Posted by Dave on July 13, 2010
With Tim in the middle of his $25 food challenge, I thought I would weigh in with how I am currently eating. I had previously written about my $50 grocery bill back in February, but much as changed since that time in my household budget. I became really interested in what was actually healthy to eat and started reading books (as I normally do). The first book I read was “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. The “story” (it is a non-fiction book) told was a real eye-opener to me – it essentially puts into question the vast majority of what could be described as conventional wisdom and the human diet. Essentially, the author of the book goes through dietary studies from the 1950’s and on and explains how, for example the fat-cholesterol hypothesis (eating fat and cholesterol makes you fat and increases your rate of heart disease) was formed as well as how the science used in the studies to reach what is now conventional wisdom, was incorrect.
Secondly, I read “The Primal Blueprint” which basically states that humans are not meant to eat grains of any kind, rather a diet of meat, vegetables and fruits is what we as a species ate as we evolved the consumption of grains, rice, legumes and other carbohydrates is making humans fat and unhealthy. An excellent summary of the argument can be seen here as a trailer to a similarly argued movie an excerpt is as follows:
“If you could pack all of human history into one year, we’ve only been farming and eating grain since about yesterday which is when we became shorter and fatter. We only started consuming processed vegetable oils about 10 minutes ago, which is when heart disease became our number one killer. So, after examining all this human history, the experts came to the obvious conclusion….we need to eat a lot more of these – and so they convinced us that human health depended on foods that we hadn’t eaten for more than 99% of our existence”
As a result of reading these two books, my diet changed significantly. I ate only meat, fruits and vegetables for a 4-week period. Over that same period I was monitored by my naturopath, having what is essentially a cellular health reading done at the beginning and end of period to see what my change in diet had done. Over the 4-week period, I lost approximately 10 lbs. Some of this weight was water, but approximately 11 lbs was fat. I gained 3 lbs of muscle, which was interesting as I had curtailed weightlifting from 2-3 times per week to once over the period (I ran a 10 km race in the middle with no training and didn’t want my legs to be sore for the run). Additionally, my internal cellular health had improved significantly over the 4-week period. Carrying the diet through to today, I have lost approximately 20 lbs and have noticed no loss in strength lifting weight (I’m actually lifting more mass than ever). My wife had very similar results, and there are many people on message boards all over the internet who have found that this diet has reversed their diabetes, significantly reduced cholesterol and blood pressure as well as other positive side effects.
So, what do I eat? Most mornings for breakfast, I eat 3-4 scrambled eggs with a vegetable smoothie. For lunch, I eat some kind of meat (usually from the previous night’s dinner) and some raw vegetables, and for dinner, I’ll usually have meat with a salad or cooked vegetable.
What is the impact on my $50 per week budget? From tracking it over the past few weeks, it has gone up approximately 50% (from $50 to around $75 per week). This number should get lowered significantly over the next couple of months, as I ordered and should receive approximately 300 lbs of meat from the half a cow from a local farm, which will reduce the cost per pound of meat significantly.
The total impact on our household food budget is basically $0 however, as we don’t eat out at all anymore, as most restaurants that we would normally go to don’t offer the food at a cheap enough price to make it worth eating there (2 steaks at a restaurant is very expensive).
Although gimicky, the diet itself makes sense – why eat food that we aren’t meant to eat? Why not eat like the cavemen? Just because we can eat grain, doesn’t mean we should – it doesn’t really seem to be helping the health of North Americans over the past century.
Although secondary to eating “properly”, “The Primary Blueprint” also advises to workout like a caveman, as in short bursts. Rather than running on a treadmill as hard as you can go for an hour (as I used to do) – going on a brisk walk for an hour or so a few times a week is a better way to lose fat. To increase cardiovascular capacity, sprint like our ancestors did after their food once or twice a week. Lift heavy weights once or twice a week to build and maintain muscle and you should be in pretty good shape – it’s worked for me.
Have you heard of this way of eating? Would you try it? Would you spend more money on food to gain better health?
*Another good video can be found here describing the primal/paleo way of eating