Why I’m Quitting Paleo (After Nearly 4 Years)

By Dave Giglio January 27, 2016

If you met me in 2012, it would take approximately 53 seconds before I started talking to you about paleo. At the time, I was convinced it changed my life, and I was eager to spread the word (paleo blog and all). Fast forward four years — in that time I changed cities, countries and jobs. I stopped running marathons and going to yoga, and instead opted for daily crossfit WODs at the crack of dawn. So much in my life had changed but my commitment to a diet of mostly meat and plants remained.

The way I looked at food fundamentally changed — I became convinced that the things I grew up eating like pasta, cereal and pizza were ‘bad for me’. I occasionally cheated and I was flexible about holidays and special occasions — but I would always go back to paleo, more strictly than before.

When I was consistent, I looked better, slept better and was even convinced I had more energy. So why quit now? Because I realized, that while paleo helped me to better understand nutrition, and food as fuel — it was missing one fundamental building block: CARBOHYDRATES!

As a smaller framed guy, working out 6–7 days a week, my body finally maxed out. I could not improve my PRs, despite my consistency, and for nearly 9 months I felt completely stalled at the gym. My friends recommended supplements, and some helped, but not enough to justify the spend/ickiness that came with taking them. Something was missing….

So like Taylor Swift at the 2014 Grammys, when she lost Album of the Year, she decided to make a change (albeit it was to create pop music), my a-ha moment came late in 2015 — looking back at some sporting feats I completed that year like my first triathlon, a 7-day bike ride from SF to LA, and multiple overnight camping trips where my major source of fuel was…….carbohydrates. I realized then that the extra umph that I was so desperately seeking had been right in front of me this whole time.

So for the past 30 days, I’ve been eating carbs again. I’ve introduced oatmeal at breakfast, sweet potatoes to lunch and quinoa or rice with dinner. I haven’t experienced afternoon crashes, my sleep is still great, and in fact: I actually feel alive again in my workouts. Hallelujah!

I’ve been relatively quiet on the blogging front for a while — but this discovery compelled me to come out of retirement. I’m still no expert, but I do realize that I was misinformed about paleo and although it may work for some people, if you’re a smaller guy, working out every day, hoping to make gains eating only meat and mostly plants — then it may be time to rethink your strategy.

My goal in 2016 is to put on more muscle, and most trainers I’ve talked to agree, that by quitting carbs, I had unknowingly sabotaged my own progress. And although I’ll continue to look at my food as fuel (and as something to be enjoyed )— my diet now consists mostly of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts, and whole grains.

To find out what I’m eating now, or to say hi, shoot me a note on Instagram.

*This post was originally published on Medium. For more from Dave, visit The Dave Coast.

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