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May 4, 2010

Why I lean Paleo

mmmm baconA quick “Thank you” to Melissa Urban for her post “The Paleo Pitch,” which is a discussion on how to talk to the uninitiated about choosing to eat naturally.  I try to explain to people what and why I eat what and why I do and all I get are blank stares, silly questions and fear.

"Oh, so Atkins?" Buh, huh, wha? Well, I suppose, but not in the “Extreme carb restriction followed by slow carb re-introduction cyclic method."  More in the “I don’t eat processed sugar or most grains anymore, so my body will actually burn fat for fuel” kinda way.  Atkins was certainly on to something, for sure, but reintroducing cheap, processed carbs (which, let’s be honest, is what most folks who go “On A Diet” will do) is the lazy way.  I believe in changing my diet to something that is healthy and sustainable.

"Don't you hate eating that way?" Didn't I just tell you I loved to eat real, natural foods, how good it makes me feel and how well I'm improving in the gym?  People see me eating simply and think "Wow, poor guy.."  Meanwhile, I'm sitting there humming happily and chowing on my blackberries, which, in my humble opinion, are like little bombs of juicy, sunshine flavored crack on the tongue after a long winter in rehab.

Bad, processed food makes me feel icky.  After a sandwich with processed bread, I need a nap, Burger King makes me want to commit seppuku almost immediately, just so I can use the quickest possible method of getting the poison out, and the smell of a microwave / instant meal literally makes me gag (someone was “cooking” a lean cuisine yesterday in the break area and my response was visceral and took me by complete surprise).

So, no, I don’t “hate eating this way.”  No, not at all. Last week my weight didn’t change, but I lost yet another percentage point off my Body Fat % (the only real number I follow at this point, though I try not to lose lean muscle mass) and all I did was eat food I loved and kick my own ass at the gym.

The kicking your own ass part is not really optional if you truly want to improve your health, longevity and fitness, but just eating cleaner will have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day life.

Here’s Melissa’s Elevator Pitch, because I like it so much:

“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.” —Melissa Urban

Posted by Chuck Charbeneau at May 4, 2010 9:57 AM
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