A few months ago I switched to the Paleo diet. My main reason for doing so was curiosity and the fact that I kept coming across smart interesting people who had concluded that Paleo was the best thing for their health and energy.
The basic idea of Paleo eating is that our bodies are adopted to eating what our cave ancestors ate 10k years ago and that agriculture is a relatively recent phenomenon that our bodies haven’t fully evolved to digest. Note that I don’t claim to know whether these claims are valid. I do like the idea of questioning the status quo diet, as well as relying on my own experience of eating this way.
So a quick summary of what you eat on Paleo:
- you cut out grains, beans, as well as most nuts
- you reduce your carbs to about 25 grams per day
- eat lots of fat and protein
- cook with coconut oil, gee or lard, rather than vegetable oils
- cut out all dairy except cheese and full-fat cream
- vegetables are fine, as are potatoes (especially sweet potatoes or yams)
The reason for this post is that I was just getting ready to leave the house when I realized that I will not have time to eat a meal between 10am and 5:30pm. In the past this would have been a problem, but one of the effects of eating Paleo is that you can fairly easily go for hours with no eating or minimal food. Since you get your energy from slow-burning sources like fat and protein, you can fairly easily last for a while. (And, don’t worry, I will definitely snack.)
Overall, my experience with Paleo has been very positive. In the past, I ate all the time, I ate too much and thought about my weight. Since switching to Paleo, I feel a lot less dependent on food overall and my weight just feels very stable - none of those ups and downs that I used to experience in a single day of eating really occur any more. Energy-wise, I’ve found that I’m a lot less likely to feel tired after a meal and my energy seems not too dependent on food.
Paleo guidelines have some gray areas, and it becomes a personal mix of choices that work for you. My tweaks include:
- I eat a fairly large amount of very dark chocolate (it has lots of fat and not a ton of sugar).
- I did not give up drinking as some would suggest :) My drink of choice is vodka-soda (especially with potato-based vodka if it’s available) and occasionally wine.
- I’ve found sweet potatoes to be very important for me on this diet. Without them I just don’t seem to get what I need from my meals. I eat them almost daily.
The best thing about Paleo is that you become a fat snob. You’ll find yourself going to a coffee shop and requesting full-fat whipping cream for your coffee. Trust me, that’s a request they don’t get often! It’s way more radical than asking for a double-soy-half-caf-moca-frappuccino-latte. Bacon and butter will become your best friends.
So why should startup founders eat Paleo? Because it seems to be the most sustainable diet for your energy and for going through an entire day without eating while meeting with investors, recruiting and running around :)
Oh, and here’s my favorite resource for learning about what real people do when eating Paleo: http://paleohacks.com/.