I’ve been investigating the topic of nutrition for over a year now and after a lot of research have come to the conclusion that the raw paleo diet and lifestyle are as close to optimal as it gets. There are some aspects of it that are still open to discussion (questions such as whether it should be 100% raw and if milk should be included) but the general idea makes logical sense to me and seems to be backed up by science.
For this reason, and because I like to try things out for myself instead of simply trusting what the experts say, I will be conducting a 30-Day raw paleo trial. Starting on Monday (February 11) I will eat a diet similar to that which our paleolithic forebears are thought to have eaten for 30 days. I shall monitor myself on the way (more on that later), and write about my experiences. Hopefully by the end of the trial I will have a better understanding of this way of eating, what impact it has on my body and whether it is sustainable. Before I tell you more though, I should explain to you what ‘raw paleo’ means.
The Raw Paleo Diet
There are two components to this diet, the ‘paleo’ and the ‘raw’ aspect.
‘Paleo’ means that this diet excludes most foods that wouldn’t have been available to humans / weren’t a part of the human diet in the paleolithic time (more than 20,000 years ago), such as cereal grains, legumes, dairy products, grainfed/’factory’ animals and processed foods.
‘Raw’ is self-explanatory. In this subset of the paleo diet, all or most food is consumed in its raw state.
At first this might be a lot to process. A person who is used to the Standard American Diet will probably wonder, “well, what am I allowed to eat??” But once this diet is understood, it doesn’t seem overwhelming at all. Here is a list of the foods I’ll be including in my own version of the raw paleo diet:
- Raw meat, fish and eggs from free-range or wild-caught animals fed their natural diets
- Vegetables & leafy greens
- Root vegetables / tubers (sweet potatoes, carrots, turnip, etc.)
- Nuts & seeds
- Oils (olive oil, nut oils, coconut oil, etc.)
- Bone broth (only cooked thing I’ll allow)
- Water & fruit juices (blended with water, not juiced)
This list might seem small, but seen as each category entails so many different foods (there are, for instance, over 1000 different fruits), there can be as much variety as one wants. Sure you could spend all of your life eating nothing but chicken eggs, apples, beef and lettuce, but there’s no need to be so spartan. Plus, variety is healthy!
À propos ‘healthy’: besides the fact that I love to challenge myself and see how far my craziness can take me, I’m doing this because I genuinely think it will be good for my health. There are many reasons why I believe that this diet is very close to the optimum diet, and they definitely do not fit in a blog post. If you want to further inform yourself on this diet, check out the Resources section at the end of the post. There you’ll find the websites, books and studies that convinced me to try out this diet.
In a nutshell, the trial consists of only consuming the foods on the list for thirty days. I will also be doing other ‘trials’ involving exercise and other areas of life, but I will talk about them only after the thirty days. There are, however, other things I should mention about this trial, namely what I will be monitoring and how I prepared for it.
To give me immediate daily feedback on how this diet is affecting me I will monitor the following things every day: my weight (optimally I would gain weight during the next month, but not losing weight will be the main priority), how I feel after each meal, how I generally feel during the day, how I feel during workouts. The most objective marker is obviously my weight, but I regard my feelings and energy level throughout the day to be just as important.
Some trials you can just right into from on day to the other. This one definitely requires some preparation.
One could say I have been preparing for this trial for over 6 months. Here’s the gist of what I did that could be considered preparation for this trial:
- Read ~10 books about the raw vegan diet
- Read about the paleo diet
- Find studies supporting the paleo diet as superior to the ‘modern’ diets
- Switch to a mostly paleo diet
- Consider going raw and read about the raw diet from a paleo perspective
- Find good sources of raw meat nearby
- Try eating raw meat (until now I’ve eaten raw salmon and raw beef)
- Buy meat and organ meats and freeze them
You certainly don’t have to go through all of these steps, but I do believe that they were all important for me. The least you should do is inform yourself on the raw paleo diet and stockpile on frozen (to kill possible parasites) meat and fish.
What’s In It For You?
Why should you care that I’m doing this trial? Well, I hope that in the following 30-day I’ll be able to create many posts that would be useful to people willing to improve their diet or even try out a raw paleo diet.
I will be posting recipes I like, tips, insights on how I think the diet is affecting my body and mind, etc. If you couldn’t care less about your diet, then the next posts won’t be for you (and I guess this website isn’t either). But if you want to improve your diet and are wondering about whether or not to try out raw paleo, you might get valuable information from the articles to come that you won’t find as easily anywhere else (as far as I know there are no raw paleo trials on the internet yet).
I’m not yet sure how often I will be posting, but it can be anywhere between every day and twice during the whole month. I will post whenever I feel I have anything meaningful to share, so that every post is worth reading.
As promised, here are the recommended resources if you’d like to further investigate the raw paleo issue:
- The Live Food Factor: The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet - Susan Schenck on the raw (vegan) diet
- The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy (Primal Blueprint Series) - Mark Sisson on the paleo diet
- Mark Sisson’s website (complements his book)
- Beyond Broccoli, Creating a Biologically Balanced Diet When a Vegetarian Diet Doesn’t Work - Susan Schenck on a raw diet which includes animal products
- My post on grains for studies supporting the paleo diet and which prove that grains are harmful
- The RawPaleoDietForum – a free forum of very helpful raw paleo folks
All of these websites and books have been very helpful to me and I honestly recommend them to anyone wishing to know more about health and nutrition.
I’m really excited about this, bring it on!