My Paleo Diet Results

I’ve experimented with diet in the past, notably here where I tried and failed miserably at going vegetarian for a month.

Paleo Diet (also known as Paleolithic or Primal) is a diet that is really popular among Crossfit athletes and I happen to be a member of a Crossfit gym where I live, so I’ve been getting pretty heavy exposure to it for about a year. I decided to give Paleo a serious look and I’m happy to report that I’ve been doing it for about 2 months now at a decent level and with interesting results.

Paleo is basically the following:

  • Emphasizes lean meats (fish, fowl, lean red meat, pork, etc)
  • Removes bread, pasta, rice, cereal, beans, and anything with gluten in it
  • Most carbs come from fruits and vegetables, but carbs are de-emphasized.
  • Pretty much a clean diet, so cuts out anything that is chemical heavy and high fructose corn syrup. Thus, no soda, candy, and generally no mass produced condiments.

There are other factors, but that’s basically it. The theory is that this diet converts your body into an efficient fat burner whereas before it was mostly a carb burning system. It also has a shitload of health benefits, like reducing the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and premature aging. Hammer wrote a good overview of Paleo in a  guest post for us.

BTW, I’m not in the least widely read about Paleo, so if you’re really interested you should do your own research. Most of my information is coming from word of mouth, Mark Sisson’s blog, and the book The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf.

Why I Got Into It Again

There are two reasons actually. The first is pure vanity. I was on vacation at the beach a couple of months ago and someone took a picture of me with my shirt off. I definitely had a small gut and love handles going, gained from all the drinking and overeating on the vacation. When I got home I weighed myself and I was 5 pounds heavier than before I left, which was also the most I ever weighed. I take a lot of pride in my fitness so this really pissed me off.

The second is I love to train for competitions and I’m always interested in how diet affects performance, and specifically if I could find a diet that would enhance my training. I heard from all the Crossfitters that Paleo can have a HUGE affect on performance, like all of your maxes go through the roof and you end up looking like Leonidas from 300. That definitely piqued my interest.

So after my vacation I worked out like a mad man and resolved to try the Paleo diet for at least two weeks. It’s been two months and I’m still doing it.


Okay, results. At the end of week 1 of the diet, I went from 165 lbs (highest ever) to 155 lbs (lowest in years). That’s right, I lost 10 pounds in one week. I’m a pretty lean guy so I usually sit around 160 lbs. Now I’m permanently set between 155 -158 depending on time of day, hydration factors, etc, and this feels like my ideal weight. I think if I really trained hardcore, I would probably go down to 153ish for a short term and still have exceptional performance.

I was at a race over the weekend and a friend of mine remarked that I looked like I had packed on 5 pounds of muscle since the last time she saw me. My body weight was actually lower than the last time she saw me, so I’ve exchanged fat for real muscle and I generally look ripped.

For actual performance, I’ve established new maxes on deadlift (255#) and leg press (12 plates total). I was especially encouraged by the leg press, as I’ve only ever done 8 plates before and I did a set of 5 reps at the new level and no problems. I think I could have gone above that, perhaps 14 plates.

I feel pretty good in workouts and I’m really crushing it at Crossfit. Whereas when I first started doing Crossfit every workout killed me, now I’m able to handle any given workout and feel like it’s at a “medium” difficulty level. I also go to a personal trainer two days per week and these workouts are usually brutal. They’re still brutal, but I’ve noticed I don’t get sore as much afterwards and I’m able to keep up with the bigger guys at the gym.

Lastly, I did an adventure race a couple of weeks ago that involved 3 hours of mountain biking, running, and canoeing. I never got tired even though it was 90+ degrees out and the biking was leg destroying. I distinctly remember biking through a long stretch of sugar sand in a pack of other dudes and one of the dudes remarked how his quads were totally on fire. My thought: I feel fine, I could do this all day. I couldn’t have been happier with my performance. After the race I knew something was up.

Issues and Thoughts

At first I found Paleo really difficult because I was cutting out *everything* that I normally ate. Like bread, pasta, and rice. I love cheese and I dropped it entirely and still miss it bad. I also had to commit to preparing almost every single meal because most food when you eat out is not paleo friendly. As I’m sure you know if you work a 9-6, when you eat lunches your options are limited to what’s around you. The one factor that enabled me to embrace the diet was that I started working from home 4-5 days per week. What that meant was it was a cinch to cook breakfast and lunches because I was no longer on the go or locked into eating what was close by. I simply had to reach into the fridge and make something. Convenience was no longer an issue.

The other issue is the expense. My grocery bill is easily 20% higher than it was before, although I don’t eat out lunches so I think I’m breaking even. I’m buying things like free range eggs, wild salmon, and gluten-free open range chicken. Cheap carb foods like pasta and bread has disappeared entirely.

Eating out is still risky, although manageable. To be perfectly transparent, I eat paleo meals maybe 70% of the week, whereas I have a handful of meals that are standard American fare. I drink beer and eat pizza on gamedays and obviously those aren’t paleo. Even at a 70% level I’m getting good results. I would like to try a strict paleo diet in the future to see how it affects performance, but I’m not sure I’m quite ready for it yet. I can’t give up things like Sushi and Dogfish Head beer.

Anyone have experience with paleo? Share results in comments. I’m sold on it completely and can’t imagine going back to a standard American diet. I feel great, look great, and have good results in training and competition.

  • Honey

    Wow, I think you weighed 135 when we dated 😉 I always thought you were WAY too lean back then, I think the 150s/160s sounds way sexier.

  • Honey

    Of course, I think I weighed 115 or so back in those days. Now I am 129ish and feeling great about it!

  • miranda

    My husband did the paleo diet for a while.
    It was a crossfit addict friend who got him into it.
    Made him feel okay, but he kept getting tummy ouchings.

  • Honey

    So the most recent archaeological evidence suggests that mankind has been eating bread for at least 30,000 years:

    Not that the “paleo” diet is necessarily bad for you (I don’t think it is), but the reasoning behind it is turning out to be untrue.

  • Chris

    I can’t fathom not being able to eat bread or pasta. I come from an Italian family so cutting out pasta would suck.
    .-= Chris´s last blog …Body Champ BRM3671 Review =-.

  • Asian Rake David

    Wow, man, Crossfit, adventure racing, plus a trainer twice a week?! Nice, dude.

    I’ve spent the past year doing cycles of P90X, P90X Plus, and Insanity, with the best results from a combination of the three, though mainly P90X. Am now considering moving back to more heavy lifting, but have been looking into Crossfit, too.

    Cheers, Asian Rake David

  • Bondo

    The real deal with diet, whatever you consume, including beverages, is that your body will give you response indicators. You consume, your body gives you indications of the evident beneficial or detrimental effects of what you consume. And so adjust your consumption accordingly. It really is that simple. No rules, just right. No diet. Though you do have to get ‘in tune’ with your body, given the options you have, with the circumstances you find yourself in. The basic foods, with basic preparations, as well as appropriate ‘cultured’ preparations, in the variety ways, are standards because they work well for our health, in general. So, you have to fine tune for you. Appropriate quantities and balance. Differences with different people, to some degree.

  • jenna

    There is no paleo follower who will be offended by this silly article. Paleo is a physical, mental, and emotional benefit to your well being. The government is pushing grains and dairy…what would happen to the economy if everyone knew the truth about it?

  • Lance

    David, sorry this took me so long to reply. Crossfit has been amazing for me, not just for the physical benefits, which are substantial, but because the community has been awesome. Most of my crossfit friends are upwardly mobile professionals and the women are pretty hot, so it’s given me access to additional social circles.

  • Andy

    “So the most recent archaeological evidence suggests that mankind has been eating bread for at least 30,000 years:

    That’s interesting, however this was well before the start of agriculture (or so we currently believe)and the flour for this ‘flat bread’ was stated to be made from a potato like plant root, rather then grains, of course just how similar to actual potato we don’t know.
    Roots vegetables such as turnips, parsnips and the like are acceptable by paleo rules.
    We also don’t know how big a part this bread played in the diet of paleolithic man.
    It could be this was a fall back food stuff for times when game, fish, berries and nuts etc were scares. as the author stated it certainly wouldn’t have been considered ‘tasty’ and thats also a factor (were dealing with humans here 😉 )
    So all in all I don’t think this could be regarded as blowing paleo out of the water, it’s just another peice of the puzzle.

  • Sharon Lore

    No candy, soda, chips etc is cool, and not much of a challenge for me… but cutting back pasta, and bread? Pretty much harder… You did a great job with that one :)

  • Paul

    Eliminating simple starchy carbs will elicit a potent diuretic effect, so losing 10 lbs in a week isn`t uncommon. Same thing happened to me…

  • Dee

    I have been doing a raw paleo diet for over 2 years now. While this may seem extreme I am in the best shape of my life and it really allows your body to heal itself. If you want more information about the raw vesrion I have started a blog
    with my experience.

    Dee x

  • Alisha Ria

    Your results are really impressive. Paleo sounds like a really healthy choice to me but unfortunately it’s too difficult for most people…

  • Sam

    My fiance and I are on this diet, and like everyone says, you just feel so much better! it was difficult at first, because like you mentioned it involves a lot of at home cooking but when you start eating healthy you almost start to crave it. we eat about 75-80% paleo and having the one or two ‘cheat’ nights really helps with feeling like you are deprived. It has been a little over two months, and he has lost 30lbs and I have lost 12. We were not very heavy to begin with, but the additional weight is just dropping off. Learning additional cooking techniques and cooking with fresh herbs helps with variety too!

  • John

    I have been on this diet for 3 weeks and I’ve lost 17lbs (started at 213 now 196). This diet has not been a challenge, always feel full and satisfied. It took me about 2 weeks to adapt in my running training as my body transitioned to burning fats rather than carbohydrates for energy but now feel stronger on every run. Over all I sleep better, have more energy and no longer have those post lunch nap urges. I encourage everyone to try the diet and embrace the Paleo training lifestyle you will not regret it.

  • Zach

    Yeah, I was a skeptic but this really works. I have only been doing it for two days, eating primarily salads with ranch, apples, and pistachios while eating tons of fried deer meat and fried chicken. I knew the fried was bad for me but I am trying to ease into the transition. Then I woke up this morning and weighed myself. ( I always weigh myself in the Morning to be accurate) in two days I went from 216 to 207. That’s 9 pounds that flew off and I dont even know how. Paleo works