Paleo Strongman Interview – Mike Jenkins…

Mike Jenkins Deadlifting

It’s a Small Online World…

One of my very favorite things about the hyper-connected, Social Media world we live in is how easily we can connect with others who share our interests and passions. A few months ago I happened to get into a conversation with Strongman Mike Jenkins on Facebook. It turned out he’s PALEO! I had no idea… So, of course, the discussion turned to the Paleo Diet. Because this blog is about all things practical related to Paleo eating and living, I really wanted to do an interview with Mike and see what specific ways he was using Paleo to get stronger and better at his sport.

There are two important points to keep in mind as you read. First off, Mike is HUGE and STRONG. And he’s almost completely Paleo. Paleo can be effective as a strength and mass building diet. Here’s proof. Second, and this is something I’ve talked about all through my book, “The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link,” and this blog, eating certain non-Paleo foods at certain times for specific reasons is not only highly effective but is required in some cases to get optimal results. Never mind that list of “Paleo/Not Paleo” food you found through Google – REAL results happen when you combine solid theory, knowledge of your body, an open mind and testing, testing, testing. The Paleo Diet is an outstanding diet template. Combine it with personalization and individualization and IT ROCKS!

With that all said, here’s the interview with Mike Jenkins about his implementation of the Paleo Diet!

Mike Jenkins Pulling the truck at World's Strongest Man

How long have you been doing Paleo and what was your motivation for going in a Paleo direction?

Since right after my first Pro Arnold in March 2011. I wanted to decrease my bodyfat and “clean up” my diet what was by no means bad before it just was not as pure as something like Paleo.

What benefits have you seen from a Paleo Diet?

At first I was very tired and had to really push myself through training for about a month which I knew would happen, that’s why I chose to do it after a show where I had time to adjust. The first things I noticed was a cleaner feeling body and less water retention. Once I got by the initial energy shortage I had more energy and felt like I could train longer and harder!

How many calories per day do you eat?

I only eat between 4000 and 5000 calories, for someone that is 400 lbs that is not that much.

Strongman Mike Jenkins and CrossFit Coach and Box Owner Merle McKenzie

Above is Mike with my good friend Merle McKenzie. Now, Merle is NOT a small guy! Mike’s sheer size is pretty incredible. Next time someone tells you Paleo isn’t good for building and maintaining mass, link them to THIS!

(BTW, Merle runs and coaches at some of the BEST CrossFit boxes in Connecticut. His latest venture is CrossFit Ironworks in Higganum, CT!)

What does your basic daily menu look like?

Breakfast – 6 eggs 6 whites splash of EVOO, some kind of lean meat or an MHP Protein Shake

Snack – MHP Shake and nut butter or nuts, I’m on a organic sunflower butter kick lately

Lunch – Lean meat, veggies and a sweet potato sometimes brown rice, I know its not Paleo but my body responds to it very well.

Snack – MHP Shake and nuts or nut butter or lean meats and veggie

Pre Workout – MHP Shake

Post Workout – MHP Shake

Dinner – Lean meat, veggies and a sweet potato

Bed time snack – Nuts or nut butter, MHP shake and low sodium cottage cheese. I know its not Paleo but the Casein breaks down slower throughout the night as I sleep

All shakes are made with unsweetened almond milk.

You said you eat some cottage cheese at night. How much do you eat and why?

I usually do just a cup of low sodium 2% for the Casein protein mixed with my MHP shake and good fats from the nuts. 8+ hours is a long time to not have nutrients in your body so I rely on that Casein to slowly digest. With that being said I normally do 2 shakes in the middle of the night as well!

Is your cottage cheese grassed or raw or just from the supermarket?

Just from the super market, its really the only thing I do that was not walking or coming out of the ground at one point and my body reacts well to it so if that is a “cheat” I’ll take it for the results I see.

After your 2012 win at the Arnold, you told Dave Palumbo your win had to do with a “much better diet.” was that Paleo?

That would be it! I felt like I got more out of my training, recovered better and having planned meals takes one more thing out of the preparation equation!

Here’s the video interview after Mike’s 2012 Arnold Win…

Do you have specific cheat days or times of year you aren’t strict on your diet?

I am pretty strict ever since starting which is rare in my sport but I have found something that works so… If I do cheat I will do it when my wife does – she is a NPC Bikini competitor. That makes it very easy to stay on track, the food selection in our house is no fun at all!

How do you eat around your workouts? Pre-workout, post workout, etc?

Just a shake before and after. I try not to eat for 2-3 hours before a workout – whole food that is. I don’t feel well when I train on a full stomach.

Do you go for things like sweet potato or brown rice to keep your carbs up?

I keep sweet potoes in there and sometimes the brown rice. I know its not Paleo, but I needed a change so I tried it for a week once and my body felt great so I go in waves. The things in my diet that aren’t Paleo are there for a reason, trust me – not because I love the taste of cottage cheese. I found things that help fuel my body better and for me its all about performance so I twisted it just a tad and I think it has really helped!

BIG THANK YOU to Mike Jenkins for taking the time out to do this interview! Good luck in your training and competition, Mike! We’ll be watching and cheering you on at WSM 2012 in a few weeks!



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