( a quick note from Andrew: we are lucky enough to have Rutger as one of our new Crossfit trainees. His past as a chef, and his love of paleo means that we will be able to offer you some real paleo insights in the run up to, and during, the 40 day Crossfit Lent challenge)
Taking on the 40 day paleo challenge is a great way to get to know your own perfect diet. Simplify your diet down to only the purest and most nutritional foods. After 40 days you can experiment with reintroducing foods, one by one. Only then will you have a clear personal experience of what food works well for you and what foods you would rather stay away from.
There are many different definitions of the paleo diet floating around, but for the 40 day paleo challenge I like to propose a diet that eliminates all suspected neolithic agents of disease. This is along the lines of recommendations in Loren Cordain’s latest book – The Paleo Answer , the Whole 30 challenge , Robb Wolf’s book and Kurt Harris’ Archevore diet
Neolithic agents of disease are substances that were not part of the human diet until the agricultural revolution 10.000 years ago and are suspected to play a key role in the development of allergies, auto-immune disease, cardiovascular disease, hormonal imbalances and more. We are talking here about grains, legumes (beans & peas), dairy and vegetable oils. Eliminating these food groups is the foundation of the paleo diet.
It would also be a good idea to use the challenge to reset your body’s metabolism by avoiding sweeteners of any kind, alcohol, coffee and chocolate. This might seem overly strict, but giving your body a break from these overly common stimulants and relaxants will give your body the chance to find it’s balance again.
For people that have indication that they might have allergies I would also recommend to cut out nuts, seeds and fruit. This might seem impossible, but would only help you to eat properly instead of binging on nuts as many new paleo eaters tend to do.
I personally look forward to take the challenge as I have some minor skin irritation and some body fat to get rid off. Of course, this is more fine tuning for me than a complete overhaul. Before I started eating paleo I had severe hay fever that forced me to stay home to be tired and miserable for one month every year. I also suffered from severe panic attacks, sometimes in public places, but often in bed waking up in the middle of the night unable to breath, sweat pouring out of my skin and thinking I was going to die. After a month of paleo eating the panic attacks were completely gone and last summer I haven’t had any hay fever symptoms.
It’s obvious that I gained a lot from switching to a Palaeolithic style of eating. For you the gains might be smaller, like faster recovery, better body composition, better sleep or maybe something else entirely. It’s not easy, but it is effective, not unlike CrossFit. There is only one way to know what cleaning up your diet can do for you and the 40 day challenge is a great opportunity to experience it yourself.
During the run-up to the challenge I will write more posts on how to make the most of your challenge, how to eat well and make it practical.