The Anti-Paleo Diet
This weekend was without doubt the least paleolithic three days of eating in my life, and possibly a strong contender for the unhealthiest weekend ever lived by single person in human history.
Over three days, I ate at McDonald’s three times, White Castle, Taco Bell and Wendy’s once, and drank 10-20 cheap light beers and 2-5 shots of cheap liquor every night. I didn’t work out, hardly slept, didn’t take any supplements or vitamins.
Why did I do this to myself? Well, it was going to be an unhealthy weekend no matter what. I’m 25 – these things happen. At first I had planned to limit the damage, but after a day of pure SAD debauchery, I decided what the hell: I’ll just embrace the garbage and learn a lesson from how I feel after.
Here’s an itinerary of what I remember eating. Details are spotty, for reasons that should become clear:
10pm: Some sort of Taco Bell meal consisting of three wrapped hunks of hormone and grain-filled beef, 3rd-rate vegetables and white-flour tortillas.
7am: Dunkin Donuts breakfast combo
7:30-11am: 10 Keystone Lights
2pm: McDonald’s double Big-Mac meal.
7pm: McDonald’s two-cheeseburger meal
8pm-4am: Many, beers, mixed drinks, shots, red bull.
1pm: English breakfast at a greasy spoon. Couldn’t bring myself to refuse the toast, after the day before.
4pm: Tried to eat a single White Castle burger, and failed. There’s unhealthy, and there’s just fucking gross. I have no idea how anyone can eat that shit.
8pm: Duck, Ravioli, beer, wine and coffee at a nice Italian restaurant. Briefly felt human again.
11pm-4am: Many beers, shots, mixed drinks. A friend is apparently recovering from a cocaine addiction with the help of red bull. I wonder how three Jagerbombs at 02:00am impacts REM cycles?
Noon: Wendy’s spicy chicken combo
10pm: Collapse into bed, weak, bloated, hazy and shivering.
* * *
Since it probably cost me a decade of my life, let’s try to learn something from this.
First the obvious: I still feel like absolute shit. My body is rebelling against me in every way it knows how. I’m even feeling sore in an old rugby injury that hasn’t bothered me in years. My philosophy on health and nutrition is that your body knows what’s good for you. Examining our EEA (i.e. The paleo Diet) is the best way to generate hypotheses for self-experimentation, but the ultimate gold standard is that if it makes you feel healthy, do it.
According to this rigorous weekend of self-testing, the SAD is about as healthy as pointing a shotgun at your face and pulling the trigger with your toe.
But there’s a bright side. I returned from my descent into nutritional Sodom and Gomorrah with a fully renewed commitment to eating healthy. Eating foods that our bodies are designed to eat is not a chore, and is ultimately much more fulfilling than eating like I did this weekend. Binging on garbage and experiencing the effects is a handy way to remind ourselves how awful it is.
And how much damage was really done? Tim Ferriss suggests incorporating a weekly cheat day to reset your metabolic rate. Is a weekly candy-bar binge optimal? Probably not. But it seems to work for a lot of people, and provides a nice psychological tool to bounce back from weekends like the one above.
Key Stats as of Sunday Night
Weight: 231.4 lbs
Push-up/Pull-up ability: *Laughs
Max Lifts: Could barely go up three flights of stairs
Beep test: Slept through my alarm the next morning
Energy levels: Late-stage chemotherapy