Diet and supplementation

25 Apr

So, as promised, here comes the how and why of my diet. Before I start though, a couple of caveats: I am not attempting to put myself across as an expert or dictate a diet or supplement regime to anyone, nor are there any guarantees that everyone would react the same way that I have done by following this plan. I hold no nutritionist qualification and what I am about to say is based on my own experiences and opinions.

I had already been trying CrossFit for about 6 or 8 weeks when, as part of my ongoing reading, I stumbled across the ‘paleo’ diet. Sometimes referred to as the ‘caveman’ diet, it is based as accurately as possible on what palaeolithic man would have eaten. Whilst I am not going to attempt to explain all the intricacies of the diet, the key points are; do not eat grains, sugar, dairy, gluten or legumes, eat only meat, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetable, some nuts and seeds. Sounds simple, does it not? Well yes, until you start reading labels and realise how dependant you are on some of the prohibited items. Another way to think of it is, if you can’t buy it without a food label, it is not food!

Now before you all assume this is a miserable, or worse still impossible, way to live, let me explain the theory before describing how I personally apply the diet. Palaeolithic man only died out some 10000 years ago, before we started farming crops. It is only, on a large scale, for this length of time that humans have been consuming grains, potatoes and rice (amongst other things). The human race, however, takes 40000 or so years to evolve. In short, our bodies, as a race, have not yet evolved to use these foods correctly and efficiently as fuels. It was taught to me, as I’m sure it was to many of you, that fat is bad, cereal, bread, pasta etcetera is good. Well consider this, it actually is not! Have you ever seen a cave painting of a fat caveman? So next on to dairy. Several animals, including humans, lactate in order to feed their young. This is the sole purpose of milk and the rest of nature seems to grasp this concept far more readily than us humans. Milk also contains lactose, a sugar, which is also a toxin. Now, whilst I will cover sugars shortly, it is important to remember, everybody is lactose intolerant, just to varying degrees. As an example, spots, acne and blemishes can often be attributed to dairy consumption.

So I am sure many if you are now screaming at your PC screen or e-reader “well fruit has sugar in it?” Yes it does, but firstly fructose is naturally occurring and secondly fruit has been a foodstuff to man and beast for many tens of thousands of years, unlike dairy which was never intended for our consumption.

So, now I have laid a few ground rules, there are too many to list all, let me explain how I apply this diet. I eat fish, meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit and eggs. I also use olive oil, butter (I’ll explain the loophole in a moment),some spices and some sauces.

In short the meals I cook are usually very simple, mostly fried (in olive oil or butter so as not to change the properties of the fats) and naturally spiced and flavoured. I eat 3 or 4 times a day, mainly when I feel my body needs it, and I usually snack once or twice. Snacks mostly consist of fresh or dried fruit, nuts and seeds. To stick roughly to the ‘paleo pyramid’, a rough guide to proportionality, I seldom have these with meals. I try to vary my vegetables, often depending on seasonal availability, and usually one meal a day will consist of all raw (ketogenic) ingredients. A good example is tuna salad.

When it comes to how closely I follow, I would estimate I am 80 or 85% strict. I do consume sugar free fizzy and energy drinks and I do have occasional cravings to which I give in. I also occasionally have ‘cheat meals’ or less often full days. True followers of paleo would consider this outrageous and some may even call it pointless, but allow me to try and clarify. I would say that rather than following the paleo diet, I use it as a basis for my diet.

So I guess the one thing I have left to cover is supplements. I only started using supplements some 4 months ago. My diet and training were going well and still yielding results. The one thing I had noticed though, is that my performance progress had slowed. I searched for a supplement company which could provide me with a full range suiting my approach to training, whilst being safe and compatible with military life. The other key fact for me was I did not want to be spending a fortune! After searching and asking around I found PPS Nutrition who are very reasonably priced, designed with the military in mind, and cater for every type of athlete. Having experimented with many many supplements through my powerlifting and bodybuilding phases, this is the first brand I have ever stuck with. My training progress is better than ever and the physical effects are noticeable too. Basically my very high expectations have been met!

To close I should explain, supplements do not conform to a paleo diet, however this is an exception I am willing to make for the performance and physical results correct use has given me.

Next time I will explain more about how and when I use supplements, how I conduct endurance training on paleo and start to lay out a training week. I’ll also be posting my first ‘during’ progress photo.

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