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Caveman On The Go

Jan 5, 2012 – Day 5
Brunch: plain omelet, (coconut) cream-of-spinach soup
Dinner: turkey chili and spaghetti squash (below)

Future baby chickens consumed: 5 (30 total)
Sweet potato body count: 2 (2 total)
Inhaler puffs: 0 (4 so far this week)

The girl and I wistfully explored the idea of a Paleo food truck, or an entire restaurant for that matter, serving the kind of awesomeness we made the night before, along with plenty of tequila. It’s a good thing we like to cook together and that many of our dates center around making yummy food. If I had a girlfriend who was insistent on going out to eat more often, I wouldn’t have survived this long on the challenge.

But eventually, you *do* have to leave the house, and you can’t just sip red wine and eat dry grilled chicken salads every time you go out, so my experiment was to browse the menus of the 5 restaurants around my town I eat at most often (I’m a creature of habit), and see what I could safely eat on a strict Paleo regimen:

Moe’s Southwest Grill: They do have a handy allergen guide, but it was more info than I really wanted to know. The beef and steak have some sort of dairy allergen in them. And every meat looks like it’s cooked in soybean oil. The pork is the safest option if you’re willing to overlook that. Back when I was doing 4-Hour Body, my go-to meal was a fajita with pico de gallo, guacamole, and pretty much every veggie. And bacon, for at extra $0.79. The soy bothers me more than it should. I’ll see you after the challenge, friends. Mexican, in general, can be a bit dicey, unless you’re willing to push your taco shells to the side of the plate and order plenty of guac on the side.

Newk’s Cafe: They have some pretty kickin’ salads. Most of them have cheese, but at least at my Newk’s, they’re very willing to customize orders. And of course, you have to get the dressing on the side. Unless you’re a renegade and bring your own home-made lemon-and-olive-oil bottle in a little holster, which I’ve seen *many* people do. Also, it prevents you from being *that* guy/girl at a restaurant who asks for a dozen substitutions and probably gets their plate spat on by everyone in the kitchen.

Sitar Indian Cuisine: Oh, I love this place. Their buffet is filling, flavorful, and full of butter / cream / vegetable oil. The winner on the menu seems to be the Seekh kebab (ground lamb mixed with onions, green peppers, marinated with herbs & spices then broiled in a Tandoor oven), but if I know Indian food, butter (or ghee, its clarified and more acceptable cousin) makes its way into every dish. Short answer: Indian can be very nice on a primal diet, but it’ll probably never be dairy-free. This is a good Primal blog fresh from Mumbai, where the author probably deals with such temptations everyday.

Trattoria Centrale: (and other Italian joints) eh, not much. Trattoria has rotating salads that are decent, but the fresh-made pizza and the light pasta dishes are so enticing that it would be a crime to go and not have one.

Surin Thai: now Thai restaurants have it going on. Coconut milk, meat, veggies, and you’ve got yourself a meal. Surin has a chopped chicken lettuce wrap called a larb, which is spicy and super-delicious. Pitfalls: Panang curry notoriously adds extra sugar. And Massaman curry (my usual favorite) has a peanut base.

Panera: It has bread in the title of its website. It’s the anti-Paleo, unless you want to pick the cheese out of the otherwise acceptable Cobb salad. Next.

OK, cold showers. I read somewhere, once upon a time, that an ice bath (or any exposure to very cold water) after lifting weights is a great way to reduce inflammation and speed up recovery. So I searched the Twitterverse for some salient posts and went to the scientific literature. An article on Discovery Health says that cold showers can quickly lower local metabolism, which halts the production of lactic acid and reduces soreness (potentially). But inflammation and increased blood flow may actually be helpful in the short-term for getting nutrients to muscle, and lactic acid in short bursts can stimulate muscle growth. This article showed no improvement in performance in college soccer players after a cold-water immersion program. This one looked at exercise in high temperatures, and immediate recovery (but not long-term recovery) was faster after cold-water immersion. And this one showed that elite (professional) athletes had faster recovery with cold water immersion or contrast temperature (hot-cold-hot-cold) after a workout than just a regular shower.

Conclusions: there is a good bit of evidence that a cold shower or an ice bath might give you quick recovery of muscle function after a lift, which is what we all want, and what we guiltily eat so many carbs for after our workouts. And even if you can’t handle 15 minutes in a tub of ice, you can swing the shower handle back and forth and get just as good a result. Which is what I plan on doing for the rest of the month.

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