It’s no secret that making the switch from your current eating habits to a paleo-based diet is intimidating. It will be hard, AT FIRST. See the excerpt from the August 2004 issue of Runner’s World describing Joe Friel’s initial experience with paleo dieting:

"Still, Joe Friel was skeptical when he and Cordain first began debating the Paleo diet in the 1990s.
A marathoner, cyclist, triathlete, endurance coach, and author, Friel had built his reputation on giving clients scientific support for his training programs. He had a deep belief in pasta power, and tried the Paleo diet himself only to shut up Cordain, his neighbor in Fort Collins, Colorado. The first two weeks on the diet, Friel felt like crap—‘the way I would in the old days when we carbo-depleted before a marathon,’ he told me one morning while finishing a long bike ride. But the third week he felt strong enough to increase his training by 50 percent. The fourth week, he increased it another 50 percent, and he's been a true believer in Paleo eating ever since."

Most of us use glucose (carbohydrates) as a primary energy source. Our brains, our muscles, thrive on carbohydrate consumption…or do they? Did you know that a whopping majority of our cells actually prefer to use fat (ketones) for energy? So, what’s the catch? Although fat is a BETTER source of fuel, it takes some adapting to fully reap the benefits of making the switch. We’re talking completely rewiring the way our metabolic circuitry runs- upregulating certain biochemical switches (enzymes) and downregulating others. Some of this happens quickly, but other aspects can take days to weeks. Initially, you’ll be sending your body the message that you are rebelling against it...cutting off its most prized, convenient energy source, ah! AT FIRST, you WILL crave sugar. You might experience fatigue, clouded thinking, even potentially miserable workouts, double ah! But stick it out like Joe and I and so many others have done. Give your mind and body the chance to experience the greatness of being a “fat-burner!” Ultimately your body thank you...those mood swings will vanish, those afternoon crashes will be a mere remnant of a past lifetime, and those God-awful sugar cravings will subside. What there’s more? Your body fat will shed and/or transform to muscle before your eyes, your lipid profile is likely to improve (I say it will, but I can’t make that claim for ALL individuals so this is me protecting myself), and your workouts will become more explosive than ever. Just give it a try...if you’re not completely satisfied with the way you look, feel, and or perform right now, then what do you have to lose?
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Pinterest has a sense of humor!
Let me say a bit more about the paleo diet and carbohydrates to set things straight. The Paleo diet is NOT
the Atkins diet. Nor is it a must-be low carb diet. The paleo diet includes a wide variety of carbohydrates; in fact, ALL of those that grow and are natural, whole foods. You know, like sweet potatoes, veggies, fruits, etc. (NOT bread and pasta)! These carbs are the ones that are bursting with nutrients, the stuff that our metabolic machinery was designed to tolerate. HOWEVER, carbohydrates can be the most important factor
that affects weight loss/gain and overall health. Excessive carbohydrate intake gives life to several diseases, including metabolic syndrome (Syndrome X), obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Did you know that carbohydrates are the one macronutrient we do NOT even need to consume? And that majority of the cells that make up our bodies PREFER to use fat (ketone bodies) for energy?? 
 
For those of you who like to follow a set of guidelines, here is a rough establishment of carbohydrate intake “zones.” Keep in mind that carbs should be consumed primarily post-workout, when our metabolism is revved up and muscles are hungry for glucose, and as part of a well-balanced meal (i.e., with a sufficient amount of protein).

Adapted from Marks Daily Apple.
o  0-50 grams per day: Ketosis zone.
Congrats, your metabolism is converting/has converted over from the dark side. You are no longer dependent on carbohydrates for energy; instead, you are reaping the benefits of sustained, fat-derived energy. If done properly, this is a great way to initiate rapid weight loss. 

o  50-100 grams per day: Slight work zone.
You are still restraining your carbohydrate intake to some extent, but also loosening the reigns and allowing yourself to indulge in those post-workout coconut waters and protein-fruit smoothies. This is the zone I consider ideal for long-term, everyday health, especially for a relatively active individual.

 o  100-150 grams per day: Work hard, play hard zone.
Have you reached that I-never-thought-it’s-possible-only-dreamed-about body composition? Are your triglycerides finally below 100mg/dl? Great, now pat yourself on the pack and pound a sweet potato! Although this is personally a little high for myself, this range should not be problematic for most metabolically sound, active individuals, especially men. My tip is to reduce your fat intake as you increase your carbohydrate intake…so on days where you want to stuff your face with assorted fruit, sweet potatoes, Lara bars, yogurt, and wash it all down with wine, stick with leaner meats.

 o  Above 150 grams a day: Quick sand zone.
Unfortunately, both unhealthy and “healthy” eaters end up in this zone. Exhausted dieters crawl right into the quick sand simply by following the standard American diet (SAD) recommendations and filling up on grain products (e.g., breads, pastas, cereals). These poor people who are reducing fat intake and cutting calories- merely doing what they are told to be healthy- are still gaining weight. Hanging around in this zone will shift your body’s production of insulin into overdrive and set you up nicely…for fat storage and metabolic derangement. We all have bad days, but don’t spend more than that “bad day” in this zone. Don’t become a victim of the quick sand.
 
 
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Wow, so it’s been nearly a year since I have blogged about ANYTHING. Not okay. Honestly, life has been pretty cray cray- the good, bad, ugly, and beautiful. Beautiful as in experiencing London during the Olympics and Elk Lake during one of the most heartfelt weddings I’ve ever been to…ugly as in my diet and fitness regimen as of late. So here I am, forcing myself to put my foot down and get back on the wagon:

 1. Train for something. Yep, I’ve committed. I am officially running a half marathon in November. It’s been over 5yrs since I have run one of these…ahhh!

2. Diet makeover. Motivation in numbers. The truth is, there’s no better time than now...I won’t be alone.
I’ll be joined by many other dedicated people from CrossFit Conshohocken and CrossFit T1 who are gearing up for our second Paleo Challenge. For those of you who are interested in the results from our first paleo challenge and nutrition seminar series, please check out my blog post on Robb Wolf’s page.

As for me, I’m stoked to start feeling great again and to maximize my productivity…to be back at the box working hard on a regular basis until my shoulder completely bounces back from injury…to have the opportunity to educate crossfitters, co-workers, families, and friends about paleo nutrition and the optimal human diet. I will be speaking to my workplace (ECRI Institute) about paleo nutrition and the many shortcomings (being nice here with the understatement) of the Standard American diet (yes, the acronym is SAD). I will also be giving seminars once a week for 8 weeks, in either Conshohocken (@CrossFit Conshohocken) or Willow Grove (@CrossFit T1), to address the what, why, and how of applying paleo nutrition to lifestyle. Along with the educational component,
the paleo challenge has a hands-on component, a fitness component, and an accountability component. If you’re in the area, I encourage you to contact me for details. Anyone is welcome. Come check out a seminar, ask questions, do some research (or ask me the science nerd to), request a weekly meal plan/grocery shopping list to help get your life back on track and in a good routine. Even if you’re not in the area, I’d be happy to address any curiosities you may have. Tweaking your diet habits could change your life…it changed mine. At the end of the day, you have nothing to lose by learning. 

For now, I’ll leave you all with some tips:

 1. Establish a plan and stick to it. I know it sounds generic, and easier said than done, but do it. “I don’t have time” is a lame excuse. If you’re always tired after work, go to sleep early and work out first thing in the morning. If you don’t know how to cook, google that shit. It’s your life, grab the reigns. 
 
2. Be realistic. “I will not eat chocolate or drink beer ever” is bullshit. Don’t defeat yourself before
you start…pick a goal that is attainable. 

3. Plan ahead. If your work week is insane, be aware of that when the weekend rolls around. Reserve yourself some “me time” to relax and unwind. Set aside some time to prepare food for the week. If you’re already putting the effort into cooking Sunday night’s dinner, double/triple the recipe and take a load off later in the week. Trust me, premeditating the madness that is most of our lives can mitigate some of that after-work-i-have-a-thousand-things-to-do-but-no-time-to-do-it stress. 
 
4. Reward yourself appropriately. You only live once. If grandma shows up with her homemade cookies that are nothing you can get anywhere else, let yourself TASTE the magic. Let your senses experience the adventure, but don’t overindulge. Denying yourself something you love will come back at you with a vengeance. Setting no limits on something you love will also bite you in the ass…pun intended. So let yourself TASTE (when it’s worth it)…then stop. 
 
5. Step out of your comfort zone. Routine can be boring, but productivity and fun do not have to be mutually exclusive. If you find yourself obsessing over keeping such a strict routine, to the point that even though you are living productively and healthily, you are miserable…do something about it. Incorporate a new hobby in your week to replace one of your gym or active rest days. Skip the plain chicken breast and buy yourself some lamb chops. Go somewhere new, cook something challenging, taste something different…experience something memorable. Keep life fun.

 
 
First things first:

Cholesterol is most famously broken up into 2 categories (yes, there are more than 2)- HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol). Although high levels of LDL increase your risk of heart attack, low levels of HDL are even more worrisome; therefore it is pertinent that we keep our good HDL cholesterol high, and our good cholesterol/bad cholesterol ratios in check. A diet low in fat will NOT raise HDL. Exercise and red wine might, but the lack of fat will not.

Eating a diet HIGH in good fats (coconut oil and meats from grass-fed animals, not the hydrogenated crap that comprises our grocery store shelves) will raise HDL. It will also slightly raise LDL, but this is the large fluffy LDL particles rather than the small dense LDL particles, and is therefore BENEFICIAL.

The intake of carbs/sugars is what increases triglycerides, not fat. My triglycerides for example used to be extremely low, then after 1-2 years eating a high fat, lower carb, paleo-based diet they remain extremely LOW!

EAT GOOD FATS… avoid sugars, starch, grains, legumes and you will be on your way to avoiding autoimmune, metabolic, and cardiovascular disease.

Because I preach a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates, and because I am aware of the many benefits of using ketone bodies for energy instead of glucose, I decided to do an experiment this past week and put myself to the test. I was feeling crappy about how I ate over the weekend, so Monday I decided it was time to enforce a strict paleo-based ketogenic diet for the week (that included 5 days of NO chocolate, something I didn't know I could do considering my morning ritual of coffee & dark chocolate) in order to see how it might affect me. Below is my food log for Monday-Saturday, as recorded using the website and iphone app MyFitnessPal.

The Atkin's diet is one type of ketogenic diet, but the Atkin's diet lacks something very important in my opinion- food quality. For this reason, I will refer to the diet I followed as a paleo-based ketogenic diet, NOT the Atkin's diet.
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BEFORE: August 2011
I want to first say that I am NOT one to show pictures of my stomach, but I figured they might be helpful in a blog post like this...at least for me personally, I find it hard to take nutrition advice from someone who does not seem to be at all in shape. 

This picture was taken about 2 months ago at my current CrossFit gym during a Saturday morning workout. At this time I was roughly 80% paleo, which is the way I have been eating for almost 2 years now.  

Regarding the food and exercise log below-

All crossfit workouts were performed in the evening, before dinner, except for Saturday's which was done at 9am on an empty stomach.

Intermittent fasts were performed (where indicated) following dinner and lasting until lunch time (~16hrs). Note that I did consume coconut oil and black coffee during this time. The coffee helps me to do my writing job effectively, and the coconut oil is very satiating and because of its fatty acid composition can fuel the switch from glucose metabolism to ketone metabolism (see details). I also occasionally ate a half tablespoon of coconut oil (yes, directly off a spoon) between lunch and crossfit if I felt hungry- very effective!

The foods listed are as accurate as I could find...in some cases I had to choose the most closely related food item available in the program. Also, with the exception of coconut oil and fish oil, all other measurements are approximations.

***In order to determine the total grams of carbs consumed each day, you subtract the total grams fiber consumed by the total grams carbs consumed...aka net carbs.

October 10, 2011:
Breakfast
Vegetable - Avocado, 1/2 Avocado
Eggs - Fried (whole egg), 2 large
Coffee - Brewed from grounds, 2 cup (8 fl oz)
Tropical Traditions - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, 0.5 tbsp
Sfh Omega 3 Oil - Clinical Grade Fish Oil, 1 tsp
Almond Breeze - Dairy - Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk , 0.25 cup
Lunch
D.Chicken - Breast-Skinless-Grilled or Char-Grilled, 8 oz
Onions - Raw, 0.5 cup, chopped
Generic - Bell Pepper Red - Raw, 0.33 cup sliced
Broccoli - Raw, 0.33 cup, chopped
Bertolli - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 15 ml or 1 TBSP
Dinner
Tropical Traditions - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, 1 tbsp
Fats - Butter, 1 Tablespoon
Spinach - Raw, 3 cup
Vegetables - Cauliflower - Steamed (Net Carbs), 6 oz
Fats - Olive Oil, 1 tbsp
Oasis Living Cuisine - Vegan parmesan, 1 Tbsp
Grass Fed Beef - Ny Strip Steak, 10 oz
Snacks
Swiss Miss - No Sugar Added Hot Chocolate(Corrct), 0.5 package
Orbit - Sugarfree Gum - Sweetmint, 2 piece
Airborne - Effervescent Health Formula- Pink Grapefruit, 1 tablet
Nuts - Macadamia nuts, raw, 0.33 oz (10-12 kernels)
Tums - Orange Cream Sugar Free 750, 1 tablets
Totals:
Calories: 2,156 Carbs: 44g Fat: 129g Protein: 202g Sugars: 16g Fiber: 15g

Workout Of the Day
A.) Overhead Squat
3-3-3-3 (went up to 93lbs)
------------------
B.) 3 rounds for reps:
DB Push Press – 1 minute
Sit Ups – 1 minute
Squats – 1 minute
Rest 90 seconds

October 11, 2011:
Breakfast
Coffee - Brewed from grounds, 2 cup (8 fl oz)
Almond Breeze - Dairy - Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk , 0.25 cup
Aldi's Appleton Farms - Premium Sliced Bacon, 2 Pan Fried Slices (16g)
Spinach - Raw, 3 cup
Dairy - Egg Fried In Bacon Grease, 2 Egg
Animal fat - Bacon grease, 1 tsp
Sfh Omega 3 Oil - Clinical Grade Fish Oil, 1 tsp
Lunch
D.Chicken - Breast-Skinless-Grilled or Char-Grilled, 8 oz
Fruit - Avocado, 1/2 Fruit
Bolthouse Farms - Baby-Cut Carrots , 3.75 oz
Orbit - Sugar Free Chewing Gum, 2 tab
Dinner
Grass Fed Beef - Ny Strip Steak, 10 oz
Oasis Living Cuisine - Vegan parmesan, 1 Tbsp
Tropical Traditions - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, 1 tbsp
My Salad - Spring Greens Mix, 3 cups
Fats - Olive Oil, 0.67 tbsp
Fats - Butter, 0.67 Tablespoon
Snacks
Airborne - Effervescent Health Formula- Pink Grapefruit, 1 tablet
Swiss Miss - No Sugar Added Hot Chocolate(Corrct), 0.5 package
Nuts - Macadamia nuts, raw, 0.33 oz (10-12 kernels)
Coffee - Brewed from grounds, 2 cup (8 fl oz)
Raw Almonds - Almonds, 0.5 oz (23 almonds)
Tums - Orange Cream Sugar Free 750, 1 tablets
Totals- Calories: 2,307 Carbs: 42g Fat: 125g Protein: 219g Sugars: 18g Fiber: 17g
Workout Of the Day
5 Rounds for time:
200 meter row
15 Box Jumps
10 KB Swings – HEAVY
5 C2B Pull ups

October 12, 2011:
Breakfast (Intermittent Fast)
Coffee - Brewed from grounds, 2 cup (8 fl oz)
Tropical Traditions - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, 1 tbsp
Lunch
Salad - Spring Mix Salad (Bagged) Net Carbs, 1 container (3 cups ea.)
Panorama - Organic Grassfed 85/15 Ground Beef, 4 oz
Grass Fed Beef - Ny Strip Steak, 4 oz
Fruit - Avocado, 1/2 Fruit
Fats - Butter, 0.4 Tablespoon
Vegetables - Cauliflower - Steamed (Net Carbs), 4 oz
Dinner
Aldi's Appleton Farms - Premium Sliced Bacon, 3 Pan Fried Slices (16g)
Eggs - Large A - Eggland's Best, 2 egg
Great Value (Walmart) - Collard Greens, 2 cup
Animal fat - Bacon grease, 5 tsp
Generic - Squid - Wild Caught, 1 oz cooked
Snacks
Swiss Miss - No Sugar Added Hot Chocolate(Corrct), 0.5 package
Coffee - Brewed from grounds, 2 cup (8 fl oz)
Nuts - Macadamia nuts, raw, 0.33 oz (10-12 kernels)
Totals- Calories: 1,556 Carbs: 28g Fat: 101g Protein: 119g Sugars: 12g Fiber: 14g
Workout Of the Day
A.) Power Snatch
Take 25 minutes to find your 1-rep max for the day
(ended at 78lbs to keep form)
----------------------
B.) For Time:
30 Double Unders
30 Burpees
30 Double Unders

October 13, 2011:
Breakfast
Tropical Traditions - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, 0.5 tbsp
Sfh Omega 3 Oil - Clinical Grade Fish Oil, 1 tsp
Aldi's Appleton Farms - Premium Sliced Bacon, 2 Pan Fried Slices (16g)
Coffee - Brewed from grounds, 1 cup (8 fl oz)
Eggland's Best - Large Grade A Eggs, 2 egg
Animal fat - Bacon grease, 3 tsp
One A Day Women's - Multivitamin , 1 Tablet
Homecooked - Collard Greens, 1 cup (190g)
Lunch
Fruit - Avocado, 1/2 Fruit
Panorama - Organic Grassfed 85/15 Ground Beef, 6 oz
Animal fat - Bacon grease, 1 tsp
Homecooked - Collard Greens, 1 cup (190g)
Dinner
Fillet - Steak, 8 oz
Fats - Butter, 2.38 Tablespoon
Cream - Half and half, 0.25 cup
Cheese - Parmesan, grated, 0.5 tbsp
D.Chicken - Breast-Skinless-Grilled or Char-Grilled, 8 oz
Home - Broccoli - Steamed (Nothing Added), 1.25 c
Snacks
Coffee - Brewed from grounds, 1 cup (8 fl oz)
Raw Almonds - Almonds, 0.5 oz (23 almonds)
Nuts - Macadamia nuts, raw, 0.33 oz (10-12 kernels)
Tropical Traditions - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, 0.5 tbsp
Totals- Calories: 2,126 Carbs: 61g Fat: 137g Protein: 139g Sugars: 7g Fiber: 19g
Workout Of the Day
A.) *Close Grip Bench Press
3-3-3-3 (Went up to 99lbs)
*14" between hands
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B.) For Time:
150 Wall Ball (women 14lb ball to 9 ft; men to 10ft.)
*If this means using a lighter ball to reach the target, so be it
**Every 3 minutes, run 1 CBCF lap

October 14, 2011:
Breakfast
(Intermittent Fast)
Tropical Traditions - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, 0.5 tbsp
Starbucks - Expresso Shot, 1 container (2 breweds ea.)
Lunch
Panorama - Organic Grassfed 85/15 Ground Beef, 6 oz
Fats - Butter, 0.25 Tablespoon
Broccoli - Cooked, boiled, drained, without salt, 1.5 cup, chopped
Fillet - Steak, 4 oz
Dinner
Cream - Half and half, 1 tbsp
Cheese - Parmesan, grated, 0.5 tbsp
Fillet - Steak, 4 oz
Chicken Breast Skinless - Baked, Boneless (Nutrition Data), 8 oz
Home - Broccoli - Steamed (Nothing Added), 0.25 c
Boar's Head - Hard Salami, 1 oz
Snacks
Swiss Miss - No Sugar Added Hot Chocolate(Corrct), 0.5 package
Coffee - Brewed from grounds, 2 cup (8 fl oz)
Orbit - Sugarfree Gum - Sweetmint, 2 piece
Nuts - Macadamia nuts, raw, 1 oz (10-12 kernels)
Yellow Tail - Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 oz.
Tums - Orange Cream Sugar Free 750, 1 tablets
Totals- Calories: 1,623 Carbs: 41g Fat: 84g Protein: 116g Sugars: 12g Fiber: 11g
Workout

10 Rounds for time and total load
1 Clean & Jerk (Used 93lbs; my 1rpm is ~120lbs)
1 Round of "Cindy" - 5 pull ups/10 push ups/15 squats
*If you fail a clean and jerk, you still move on and perform the 1 round of "Cindy" and you score a "0" for that round of load.

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Typical breakfast
October 15, 2011: Carb reload day/ Cheat day
Breakfast
Sfh Omega 3 Oil - Clinical Grade Fish Oil, 1 tsp
Almond Breeze - Dairy - Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk , 1 cup
Aldi's Appleton Farms - Premium Sliced Bacon, 3 Pan Fried Slices (16g)
Homecooked - Collard Greens, 2 cup (190g)
Tropical Traditions - Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, 0.5 tbsp
Animal fat - Bacon grease, 3 tsp
Eggland's Best - Large Grade A Eggs, 2 egg
Sfh (Stronger Faster Healthier) - Pure Whey Protein - Vanilla - Whey Protein, 1 oz
One A Day Women's - Multivitamin , 1 Tablet
Lunch
Lindt - Excellence 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark Chocolate, 1 Squares (10g)
Justins Almond Butter - Chocolate, 0.33 tbsp
Vosges - Bacon Chocolate Bar, 3 squares (32g)
Dinner
Birds Eye Steamfresh - Broccoli & Cauliflower, 0.25 cup
Fillet - Steak, 8 oz
Kale - Cooked, boiled, drained, with salt, 0.75 cup, chopped
Spinach - Cooked, boiled, drained, without salt, 0.5 cup
Cream - Half and half, 1.5 tbsp
Snacks
Coffee - Starbucks - Drip Coffee- Grande, 16 fl. oz.
Silk - Vanilla Soy Milk, 0.25 cup
Nuts Online - Dark Chocolate Covered Brazil Nuts, 1 nuts
Homemade - Old Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie, 0.09375 of pie
Drinks - Vodka Martini Straight Up 150ml Drinkable, 2.5 cocktail
Cream - Half and half, 0.75 cup
Hersheys - Chocolate Syrup, 1.5 tbsp
Frangelico - Hazelnut Liquer, 2 oz.
Candy - York Peppermint Mini Patty, 1 Patty
Coffee - Brewed from grounds, 1 cup (8 fl oz)
Olives - Great Value, Manzanilla Green Olives W/Pimentos, 3 olives
Vodka - 80 proof, 4 fl oz
Totals- Calories: 3,322 Carbs: 151g Fat: 123g Protein: 99g Sugars: 49g Fiber: 14g
Workout Of the Day
A) Teams of 3 Workout
5 Rounds:
One teammate performs a 190 meter sandbag carry (30/50lbs)
One teammate performs:
5 Burpees
10 Box Jumps
15 Back Extensions
One teammate rests
*Can only switch when both teammates have completed tasks
B) Tabata hollow holds/ air squats (i.e. 20sec on, 10sec off, switch, total 4min)
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Weekly Breakdown
My weekly nutrient summary:

A few brief pointers:
Prior to beginning the diet, I was aware that ketosis could be complicated by the consumption of large quantities of protein, because in simple terms protein can be 'converted' to carbs. Large quantities of protein will be used in a process called gluconeogenesis to make glucose. This is important when considering that our goal of following a ketogenic diet is to switch our metabolism from using glucose to using ketone bodies...essentially switching our body from burning carbs for fuel to burning fat. If we approach the ketogenic diet with a fear of fat, and spend our days consuming fat-free chicken breast, we will inhibit our body from going into ketosis (details as described by Dr. Michael Eades). Please, if you are going to try such a challenge, enjoy the butter, oil, and fatty grass-fed meats...go big or go home!

Another thing to keep in mind is that in the first few days in which our metabolism is converting over from using glucose to using ketone bodies, a lot of water weight is going to be lost via urine. You will be peeing a lot, and you will need to make sure you are also rehydrating a lot! After doing some research of my own, I found that it is beneficial to add salt to your water, because this helps to retain fluids. I added Himalayan sea salt to my water occasionally throughout the day because it tastes good and has a lot of beneficial minerals (compared to typical table salt).

Most people report that it takes about 3 days on average for their body to reach ketosis. Personally, I did not use 'piss sticks' to confirm ketosis (not always accurate anyway), but I will say that on Wednesday (my 3rd day) I had A LOT of energy all the sudden...as in noticeable, urge to workout, read, and write until odd hours of the night energy...in short, I felt GREAT. Interestingly, Wednesday was the first day I intermittent fasted...apparently, my body was adapting well. I also intermittent fasted on Friday, and Friday was another day when I experienced a noticeable increase in energy. It's amazing how energized a body that is effectively and efficiently fueling on healthy fats can get!

Lastly, a lot of people swear by having a carb reload day to replenish glycogen stores. I am not sure how important this is, but I do believe a cheat day, or a more lenient day is necessary every one in a while in order to maintain a healthy diet long-term. Obviously, the way I ate (and drank) Saturday is not something I am going to advise anyone to do. A typical carb reload day should include healthy carbs like sweet potatoes, squash varieties, fruits (berries), dark chocolate, and paleo-friendly desserts (see my paleo blondies blog for a recipe). I had spent the night at my grandparent's house...a special occassion with lots of amazing food, desserts, drinks (e.g., chocolate martinis) right in front of me...needless to say, I let myself have fun. Hey, by the end of the night, I had won well over $100 playing roulette at Dover Downs, and I trust me, I am NO gambler! Good Times.
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Saturday night nutrition mayham followed by a high fat, low carb, Sunday breakfast.
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AFTER: Today, October 16, 2011
This is a pic I snatched before leaving my grandparent's house this morning. Again, bare with me...I am just trying to give you a visual to work with, I realize it's not the best (and yes, I blocked my face out on purpose).

Overall, I lost roughly 3-5lbs just this week, and felt stronger, healthier, and more energetic. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I was able to kill 6 crossfit workouts (Rx'd) in a single week, on top of working full-time (b/c this was probably never).

Yes, I DO have plans to continue eating this strictly during the week...it is totally worth feeling this way...

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...however, as of now, I am guilty of thoroughly enjoying some gluten-free nut thins, chocolate almond butter, and Starbucks! :)

Please send your questions, comments, feedback my way!

 
 
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I don't know about any of you, but when it comes to making the transition to (or maintaining) a 'paleo' lifestyle one of the hardest things is giving up that morning bowl of cereal/oatmeal, pancakes, french toast, waffles, bagels, etc.  Although most of the time I do not miss these foods at all (because I am perfectly happy living on a diet that allows me to devour whole eggs, bacon/sausage, avocados, and kale cooked in grease any morning I want), there ARE times when I just can't kick the craving for a sweeter, more indulgent breakfast.  For this reason, I have been getting creative with a variety of different ingredients and doing A LOT of recipe tweeking to see what I can come up with. 

Last week was very exciting...an attempt to make 'paleo' crepe batter was a huge success right off the bat!
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The tuber, Yucca Root (right), is the source of Tapioca Flour










Ingredients:
Eggs (6)
Vanilla paste/extract (1Tbsp)
Coconut Flour (1/4 cup)
Tapioca Flour (3/4 cup)
These flours can be purchased off amazon.com for much cheaper than in grocery stores.
Dextrose/Honey (1/4 cup)
Pumpkin pie spice/ Cinnamon
Coconut milk/Almond milk (if desired for consistency)
Coconut Oil/Butter (as needed for greasing pan)
Toppings!!!!!  Ideas include coconut butter, chopped nuts, nutbutters (i.e. almond butter, cashew butter; NOT peanut butter!), Fruit, dark chocolate...

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The first thing you want to do when making crepes or pancakes, is beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Once the eggs mirror what so many of us are used to eating every morning (scrambled eggs, omelettes), it's time to add the reminaing ingredients.  I find it works best to add the flour alternatives last, then let the magic happen.  

Confession:  I almost NEVER measure the amount of ingredients I use (part of the fun/creativity that is the art of cooking if you ask me), BUT, the quantities I've provided here are approximates and should work just fine.   

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A helpful tip when mixing in the tapioca and coconut flours (unless you need an intense arm/shoulder workout) is to add small amounts at a time.  It is crucial for the consistency of the batter that the flours are mixed into the eggs very well (i.e. no lumps).  This takes time and arm strength...WOD: Make homogenous crepe batter for time!  If you are lucky and own an electric beater, go ahead and use it.

It is also worth noting that coconut flour is a relatively thick flour, and it tends to thicken batter over a few minutes (this is why I did not use a lot).  Add the coconut flour and wait a few minutes to see how thick the batter is.  This is important here because we are shooting for a thin batter- something much thinner than pancake batter.  Tapioca flour on the other hand is more of a thin, stretchy-like batter (why I initially thought it would be optimal for crepe-making).  It can be very messy, so be careful...or have fun and cover yourself in it. ;)   

To yield the optimal batter, I recommend refridgerating the batter overnight.  Honestly, this is optimal for conveniency too if you ask me.  Make the batter at night, stick it in the fridge, and you can probably even sneak some crepe-making in before heading off to work in the morning.

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The next morning, the batter should look something like is pictured here- pale yellow, thin, and gooey.

I was especially lucky because my mom happened to have a 'crepe-maker' laying around.  If you don't have this fantastic appliance, you should be fine making crepes using a frying pan.

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Once hot, the 'crepe-maker' is submerged upside down into the crepe batter until a light comes on meaning the crepe is ready.  This is a fairly quick process...and would likely be quick in a frying pan as well.  If crepes seem like something you would like to enjoy frequently, I would recommend purchasing a crepe-maker.

Add your favorite 'paleo'-friendly toppings, roll 'em up, and ENJOY!

...I would really to hear any more ideas you have for 'standard american meals' you'd like to see be 'paleo-ized' and/or any feedback!  Also, feel free to contact me regarding WHY I chose to use any of these ingredients.

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Summer time is full of BBQs, especially around July 4th.  Well, what's better than fireworks, good people, and GOOD FOOD!? 
Good news: Contrary to popular belief, BBQs are very paleo-friendly and make eating healthy easy.  Why is that?  THE GRILL!  Bring your meat, bring your veggies, throw them on the grill, and enjoy some good, healthy food!  Okay okay, so what OTHER than meat and veggies on the grill can you eat that doesn't require you to deviate from your paleo-streak?  This July 4th, save your gut the grief by avoiding bread and pasta salad, and instead enjoy BACON-WRAPPED DATES!
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Lil' bites of paleo deliciousness!
Bacon-wrapped dates are so easy to make and everyone loves them...yes EVERYONE!  As the perfect combination of salty and sweet, this paleo appetizer is one I bring to festivities often.  Whether your friends are strict paleo or fast food junkies, I assure you they will enjoy this decadent meat candy.

Ingredients:
1lb bacon (pasture-fed for best quality)
1 bag/container dates (pitted/unpitted, both ok)

You will need toothpicks so don't forget to grab a box of those too!

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Dates & Bacon...doesn't get much simpler than that!
The first thing you do is preheat the oven to 350.  Next, pit the dates...if you purchased them pitted, you're job just became EVEN EASIER!  However, as a side note, dates purchased already pitted tend to be a bit less moist.  This won't matter TOO much, but if you have the time, buy them pits-in and take the few minutes to squeeze them out yourself...enjoy the full effect of deliciousness!  You also have the option of splitting the dates in half length-wise or leaving them whole, depending on how big of a bite you want, and how juicy you want the center of the date to be (this is not a make or break thing, but rather an issue of moistness...a date left whole will maintain more of its moist center).  As for the bacon, I find that cutting each strip into 3 parts makes for a nice proportion of bacon-to-date.  If you are crazy over bacon, go ahead and use an entire strip, but depending on how many people you are feeding this may get pricey! 
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Warning: Avoid urge to overeat!
Once you have your dates pitted and bacon the length you want it, it's time to get wrapping!  Simply use your hands to wrap the piece of bacon around the date...then secure each bacon-wrapped date with a single toothpick.  Place all the bacon-wrapped dates on a cookie sheet (covered with tin foil if prefered, but things get greasy regardless).  Cook for about 15 minutes, checking occasionally.  The cooking time really depends on how you prefer your bacon...for example, if you like your bacon crisp, cook a little longer.  The dates will be really hot in the center, so be sure not to burn your tongue off...or should I say, enjoy with care!  
This July 4th...EAT RESPONSIBLY! :) 

 
 
There are always those weekend days where I have a decent sized breakfast, but for some reason can't stay quite satiated enough to make it all the way until dinner.  I'm sure we've all been there...so do we have a late lunch or just snack our way to dinner?  I am definitely guilty of the latter, but have pushed more towards making myself a lunch, for 2 main reasons:
1) Eating lunch forces my mind to register that I am eating an actual meal, whereas snacking can often leave the food we opt to eat unaccounted for...and "snacking foods" are generally less healthy.
2) Eating a satiating lunch prevents me from overeating too much at dinner (on top of all those snacks I had consumed to 'hold me over").
So what are some ideas of a quick, easy, healthy, satiating, and relatively inexpensive lunch?
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Stuffed Burger &  Baby Spinach Salad
Ingredients:
1lb GrassFed ground beef (~$5, makes 4 burgers)
Baby spinach
Tomatoes (chopped)
Fresh, whole fat, mozzarella cheese (sliced; see below for replacement ideas if you suffer from autoimmune disease)
Coconut oil (for pan frying)
Balsamic dressing (optional)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika (optional spices)

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GrassFed beef and fresh Mozzarella...YUM!
Fortunately, stuffing a burger is a cake walk.  A quarter pound of meat is a good amount for each burger (1lb makes 4 burgers).  First, mold a hamburger in your hands.  Then, to make room for the stuffing, press your finger tips in the middle of the burger to form a cavity.  In this cavity place your filling, which in this case was a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese.  For those of you with autoimmune disease, you could substitute the cheese (dairy) for something like fresh sliced avocado, or opt out of stuffing the burger altogether.  
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Working in the 'stuffing'

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Place your stuffed (or unstuffed) burgers on a pan containing about a tablespoon of coconut oil.  I pan fry the burgers on each side until I start to see the cheese oozing out (because at this point I am salivating at the mouth and need to eat them ASAP).  Also, good quality, grassfed meat is ideal when less cooked.  I generally sear my burgers on each side and cook them until there is only pink/red on the inside. 

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Ready to eat!
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As a personal preference, I like to eat a little bit of a bunch of things, rather than a lot of one thing...in my mind this equates to eating 'more.'  For example, some people would rather eat 2 burgers and call it a day.  For me, I take 1 burger and throw it on top of spinach, tomatoes, and maybe some avocado (or whatever else I have in the fridge).  Sometimes I top my 'salad' with EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and balsamic vinegar, or salsa...other times I leave it plain and try to appreciate the juices from my good quality meat.  Regardless, I never regret preparing myself a quick, easy, inexpensive meal when I'm hungry.  Enjoy...and don't forget to bring the leftover burgers with you to the office for a healthy lunch on-the-go!


 
 
 
 
As most of you know, I have been SLACKING w/ paleoscape lately...but I'M BACK (w/ a vengeance), as I officially have my Ph.D. now!  Who would have thought!?

Anyways, I have struggled the past few months with maintaining the paleo diet through writing my thesis and staying sane.  Sitting at a desk for long, tedious bouts of time is draining.  I work better at night, of course when all other distractions are sleeping, so my night sleep generally began around 3am on writing days.  This is NOT GOOD.  Physicians are now saying that 'hours of sleep a night' will soon become a vital sign, much like that of blood pressure or heart rate.  Go figure...have you ever had a horrible night sleep (or barely any sleep at all) and the next day craved nothing but crap food?  Sugary food?  Yep...that's because lack of sleep has left your cortisol out of whack.  This makes sticking with paleo more difficult.  Even worse, cortisol can make it very hard to lose weight or stay in shape, regardless of how clean you're eating.  I will highlight cortisol later in another blog of its own, because those of you who know me personally, know that I love to talk about it! 

Moral of the story, I am getting back on the paleo bandwagon full force AND making adequate sleep a NECESSITY (b/c it is).  I will also be keeping up with the blog frequently.  Graduate school has come to an end, I have obtained the Ph.D., and traveling the country has ceased for a bit.  Thanks to all of you who have continued to e-mail me or send me messages related to paleo during my paleoscape blog hiatus...these things are always welcome and appreciated. 

The subject of this blog is mantaining paleo-like eating while on the fly.  For example, I was in airports for 12hrs on Tuesday traveling from San Diego back to Philadephila.  So what did i do to avoid being infected by the standard american diet (SAD)?  It is worth noting that NONE of the things I ate were OPTIMAL, but they kept me going throughout the day, and allowed me to avoid wheat, gluten, bread, corn, soy, etc. that form the basis of processed foods. 
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Breakfast:  Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Croissant
What is shown here is what I did NOT eat for breakfast.  The terminal I sat in for the morning had no 'sit-down' restaurants from which I could order eggs and bacon, the typical foundation of my breakfast.  My choices were to intermittent fast (IF), or order something that I could modify to fit my diet.  I hadn't slept great, and had been under a lot of stress from constant traveling, so I decided the timing was not optimal to IF.  I ordered the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, of which I only ate the bacon, egg, and some of the cheese.  I avoided what cheese I could, but not having an autoimmune disease myself, I knew a little dairy wouldn't harm me too much.  You know you're paleo when...you eat sandwiches with a fork!

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Snack 1:  Tomato Juice
It's frustrating sitting on the plane for hours when you follow a paleo-like diet because the only drinks they offer that you can drink are water, and WATER!  I suppose tea and black coffee also work...but this time I went for the 100% tomato juice.  For me, tomato juice seems to give me that kick of vitality I need for long travel trips.  If you can stomach the stuff, I'd say go for it (afterall, its free)! 

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Lunch:  Chicken Tortilla Soup
Airport food is NOT CHEAP!  My strategy: find a place where I can order lunch and dinner together for 'cheap.'  I had a 5.5hr flight ahead of me, so in anticipation of getting hungry (and in an effort to avoid eating all the food im my parents house when I arrived late at night, as was the case in my past), I bought a dinner meal with my lunch and brought it on the plane with me.  I will get to dinner in a bit...as for lunch, I ordered a bowl of chicken tortilla soup, which I have to admit is one of my favorites.  The soup rang in at about $3 and was an impressive portion that included big chunks of chicken and avocado.  I avoided the tortilla strips and some of the gooey cheese, and overall felt good about my lunch option.  For soup, it was very satiating...satisfying. 

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Snack 2: 85% Dark Chocolate and Starbucks (my obsession).
Almost every day I have dark chocolate and starbucks, and in fact, I often indulge in the two together...the combo is to die for!  I thoroughly enjoyed this snack just prior to my 5.5 hour flight.  Why?  Because although most people have the luxury of sleeping on airplanes, I canNOT.  Instead, I capitalize on this time as 'research' or 'work' time.  Coffee and chocolate definitely help fuel that!

Importantly, the chocolate I ate had no gluten, soy, or emulsifiers.  It is dark enough to provide beneficial antioxidants, and even tastes delicious.  I recommend trying this bar if you can find it at your local health food store.  I purchased mine on sale for $2.99 at the local co-op in Iowa City before leaving for my trip across country...good find!

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No Gluten, No Soy...DELICIOUS.
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Dinner (in flight):  Grilled Chicken Salad
As I mentioned earlier, I bought my lunch and dinner at the same place...a convenient mexican restaurant i stumbled upon in the airport.  The soup was amazing, and so was this salad.  The salad had an impressive amount of chicken, avocado, green lettuce, tomatoes, fresh feta cheese, and a little bit of an oily vinegarette.  For those of you with autoimmune or who are trying to lean out, I would advise you to stay dairy-free, and therefore avoid the feta cheese in this salad.  Also, I am not certain of the quality of the vinegarette, or even chicken for that matter, but this option was better than other options offered at airports: fast food, pizza, bagels, candy, soft pretzels, etc.  It is worth noting that including a oil on salad facilitates extraction of the vitamins and minerals from the vegetables/lettuce- a good thing!  Also, a tip that I live by is that if my only options are not high quality meat, stick with inherently lean meats- in this case, chicken.  Overall, for $13 I had a very satisfying lunch and dinner.

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Snack 3: Custom-made Raw Trail Mix
The best way to eat cheap on the go is to bring your own food...duh.  Before leaving for my cross country trip I ordered a custom-made 5lb bag of trail mix...yes 5 pounds!  For those of you interested: www.nutsonline.com, have a field day.  My mix included raw nuts (macadamia, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds), dried fruit (cherries, star fruit, chocolate covered goji berries, and coconut flakes).  This was a great go-to snack to have on the road, in the plane, post workout, or when I needed something to get me through a few more hours to the next meal (which is important when traveling b/c we can only afford to buy so many good meals).

I hope my 'on-the-go" menu has provided you with some options to consider next time you're on the road/ in the air.  The basis of good health is eating real food.  Eating real food is ALWAYS a possibility...don't sell yourself short no matter where you are...this is YOUR life we are talking about. 

I'M BACK! ;)
 
 
    I realize I have been flaunting these babys on facebook for quite some time now, and have actually had the oppotunity to cook them first hand for a lot of you...so it's about that time... to SPILL! 
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    Ever since I made the switch to a paleo diet, one of the things I miss the most is PANCAKES!  I am a pancake freak, and no matter what kind of diet I have followed in the past, I made sure to whip up an 'approved' pancake recipe.  For example, when I learned that enriched white flour was bad, I switched over to making pancakes made from whole grain or buckwheat.  Then after doing some more research and learning how detrimental wheat actually is to our bodies, I started making pancakes from eggs and oats.  Let me tell you, when I found out about the havoc wrecked on our gut by grains, I ceased making all of these pancakes.  This was a sad day!  Until…I learned about grainless, and natural flour alternatives.  The first that caught my interest was almond flour.  The concept just seemed so easy to me that I had to try it.  I bought a bag of almonds, threw them in my food processor, and wah lah: almond flour.  Note: You will save a pretty penny making this stuff yourself rather than purchasing it in the store!

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    Almond flour is an okay choice to cook with because it is both filling and satisfying, but it is definitely not the best.  WHY?  Unfortunately, 1 cup of almonds contains ~4-5g omega 6 (“inflammatory fat”) and no omega 3 (“anti-inflammatory fat”).  The polyunsaturated fatty acids are not heat stable and therefore are quickly oxidized to peroxides when exposed to high heat (because of their multiple double bonds). This problem becomes worse when almonds are crushed or ground up (as in flour) due to an increase in exposed surface area.  The peroxides subsequently form free radicals and damage our cell membranes. 

http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/cgi-bin/list_nut_edit.pl

 http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=65&utm_source=rss_reader&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss_feed


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Very cheap
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    The BEST alternative to cook with is coconut flour, as it is most stable at high heat.  Additional advantages include that it is cheap, low carb, all natural, easy to use, and recipes do not require a lot.
    I tend to blend the following ingredients in a food processor, pour the mixture in a bowl, and let it sit for a few minutes. 


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Example: heated strawberries for topping
Ingredients:
¼-1/2 cup coconut flour
2tbsp honey (optional depending on ‘paleo strictness,’ but makes it taste that much better)
1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk (improved recipe!)
4 large eggs
1tsp. cinnamon
2tbsp. pumpkin spice (divided 1tbsp batter, 1tbsp sprinkled among the cooking pancakes)
Pecans, dark chocolate chips, chopped apples, etc. if desire inside pancakes (optional)
Water if necessary to bring to desired consistency


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Coconut flour thickens the mixture with time, so it is worth waiting up to 5 minutes to see the final texture of the batter before cooking.  I add coconut oil (or use remaining grease from pastured bacon) to a pan on medium-high heat and pour or ladle out the batter.  Sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon) on the batter while cooking for some added flavor.  Cook as you would normal pancakes.  Serve with almond butter, coconut butter, and/or berries (buy frozen and heat in a sauce pan to make a homemade fruity ‘syrup’), etc.  For those of you without autoimmune issues, whole fat cottage cheese is also a delicious topping!  Be creative, but step away from Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Buttersworth!  

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Typical Saturday brunch!!!