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Wellbeing

My Experience with the Paleo Diet

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My first experience with the Palaeolithic Diet or what’s also known as the  primal or Paleo Diet was about 20 years ago when I started competing in fitness figure competitions. I was working as a chef at the time and needed to lean up and get down to about 16% body fat in order for me to compete for my first competition.

My trainer told me to cut out all processed foods (basically anything in a can, jar or packet) as well as grains, which included foods such as bread, pasta, rice and refined sugars that would hinder my fat loss goals.  My eating plan consisted of lots of green vegetables, salads, fresh fruit, lean protein sources such as fish, organic eggs and grass fed meat or game meat PLUS raw nuts, seeds and and  small amounts of heart healthy fats.  

 

It was basically a whole food diet that allowed me to nourish my body and maintain a positive nitrogen state to allow my body to build lean muscle, recover fast from my training and get lean.

I tailored my diet to suit my body and my eating style and I eventually found the perfect balance that worked for me.  Focusing on eating a plant based diet and making vegetables the main component of my meals, then adding quality protein, some fruit and healthy fats to compliment my eating plan and training regime. It was quite Mediterranean which I loved and consequently, traditional Mediterranean diets are low in what I call ‘the terrible three’ — saturated fats, trans fats and refined sugar. At that time I was training 6 days a week  so I needed enough protein for recovery and to keep me energised. I made sure I had quality  sleep and enough rest to help me recover properly.  I felt fantastic, strong and full of energy. I never felt hungry and leaned up ready for my competition.

Since then, I’ve pretty much structured the way I eat and how I cook based around a primal / clean eating lifestyle - I'm not fanatical and I always give my diet the the 80/20 approach. The great thing about cooking this way is that it’s automatically a gluten free and whole food diet which is wonderful for celiacs or those who are sensitive to grains or who have gastrointestinal issues. I  enjoy the journey that exercising and healthy clean eating takes me on. I have quality rest and days off and try to maintain a healthy balanced routine.

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that after only ten days on a paleo diet subjects experienced both physiological and metabolic benefits that included reduced blood pressure, lower levels of total cholesterol, lower fasting insulin levels as well as a lower insulin secretion after ingestion of glucose. In another three-month study the paleo diet improved glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with Type 2 diabetes, compared to a conventional diabetes diet focusing on grain-based carbohydrates. The diet also has anti-inflammatory benefits, due to its high levels of mono-unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.

I'm not an extremist when it comes to my food and diet and enjoy everything in moderation 80/20 style. The recipes I cook on this web site are all foods I love to eat. I enjoy what you may call my modified primal eating plan - A BALANCED DIET SUITED TO MY NEEDS and focus on plant based food sources that make me feel healthy and work for my body.

 

I remember when I used to have my healthy chef cafe,  I thought I could try and please everybody with my menu - this task was basically impossible, I remember at one stage I developed 3 types of banana bread for customers to enjoy - but I soon found out that still wasn't enough - some can't eat eggs, some are allergic to nuts etc. For me primal living IS NOT about loading up on meat at the dinner table - my personal diet focuses on vegetables, fruits and plant based whole food sources that are complimented with quality clean proteins (animal or plant based). Everyone has their own version of a healthy diet that suits them and thats fine...so it's important to find out what works best for you.

 

Listen to your body. Enjoy fresh wholefoods. Make it yourself. Don't get too fanatical - be happy.  

 

Start guide to paleo:

1 Sort out your pantry:

Throw out all the junk, packets of chips, processed foods, cereal, bread, pasta and sugar.  Processed foods are generally high in salt, sugar, fat, preservatives and flavour enhancers such as MSG — all of which have been linked to disease, obesity, headaches, bloating and your body just basically feeling sick and lousy. Manufacturers add these to foods intentionally to make them taste better, so you’ll eat more of their product, make them more money, and along the way become addicted, sick and fat. The answer? Eat fresh! And if you can’t make it yourself then at least know what’s in the food you eat.

2 Shop Smart

Buy plenty of  vegetables and fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, healthy fats such as avocado as well as healthy protein sources like fish, grass fed or game meat and organic eggs.

3 Eat Healthy:

Just by making a few simple changes to the ingredients you choose, how you cook them and your portion size you can make improvements to your health and wellbeing that last a lifetime. Make sure you include a little protein in every meal and combine with plenty of fresh green salad and veggies. The RDI (recommended daily intake) for protein basically covers the need for building, repairing and maintaining the body. It varies slightly depending on your age, weight and activity level. The average male would aim to eat around 0.84g per kilo of body weight per day, while for women it’s 0.75g per kilo of body weight per day. For athletes, children, pregnant women or the elderly the RDI is higher. Athletes in power sports or football, for example, may need up to 1.7g per kilo of body weight per day to aid in recovery. You can check out what you need by using my protein calculator.

4. Keep it Real

I'm not an extremist when it comes to my food and diet and enjoy everything in moderation 80/20 style. The recipes I cook on this web site are all foods I love to eat.  I enjoy  what you may call my modified primal eating plan - A BALANCED DIET SUITED TO MY NEEDS and focus on plant based food sources that make me feel healthy and work for my body. Everyone has their own version of a healthy diet that suits them and thats fine...so important to find out what works best for you.

5 Exercise

You don’t have to train like a CrossFit Olympian or Spartan warrior, the Greek physician Hippocrates believed walking to be man's best medicine. It supports health in every sense both physiologically and mentally. This also includes incidental exercise such as walking to work instead of catching the bus or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

6. Sleep Well

Good-quality sleep is essential for the body and mind to revive, repair and recharge. Experts say that if you want to lose weight, you need to get enough sleep. Specifically, researchers have reported that those who sleep for 5 hours or less per night generally weigh more than those who sleep for 8 hours per night. People who sleep for 5 hours or less per night also have a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome (also known as syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome), which can increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE HEALTHY CHEF PRIMAL INSPIRED RECIPES:

Paleo pumpkin bread

Gluten free banana bread

Power Porridge

Bircher Muesli

Fish in a Bag

Chilli Con Carne

Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potato

Naked Chocolate Cake

Strawberry Crumble

Green Vegetable Minestrone

Strawberries + Cream Smoothie

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