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Why The Switch?

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Paleo changed my life. Nine years ago I was sidelined by an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I was diagnosed five years earlier, but had no symptoms. No symptoms equals a happy life,  so I didn’t think much of it.

When I could not get off of the couch due to fatigue I paid attention. It took synthetic thyroid medication to get my body back on track. It also required strict Paleo to feel good.

Most autoimmune disorders are inflammation based. Reduce inflammation and often times symptoms improve. Paleo reduces inflammation. In fact, looking at nutrition through the Paleo filter means looking closely at what causes inflammation.

Grains, particularly gluten, cause inflammation. Foods high on the glycemic index can cause inflammation. Dairy contains protein, but also causes inflammation. Baked goods. Deep fried foods. Highly processed foods. Ice cream. All of these foods cause inflammation.

Modern day followers of Paleo eat vegetables, animal protein, nuts fruits and berries. They also get to eat as many healthy fats as they want, which includes olive oil and avocado. During the myriad Paleo Challenges we hosted over the last nine years we saw enormous change. During a 45 day challenge one man dropped his LDL cholesterol 43 points. During an eight week challenge one woman dropped three pants sizes and her triglycerides fell from the sky. Blood pressure improved. Everyone reported increased vitality and mental clarity.

The start of nutritional challenges are always tricky while people go through the sugar withdrawals and adapt to new ways of eating. At first there is increased hunger and sometimes headaches. This phase can last up to 10 days.  People often commented on their increased fat intake, and we told them “it’s not the fats that kill you.”

In the world of Paleo, it’s the inflammation that kills you.

Last summer I was training for international competition. As an aging athlete that was also recovering from a total knee replacement, I struggled to recover from workouts. After each effort I needed two days minimum of rest until I was ready to go. This schedule was not getting me where I needed to be.

Coach Alyx sat me down. I had heard about this macronutrient counting business for months, but was convinced that Paleo was still for me. “What do you have to lose” she asked?

The next day I started tracking my food. I did it for three days in a row, and with that she could see what my normal diet looked like. She knew what I was trying to achieve athletically, so she created a macronutrient prescription to help me train harder, recover faster, and have more energy.

If you look at your food as a pie,  on Paleo I was eating 50% fat, 25% carbs and protein. With her new prescription I cut my fat intake in half and increased the carbs and protein. Within days my recovery improved.

I did not have an aesthetic goal with this experiment. It was strictly performance based. But I got an aesthetic bonus: I leaned out around the middle.

Tuesdays at 3PM we host a Facebook Live session. This week we will hear from Coach Alyx on why Paleo might not be optimum for recovery. Tune in to learn why shifting the focus from fats to protein and carbs pays big dividends.