Alright booty campers, it’s about that time to dial in on nutrition! I know many of you have been anxiously anticipating the details and criteria for the upcoming Paleo challenge, so here it is!

I realize that Paleo eating, despite being a trendy buzz in the fitness and Crossfit community, still may be a complete mystery to a lot of you, so before I go into the details of the Boot Camp Paleo Challenge, here’s a little snapshot of what the Paleo Diet consists of:

The modern dietary regimen known as the Paleolithic diet, also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various human species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. Centered on commonly available modern foods, the “contemporary” Paleolithic diet consists mainly of grass-fed pasture raised meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.

Damn, you bored yet? I’ll spare you my take on why Paleo eating is a wildly effective way to improve your body composition, lose body fat and make HUGE performance gains in the gym. If you want to go ahead and geek out on the science, it’s really interesting stuff, at least to us fitness geeks. A great place to start if you want some more scientific background is by reading The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain and/or The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, which is a more modern-day version of Paleo eating.

If nutritional science doesn’t interest you, then all you need to worry about for the challenge is eating meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and some oils. If you take nothing else away from this, stick to those 6 things for your food selections and you’ll be on the right track. For the most part, if it has a mom, or you can grow it from a seed, it’s open game!

There are a few foods that fall into that gray area…deli meats, bacon, sweet potatoes, yams, honey, agave nectar, “paleo” desserts and a few others. I won’t argue with anyone as to whether they are actually Paleo friendly, suffice it to say that these shouldn’t be your go-to foods if you want to see major changes in the coming months. The way this challenge will be structured, you can get away with selecting these foods in moderation.

So how will the challenge work?

The challenge will begin on January 9th and will run through March 9th. Now, before you go planning your attack to hunt me down for ruining your Winter ski trips, hear me out on the details.

The challenge will simply involve sticking to pure Paleo eating as much as possible, no one will be “penalized” for occasional cheating or eating outside the Paleo pyramid. Unlike our last challenge, we won’t be using a negative point system every time you slip up.

So how will I know if you’re not sticking to the plan? Quite honestly, I won’t. The goal of this challenge is to get you thinking about making better nutritional choices and integrating the Paleo plan as part of a permanent lifestyle change. It will give everyone the chance to experience how it can positively impact your overall energy level and your performance in the gym. To hold everyone to a strict 30 day plan with penalties just reinforces a lack of permanence, and no one will really benefit from temporary Paleo eating in the long run. Furthermore, perfection isn’t necessarily important in this challenge. If you eat 200 grams of sugar a day right now and by the end of the challenge, you’re eating 50 grams and are starting to make performance gains, then who cares if you slipped up a few times? That’s not the objective of this challenge!

That said, I encourage everyone to use a buddy system that works for them for extra accountability. Nutrition logging works great for some people and knowing that you have to show your log to one of your fellow athletes can help keep you on track (I’m happy to be your personal enforcer on this). If that doesn’t work for you, find something that does. The point is, be accountable to yourself! The “how to” is completely up to you as an individual.

How will the winner of the challenge be determined?

This is a performance-based challenge, so you will complete a benchmark workout on Wednesday and will be re-tested in two months. We will compare the data on your overall output for Wednesday’s workout with March’s re-test, and the athlete with the highest percentage increase will win the challenge. The final analysis of performance improvements will also take into account your rank for the workouts compared to the rest of the athletes. Without boring you with the details, this is simply a way to account for anyone who sandbags the first workout to show an inflated increase in 60 days.

There will be sweet prizes for the first and second place athletes. Not gonna let the cat out of the bag on what they are, but they’re pretty awesome!!

I had originally planned to make body fat assessments a part of the challenge and factor that into determining the winner. I decided against doing that, as it’s not necessarily everyone’s goal to lose body fat and there are some athletes that really shouldn’t lose any additional body fat from where they are now. That said, I still want to offer before and after body fat assessments for anyone who is interested. It’s a really nice gauge of your improvements as an athlete, so come see me (Coach Chad) if you’re interested. I’ll be using a 4-point skinfold assessment, which isn’t 100% accurate, but is effective in showing gains and losses over time.

What are the best resources science on Paleo eating and recipes?

Glad you asked! There are a million of them out there, but here are some go-to sites:

www.robbwolf.com
www.paleoplan.com
www.thefoodee.com
www.health-bent.com
www.whole9life.com/ (resources tab has some paleo blogs)
www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/
www.chowstalker.com/
www.marksdailyapple.com/
everydaypaleo.com/
www.civilizedcavemancooking.com/
balancedbites.com/
www.catalyst-meals.com (a great local resource for Paleo delivered right to Trident, thanks to Patrick Smith and Robert Morton)

These all range in content from nutritional science and biochemistry to functional Paleo eating tips to Paleo recipes. Many of these sites also have links to other Paleo blogs and educational articles. The resources are endless.

Your other best resources are right in your own gym! You can ask any of the coaches for nutritional guidance that matches up with your own individual goals. We’re all pretty well versed in nutrition, so don’t be afraid to ask any of us if you have questions. We’re in the biz of changing lives, so don’t be shy!

Hope everyone is ready to kick some ass over the next 60 days!


Each bite is a perfect combination of spicy pepper, juicy chicken and salty, crispy bacon. The MDA reader that submitted this recipe for the Reader-Created Cookbook Contest stacks up as many pickled jalapenos on the popper as they can stand for an extra-spicy version, but you can modify the recipe to tone down the heat. If you can’t find pickled jalapenos (or your local market is out of them, like ours was) jarred pepperoncinis are a perfect substitute. Simply slice off the top, clean out the seeds and slice the pepper open so the raw chicken fits inside. Wrap the bundle up with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick or skewer then throw ‘em on the grill. Over medium heat the poppers will take 8-10 minutes per side to crisp up and cook through. The aroma of bacon in the air will make you want to eat the poppers right off the grill, but for the sake of convenience consider making them ahead of time for the 4th of July, as they are equally delicious if kept in the fridge and served hours later.

As if this recipe wasn’t mouthwatering enough, our anonymous MDA reader had to take it one step further by suggesting we dip the poppers in our favorite creamy dressing. Since we happened to have a batch of homemade Ranch dressing in the fridge we gave it try. Not to be overly dramatic, but the combination of cool, creamy dressing with the spicy, salty popper was pretty much like heaven.

With or without dip, these Spicy Chicken and Bacon Poppers are our new favorite appetizer and we can’t wait for the 4th of July to serve them up again!

Ingredients:

ingredients 37

  • Makes 6-8 poppers
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 6-8 pickled jalapenos or pepperoncinis
  • 3-4 strips of bacon

Instructions:

Cut chicken breast into 1? cubes. Marinate the chicken with salt and pepper, jerk seasoning or your favorite seasoning and oil.

marinatechicken

Place 1-2 slices of pickled jalapeno on each piece of marinated chicken or slice open a pepperoncini and put a piece of chicken inside.

stuffchixinpepper

Wrap 1/3 – 1/2 of a piece of bacon around the chicken and secure each popper individually with toothpicks or spear multiple poppers on a skewer.

skewer

Over medium heat, grill the poppers until the chicken is cooked through and the bacon is crisp, about 8-10 minutes a side.

chickenpoppers2

And if you’re so inclined…

Homemade Ranch Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced and mashed into a paste
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (chives, parsley, dill or a blend of all three)
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients together. Taste, then tinker with it until it tastes good to you. Kefir or Greek yogurt can also be used, apple cider vinegar can make it more acidic, and additional spices can be added.