Monday, November 25, 2013

Grain Brain challenge wrap-up.

 The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Grain Brain. Opinions expressed are entirely my own!

Four weeks ago, I started the Grain Brain Challenge and now I'm here to let you know how I fared.

But first, let me give you a little reminder of what Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, recommends for optimal brain health:

Good fats from eating olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, fish, grass-fed beef, goat cheese, and fish oils are fundamental for health, while carb-derived calories as one might get from things like bread, pasta, potatoes, below-ground veggies, fruit and fruit juices are things you want to avoid on a brain-healthy diet. -- Dr. David Perlmutter (via Facebook)

I started on the challenge 4 weeks ago, focusing on food, sleep, exercise and supplements, as laid out in the book. (Read my original post about the Grain Brain Challenge.)

For me, the challenge wasn't all that hard. I've been following a Paleo diet for a while now and the recommendations in Grain Brain are similar. There are differences, of course, but I didn't have to make the same sort of changes as someone who has been eating grains on the reg.

Basically, I stuck to eating lots of vegetables and high-quality protein and good fat.

Avocados! Such good fat.

I also experimented with adding some dairy back in to my diet, not eating sweet potatoes, reducing my fruit consumption, and taking the recommended supplements.

And how did all of that work out? Well, honestly, it wasn't a 100% success. Instead, I'd say I was about 75% successful. I tried to be perfect for 4 weeks. I mean I really, really tried. I tried so hard to cut out the sweet potatoes. The first week was fine. I went cold turkey -- no problem. I wanted to see how my body would respond to having no sweet potatoes and only one piece of fruit a day.

My body didn't respond all that well. I had way less energy for my runs and, boy-oh-boy, that's not what I'm looking for. So, in the second week I let myself eat a little more fruit, still trying to avoid sweet potatoes.

But then I caved and started eating them again.

Here's the thing, though. In the past few months, my fruit and sweet potato intake has been slowly creeping up. I was eating sweet potatoes almost every day and supplementing my diet with probably 4 pieces of fruit each day. Yikes! That's a lot and I guess I didn't realize how much I was eating until I started with the Grain Brain Challenge. Being challenged to cut out and cut down on those foods forced me to take a cold, hard look at my diet.

Grain Brain lunch: Salad with lots of chicken, drizzled with olive oil and a little vinegar.

So, even though I couldn't completely cut out the fruit and sweet potatoes, I have cut way down on them. In fact, I'd say I'm eating about half the amount of fruit and sweet potatoes that I was in the past. And I have plenty of energy for my runs and workouts. So, to me, that's a big win!

As for the dairy, well, I don't know. Over the course of the challenge I did eat a little full-fat dairy and it was fine. Just fine. I don't think I need it, but it was nice to have a little extra variety in my diet. Going forward I plan to keep dairy out of my diet, about 90% of the time. I'm thinking I might go wild now and then and have some yogurt or a bit of cheese. I'll have to see.

What about the rest of the challenge?

Not so bad. I spent the month working on going to bed a smidge earlier and I was mostly successful. I became more aware of how I was normally wasting about an hour or so before bed, just staying up for no good reason. So, I've changed that and now if I am staying up, I'm trying to have it be for a reason. So far, so good.

And the exercise? Well, I've got that down. Easy peasy, as my little one would say!

Now, the last piece -- the supplements. I have such a hard time figuring out if supplements work. I just don't know. I believe in them and the benefits that Dr. Perlmutter outlines in the book. But have I noticed a difference? Not really. That doesn't mean they aren't working, it just means I haven't been able to tell if they are.

I plan to stick with the supplements (and my Paleo diet!). My hope is that they will do what they're supposed to do and I'll continue to age and eventually become one of those whip-smart elderly ladies, still running races and kicking butt.

Think that's do-able? I sure do!

Have you read Grain Brain? What did you think of it? 

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