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In which Hunter Pence approves of my dietary choices

Feb 28, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

Low Carbs

I’ve mentioned my change in diet a few times around here. Sorry if I’m being redundant about it, but it has represented a pretty major life change for me. And being on the road for a week and a half it’s impossible not to think about it.  Road trips are always bad for me, food wise. Especially baseball trips. It’s impossible to eat well in a ballpark. That’s true even if you stay away from the concession food and stick to the media spread. You can find salads there on occasion, but it’s often hot dogs, big sandwiches, chicken parm and things like that.

I left the ballpark yesterday and went to the Whole Foods in Tempe. Their prepared foods section has a million great things. Fresh veggies, grilled meats, lentils, quinoa and the like. I got that grilled salmon, quinoa tabbouleh and asparagus/mushroom/red pepper mixup pictured to the right and ate it in the little cafe. As I left I picked up some healthy foods to take back to the hotel with me and to pack in my bag each day when I head out to the ballpark. As I type this I am doing my best to ignore the wonderful smells from the concourse here in Scottsdale Stadium and concentrate on the apple, walnuts and jerky I bought along.

Heading here this morning I remembered the post about Hunter Pence’s adherence to the paleo diet  from last week — which is not terribly different than what I’m doing — and decided that I’d ask him how it was going.

I asked him if he had a couple of minutes. He started that familiar rap players who don’t really want to be interviewed at the moment offer, asking how much time it’d take (“hey I have to get to this room or that meeting and blahblahblah…”) but when I told him it’d be quick and it was about how his diet was going, he opened up and acted like he had all day to talk.  Maybe this is just a favorite topic for him. Or maybe players are simply bored to tears with the usual spring training  clubhouse rebop.

Pence said that it was going great. That since he cut out carbs in September he has felt way more energetic, sleeps better, the whole deal.  I asked him if, as is the case with me and a lot of other people, the initial absence of sugar and carbs led to some serotonin deficit-inspired depression. He said he had heard that happened, but thankfully it didn’t happen to him.

source: Getty ImagesI asked him if an athlete’s far greater than typical energy needs makes it more difficult to avoid carbs and he said “Nope. I just pound kale and vegetables all the time. It’s in there.” I asked him if it’s hard for him to not get room service and bad food on the road and he said “Not at all. It’s just a matter of getting in a cab and making them take you to Whole Foods.”

At that point I figured I’d mention that I’m on the same sort of diet, albeit for very different reasons. I mentioned about my trip to Whole Foods yesterday and how I’d plan to do that kind of thing the whole trip, and he started to take on that look he had while giving the rah-rah pep talks during the Giants playoff run last year. “That’s great! Keep that up, man. You’ll get over the initial hump and feel much better. Just keep it up.” It was easy to giggle a bit at Pence’s motivational speaker thing last season, but in that moment, I felt ready to go out and beat the Tigers. Or the potato chips and pasta. Or something.

Anyway. No point to this, but it was one of my favorite player encounters in a long time so I figure I’d share it.

  1. cur68 - Feb 28, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Hunter Pence: the Jenny Craig of MLB. Who knew?

    • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:21 PM

      Guess what his second career will be?

      • cur68 - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:43 PM

        Pence can play the roles Marty Feldman used to get in movies when his baseball career is over. In fact, if someone told me that Hunter Pence was Marty Feldman’s son or grandson I wouldn’t be the least surprised.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        I personally hope that he and Colin Powell do team motivational seminars…kind of a Martin & Lewis of inspiration.

      • cur68 - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:46 PM

        Betty White would CRUSH them at motivational speaking.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:48 PM

        Well, OF COURSE. And, also, bread pudding is better than cake and the world does not revolve around the Cards.

      • cur68 - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:59 PM

        While we seem to agree on a couple of points, your cleaving to bread pudding is an unconscionable waste of eating. Nature will select against you. Why? Well,

        (lights pipe, dusts chalk of lapels, polishes and replaces monocle, assumes smug tone and superior air…)

        The creatures known as <Piltdownwoman breadpudding-us are truly a small and deluded segment of the dessert landscape. More to be pitied than mocked, they will be easily out competed by the more robust Australopithecus cake-us who also prey on the relatively spineless and gracile Australopithecus pie-us.

        They will be little more than a footnote in the fossil history of the Dessert Archaeology.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:10 PM

        First of all, lay off my cleavage. Secondly, there is no shame in being a noble species that is crowded out by the choking populous of other, lesser dessertisaurouses (desserisauri?). This is the Way of Sugar. If I am to be the culinary equivalent of the Last of Mohicans, as it were, I shall be proud to represent the Adult Dessert faction in our tragic denouement. Finally, I shall play the OG Card, Sir. Gator agrees with me, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Go fish.

      • cur68 - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:34 PM

        We turn now to Mr. Gary Larson for succinct rebuttal….

      • indaburg - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:37 PM

        Bah, bread pudding is an “adult dessert”? You and I have very different meaning of what an adult dessert is. Bread pudding is not even close.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2013 at 7:05 PM

        Y’all have the palatal sophistication of the Boer goat.

        (and someone’s just put out by the whuppin’ they got today)

  2. groundruledoublebourbon - Feb 28, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    No need to apologize for rapping on the new diet — player encounters like this are always worthy of being shared, Craig. Much more telling than the “usual spring training clubhouse rebop.” Thanks.

  3. samefamilymarriageadvocate - Feb 28, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Craig, no black players approve of your dietary choices. Is that a problem?

    • 2077james - Feb 28, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      Was that really necessary?

      • uwsptke - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        I’m more confused about his handle. Is he advocating incest?

      • samefamilymarriageadvocate - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:05 PM

        I’m for equal rights

    • jwbiii - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      Prince Fielder is a vegetarian. He may not approve of Craig’s or Hunter’s particular choices, but I think he would approve of the overall eat healthier approach.

  4. Ben - Feb 28, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Paleo makes absolutely no sense. None. It’s an utterly incoherent diet because whatever fruits and vegetables you are eating today are fundamentally different foods than the foods our caveman ancestors would have eaten, due to domestication and hybridization.
    Take almonds, for example. Wild almonds contain lethal amounts of cyanide, and yet almonds are held up as one of the best paleo foods around. Our caveman ancestors would have died if they had eaten wild almonds–they only became edible through domestication. The bananas you eat bear no resemblance to bananas even 50 years ago. Our cavemen forebears would have had access to food that came strictly from within 50 miles or less of their immediate location, so I hope you’re not eating those New Zealand apples.

    I don’t totally disagree with paleo in the sense that we should cut processed food out of our diet, and probably eat fewer carbohydrates, but let’s not chalk it up to romanticized bullshi*t evolutionary biology that absolutely no bearing on the modern world.

    /rant over.

    • Ben - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      Also, if you think for a second that a caveman would turn down a hot dog, you’re nuts.
      Sorry for all the typos, I just get so hot and bothered by this crap.

    • paperlions - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      New Zealand apples? Apples are (originally) from what is now Turkey….though, I hear Apple pie is American, wonder how they made it without the Apples.

      • Ben - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:09 PM

        One of the stupider fights I’ve ever had with my girlfriend was when we were at the grocery, and she wanted apples from New Zealand, and I said that was stupid, think of the carbon cost of importing apples from New Zealand. Exacerbated when I pointed out the greek yogurt concoction she was putting in the cart had more sugar per ounce than ice cream. Not happy.
        But, I learned a valuable lesson–it’s probably not worth discussing food with your partner, especially when they generally eat well.

      • paperlions - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:26 PM

        I completely understand. A woman here in the office switched to a vegan diet in an attempt to improve her marathon times (don’t ask) and she announced that it was also a “more green” way to eat. I pointed out that she ate a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables every day and almost none of them were grown in state and during > 1/2 year none are grown on the continent and the environmental cost so ship all of that weight so far was obscene….especially because she ate like a horse to account for all of the energy burned training….of course, there is no backlash from that argument, she is just a co-worker.

        I had a very intelligent GF once that would regularly turn to me and ask “Is this really a fight you want to have?”….after mere milliseconds of contemplation, the answer was nearly always “no”. Smart girl.

      • cktai - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:18 PM

        Should have called her bluff

        “Well depends, is this a fight you want to have?”

        Then, if the answer is yes, you can always give in and say

        “I guess that’s one of us then.”

      • paperlions - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:24 PM

        Nah, implicit in the question was the fact that it was not a fight she wanted to have….the point was always that any benefit I might think I could gain by “winning” would be outweighed by losses associated with the process and end results of that process. Essentially, she was just pointing out when I put myself in a lose-lose situation and offered me a quick way out….if I was smart enough to take it.

    • kopy - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:04 PM

      That’s a good rant. I’d just like to know when we stopped differentiating between complex vs. simple carbs. That’s health info my mid-90s public education taught me. I’m cool with the war on simple carbs (processed sugar, white flour, etc.), but what’s wrong with the complex carbs found in spinach, lentils, soy…?

      • indaburg - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:29 PM

        Someone said there was something wrong with complex carbs?

    • indaburg - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      It’s just that the Common Sense Healthy Eating Diet Without Processed Foods and Simple Carbs just isn’t very marketable. The Paleo Diet is much more catchy.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:05 PM

      I agree with all of that. FWIW, I am not formally on the paleo diet, nor would I ever be because I do not believe my diet should be dictated by what are essentially political decisions. I’m just in a place where I need to dramatically lower carbohydrate and sugar intake and what passes for a paleo diet now goes about 90% of the way toward meeting that health goal.

      Basically, I’m off pasta, crackers, bread, almost all processed foods, baked goods and sweets. I’m amping up vegetables, fruits, lean meats, nuts and the like.

      I think that’s closest to paleo, but I’m not sure.

      • Ben - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:19 PM

        Yeah, that makes sense. I think my issue with paleo is the overemphasis on meat (incredibly environmentally destructive) and the fact that it’s more a religion than a diet. And the romanticization of evolutionary biology.
        Sounds like you’re eating right!

      • cur68 - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:25 PM

        Don’t neglect the exercise, though. One thing that Jenny Cra…I mean Hunter Pence should have made a point of mentioning is that he gets a lot of exercise to go with his diet. You need to do that too.

        Forcing your body to work on catabolizing stored fat, increasing your metabolism, and working on strength will improve your results and keep your bones healthy.

        All this dieting won’t amount to much if you break a hip tripping over the cat: keeping up bone strength prevents falls from leaving you all busted up. Hell, just working on core muscle strength should actually prevent the fall, too. Weaklings fall down more.

      • natstowngreg - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:55 PM

        Don’t know anything about this paleowhatever. No doubt, what you describe would pass muster with most reputable doctors and nutritionists. I’ve been doing it lately to lose weight and better deal with diabetes. Don’t have a fancy name for it; Ben has a good, simple term — eating right.

      • anxovies - Feb 28, 2013 at 7:57 PM

        Craig, this is dismal. What’s your address away from home? I’ll Fed Ex you a couple of pounds of bbq ribs and a six pack. Your wife need never know.

      • Gamera the Brave - Feb 28, 2013 at 11:50 PM

        I totally just tripped over my f*ck!ng cat!
        How’d you know!
        Jeez, I could go for a donut right now.
        Wait, what’s this post about again?…

      • Gamera the Brave - Feb 28, 2013 at 11:51 PM

        Oh, and I broke the CAT’S hip, by the way…

    • skerney - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      Whether or not it is stupid in your eyes, or actually just plain stupid, can’t we just let people live their lives and make the decisions they make? What Craig or Hunter Pence eat for dinner has zero effect on your life.

  5. jkcalhoun - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Hunter Pence wants to eat lunch with you one more day. This is the best lunch crowd he has ever been a part of. No matter what happens, you all must not give up, you must look at the man next to you and shop for healthy food for each other. He wants to see what Craig will bring from Whole Foods tomorrow, and he wants to pick up Ryan Vogelsong’s empty cartons and stuff after lunch is over tomorrow because Vogelsong has never been to Whole Foods. Eat for each other, not for yourself, win each moment, win every lunch, it’s all you all have left.

    • chadjones27 - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:41 PM

      That was quite inspiring. Not inspiring enough to get me to put down the chips I’m currently eating (mmm, bar-b-que flavor) but, it did make me notice the crumbs on my shirt.

      • jkcalhoun - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:15 PM

        It’s still spring training, so there’s still time to focus on the fundamentals: you’re supposed to throw the chips and seeds and stuff, not eat them.

      • chadjones27 - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        If you buy, I’ll throw. Else, I’m eating.

  6. juliath83 - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Anyone who knocks the Paleo diet obviously hasn’t tried it. I sleep fewer hours and feel more rested when I wake up, plus I don’t feel sluggish after I eat a meal. Just because you can’t live without pizza and Doritos doesn’t mean the diet doesn’t work.

    Ben, I rarely eat almonds. Or foreign fruits. Animal fat is the key to the whole thing. If you’re not eating fat, the rest doesn’t matter.

    • Ben - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      Cool. I’m sure it works for some people. But is there a controlled, long-term study to back it up?
      Assuming you are of European ancestry, do you eat turkey? ’cause your ancestors didn’t. Do you eat sausage, or bacon? Ham or salami? ’cause those are kinda processed. Unless you’re just eating mammoth steaks, you’re not doing it right.
      And let’s just ignore the evidence that plant calories probably constituted the bulk of our paleolithic diet, not animals.

      Just eat better foods. Foods are things go bad relatively quickly. Don’t get caught up in the cult of this diet or that diet.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        Bacon is an abomination.

      • cur68 - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:48 PM

        OOOooooooooo! An ant-baconite! Splitter!

      • juliath83 - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:01 PM

        Any long-term studies that back up our current “government approved” diet heavy in grains, sugars, salt and processed foods? Didn’t think so. Am I hard-core Paleo? No. All I know is that the human body functions better on those foods they recommend, based on my experience and the testimonials of literally everyone who has tried it.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:06 PM

        Bacon is an abomination.


      • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:17 PM

        I will NOT! Bring on your perpetual outrage, Sir.

        /stomps foot

    • cktai - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      Any healthy diet will have the same effects.

  7. tmohr - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    “Nope. I just pound kale and vegetables all the time. It’s in there.”

    Joe Schultz weeps from the great beyond.

  8. Jason @ IIATMS - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    I’ve been on a low carb, lean protein diet since early December. 15+ pounds. No nuts (can’t, says the doctor), but pretty easy.

    I miss bagels something fierce, but tons of chicken, turkey and Frank’s Hot Sauce. And fish. You can eat almost anything with Frank’s on it.

  9. chip56 - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:45 PM


    Not sure if you’ll see this or not, but hope you do. Like you I’ve cut carbs from my diet and was going nuts craving bread. I found this recipe and no, BS, a 1lb loaf of bread has 20grams of carbs – for the entire loaf!

    1/2 cup of water
    1 egg
    good pinch of kosher salt – maybe a teaspoon
    1/3 cup of ground flax seeds
    1/4 cup of soy flour
    3/4 cup of vital wheat gluten flour
    1 tablespoon of splenda
    1 tablespoon of butter or butter substitute
    1 teaspoon of yeast

    In my case I put everything in a breadmaker and let it do its thing.

    It isn’t the same as a really good bread – or even wonder bread – but it is good; it’s high in fiber (good for the heart and bowels) and it satisfies the bread cravings which got really bad for me.

    You can also use this recipe (without the flax seeds) to create dough for pizza or pasta.

    • Old Gator - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:49 PM

      I prefer a pinch of Siberian salt, which is rich in irridium from the Tunuska explosion and sanctified with the sweat of Stalin era slave labor. It adds a touch of pathos to bread that you think you’re eating to prolong your life.

      PS – a tablespoon of toasted wheat bran will boost the fiber content and add a bit of heartiness to the flavor.

      • chip56 - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        I’ll give that a try.

    • chip56 - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:49 PM

      Oh, I beat the egg with the salt in the water to make sure it gets evenly distributed in the dough.

  10. Old Gator - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:50 PM


    Edit function!
    Edit function!

    Dammit, and I thought I had less of a chance of a typo on that than if I had written “Chelyabinsk.”

  11. jibzek - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Craig – do you have to pop a squat often from the high fiber diet?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      I dunno. I’m a blogger. I wear a diaper all day so I don’t have to leave the basement.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:40 PM

        Litter box!

    • El Bravo - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      wow am i glad i kept scrolling….

  12. freddieoh - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Something tells me Ben shouldn’t put false limitatations on his conclusion about food discussions.

  13. raulduke11 - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    After reading the headline, I thought this would be an awful piece and it wasn’t.

  14. kenburfeind - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    When is your BSOHL post due?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 28, 2013 at 7:29 PM

      When I am in better shape than I was in November 2011.

  15. thebadguyswon - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Going to enjoy Pence on the Mets next year.

  16. hpt150 - Feb 28, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    Lost 60 lbs in 6 months last year and have kept it off for another 6 months. Diet modification only (no grains, potatoes, rice, corn or processed sugar) without any additional exercise beyond my stay-at-home dad duties. Exercise is the next step. (320 down to 255 so far. Looking to lose another 25-30.) And I would never have mentioned it if it hadn’t been so successful and easy to do.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 28, 2013 at 7:30 PM

      That’s awesome, dude.

  17. prospero63 - Mar 1, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    I still miss him on the Astros. But I’m glad he got a ring. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

  18. mminpacbeach - Mar 1, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Hi Craig, that’s so awesome that you’re on the low carb regimen. My boyfriend and I started it a couple months ago and it’s so much better for both of us. We both needed to lose ~ 20 lb each and we are almost there. And when we reach our goals, we will stick with the low carb regimen. It’s so much better for us … we feel the difference and we love it. Check out Laura Dolson’s email newsletter. We got really good recipes and advice from there. Keep posting updates on your journey to healthier living!

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