds and protein bars.