We’ve all heard about how eating paleo can improve health, increase energy levels and enhance overall well-being. But what interested us the most is its effect on athletic performance. So one day we decided to put it to the test. Our very unscientific experiment went like this: we would eat two non-paleo meals then do a light, introductory level workout and record the results. A few days later, we would then eat two paleo meals, perform the same workout and note those results.
My co-guinea pig in this experiment was Mark and since it was a Friday night when we spontaneously decided to do this, we had no problems eating badly. Mark’s first bad meal Friday night was a 6 oz. steak and two steak tacos, mine was a steak burrito and three beers. The following Saturday morning, Mark went nuts and had two waffles with chocolate sauce and a chocolate shake for breakfast. I had a traditional breakfast that is widely viewed as “healthy”, a bowl of Rice Chex cereal and another bowl of Corn Flakes. We were so not paleo.
The WOD was at 9:00 am that morning, and it consisted of: 100 single unders, 40 squats, 30 sit-ups, 20 push-ups and 10 pull-ups. Single unders are rope jumps with the rope passing under the feet one time per jump. Mark completed the workout in 7 minutes, 38 seconds. My result was 3 minutes, 14 seconds. Respectable times.
Then, four days later came phase two of our experiment. But due to scheduling concerns we had to perform the WOD at night. However, this added an interesting factor. Since we would be doing the WOD this time at night, our energy levels would be considerably lower than they were when we performed it during the prior Saturday morning. This made us come to the realization that if we beat our previous time, this would be one powerful indicator of the effectiveness of the paleo way of eating.
Mark’s lunchtime meal that day was a paleo buffet he created at Whole Foods: two slices of carved turkey, two sausages, one scoop of vegetable curry, one scoop of steamed broccoli and carrots, and one scoop of mixed vegetables. Mine was not so colorful: a Subway Club Salad consisting of roast beef, Black Forest Ham, turkey, all the veggies, spices and oil and vinegar. For dinner, Mark had the same thing, left overs from lunch. I had a tossed salad with grilled chicken from Jersey Mike’s Subs.
Then at 7:30 pm it was WOD time! Since I usually work out during the early morning hours, I definitely felt the difference of doing this at night. I did not feel as up to it as I usually do in the mornings. I also noticed that I was not able to do the single unders in unbroken fashion. I think there were five different times when I caught my feet in the rope. But these were our results:
There you have it. Mark blew his previous time away by 3 minutes, and I beat mine by 13 seconds. Yes, we could have made this a little tighter. We could have had a control person doing the experiment with us. We could have gone a little more strict on the paleo. But it was fun, and now we have just a little more proof that food really does affect performance.