Friday, August 18, 2017

Can you be paleo and vegetarian?

Most of you know that we promote a "Paleo" diet as a core tenet of health at the gym. To me, this isn't a fad. I've been eating in a way that most folks would agree is Paleo for nearly a decade now. There are so many different definitions and levels of orthodoxy when you say you're "Paleo" that it's almost a meaningless term.  The words I like to use to describe how I eat (and how I recommend you eat) is "ancestrally inspired" or "ancestrally aligned".

What's that mean? Another guiding principle of my life is the "Lindy Effect" or as Taleb says, being "Lindy Compatible".  I'll skip a ton of math, but my favorite math blogger did a great summary of the Lindy Effect here. The take away is that the longer an idea has been around, the longer you can predict it will be around. Much of nature and things that follow the laws of nature behave this way. So when it comes to diet, I like to use the Lindy Effect as a way to guide my choices. It's likely that our bodies exist in a state to eat the kinds of food we've had for a longer time. It's just a guiding principle, not a set of commandments worth getting into wars over.

So for me, I interpret that as lots of meat, animal fats, some nuts, seeds and other plant-based food sources. That is, try to mimic as best we can in the modern world the kinds of food that our ancestors ate. I can wave my hands and give most people advice and it mostly works; however, lately I've had vegetarians ask me about how to modify their diet. The answer there is much harder.

Rather than be a religious zealot and say that you must eat my way or be a failure, I'm always trying to find ways to shift the dial towards a Lindy Compatible diet for everyone. So what do I recommend for vegetarians:

Eat lots of eggs

Obviously, this option is not for hard-core vegans.  It's possible to eat lots of eggs and meet the your protein requirements. I do this every morning, myself - 3-4 eggs every day for the last 10 years, and I haven't died of a heart attack. Don't be afraid of eggs.

Grain-like seeds

The argument against grain-like seeds like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat is that they behave more like grains than like nuts.  While seeds like sunflower seeds contain mostly fat and protein with just a small amount of carbohydrates, these grain-like seeds contain mostly carbs.

But carbs aren't the only problem.  Grain-like seeds have other negative properties of grains: Quinoa, for example includes chemical defense systems that irritate the gut. It may technically be a seed, but it still behaves like a grain.

Soak or sprout your legumes

This seems to be the place where hard-core Paleo folks start to disagree with the Weston A. Price folks. If you tolerate it, then soaking and sprouting legumes can help break down the nasty things in them. Legumes have two strikes against them: they can irritate the gut just like grains, but more importantly, they can actually behave like anti-nutrients. That is, some of the things in legumes can actually irreversibly bind to nutrients during digestion and keep your body from absorbing them.  Soaking and sprouting them will help breakdown these internal defenses that come with plant-based foods.

Eating "Paleo" is not about exact food choices, it's about eating in a way that's inspired by what our ancestors ate, and in the same style they likely ate them. They didn't have packaged prepared food, they didn't have microwaves and instant oats. They had to spend time preparing their food - and I think that's the hardest part of eating "Paleo."  You can be a Paleo vegetarian, but you can't buy the convenience foods, you have to do the same amount of work as if you hunted your meals. Likewise, you can't be a Paleo meat eater and buy convenience foods too - those meat bars are processed too!


row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips


snatch 5-3-2-3x2


2 windmills between strength sets

Group Workout

Spend 15 minutes working up to a new kettlebell snatch max


6 rounds:
10 goblet squats
10 kettlebell swings
rest :45


20 PVC partial pull over


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