That is the question, and the answer can be very personal. If you have it all figured out, if your food is working and your body is responding and you are looking in the mirror with a resounding YES – then stop reading. Instead, please email me your story and what’s working so that I can share it and help people with a new option. I’m not kidding, seriously, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! For everyone else, let’s go on a little journey together, shall we?
Let’s start with Paleo and keep it concise because I’m sure almost everyone in L.A. is at least somewhat familiar with it. Paleo or the “Caveman Diet” starts with a simple concept — only eat foods that our ancient ancestors had access to. Paleo works off the logic that if it is natural to earth, it is good for you. Any foods that come after the Paleolithic era are considered indigestible, which works off the assumption that human digestive systems don’t evolve, which is inherently false. Humans (most of us) do evolve.
The diet consists of meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts and roots and excludes dairy, alcohol, grains and processed foods. It can definitely lead to weight loss for many people but can be restrictive when you are out to dinner with friends and trying to present yourself as a normal human.
Leveling up from Paleo is Whole30. It has basically the same concepts and restrictions, but what sets it apart is the idea that you cannot use any culinary tricks to try and reproduce a “paleo” version of a classic favorite, like a pizza. in Paleo, there are creative “Paleo friendly” or “Paleo approved” versions of our favorites.
In Whole30 the idea is to stick strictly to the new eating plan long enough to lose your taste for “junk foods” and to eat foods as nature created them. I’m not saying this is impossible, but this is freaking impossible. I tap out. Give me the occasional pizza.
NASM Suggested Carb Intake for Bodybuilders
Last year while studying for an advanced certification in sport performance enhancement I was blown away in the nutrition section when they suggested that a bodybuilder should be eating four parts carbs to one part protein. Excuse me. Carbs? Lots of them? That’s crazy. Or is it? I was unable to talk myself into that many carbs, but NASM is the gold standard in my industry, so I couldn’t wholly write off the idea that carbs might be good. So I am now eating carbs.
The Bottom Line
Whole30 is amazing if you want to lose weight and you want to lose it fast.
Paleo is great for maintaining and also for losing weight. It is my experience that you will not gain significant mass or the strength gains without carbs like rice or quinoa.
My happy medium: I basically eat Paleo in that I consume a lot of veggies, meat, birds and fruit. But I also eat steel cut oats in the morning and brown rice before and after workouts. There was no way I am about to eat as much as NASM suggests — I just can’t shake the idea that that will make me puffy.
So I am eating one cup of brown rice to two cups of “Turkey Survival,” which is about one and a quarter cup of veggies to three-quarters of a cup of protein. Since I have started eating like this my strength has increased significantly, and I am lifting a ton more than before. Also, I am getting way bigger than I have ever been before or ever thought I would want to be, and I like it. On the days that I am not lifting I limit my carbs to the oats in the a.m. and maybe a sweet potato at dinner to get glycogen into my muscles for the next day’s workout.
Click here to see a PDF document that shows what my eating plan is for a lifting day: Lifting Day Food Log