Grains Free Diet Day 29 – The End

29 days without grains - vegan paleoSo yesterday was the 30th day of my grain free diet experiment. I had fully intended to put a little grain back in my diet once the 30 days was over, but now I am rethinking what I will do with grains moving forward. I’ll tell you why.

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After a full 29 days of no grain, I accidentally ate wheat yesterday when I had a snack of dry roasted green peas that had wheat flour on them. It never occurred to me to read the ingredients, because I (incorrectly) assumed they were just peas. Shortly after eating them I felt like crap. Felt bloated and awful for several hours. Coincidence? Not sure, since there couldn’t have been that much wheat on them, but I am half tempted to eat them again to see if it the same thing happens again, although I am not that keen to repeat the feeling.

So my grain free, vegan take on the paleo diet ended at 29 full days. Here is a summary of my experience:

  1. Lost a bit of weight,
  2. Felt great after every single meal
  3. Discovered new ways to eat veggies,
  4. May have become sensitive to grains (at least wheat)

Now I am rethinking whether I will eat grains again. I will go another couple of weeks without grains and then try some again and see if it upsets my stomach again. If it does, I will probably look at a longer term abstinence. I am still on the fence for the time being. Either way, my grain consumption will likely be significantly reduced from here on in.

  • http://paleodiet.com/ Don Wiss

    There is no such thing as a vegan paleo diet. By definition the paleo diet requires some animal foods. Humans have never been vegan. Until we developed tools 2.5 million years ago (allowing us to kill and eat animals) we ate insects. The high protein and nutrition that they provide would have been needed for us to have developed into such brainy creatures. Please call your diet something else.

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Don, Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to write. You might have this site confused with another as I don't call my eating experiment a vegan paleo diet.

    You are right there is no such thing as a vegan paleo diet, but with the exception of meat, there are many similarities between the paleo diet and mine, which is why I called it “a vegan take on the paleo diet.”

    I respect your right to an opinion on our ancestor's diet, but there is still plenty of debate amongst scientists about what humans actually ate. There is also plenty of evidence that for most of human evolution, we existed largely on a vegetarian diet and that the higher meat content eaten by Paleo's is more correlation than cause when it comes to human evolution. I am no scientist, but either way, it’s academic because we can obtain all the essential proteins and nutrients from an exclusively plant-based diet.

    My whole take on the paleo diet is a bit tongue in cheek because, with all due respect Don, I think the obsession with a diet eaten by people with a life expectancy of about 27 is …well, a bit caveman-ish ;)

  • http://paleodiet.com/ Don Wiss

    Except there is no evidence whatsoever that life expectancy was only 27 years. This short life expectancy is simply fabricated by naysayers. And it doesn't stand up to simple logic. It took 15-16 years to reach sexual maturity. Then nine months to produce a baby. It people were dying around 27 years old they would be dead before the first child was on their own. The human race would have died out. Based on menopause being nature's way to keep from wasting effort on raising a kid and dying before they were independent, one can assume that they lived to about age 70.

    There is ample evidence that during the Paleolithic Era we ate plenty of meat.

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Forget 27, who the heck wants to die at 70?! My point stands.
    You'll have to take up the life expectancy debate with the researchers and archaeologists. As I said I am more concerned with what works for us now than what humans ate 2 or 5 or 10 million years ago. What we know today is that people who eat a lot of meat suffer from diseases that vegans typically don't. You don't need the paleo theory to justify your enjoyment of meat. If you like it, eat it. I aim to live past 100 so I'll pass, thanks!

  • http://www.dangerousgrains.com Ron Hoggan

    Your experiment is a most interesting one. Your shift off grains is, I think, very wise. However, your choice to forego meat may not be as prudent. I realize that the way we treat the animals whose meat we eat is deplorable and that something should be done to change that. However, harming ourselves through complete avoidance of meats and animal products may not be the best answer to this problem.
    Best Wishes,
    Ron Hoggan, Ed. D.
    co-author: Dangerous Grains ISBN: 978158333-129-3 http://www.dangerousgrains.com
    author: The Iron Edge: a complete guide for meeting your iron needs ISBN: 978-0-9736284-4-9 http://tiny.cc/ironedge
    author: Smarten Up! ISBN: 978-0-9736284-3-2 http://www.smartenup.info

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Thanks for stopping by and writing Ron. I am curious to know how specifically we might harm ourselves through complete avoidance of meats and animal products?
    Eliot.

  • http://www.dangerousgrains.com Ron Hoggan, Ed. D.

    Hi Eliot,
    Animal products, supplements, or some micro-organisms are the only sources of vitamin B12. Without this vitamin the stomach will lose its ability to convert B12 into its bio-available form. Once that capacity is gone IV injections are the only alternative source for B12 which is a critical component for formation of healthy red blood cells, nerve axons, etc. This suggests that we evolved eating animal products.

    The amino acid composition of meat proteins is far more congruent with human needs than the protein structures in vegetation. Contrary to the popular myth of the 1970s, the protein combination from beans and rice is NOT an appropriate substitute for meat protein.

    best wishes,
    Ron

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Thanks Ron.

    You are falling for the two most common myths held by people who don't understand the vegan diet and/or nutrition.

    Our body requires an extremely small amount of B12 and it is easily supplemented in a vegan diet.

    And on the matter of protein. We actually need far less than commonly held wisdom and meat lovers would have you believe. Vegetarian protein is more than sufficient for us, perhaps not in ancestral times when we didn't have access to a broad range of foods, but we live in 2010 and we can easily structure our diets to obtains required protein from vegetables sources.

    Because many vegans are living proof that the diet is a healthy choice, naysayers keep having to raise the number of years it allegedly takes a vegan diet to have negative side effects. It used to be 4-5 years, now it is 20 and next it will be 100.

    In case the various studies don't convince you that a vegan diet is not only safe but wise, I have plenty of personal proof that a vegan diet is absolutely healthy – Amongst my friends who haven't eaten meat in dozens of years and are all healthy and strong, we have some who are active in competitive sports well into their sixties.

    There are lots of useful sites on the Internet for you to learn about nutrition, vegan diets, B12 and protein (more recent than 1970). Here are some good starting points:
    http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357 (American Dietetic Association)
    http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/nutrition/
    http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/
    http://www.pamrotella.com/health/b12.html
    http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.htm
    http://www.wisegeek.com/has-it-been-proven-that

    Eliot.

  • Guest

    Well, I for one support your “paleo” vegan efforts. It's all approximation anyway and with so many people who object to animal products for perfectly valid ethical, religious, or personal reasons, it's good to see someone apply lessons of human evolution to the development of a vegan diet. I have several family members who would never ever eat animal products in a million years because they have strong ethical objections. I was vegan, but I didn't have any objections to eating meat, so when I realized I felt better with it (particularly fish), I started eating it often. I think meat and fish are good foods and I feel great having added them to my diet and I know other vegans who feel the same, but some just aren't going on that path.

    I guess the main supplements I would recommend based on my own research would be b-12 of course, kelp (iodine), DHA, and taurine. Perhaps retinol, but that depends on genetic variation– some people have low conversion rates. You can read more about them in Google Scholar, but suffice to say they are hard to get on a vegan diet. You might also consider oysters, which have most of these nutrients and don't really seem to be very conscious of their lives.

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Thanks for your comments. Supplementing is something I have always done, right back to my days as a triathlete in my 20's. To help reader learn more about eating plant based diets, I just posted the massive list of research I found useful many years ago when I chose to become a vegetarian and then a vegan, http://eliotburdett.com/vegetarian-and-vegan-faq/

  • David Arlington

    The notion that man either evolved from eating meat or is best designed to eat meat is pure fantasy. Here is a article that provides overwhelming evidence that we are omnivores – able to eat meat but better off the less meat we eat.
    http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html

    David.

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Thanks David. That is a good article will add it to my veg FAQ.

  • http://idealistcafe.com/ Russ

    Hi Eliot, I just found my way to this page after landing on your April 24th post by searching for vegan diets that are grain free. So have you continued to be grain free now 4 months after starting your experiment? I am not vegan, but do tend towards it, though I do infrequently eat meat and dairy, (I always opt for organic and/or sustainably raised meats and dairy) but find that when I stay away from meat and dairy my cravings for grains increase. It sounds like by removing grains you needed to increase your intake of vegetables, so I guess I'm curious if you've found that the trade off has been worth it, even with the additional need for more veggies and non-grain vegan foods. And also did your increased hunger level out after being grain free for a few weeks?

    Also, you may be interested in this recent post by Tim Ferriss where he extensively outlines the supposed negative effects of grains based on his recent readings.
    http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/09/19/paleo-diet-solution/

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Hey Russ, Thanks for dropping by. Ironically I was reading Tim's post this morning and saw your comments in there before I noticed your comments in here. Interesting debate. The Paleo tribe sure is passionate.

    Good for you to seek a healthy and balanced diet – eating mainly vegan with some meat and dairy from good sources. Check out my post on the Bluezones research for evidence that your diet is a smart choice…http://eliotburdett.com/blueprint-for-living-longer/

    Great question on my experiences post the grain free experiment.

    I did sneak a little grain back into my diet, for instance a couple of times a week I will add about a tablespoon of large flake Oats into my breakfast (which also includes hemp hearts, fresh fruit chopped up and some ground flax)…but that's pretty much the only grain I eat these days. Since my experiment earlier this year, my diet has evolved to become almost entirely based on whole foods and about 80% raw. I don't crave grains anymore and I never bought into the theory that cravings are a signal our body actually needs something. I used to crave sugar before I cut that out of my diet and now I don't. Once you create the habit of not eating something, you just don't think about it – at least that's what I have found.

    Yes I eat more veggies now that the bread and grains are gone and that's awesome because I have exposed myself to all sorts of great fruit and veggies that I would never have touched before.

    How do I feel? Terrific – perhaps eliminating gluten will benefits, but up to this point, my diet has been pretty clean anyway and I am probably looking at incremental gains. In any event, I am sticking with the almost-no-grains approach because I have developed the habit and don't see a pressing need to put more grains in my diet. Plus I like the way I feel right now.

    Love your blog btw…you have been rocking it all the way back to May '06. Congrats man!

  • http://idealistcafe.com/ Russ

    Thanks for the reply Eliot. Ironically, even though the Russ comments in the 4HWW post seem to match mine here, we're not the same Russ. How ironic though! Sounds like he leans more towards paleo, I lean more towards vegan, and we meet in the middle with grass fed, free range, and REAL food. I believe that real, whole food is definitely the first step, whether it's vegan, paleo, grain free, or whatever, it should defintely not be processed.

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Russ – my bad, I didn't check the email addie on the 4HWW posts. Totally agree with your commitment to real whole food. Right on!

  • Valley girls rock

    This discussion is soooo helpful!! I was recently told about The Paleo Diet but wanted to be vegan. After reading much discussion, I’ll probably do a hybrid of vegan/Paleo….3 days vegan-4 days meat-natural chicken and wild caught fish and veggies. Thanks for all the view points and information. I will cut out most grains, except a little initially and see if my chronic digestive issues subside. Thanks Elliott and everyone for the resources and websites provided!

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Glad you found it useful. I just had my annual physical and posted my results…all vital health signs are normal or very good, so I am sticking with this plan. See here >> My Vital Signs 2010 http://eliotburdett.com/vital-signs-2010/

    Good luck with your plan!
    Eliot.

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Good for you….I think if I ate meat, my diet would look like the modern version of the paleo. I thought I had posted a typical day of eating for me, but can’t find it so perhaps my memory is failing me….will certainly write up a typical day and post a link.
    Eliot

  • http://www.sethigherstandards.com Ravisraman

    Have you gotten an allergy test to see if you are sensitive or allergic to wheat?

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Hey Ravi -No i havent had any tests done (although I did have overall health done recently). Grains were probably the one thing I cut which hardly seemed I make a seemed to make a difference. It has now been several months now and I kept avoiding grains out of habit, but thy never irritated me and every now and then I eat grains by accident and I don’t even notice a difference. I get all my carbs qnd nutrients from veg, fruits, nuts and seeds. So far no detectable impact from grains being in or out of my diet but I guess that’s the point – In theory I am reducing risk of the long term degenerative diseases. Great to see you here. Take care.
    Eliot.

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    I hear you, although the paleo faithful would have you believe that human brains grew larger and man advanced when meat was introduced to the diet. Cause or coincidence? To me all that matters is that today I have a very wide variety of foods to ear and can be uber healthy without meat. Thanks for dropping by! Cheers.

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    I have posted a typical day of eating here. http://eliotburdett.com/typical-day-of-vegan-eating/

  • Robert

    If you want to 100 and beyond then you better have the family history on your side. Centenarians live to the age they do by following a variety of eating patterns. Very few vegetarian centenarians and fewer documented vegan centenarians exist. Having said that you could look to the Okinawan diet. It certainly highly plant based with very modest amounts of fish, pork, etc. Sweet potatoe makes up a huge portion of their daily calories.

  • Robert

    What are your thoughts on wild rice as an “acceptable” grain?

  • Robert

    If the realistic age of death was around 70 years for our Palaeolithic ancestors why would you think that someone living in this day and age wouldn’t live well past 70? The single greatest factor as to why we live as long as we do today is due to our advancements in medicine. Many of our ancestors didn’t survive birth. This one factor has a huge impact on a population’s longevity statistics. To conclude that the diet of our ancestors was the reason they died young, by our standards, is ludicrous. To suggest that a person in today’s world following the same diet (or our best effort of duplicating this diet) with the advantages of todays medical advancements is equally ludicrous.

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Robert,
    Thanks for commenting. No diet on its own equals longevity. Genetics and lifestyle play a huge role and if you overeat, don’t eat a nutritious diet, don’t exercise, or expose yourself to toxins, it won’t matter much that you are vegan.

    The medical and science community disagree on what diet contributes to living longer, but what we do know is that for most of their lives, Centenarian have not eaten meat pumped full of hormones, antibiotics and other toxins so if I was going to eat meat (and I am not), I’d stick to animals raised naturally.

    Bluezones is an interesting read. They studied many cultures and found that the ones that lived the longest were the ones that at a predominantly plant-based diet with meat occasionally (the exception rather than the role).

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Some books on Paleo have it on the don’t eat list, but it is gluten free so I am not sure why. I can’t recall the last time I had some. I tend to eat foods lower on the glycemic index.

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    …and if I am wrong on all my choices, and I go early, I’ll go with a big smile on my face.

  • Robert

    We are still talking “diet”, right? ;o)

  • Robert

    I’m a believer in organic farming, whether it be animals (grass fed, free-range, etc) or plant foods. Regarding diet, I think in general centenarians follow a relatively low meat diet and yes, we’re talking about natural, whole foods.

  • Indo-Hindu-Veg

    I’m from South Asia where a large percentage of lacto-vegetarians have been thriving for thousands of years – particularly India. We do have many Indo-vegetarians living into their 90s and beyond, with some “yogis” living way beyond.

    However, we don’t take successful statistics in India – many reasons for that, won’t get into it here.

    Eliminate cooked grains but not sprouted legumes. In India we sprout mung daal because it releases the enzyme proteins. They are great raw, steamed or cooked.

    Quinoa does not qualify as a grain but cooks like one. I’d stick with that also. Its high in nutrients.

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Thanks for stopping by. These are great suggested. I am big on sprouted food and grow all my own including legumes. They are a big part of my diet and I’d miss them if I had to go without. Thanks again for the comments.
    Eliot

  • http://www.ontheedgefitness.com Lauren Brooks

    Hey Eliot,

    So did you end up adding grains back? I have been experimenting with Vegan (with eggs) for 2 1/2 months now. I’m an athlete and it’s felt really great. Since going from omnivore to practically vegan I have noticed reaching for grains more. I have been bulking up a tiny bit since changing my diet. Thanks for posting info about this.

    Take care,

    Lauren
    http://www.ontheedgefitness.com

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Hi Lauren,
    I didn’t end up adding grains back although I will have rice about once a month and quinoa when it is around (both gluten free) -mostly just for variety. i dont have any cravings at all, perhaps your “cravings” are more the habit being broken than anything biological?

    I have a pretty intense workout regime as well – yoga or cardio in the morning and p90x in the pm – 7 days a week with “rest” days consisting of a light ride or yoga. The p90 is new as of last year but the level of exercise is something I have been doing for about 20 years. When i went vegan several years ago i though i might miss the meat, dairy and eggs as a source of protein but it’s been the absolute opposite. I feel far stronger without them. have never felt stronger in fact. Plant based food all the way!

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

    Eliot

  • Joan

    Eliot, I was very interested to see the results of your experiment.  I went vegan for number of years and my lifelong stomach problems got increasingly worse.  I didn’t even know what gluten was at the time and discovered it was one of the main reasons for my problems.  I started eating some meat again, which I really didn’t want to do, but I felt horrible and I had also gained weight even though I was eating what I thought was healthy.  I have come to realize that grains and beans are really toxic for my system.  I really can’t eat them at all anymore without getting dizzy and feeling terrible.  They really spike my blood sugar.  I would really like to go vegan again because I feel bad about eating meat, but have had a lot of difficulty figuring out how to feel good eating that way and get enough calories and keep it low glycemic.  I am also allergic to soy and tomatoes.  I really feel best when I eat green veggies, nuts, seeds, chicken and fish.  Every time I try to phase the chicken and fish out, I notice a definite change for the worse in the way I feel.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thanks!

  • http://www.eliotburdett.com/ Eliot Burdett

    Hi Joan,
    Thanks for stopping by and sorry to hear about your challenges in finding a diet that both makes you feel good and you feel good about. We are all different in what we can eat and what works for us. Have you spoken to a doctor or nutritionist about your diet?
    Eliot

  • Anonymous

    Wow, just adds to my confusion….I cut all dairy out of my diet and I lost 15lbs. Now grains, I love rice. I have a great interest in a vegan diet, but I would like to keep eggs, organic cage free, for the protein. I do not consider it a diet more a “nutritional choice”. Paleo diet, cavemen? Whatever, a whole different belief for me. Not happening. I hope to use your experience to gain the knowledge I need. Keep posting!

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