Category Archives: In The News

90/10, 80/20, 40/60… What’s Your Paleo Percentage?

Here is a great article from Robb Wolf about the amount of time you eat paleo vs. nonpaleo.. . food for thought:

Conversation overheard at the gym:

Ripped dude with six-pack abs and biceps that would shut down any military gun show: “Yeah, you know, I’m not like 100% paleo. I’d say I’m probably about 90/10.”

New guy with pony-keg abs, wearing Velcro tennis shoes: “Cool, so you can still have beer and pizza sometimes?”

Biceps: “Sure – and since you’re new, you might be able to start with an 80/20 split.” “You can tighten it up when you stop seeing results.”

Beer Boy: “Awesome! I’m gonna try it – thanks.”

Okay, that’s how it went down. I’m sure you’ve overheard or maybe even been on one of the ends of a conversation like that at some point in your ‘paleo career’, (and don’t even try denying the Velcro shoes…). Logically, we all ‘get’ what these paleo percentages mean, right? It’s not rocket science. You eat clean paleo (this means no paleo pancakes, paleo cookies, or other hybrid paleo creations that are showing up on some Paleo cooking blogs)a given percent of the time (like 80 or 90) and then the other 10-20 percent of the time you enjoy some non-sanctioned deliciousness. That’s really all there is to it. Everybody got that.

Wait a second, are you all sure you REALLY got that? Seriously, the more I think about it the less I actually ‘get it’. How exactly do you quantify what 80 percent and what 20 percent of what you eat actually is? Do you write down everything you plan to eat for the week and then tinker with it until you get the precise ratios? (If you do this, and there are probably some of you out there that do, I need you to pay attention here – STOP IT!!! This is NOT the Zone and there is more to life than ratios and percentages – let it go!) Or do you calculate it in ‘time’ – like there’s 352 days every year and 80 percent of 365 is – 292 days of eating clean. This leaves 73 days for the other stuff… Or maybe you break the day into hours – you’re awake for about 16 hours a day and 80 percent of 16 gives you 12.8 hours of clean eating and 3.2 hours for off-roading. Really, how the heck do you quantify this stuff? I liken it to those people (you know who you are) that are paleo during ‘challenges’ or for 21 or 30 day chunks at a time and then they go completely off the reservation until the next round. Sure, during that challenge period you feel good, your body comp starts changing and you have more energy than General Electric’s headquarters – but the entire time you’re thinking about what you’re going to ‘treat’ yourself to at the end of this little game.

Oh, and what about the food/drink choices and quantities… (Yes, we’re going to go there, and I’m going to tell you the truth. It may hurt a little, but you’ve been warned.)

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, etc. listed under the “Food Dislikes or Intolerances” section of the questionnaire I send to my new clients. And believe it or not, on the exact same questionnaire listed under “Food Musts or Favorites” things like brownies, pizza, beer, ice cream, cheese and pasta show up… So, my burning question is, if you say that wheat, gluten, dairy, etc. are things that you don’t tolerate what the H-E double hockey sticks are you doing eating them? I mean yeah, I know, they taste good – but seriously, is the pain and suffering really worth it? And did you know that one ‘off-road’ can set you back MONTHS in terms of gut healing, health and disease management? Yeah, it’s not just a two or three day misery fest but it can undo a lot of healing and hard work pretty damn quickly. So let’s say you’re doing the 80/20 thing and your gut is about as healthy as Paula Deen’s career right now, and you’re thinking pizza and beer on Friday night sounds about right. One night of fun is well within the 80/20 rule and it’s your 20 percent damn it, and you’re gonna enjoy it. Well, guess what, as good as it was and as worth it as the Saturday lethargy, headache and time spent in the oval office was, it’s highly likely that your poor innards are gonna be paying for this for a lot longer than the municipal sewer system will. Now you do this gluten/dairy intoxication thing once or twice per week and healing anything is next to impossible. So, am I telling you that you have to eat STRICT paleo with zero treats 100% of the time? YES! Okay, I’m just kidding, but you were scared, huh? I’m not saying you can never have anything that’s not a meat, vegetable or healthy fat – but if you don’t have an iron gut and know that you have adverse reactions to gluten, dairy, soy, etc., or if your gut or health in general aren’t where they should be then you need to be careful. I mean really, these days there are some damn tasty gluten, dairy, soy, etc. options. You don’t have to live in complete deprivation to be healthy! Now, if you’re not reaching your goals, getting lean, kicking ass and taking names in the gym, etc. – you may want to rethink the 80/20. If you really want to see your abs it might mean no ‘cheats’ for a while and you need to understand, that when you do stray from the meat and veggie routine that it’s going to set you back (so are crappy sleep, lots of stress and stupid exercise…).

With all that stuff on the table, I’m going to completely blow your minds with this next idea. Are you sitting down? No, seriously – SIT DOWN. Okay, what if, instead of saying 80/20, etc., or instead of having “cheat days” or “cheat meals” we try something different. First off, I HATE the word ‘cheat’, it insinuates that we’re doing something shady and eating some coconut ice cream is not shady. It’s delicious. I say we refer to ‘off eating’ as treats. That sounds happy and I like happy things… Next, there will be no “treat days” or “treat meals”, even. Why? Because, think about this for a minute, you have an entire day to completely go off the rails – you start with pancakes; move on to a cheeseburger (with the bun), fries and a Coke; and you finish the day off with pizza, beer, and ½ a package of OREO cookies. Now tell me, did you enjoy and actually taste every bite of all that or did you just keep eating because you ‘could’? It’s the same with an entire meal – you start with a margarita and the spinach and artichoke dip (with bread) appetizer; next is the 32 ounce Rib-Eye, loaded baked potato and another marg for good measure; and dessert is mandatory – I mean it’s your “treat meal” – so you go with the Molten Lava Cake and throw on a couple scoops of ice cream for good measure. You are now officially stuffed – I’m talking, let the belt out, lay down and cry a little bit full… Sure it tasted good – but did the first bite taste as good as the last and did you polish off the entire steak and dessert because you were truly enjoying it or was it more just something you do during every ‘no rules’ meal because you are entitled to it?
I’m going to challenge you to (this is going to be hard…) get rid of the cheat day or cheat meal mentality. Instead give yourself ONE ‘treat’ FOOD. Yep, I’m cruel like that. You pick ONE thing – so if it’s going to be a cheeseburger, fine, but that means no fries or coke. You SAVOR and ENJOY EVERY bite of that cheeseburger. Make it an experience – eat your ‘treat’ distraction free – no TV, no computer, nothing. SIT DOWN and have a moment. It’s just you and the burger. I want you to taste it, chew it, feel the texture and above all ENJOY EVERY bite! If that burger, brownie or ice cream stops tasting absolutely, out-of-this-world, blow your mind AWESOME, then STOP eating it. At that point it isn’t worth it anymore. The last rule, don’t ‘waste your treats’ on less than awesome foods –you know the stuff – low fat/sugar-free ice cream, cold pizza, stale potato chips, the last few bites off your kids’ plates, warm beer, etc. Make your treats, ‘treats’ – not mindless bites of less than appetizing fare.

Let’s put away the 80/20, 90/10, cheat days and cheat meals. Enjoy the foods you eat – don’t ‘choke’ something down that you don’t like. It’s not worth it. And throw out the ‘clean your plate rule’ – yes, there are starving children in Africa, but they don’t need stale French fries and melted ice cream either. Make this way of eating a ‘lifestyle’ – it’s not a diet, it’s not living from one cheat meal, carb night or 30 day challenge to the next. You’ve got 365 healthy days every year – not 292. Make each one count. (And yes, an occasional ‘treat’ is healthy – as long as it doesn’t compromise your health.)

Eat to Live. Don’t Live to Eat.

Read more here

Gray Area Foods

The idea behind a paleolithic diet is that you avoid foods that cause gut irritation and foods that cause hormone imbalances and insulin sensitivity issues. This means avoiding all grains, legumes and dairy products as well as refined sugar, processed food chemicals and modern vegetable oils. But there are some foods are not clearly safe or unsafe. You may choose to include or to avoid these foods in your implementation of paleolithic nutrition. Many advocates of paleolithic nutrition suggest cutting out all gray area foods for a month or two, then adding them back in one at a time and see how they make you feel. They become especially important factors if you are suffering an auto-immune disease or a history of poor gut health.

Here are the main culprits (although there are others, so look for future posts):
Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds do still contain small amounts of gut irritants (in this case, saponins) and anti-nutrients (in this case, phytates, which inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals). The phytate content can be minimized by soaking nuts and seeds overnight (then drying them in the oven at low temperature or in a food dehydrator) before eating them. Most nuts and seeds also contain more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids (ratios ranging from 1:3 to 1:10), which isn’t helpful as we strive for a 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in our diets.
Goat Dairy and Dairy from Pasture-fed Cows: Dairy products are blacklisted for two reasons. They can irritate the gut in some people and they also cause a spike in your insulin disproportional to the amount of sugar in milk (even cheese, which is mostly protein and fat, spikes your insulin). Both of these are reduced in goat dairy and in dairy from pasture-fed cows, many people can tolerate these quite well. Another bonus to dairy from pasture-fed cows is that they contain Conjugated Linoleic Acid and more omega-3 fatty acids.
Nightshades (Peppers, Eggplants, Tomatoes and Potatoes): Vegetables in this family contain small amount of poisonous glycoalkaloids (like tomatine, solanine and chaconine). Depending on your lineage, you may or may not be sensitive to these chemicals (if you have any native american ancestry, you are probably okay). A way to minimize your exposure is eat the ripest version of the vegetable (ripe tomatoes, red bell peppers, etc.). Also, potatoes seem to be especially problematic, so many paleo dieters avoid potatoes even if they include the other nightshades in their diet. If you do want to eat potatoes, peeling them gets rid of most of the glycoalkaloids.
Eggs: Yes, eggs can be a problem for some people too. A chemical called lysozyme in the egg white can form globs of molecules in the gut and sneak things across the gut lining that shouldn’t be able to get into your blood stream. Isn’t it strange to realize that egg yolks are the healthy part of the egg? (Especially when you eat omega-3 or free-range eggs). Paleo dieters hate to give up eggs, so I suggest only doing this if you have a diagnosed autoimmune disease.
Caffeine: This is a touchy subject for me because I know that I should give up coffee (at least for a month or two to see how I do), but I just don’t want to. The issue with coffee and other caffeinated beverages is that it increases your cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Most of us are trying to reduce stress, not increase it, so large amounts of caffeine are just not useful. In a perfect world, we would all get enough sleep that we would wake up refreshed and the thought of a double americano with heavy cream would never cross our minds. If you can stomach the idea of giving this up, I suggest doing it. Otherwise, do what you can to minimize your caffeine intake. You could try decaf (which has about a quarter the caffeine of regular coffee) or stick with tea. It also helps to drink coffee black because the fat in heavy cream can increase how quickly the caffeine gets into your blood stream.
Alcohol: After watching my childhood dog get completely drunk from eating rotting plums left on the ground after dropping from our plum tree, I feel confident that our paleolithic ancestors probably consumed some alcohol in the form of fermented fruit. The issue with alcohol is always dose. Ethanol is a toxin and it increases your blood triglycerides (increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease). You don’t need to cut alcohol out, but do try and stick to one or two drinks at a time, no more than a couple of times per week… or less. Also, be aware that most beer contains gluten. Spirits generally don’t and wine (especially red) has some great antioxidants in it (reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease!). If you are having issues with sleep quality though, I suggest cutting alcoholic beverages out completely, at least for a while.

With all of these gray area foods, I suggest considering them as possible culprits for continued health issues as you experiment with paleolithic nutrition. Maybe it’s too overwhelming to cut them out at first. Maybe you feel great even when you eat them. Maybe you want to consider a one month trial of omitting them from your diet to see how you feel. I personally do better without nuts. And I have a strong suspicion that I should give up caffeine. This is one of the many aspects of paleolithic nutrition that is completely individual.

Read more here

Why You Got Fat

Back in the day, grains weren’t part of our diet. As Mark from Mark’s Daily Apple points out in his “definitive guide to grains” article: grains cause kind of a funky response in our system. Grains are composed of carbohydrates, and those carbs are turned into glucose (a type of sugar) in our system to be used for energy and various other tasks to help our body function – any glucose that isn’t used as energy is stored as fat.

Rather than me explain that part with thousands of words, just watch this three-minute video:

Is that Paleo?


It’s usually a funny joke we throw around the house, “is that Paleo?”  We wear it on t-shirts and have gifts with the phrase on it.  But this time, I really have to ask, “Is that paleo?”  As I’m looking around for some green bell pepper recipes (our secret ingredient tonight!), I saw a link to the new stem cell burger.  For real, that is not paleo (firstly because they had to add bread and other things to make it more burger-like and secondly, it’s franken meat).  One of the most basic reasons our bodies enjoy meat is because we’ve been consuming it for hundreds of thousands of years worth of genetics.  We receive great nutrition from meat where you cannot imitate the value;  whether or not you feel bad for animals is irrelevant when comparing this nutritional value. The bottom line is health and wellness has shown to be more successful when you go back to food that is natural, not man made; anything imitated is just not the same (just look at cheeze whiz = FRANKEN CHEEZE).

My Favorite burger Joints:

1. Bubs Burgers – just meat. no bun. so good.

2. Bloomingfood’s Nick’s Burger – Grill it at home!!

3. Scotty’s – I’ll get it with a side of broccoli and fruit.  I cut up the burger and have a broccoli burger stir fry!

4.  Upland – I’ll get it with a side salad. The orange ginger vinegarette is very good.

Paleo Positivity

One of the great benefits of the paleo diet is a better mood/attitude. I can honestly say from when I first came to Hoosier CrossFit and began the paleo diet- to where I am now, my mood and attitude has changed 100%. Although, not all of it is a direct correlation with what I eat, I believe a huge chunk of it is! Check out some research!

“The other morning, I checked my Google Reader and saw an interesting post fromThe Great Fitness Experiment entitled “The Link Between Mood Disorders and Diet (is going gluten-free the key to curing my anxiety?)“  I have several friends who deal with anxiety on varying levels, so I thought I’d check it out and see if it was worth passing along.

Long story short, the post on TGFE ended up being more of a personal manifesto regarding the author’s anxiety attacks and the long journey to finding a cure, which is still ongoing.  While this wasn’t exactly what I thought I would read in the article – I thought the question was more rhetorical than a legit question – the post did reference other resources that I think would be of use to anyone who is suffering from anxiety and is currently looking for a non-pharmaceutical based treatment.

Before I get into the other resources, I think it’s important to note that I am a firm believe in the idea that our nutrition can and does directly affect our mood.  While I used to be a curmudgeon, I’d like to think over the last year or so that has abated and I’m much more pleasant to be around; a glass-half-full sort of guy.

Anyway, one of the articles referenced in the TGFE article was a testimonial published on Robb Wolf’s blog entitled “Real Life Testimonial: No more meds or anxiety,” in which a young woman talks about how going Paleo helped her overcome her anxiety and get off of her prescription medications.

Here’s an excerpt that I found particularly interesting:

I’ve reached my third complete month free of anxiety medication.  I originally wrote you after only completing one month.  I wanted to address some of the comments that suggested it may have been too soon to state that I was “cured.”

I’ve been eating about 90% Paleo – any diversions from that only including occasional alcohol or sugar. I have not reintroduced grains into my diet whatsoever. Interestingly, when my diet is not optimal, I do feel an increase in anxiety.  However, being able to attribute that anxiety to my poor diet choices makes the anxiety very manageable.

In conclusion, there has been no need for further medication or treatment…and my life continues to go wonderfully.

This is certainly pretty powerful stuff, but is it possible it’s just anecdotal and not representative of the Paleo diet at large?  Based on what Google tells me, Christina’s story doesn’t appear to be unique to her as there are many testimonials linked to an improvement in mood/anxiety for people on the Paleo diet.

But what do non-testimonials say? Is there any legit scientific research to back this up?  Good thing you asked:

Research done by British Journal of Nutrition shows that subjects on a low-fat diet were more likely to be angry, tense, and depressed:

The results suggest that a change in dietary fat content from 41 to 25 % energy may have adverse effects on mood.

Please take the time to read the entire study, and do note that it was aimed at looking at mood in the short-term (one-month).  Either way, the results are interesting and worth taking note, especially since the Paleo diet is much higher in fat than what the USDA thinks we should be eating.

Read more here

Fischer Farms Trip



We were so grateful for the hospitality Dave Fischer, owner of Fischer Farms, showed us this past Saturday!  Our tour began in Celestine, Indiana where green, rolling hills with plenty of tree shade are masking the hectic and busy lives of cities surrounding.  We first met at Sander’s Processing, but the tour began on his farmland.



Cortisol is a stress hormone; when released in the morning, it provides us with a great alertness, energy, and a “ready to go” attitude.  Our bodies are designed for us lead easy-going lives, except for “fight or flight” situations where acute stress occurs.  Our bodies are designed for acute stress, but not for chronic stress.  When was the last time you felt life was easy going?   When is the last time you woke up and felt “ready to go?”  I know for me, it’s hit and miss.  Just from Facebook, you pretty much see all the stress in people’s lives.

Needless to say, cortisol isn’t just released in the morning, but now as we struggle with chronic stress, cortisol is released regularly. Unfortunately, we don’t get energy all day long, but a lazy and tired feeling, then we get a second wind around the time we need to go to bed.  A type of domino effect takes place because sleeping patterns and time frames change day to day.  Eventually, insulin resistance, elevated blood glucose, sickness, weight loss problems, and signs of aging becoming prominent and normal among our society.  Sleep is an incredible need for our bodies.

So ,basically, get to sleep!!!

Now What?

I’ve struggled with this, too.  Am I just supposed to quit everything to be stress free, then get a little sleep? Yes and no, in my opinion.  Shaun and I quit our jobs and spent our savings to open up Hoosier CrossFit. This really could’ve gone 2 ways: win or lose.  Obviously we won 🙂 But as normal jobs, we still encounter stress. But I’m going to tell you something that’s not a secret. You have a choices in life – stop bitching and start making changes that make you and your family happier (and this usually doesn’t come in the form of tangible shiny things). For starters, get to bed earlier, keep the TV off, and no facebook before bed.