Before going paleo, I was a vegetarian for 10 years. Although I originally forewent meat out of a vague and not exactly correct understanding of health, my reasoning soon became one of ethics. There’s no way around it: the majority of the animals which are raised for their products – be it meat or milk or wool or what have you – are not treated well in the US. CAFO’s are awful, inhumane, inanimal, places, that make animal products artificially cheap and have bolstered consumption – and therefore demand – not only here, but abroad.
So when I switched to paleo, I was more concerned about where my meat had come from than the fact that I was eating it. I tried to learn and source our meat appropriately, and over the last few years we have gotten better and better about it. But typical paleo is rather meat-heavy, especially when aiming lower carb and eschewing the usual bulking foods like rice and potatoes. And grass-fed, pastured, local meat is, frankly, a shit ton more expensive than CAFO meat, because it reflects the true cost. So, sometimes we would still buy the cheaper meat.
But I, personally, have been wanting to change that for some time. It’s very important to me that none of our money goes towards CAFO operations. It’s one thing that I feel I need to stand up for, not just for the sake of the animals, but for the sake of the environment, and for the sake of people. It’s cheap meat, yes, but at what cost? There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
So when I read Petra8Paleo’s post about nutritional ethics, it really got to me. She wrote that post months and months ago and I’ve been thinking about it all this time. She turned to the Wahl’s Protocol + not just for her own health, but to save money and eat less. I’d been wanting to try it, but had been waiting for a break in TTC to avoid shocking my body too much. Well, with the additional need to lose weight, now is the time.
I started over a week ago and so far it’s going great. I’m not doing the strict WP+, because that is largely for people recovering from severe autoimmune issues and I already know what my food sensitivities are. I’m doing a modified WP+, which looks like a strict form of paleo with a large emphasis on vegetables and fat and – key to all the above – way less protein. Before last week, I typically ate between 10 oz and 16 oz of protein a day. For the WP+, it’s recommended that women get between 6-8 oz. Taking into account that one of my goals is to, if not actively gain muscle, then to maintain muscle while trying to lose weight, I’m doing 8 oz of protein, with an occasional extra ounce depending on how I feel. Either way, easily only 2/3rds to a 1/2 of what my norm.
Integral also to the WP+ is a limit of two meals, a 12-16 hour fast (including sleep, unless you hate yourself), and a dearth of snacking. So a typical day – like today – looks like this:
4:30am wake up
5am coffee + 1-2tbsp grassfed butter
9am breakfast of: lots and lots of greens, purple cabbage, 4 oz meatballs, and a chunk of coconut fudge
10am chicken broth with gelatin
2pm lunch of: two-three cups of lettuce and spinach, 4 oz canned salmon with dijon, a few olives, roasted beets, and a sprinkling of feta and another chunk of coconut fudge OR half an avocado
6pm evening snack of: a few carrots, a few slices of cucumber with 1 oz of ham and/or a few smears of chicken pate
Technically, the evening snack isn’t part of the WP+, but I have had a hard time getting to sleep and staying asleep if I don’t include it. I think my activity level is too high right now to shove all the food I need into just two meals. This part I am continuing to tweak, as well as the meal times – ideally, I would have my second meal around 3, almost 4pm, which would end up negating the necessity for the evening snack. Unfortunately, I simply get up way too early to have my second meal be dinner.
Aside from that, this has gone well. I’m down 5lbs – although that’s probably water weight – since the last weekend of August. I feel better, generally, although I am often exhausted by the evening. The butter coffee has made the morning fast that much more tolerable. I am much more comfortable with being and feeling hungry, and less cantankerous when I am. Most importantly, aside from about 30min around breakfast time, I don’t feel like I’m starving. My workouts haven’t suffered at all and biking to work isn’t any more difficult. Actually, I even PR’ed a squat workout last week – 160# x 3! Yus!
This past Sunday, our grocery shopping and cooking day, was what really sold this diet for me, though. Our grocery bill was significantly lower than usual and we were able to source all of our meat for the week locally (well, ignoring the canned salmon – not much one can do about fish in the desert). Plus, we didn’t spend the usual entire afternoon chopping and cooking and cooking some more. It took maybe an hour, maybe an hour and a half, to prepare all the food we would need to the coming week. Granted, this is partially because we still had leftovers from the previous week, having way overestimated how much we’d be eating. But still!
Unfortunately, I also turned yesterday into a cheat day (I had a potato! so good), which means that slipping straight back into a 2 meal day is a wee bit more difficult than usual. Oops.
Although I’m mostly sold on this style of diet, I’m going to keep my findings preliminary for now. I aim to stick with it at least until October, at which point I will likely continue, but with a wee bit freer reign. Because you have to transition and stay in ketosis, I foresee it being a problem if I need to be lax, since it’s therefore not as easy to jump in and out of as, say, traditional paleo. But I’ll build that bridge when I get there. Right now, I certainly like it so far.