For the month of July, I’m going Primal! (Every time I say that I want to yodel.) Basically, this means I’m going to eat, drink & be merry just like our pre-agrarian ancestors. Clubbing and hair dragging is optional I hear.
Mark & Co. over at Mark’s Daily Apple finally said the magic words to me: “We challenge you.” (What you thought it was “please”?). I’ve been toying around with pieces of their Primal Blueprint for about a year now and have been complaining – sometimes louder than others – that it doesn’t work for me. I’ve played the gender card, the vegetarian card, the cardio queen card and even the grains-are-the-staff-of-life card to which they’ve listened politely, patted my head and went on their ab-tastic way.
But the thing that keeps bringing me back (besides some of the smartest commenters on the web – second only to you guys) is that they just seem to make so much sense. There’s been a lot of research coming out on this type of nutrition recently and so when they threw down their 30-day challenge I figured – hey, it can’t be worse than anything else I’ve tried!
At first, since being a veg girl is one of my defining characteristics, I thought I’d try and do the challenge without eating meat. I’ll pause while the idiocy of that last statement settles in. The paleo/primal diet eschews all grains. So take out meat and I’d be left with vegetables and nuts. And we all remember where that leads.
To make it a fair experiment, I’m going to give their Primal Blueprint 100%. I’m eating meat for July. The things I’ll do in the name of a good experiment. But wait, there’s more!
No grains. Grains are poison. I think that pretty much sums it up.
If you want more detail, try to keep your carbs at or below 100 grams a day and get the majority of those carbs from a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Eat as many veggies as you want. Watch the starchy ones though so you stay under 100g of carbs per day. Eat loads of fish, seafood & meat. And don’t worry about it being lean. Suck the marrow out of the bones and eat the organs if it makes you happy (although I think I just threw up a little bit). Fat is your new best friend. And the primal folk don’t care about it being saturated or high in cholesterol either for which they have some science-y reasoning that you can read if you’re interested. Load up on nuts (but not peanuts as they are technically a legume and not a nut), fry your eggs in butter and go to work licking the steak grease off your fingers.
Go easy on the fruit.
For the 30-day trial they recommend avoiding all dairy although once you are at a happy weight/body fat percentage then they say it’s okay to have a little of the high-quality stuff like cottage cheese or Greek yogurt every now and then. I had a little cheese going away party this weekend. As I discovered when I went Vegan, I can do without drinking milk just fine. I can also live without “chunk cheese.” But I will truly mourn the temporary loss of my Greek yogurt and double-creme brie.
Also, try to limit the beans. I know they keep you regular but they’re high in carbs and have something scary in them called an anti-nutrient, which might one of the awesomest pseudo-science words I’ve ever read.
No, thank you
No sugar. Oh come on, you knew that one was coming! It’s the simplest carb there is! And of course you know alcohol is a sugar, right? Also, no grains or anything made from grains. And by the way, corn is a grain and not a vegetable.
This Is Not Atkins
Besides the no dairy, the Primal Diet places an emphasis on eating foods as our ancestors did. It isn’t enough that something is “low carb” but it needs to be quality, real food. Atkins bars – big no, no. They are especially concerned with the quality of meat, urging everyone to eat grass fed AND finished beef, wild raised AND caught fish and, of course, organic fruits and veggies. Yes, they suffer from the same California delusion as the rest of that state so just do your best to keep things as natural as you can.
In a nutshell: CrossFit
According to the Primal Blueprint, cavemen worked out by walking loooong distances slowly
interspersed with the occassional all out run-ma-the-puma’s-coming maximal sprint. They recommend throwing in the low kind of cardio whenever you feel like it with the sprints 2-3 times per week for about 10 minutes. Grok, their moniker for the heavy-browed set, would also have heaved a lot of heavy stuff around. So do weight training but make it heavy and make it functional. Another great option is the Monkey Bar Gym.
The Gym Buddies and I will be sticking with CrossFit as it covers the weights and the sprinting so we don’t have to think to much about it all. But of course we will keep our Hip Hop dance class and Turbokicking. I’m sure Grok danced. Mating ritual, anyone?
Aaron, of The Daily Apple, has kindly offered his services to us as a Primal guide. He will answer your questions and even allow you to post your thoughts/struggles/successes and so forth on their website. So e-mail him at aaronprimal AT gmail DOT com. And don’t worry, for all of their chest thumping and massive pecs, they really are some of the nicest, most patient people on the ‘net. They have been putting up with me for a year now, after all.
So, who’s in with me?