1. Eliminate Refined Sugar
In short, sugar is the devil and is more addictive than cocaine. Many people have said to
me, “I’m already Paleo, I’m not sure I really need to do this challenge.” And I reply, “So
you don’t eat any sugar?” And they reply, “Well, yea, except for that.” GOTCHA. If
you are still eating sugar – including the occasional ice cream, chocolate, cookies, gluten-
free cake - do not fool yourself, you are NOT Paleo. Your efforts to not eat dairy or to
avoid gluten are out of whack and worthless in the longterm if you are still a sugar-
What is sugar?
Wikipedia defines sugar as: an informal term for a class of edible crystalline
carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose characterized by a sweet flavor.
Why no sugar?
Sugar depresses the immune system which opens the door to a host of diseases. It does
this by disrupting your insulin response which leads to a well-known condition called
What is inflammation?
When a foreign object invades the body, or the body performs a heavy lift (for example),
the immune system releases hormones to either fight the infection or alleviate the stress
of the event. Afterward, the body returns to its hormonally balanced state. This is a
normal process but the addition of large quantities of sugar (and carbohydrates) to a
person’s diet causes this hormonal response to get out of balance. An excess of pro-
inflammation hormones create a state of hyperinsulinemia, an ongoing state of
inflammation. Inflammation is now also used to describe a type of nonspecific immune
response. Hyperinsulinemia leads to a host of diseases such as heart disease, Type 2
diabetes, depression, and Alzheimers (aka Type III diabetes).
What are the obvious sources of sugar?
Anything with a label that has sugar, cane sugar, organic cane sugar, evaporated cane
juice, etc. Examples include whipped cream, ice cream, ClifBars, sugar packets,
lemonade, chocolate bars, honey, soda of any kind, and Gatorade
What are the hidden sources of sugar?
Latte flavoring, some bacons and sausages, deli meat (especially ham), white bread, fruit
juices, yogurt, beef jerky, dried fruits (most have added sugar), granola, and salad
And these count as sugars too:
Agave nectar, honey, maple syrup
And don’t discount fake sugars which have been proven to cause a similar, if not
worse insulin response than real sugar:
Challenge rules for Number 1: Eliminate all Sugar (this does not include real fruit).
This includes but is certainly not limited to:
- Cane sugar/organic cane sugar
- Evaporated cane juice
- Whipped Cream
- Corn Syrup
- Ice Cream/Cliff Bars and any other type of bar other than Lara Bars
- Sugar Packets
- Honest Teas
- Chocolate Bars
- Honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, molasses
- Soda of any kind (real or diet)
- Latte Flavoring
- Some bacons and sausages
- Deli Meat
- Fruit Juices
- Beef Jerky
- Dried Fruits
- Salad Dressings
- Sauces and Marinades
We know there are sugar sources we have not mentioned above. Post to comments
if you think of others!
2. No Gluten and No Soy
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, kamut, oats and many other grains. It is
also used in processed foods as a thickening agent. So what is wrong with gluten?
Gluten is a protein, or a long strain of amino acids that are bound together. When it
enters our digestive system enzymes break down these proteins, however, because gluten
is relatively new to our bodies (10,000 years vs. 3,000,000) many of us lack the amount
and proper enzymes to break down these proteins successfully. The unbroken protein
then damages the cells that line our gut (villi) leaving gaping holes between the cells that
allow partially broken down food to pass directly into our blood-stream (leaky-gut
syndrome). These partially broken down proteins can be toxic to our cells and can cause
auto-immune reactions where the body begins attacking itself.
Auto-immune diseases related to gluten include but are not limited to: alzheimers,
parkinsons, arthritis, cancer, lupus, and MS. We’ve become so used to associating these
problems with old age when in fact it’s directly related to what we’ve been putting into
Eliminating gluten from out diets is no easy chore. In addition to being a staple of our
diet for so long gluten also has an addictive trait similar to morphine known as
gluteomorphin. The more you ingest the more your body craves and wants more.
Gluteomorphin has also been linked back to autism in young children.
Food companies, magazines, and natural grocery stores have also made gluten into the
next health food fad tying it to weight loss rather than longevity and overall health. You
can buy everything gluten-free – pretzels, brownies, cake, cookies, crackers, and
chocolate covered almonds, for example. Consumers see gluten-free and somehow
believe those double chocolate chip cookies with organic cane sugar are somehow now
made healthy (and will make them loose weight!?). Gluten-free junk food! What people
don’t realize is that they don’t need gluten-free sugary options, they simply need to
replace the gluten containing junk with fruits and vegetables.
As stated earlier, gluten is used in many processed meats and foods as well as imitation
meats, so be careful and read your food labels. Know what you are putting into your
body! Gluten is EVERYWHERE.
There are so many things we could say about soy. We’ll leave you with two words and a
few resources. Estrogen latte.
3. Eliminate Grains
Bread has become a staple in the American diet, and its effects are seen everywhere. Our
nation is the most obese in the world and the most obese in its history. For the first time
ever our generation has been given a decreased life-expectancy over our parents. Over the
last 50 years there has been a 400% increase in individuals who are gluten intolerant
(celiacs). And even after all this, you ask someone to give up grains and they
IMMEDIATELY roll their eyes (yet those same people criticize the lung cancer
patient who “can’t” quit smoking).
So what’s the problem with grains? Let’s take a step back and look at the history of the
human diet. Man has been around for about 3,000,000 years. Grains were introduced
about 10,000 years ago. If we were to picture human evolution as a 24hr clock we would
place our beginning at 12am and not until 11:57pm would we introduce grains. Simply
put, our bodies have not evolved to be able to digest grains.
Grains cannot be eaten in their raw state because they contain toxins, or anti-nutrients.
It’s nature’s way of protecting itself, no different than the peel on a banana or skin on an
apple (except those foods do not contain the anti-nutrients grains do). When we cook
grains some of these anti-nutrients are destroyed but not all and a diet that is high in grain
can have bad cumulative effects. The main anti-nutrient that we are concerned with is
phytate, or phytic acid.
Phytates have a very strong affinity for certain minerals and act to bind to them after they
are ingested. These minerals include calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Once these
minerals have been bound to phytate they are no longer available for absorption into the
body. It is because of this that a diet high in grains can cause a severe mineral deficiency.
In addition to robbing our bodies of vital minerals, grains also have a large impact on our
insulin levels. Grains are mostly carbs and like all carbs, after ingestion they are broken
down into their simpler glucose molecules. Glucose enters the blood-stream (blood sugar)
which then triggers insulin to be released by the body to control our blood sugar levels.
Every cell in our body contains insulin receptors. When insulin flushes over these
receptors it signals the cells to store glucose for later use (fat), but frequently spiking
insulin levels can cause our cells to become insulin resistant (type 2 diabetes). When cells
become insulin resistant, it requires more and more insulin for the cell to react as it once
did. In severe cases, the pancreas can become so overworked with producing insulin that
it eventually ceases to work properly (type 1 diabetes).
Our goal should be to try and maintain an even flow of insulin through our bodies
throughout the day. How? Eliminate grains and replace them with quality carbs (veggies)
that not only provide a more efficient source of energy but also provide us with vitamins
and minerals that are essential to our health. These carbs will still elicit an insulin
response but because they are simple carbs they have a much smaller effect on insulin
Challenge rules for Number 3: Eliminate all Grains. This includes but is certainly
not limited to:
Corn (corn on the cob, corn tortillas, corn chips, corn starch, corn syrup)
Oats (steel-cut oats, rolled oats, and all processed foods made with oats)Rice (brown rice,
white rice, top ramen, rice noodles, bas mati rice, rice cakes
Rice flour (all processed foods made with rice)
Rye (rye bread, rye crackers, and all processed foods made with rye)
Wheat (bread, rolls, muffins, noodles, crackers, cookies, cake, doughnuts, pancakes,
waffles, pasta, spaghetti, lasagna, wheat tortillas, pizza, pita bread, flat bread, and all
processed foods made with wheat or wheat flour)
Hidden sources of grains include artichoke heart jar liquid, salad dressings of all kinds,
marinades of all kinds, sauces, soups, gum, spice mixtures, dried fruit.
4. Consume Full Fat Dairy Only
Full fat dairy is the only acceptable form of dairy in this challenge because first and most
importantly fat is good for you. I’m not talking about the health magazines’
recommendation to nibble a few almonds or use olive oil. I’m talking about real,
homegrown, dairy fat.
The fat in milk helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, whole fat dairy products have
little or no lactose, and fat is important for total fueling as you start to remove crap
sources of fueling from your diet (you’re going to need to replace the calories
What do we consider full fat dairy? Cream, heavy cream, butter, cheese, and yogurt.
For this challenge we will allow whole milk as a full fat dairy option to ease some of you
back to the good side. Anyone who says they “honestly don’t like the taste of whole fat
dairy products” is fat phobic and lying to themselves. Embrace the fat people.
Let’s first look at the origination of the watery liquid called skim milk. Back in the 1970s
the United States made its first food recommendation based on a bogus study that linked
fat to heart disease. Sadly, the major food manufacturers jumped on board. Fat was
removed from everything from cookies, to crackers, to dairy products! Fat satiates the
body and brain, is hormonally neutral, and decreases and slows the impact of sugar on
blood glucose levels. Skim milk feeds your sugar addiction and consistent spikes and
elevations of your blood sugar cause your body to store fat.
Milk is a mixture of protein, carbohydrate (sugar), and fat. When the fat is removed, the
impact of the sugars in milk on blood sugar levels is dramatic. Whole fat milk products
such as cream, butter, and cheese have little or no lactose.
For this challenge, for Level 4, if you consume dairy IT MUST BE FULL FAT. This
includes whole milk, cream, heavy cream, cheese, butter, and yogurt. Be careful with
yogurt, it’s usually sweetened with something and is mostly low fat (2% or less).
GO FORTH AND ORDER A BREVE!
5. Cook with Only Animal Fat or Coconut Oil
By now it should be very clear that we love fat and hope you do too; however, it’s
important to have a basic knowledge of the fat that’s out there and which fats are best for
Saturated Fats (SFAs – Saturated Fatty Acids)
Very stable, high heat resistance, semi-solid or solid at room temperature
Examples include animal fat, coconut oil, butter, lard
Monosaturated Fat (MUFAs – Monosaturated Fatty Acids)
Somewhat stable, some heat resistance, liquid at room temperature but are semi-solid at
Examples include: nuts, olives, avocados
Polyunsaturated Fat ( PUFAs – Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids)
Unstable, little to no heat resistance, liquid
Examples include: peanutbutter, margarine, sun flower seed oil, sesame, soy, corn and
When cooked at high temperatures (in frying pans, in the oven, on the grill) nut and seed
oils are damaged by the heat and become rancid and denatured.
The most healthy and stable fats to cook with are animal fats.
6. Eliminate Legumes, Starchy Vegetables and Squash
The Paleo Diet is based on the way our ancestors ate prior to the invention of agriculture.
Sure, there’s some gray area and because we weren’t there with video cameras, we don’t
know exactly what Paleo man ate (see Bones, I’ve acknowledged this fact); however
modern science, anthropologic studies, and carbon dating has given us a pretty good idea.
From a Paleo perspective, legumes and starchy vegetables are not included in the Paleo
Diet because Paleo Woman did not consume them on a consistent basis (if at all) prior to
the rise of agriculture. From a scientific, nutritional, and molecular perspective legumes
and starchy vegetables are not fit for consumption because of their antinutrient content
which includes lectins and saponins (we’ll cover lectins and saponins in a post next week,
or you can Google them). These antinutrients wreck the hormonal and immune systems.
Legumes and starchy vegetables are also not edible unless cooked.
“Increased intestinal permeability has been associated to many chronic low-grade
inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, such as celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis,
type 1 diabetes or multiple sclerosis. Lectins and saponins are able to increase intestinal
permeability hence increasing the risk of inflammatory diseases.”
Legumes and starchy vegetables have the following characteristics:
· Cooking destroys most but not all of the toxins. Insufficient cooking can lead to
sickness such as acute gastroenteritis.
· They are all rich sources of carbohydrate, and once cooked this is often rapidly
digestible, giving a high glycemic index (sugar spike)
· They are extremely poor sources of vitamins (particularly vitamins A, B-group, folic
acid and C), minerals, antioxidants and phytosterols.
Therefore diets high in legumes and potatoes, as well as grains:
· Contain toxins in small amounts
· Have a high glycemic index (ie have a similar effect to raw sugar on blood glucose
· Are low in many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytosterols- ie they are the
original “empty calories”
· Have problems caused by legumes and potatoes displacing other foods
Wait! What about squash?
1. It’s a vegetable
2. The Paleo Diet classifies squash as a Paleo vegetable
3. The WTF Challenge is not a Paleo-specific challenge. We’re using Paleo
principles, sure, but it’s not a Paleo challenge.
4. The WTF Challenge does not allow squash for Level 6 or higher
That’s all folks!
- All beans (adzuki beans, black beans, broad beans, fava beans, field beans,
garbanzo beans, horse beans, kidney beans, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans,
pinto beans, red beans, string beans, white beans)
- Black eyed peas
- Chick Peas
- Peanut Butter
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Soybeans and all soybean products including tofu
- Starchy Tubers
- Cassava Root
- Potatoes and all potato products
- Sweet Potatoes
- Tapioca Pudding
- All kinds
7. Eat Grass Fed/Finished, Organic, Pasture Raised, and Wild
Caught Meats Only
“What you eat eats matters too.”
So maybe you’re beginning to buy-in on this whole idea of what our bodies were
designed to eat and not eat. Have you ever stopped to think about what a cow was
designed to eat? What about a chicken? A pig? Nah, what does that have to do with
what I eat, nothing….WRONG.
At some point in the not so distant past we decided that quantity was more important than
quality, and we put profit before health. Farmers began feeding their animals anything
that would fatten them up quicker and lower costs. Living in America, we immediately
turned to what we had most of; corn and grain. Some take it to further extremes by
feeding their cattle stale candy. It’s very cheap and is really good at making animals fat
(can you think of another example where candy made a population fat? Just sayin’). In
the late 90′s some farmers took it to even further extremes by feeding their cattle scrap
meat from cattle that had already been slaughtered. Now that is cost-cutting! Ever hear of
mad cow disease?
What’s wrong with this diet? Well, compare those practices with living off of a diet that
wasn’t designed for your body. Your health gets all out of whack and everyday a new
disease is discovered. Farmers combated this with antibiotics to go along with the
steroids they were already serving. What this means for us carnivores is a meat product
that is higher in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and calories and lower in vitamins, minerals
and the-already-lacking-from-our-diet omega-3 fatty acids.
If the health side of things isn’t enough to convince you consider the lives of the animals
you eat. Wouldn’t you rather a cow have the ability to graze on fresh grass, drink clean
water, and enjoy a healthy life before it meets it’s end and finds it’s way onto your plate?
They’re kind of a big deal as far as survival of the human race is concerned.
When you’re eating at home you want to shoot for grass-fed/finished beef, free range
chicken, pasture raised eggs, and wild caught fish. If you’re not sure what kind of diet an
animal normally eats, google it and take what you’ve learned with you to the grocery
store. We understand that when you’re out at a restaurant you do not have as much
control over such matters but Boulder has some damn good restaurants that still place
quality over quantity, so do your best.
8. Eliminate All Dairy
But where will I get my calcium?
Other than humans what other animal drinks baby’s milk from a completely different
animal? Kind of weird when you think about it like that, huh? Okay, but let’s get into the
First of all milk contains casein. About 80% of the protein in milk is composed of casein.
Casein is very similar to gluten in that when it is broken down in the digestion process
into its finer proteins it can attack the lining of the stomach ultimately leading to leaky-
gut syndrome. Review the gluten post if you don’t recall how this works. It is because of
this reason that many celiacs (those intolerant to gluten) cannot touch this stuff because it
can further exacerbate their disease.
Also like gluten, casein has an opiate effect on our brains. This can play hell with our
minds when we are trying to eliminate it from the diet. As casein is broken down it
produces the peptide casomorphin. Casomorphin acts primarily as a histamine releaser
which triggers an inflammatory response. You can see how quickly this can spiral out of
Lastly, dairy has an insulin spiking effect on our bodies. We know already how an out-of-
control insulin level can wreak havoc on our bodies and our desire to shed body-fat.
How will you get all that calcium that milk has to offer back? Have no fear, veggies are
HERE! That’s right, a diet high in leafy greens already contains all the calcium that your
body needs. It’s almost as if nature intended it that way. Hmmm…
9 and 10 are simply a food quality/quantity issue. Fruits are
sugar!! Too much is not good. Nuts are fat and are easy to
over eat on, too much is not good.