Healthy Living

What Does the Paleo Diet Actually Feel Like?

Would you like to know the effects of a popular ‘diet’ without having to put your body through it?

Now’s your chance to learn from a certified professional trainer’s perspective! Amy Blitz is a graduate of the American Academy of Personal Training and is certified through AFPA.

To help her clients, she keeps up to date on the latest trends, healthy recipes, and anything fitness-related. Her New York City-based personal training company “Blitz Your Body” focuses on helping people achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Amy has embarked on a journey to experiment with different popular diets to see how they affect her body and activity. She’s graciously offered to share her findings with each diet on our blog!

You read Jonathan Crowell’s 2-part review of the Paleo Diet, now see what Amy experienced after trying it out! She performed her own paleo diet experiment in April and is sharing the results with us…

Amy Blitz, Personal Trainer, Paleo diet experimentAs a personal trainer, it’s very common to work with clients whose priority is weight loss. It isn’t unusual for a trainer to field nonstop questions about energy and calorie consumption.

Over the course of my career, though, it’s become clear that weight management is not always as easy as “calories in vs. calories out,” when calculating the most effective way for an individual to lose weight–and keep it off.

Lately, everyone from trainers to couch potatoes has heard about lifestyle diets like Paleo, vegetarianism and veganism.

The science behind the best way to eat is sketchy at best, with ever-changing reports often published by food lobbyists and consumed by people desperate to fit into idealized seasonal clothing.

In the past, I brushed off these diets since they cut out entire food groups and did not promote a balanced way of eating. But then I began to wonder, who am I to dismiss these popular diets if I’ve never tried them myself?

For the months of April, May and June, I’ve decided to become a guinea pig. I’ll work a different diet each month, blogging about that diet’s difficulty, expense, energy level, and fluctuation it causes in weight and body fat.

paleo diet experimentSo far, I’ve followed the Paleo Diet, which is the most radical and controversial diet of the three, since it eliminates a favorite section of the U.S. New Food Pyramid: grains and dairy. In May, I will become vegetarian, and June will see me attempt to go full vegan.

The 30 Day Paleo Trial:

I’m a runner, and more than just a little attached to my beloved carbs. So, instead of grains, I loaded up my plate with more veggies than usual, and relied upon fruit, sweet potatoes, and squash to provide me with energy for my workouts.

I also made sure to eat kale or spinach daily to make up for any dietary shortage of calcium from avoiding dairy. As much as possible, I ate only grass-fed meat, organic chicken, wild-caught fish and omega 3 eggs, which is a key element to Paleo, since mass produced meats and eggs raise our levels of omega 6 fatty acids and cause inflammation.

Finally, I eliminated all processed foods and sugar from my pantry, and cooked more than I had ever before, which in a tiny NYC kitchen is no easy task. Over the course of 30 days, I had five cheat meals, which actually made sticking to the diet’s strict guidelines even easier in the long term.

paleo diet experiment, Paleo Diet Experiment Results

Paleo is not simply a low carb diet. It’s emphasis on fruits, vegetables and lean meats made me feel like I was eating only the “best of the best” from the market, not like I was at an all-you-can-eat bacon buffet.

Still, in the beginning, I was skeptical of the claimed benefits of Paleo, which include weight loss, increased energy, and decreased LDL cholesterol. So I was surprised when after two weeks I felt like I had more energy than before, and soon noticed that I was no longer craving an afternoon coffee.

I lost three inches from over all of my body, including my waist and thighs. It’s worth noting that I did keep a food journal to make sure I was getting enough vitamins and nutrients, and kept my calories consistently below 2,000.

It’s actually difficult to over-eat on Paleo, since the fiber from the fruits and vegetables keeps you full. But it is possible, so I would recommend keeping a journal for the first week or so.

My Bottom Line on the Paleo Diet

Despite all of the restrictions on Paleo, it is possible to stick to it as long as you are willing to do a lot of cooking. Also, I think allowing yourself 1-3 “cheat meals” a week, which The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain recommends, is the best way to keep the diet going without feeling deprived.

If you’re like me, you may even find that your splurges turn out to be less satisfying than you’d thought they would be. Overall, I would consider returning to the Paleo diet, but perhaps with some of my favorite healthy foods like Greek yogurt and quinoa added in to add a little balance. Plus, I really missed them!

Next month, I am doing a complete 180 and eating a vegetarian diet, and then on to vegan 30 days later. I’m excited to see what each style of eating brings “to the table,” so to speak.

As I transition from a caveman to a bunny, I can’t help but wonder: will my increased energy continue? Will I feel well-fueled during my workouts? Is there really a diet out there that’s equally effective for everyone?

Only one way to find out…


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amy blitz

amy blitz

Writer and expert