The Paleo Diet – Sugar and Alcohol

This is going to be the easiest case to present. I could basically just say, “Sugar and Alcohol are bad,” and everyone would agree.

The case with sugar is probably more dangerous than you think. Not only can sugar lead to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, etc, but it has also been shown to be highly addictive. The more sugar you eat, the more you want sugar, and everything just starts to snowball. You had the best intentions of eating 1 Oreo, but that turned into 2, then 4, then 8. Before you knew it, the whole package was gone. The good news is that if you can pull added sugars out of your every day diet, you will crave them less and less.

Similarly, the negative effects of alcohol are well known. The body stops burning carbs and fat while there is alcohol in your system to break it down. This can lead to weight gain greater than the extra calories from the alcohol. Additionally, alcohol abuse can cause damage to your liver, brain, and other body systems. All that being said, drinking small amounts of alcohol has been shown to increase health in various ways. Keep the amount reasonable, and you should be fine.

This is the last of my posts about the paleo diet. Some people will notice that I didn’t include bits about legumes, bacon, coffee, etc.  There is a ton of good information out there about those topics and more. Check out and for more information on those topics. Additionally, give this article a read. It is a series of debates between T. Colin Campbell and Loren Cordain – both highly respected PhDs on opposite sides of the protein debate.

Finally, let’s talk about next steps. If you’ve never done a paleo challenge/Whole 30, that is the place to start. Laura Terry has put together a challenge, and you can get info at the gym. Why do this? It will show you just how powerful food is. You will feel like a totally different person. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, and feel better throughout the day. You will be amazed, and you’ll be telling everyone you know how awesome it is. Do yourself a favor and jump all in with a Whole 30. Stick to it 100%, and it really will change your life.

If you are familiar with the awesomeness of paleo, then you don’t necessarily “need” to do a Paleo challenge. If you’re looking for a jump start/reminder, then absolutely go for it. But beware…

Recently, Whole 30 and Paleo were ranked as the two worst diets by a panel of experts. First, I have to say that I, and many others, believe that is wrong. Our personal experiences have shown us how great eating real food can be (and that is all that paleo really is). This article may be the best argument against these rankings. However, the main reason they rank Whole 30 and Paleo so low is that they are not sustainable (They must have missed the fact that Whole 30 is not supposed to be sustainable). But their point is valid. Paleo can be extremely restrictive. Maybe 1 person in 1,000 can maintain that, but it is not reasonable for us on a regular basis. So, what do we do?

We take what we have learned from this and other Paleo challenges, and we apply it to MOST of our diet. Build your plate with a TON of non-starchy vegetables. Aim for half the plate. Find new ways to prepare veggies, experiment with exotic spices, and try veggies you’ve never had before. From there, add some protein. Not a 24 oz steak, but some good quality protein is crucial for a healthy diet. I’d aim for a little over a quarter of your plate. Switch it up between chicken, beef, pork, fish, lamb, etc. Grill it, roast it, braise it, saute it, etc. Lastly, finish off your plate with starchy vegetables/grains. I know, I know. That makes me a terrible paleo advocate. Do your best to stick to squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, and other gluten free items. Every now and again, it’s ok for that portion of your plate to be a dinner roll.

Maybe that’s not what you’re used to hearing, but that’s how we make this sustainable. Give yourself a cheat meal once a week (or every other week if you can make it). Use a little maple syrup or honey in your cooking. Every now and again have a piece of cake at a birthday party (we don’t want the reputation of being the annoying paleo guy). At the end of the day, go back to eating real food. That is how you will get the body composition you are looking for.

One last disclaimer – During Whole 30 or any Paleo challenge, you may feel a decrease in energy. You might not be as strong, and your workouts may not go as well. Stick it out. That is basically your body going through sugar withdrawal. You may not perform at 100% now, but as you lose weight, your body fat % will go down, and your hormones will kick into muscle building/ass kicking mode. If you have questions or need help, send me an email, ask LT, or talk to someone in class who has tried paleo. We’re all here to help!!! Go get ’em!

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