As most of you know, I’m an experimenter and always working towards optimal health. With that being said, recently I decided to try a grand experiment during a friend’s bachelor party getaway weekend. Now get your mind out of the gutter; it’s not one of those types of experiments. Sorry to disappoint some of you but this experiment does not involve strippers, large amounts of drugs or a tiger!
Prior to leaving for my friend’s bachelor party, I had gone shopping to bring some healthy foods along in an attempt to eat somewhat healthy and not “go off the rails” with my Primal eating habits. But later I would change this thought process….
I did pack my healthy traveling foods, such as macadamia nuts, organic jerky, and some almond butter. I have to give myself an “A” for my thought process and effort. I highly recommend my Primal/Paleo followers to pack and take these foods with them when they travel or have a busy schedule.
With my good intentions in tow, I met up with my friends at our predetermined rendezvous location. Now nothing against my friends, whom I’ve known for over 25 years, but their diet is nothing close to mine. I would say for the most part they eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) that you hear me talk about so much. They know I’m the healthy guy, so I wasn’t afraid to tell them I had packed my healthy snacks. Matter of fact, I think by now they fully expect it.
So we loaded up and were on our way, hoping our experience would not turn into a scene from The Hangover! During the 5-hour car ride, the Primal hamster in my brain started to do High Intensity Interval Training and my experiment idea was hatched. I decided instead of trying to eat somewhat healthy, I would just say screw it and eat and drink alcohol as my friends would. I know you’re probably thinking, “poor, poor Gary” (insert sarcasm), but you have to realize I don’t dabble in the SAD diet all that often and it is usually for only one meal at a time. My friends are big guys, so I couldn’t eat the same foods and drink the same adult beverages in the same quantities – I’m not crazy! Plus that would skew my results, as a couple of my friends have over a hundred pounds on me. Luckily I weighed myself the day before, so I knew that number, which I think was most important for this experiment. If I had been thinking ahead, I would have probably done some body girth measurements and taken some pictures…well maybe next time. Who am I kidding? The odds of me doing this experiment again are slim to none. That previous statement will give you some insight to my results, which weren’t pretty.
The first thing we did the next day after arriving was eat at a local restaurant for breakfast. It was a nice little place that had a good rating for some local SAD eats. This was already a good piece for my experiment, as I don’t usually eat breakfast anymore. I have been using the 16-8 intermittent fasting principle for the last year. My breakfast consisted of eggs, corned beef hash, potatoes and some pancakes…whooo hoooooo! Before you ask, of course none of it was organic or pasture raised, just good old-fashioned, mass-produced, so-called American food.
Afterwards, we went to a standard American grocery store – I think it was a VON’s, but I’m pretty sure I killed those brain cells retaining that information during this trip. Every time I go into one of the big grocery store chains, I’m always amazed since I have not regularly shopped at one in several years. Compared to my local healthy market I frequent, it is highly processed food overload. Did you know most modern grocery stores contain around 48,000 items and it would take you over 131 years if you purchased one item a day to buy them all?!
Now, I wouldn’t say we bought anything unusual or anything that most Americans would consider to be overly unhealthy. Our items consisted of a decent amount of alcohol (mainly beer and vodka), some abused confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) meats (chicken and beef), chips, potato salad, eggs, bread, tortillas and some Oreos to satisfy that sweet tooth after eating large amounts of empty carbs! Again none of these foods were organic.
As I said, to the average person this doesn’t sound too bad, but to someone following the Primal/Paleo lifestyle this is pretty much a disaster in the making. One more important point to make is that I no longer consume grains because they cause a whole host of health problems for me, such as chronic fatigue, acne, asthma, allergies and eczema. Oh boy, here we go…bring on the numerous health maladies Americans suffer from today!
This was not a prolonged experiment. In total, my eating habits would follow the SAD diet for roughly 2.5 days.
After arriving back to the house we rented, we dove into the chips and alcohol and headed for the pool. I decided to drink beer during the day, which is a big deal, because I have a lot of issues not only with grains in general, but especially gluten. I also stopped drinking beer this year because the bloating and cramps that come along with it became more and more severe. This is to be expected for anyone who eats a clean Primal/Paleo diet, and re-introduces those unhealthy foods.
The first thing I noticed was the immediate bloating. I’m talking within the first 15-30 minutes after I started drinking beer and eating those GMO (genetically modified) corn chips. I will say we are older now and I don’t think the amounts of alcohol were extreme, but they would definitely be considered more than (at least I hope so) most people would drink on a daily basis. We cooked up some carne asada seasoned meat for dinner with tortillas and then hit the town for some more celebratory drinks. To protect the guilty I will curtail the remainder of events of the evening at this point.
The next day was not much different as far as our eating habits were concerned. I could already notice that I was becoming more bloated and starting to retain water. I was also starting to feel pretty darn tired, and had to take a solid nap before we headed out for round two in our bachelor party adventure. Needless to say, my enthusiasm this second night was far less than the prior night and required large amounts of energy drinks mixed with my alcohol. Now this was only a little over 36 hours into the experiment and the wheels were already starting to fall off the Gary wagon. I was definitely a little moody and having some Betty White (famous Snickers commercial) moments and just wasn’t myself. Even after all those super healthy energy drinks, I had to break off early from my friends and take a cab back to the house.
The next morning we woke up, packed our stuff and were on our way home. If I remember right, my breakfast consisted of a muffin and a cup of coffee – again not too different from the usual morning eats of Americans. On the way back, I did finish off my experiment by eating at Wendy’s with my friends, and let me tell you, some very unpleasant activity in the lower GI region started to raise its ugly head. I will spare you the details on that one!
So what was the result of my experiment that lasted just 2.5 days? Pure physiological mayhem… my body was in complete revolt at this point. I was incredibly puffy, and my ankles had started to swell to an alarming size. Both sides of my swollen ankles hurt and were sensitive to the touch. I did not injure myself; this was directly related to the drastic change in my diet and water retention. My six-pack had completely disappeared, not even a one pack remained. Unless you consider my swollen belly an abdominal muscle.
The next day I started back on my normal routine and went to the gym. This was the biggest surprise. I do not own a scale and have not for many years, as my weight is very consistent and there is no need. I do weigh myself from time to time at the gym, and on that day – drum roll please! – I gained a whopping 8.5 pounds in little over 48 hours. Holy you know what Batman, this I would have never guessed to be a result of such a short experiment. Of course it was mainly water weight, due to retaining sodium from ingesting large amounts of processed carbohydrates, MSG, gluten and numerous other toxic chemicals. It took 7 days for my body to return to its former glory…well, not quite, but close enough. During those 7 days, I experienced depression, lethargy, swelling, painful joints, headaches, nausea and malaise, to name a few.
So what did I learn from such an experiment? That the Standard American Diet is far more dangerous than I had previously thought.
This should ring loud and clear for you – just like the many gasses that escaped my body during this experiment – on how the Primal/Paloe lifestyle can greatly enhance your health and life. For those who would like to start the journey to a better life and health, I highly recommend you check out my book The Simple Life Guide To Optimal Health: How to Get Healthy, Lose Weight, Reverse Disease and Feel Better Than Ever.
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