I've known about paleo for years and always felt that paleo made a tremendous amount of sense as a way of thinking about food and health. I've adopted some of the basic principles but never fully followed it. A month ago I decided to really follow it, to see what would happen.
I'll describe what I did below, but to cut to the chase what I found is that I felt OK, but not very different from how I usually feel. I didn't feel reborn, or more energetic, or super-happy. Just fine, able to function, normal.
Which has me wondering - what is a realistic expectation from a month of paleo? How should I be feeling? Do I need to do this for a longer time to really see any benefits?
About me: 45, female, slightly underweight (BMI of 18.2), have always been healthy, rarely if ever sick. Normal markers (triglycerides 31, cholesterol 147, HDL 59, LDL 82, BP 90/60). I try and do 500 calories' worth of exercise everyday - either fast walking, cycling or running.
I've always eaten a relatively healthy diet (eg almost no processed food, a lot of vegetables and some fruit, pastured meat and eggs, fish inc oily, only fermented dairy, only small amounts of alcohol).
What I had to give up for paleo: daily bowl of oat bran, occasional beer, daily treat (couple of pieces of chocolate), legumes, canola oil for frying, occasional slice of wholewheat bread or roll, corn, peanuts, brown rice, wholewheat pasta (small amounts).
During the paleo trial I ate only a little dairy (a bit of full fat Greek Yogurt here and there, pastured butter). I added coconut oil and ghee.
I stayed around 125g of carbs a day. My percentages ended up being 20% protein 35% carbs 45% fat.
Changes: - I did not want to lose weight but ended up losing one pound. - No more bleeding gums when brushing teeth. - I was hungrier than before, eg would start thinking about lunch mid-morning even after a rich breakfast, when a bowl of oatmeal used to just fill me up.
That was about it.
Part of me thinks perhaps I was just fine with my regular diet, so I'm trying to figure out whether it's worth continuing full-blown paleo.
What kinds of early improvements did people see who weren't sick or overweight?
Personally I had quite a few changes, my skin felt wonderful, I felt more energetic, but the biggest change was my sleep. I started waking up before my alarm for the first time ever!
I can't help but think about things like inflammation, whilst you felt good on your previous diet, what was going on in your body? A lot of people seem to be very well for years, then all of a sudden it seems to catch up with them.
Looking at your previous diet, if you're really keen to go back to it, there are a lot of changes you could make, without "missing out" for example, swapping canola oil for coconut oil, macadamias for peanuts etc.
It's hard to notice the difference that paleo makes as you acclimate yourself to it. Personally after I was fully acclimated I felt what I thought to be exactly the same as before I started it. Go off paleo (eat some wheat and crappy oxidized seed oils) for a couple days, you'll feel the difference then.
Better skin. Less cravings. And best of all : less toilet paper :D. And of course lots of little things that make it so worthwhile.
There is one thing that totally changed my life though : I'm not shy anymore (well I still am ashamed from time to time, but I can talk to people and look straight in their eyes with no problems, it's just wonderful)!
I've been trying to really capture everything that has changed since I went paleo (8 months ago)...I am definitely taking some things for granted now!
I don't even think this is a full list. I should also mention that all of my health markers improved, even though they weren't "terrible" to begin with. I'm a believer and really have zero interest in going back to any of my old ways...not when I'd have to be dealing with all of the OPPOSITES of the above!
My digestion was normal for the first time in years after 2.5 weeks.
Lost 15 lbs in 6 months (with vlc & intermittent fasting.)
Most of my benefits kicked in after 4-6 months. I've been lacto-Paleo for 11 months.
It takes about 6 weeks for the effects of gluten to fully leave your system, so you may need a bit more time.
Also, if you haven't gotten your Vitamin D level checked, I would suggest doing so and aiming for a blood level of 50- 70 ng/ml. Getting my D level to sufficiency has made the biggest difference (next to being gluten-free) and it took me about 3 months to feel the difference. No more eczema!
For avoiding long-term inflammation issues, Paleo can't be beat, IMO!