Paleo Diet Defined

A friend recently asked me about the Paleo Diet that she hears about as her cross-fit workouts.  She was skeptical about this “fad” diet gaining popularity among the cross-fit community, and she should be.

Let’s dive in!

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Paleo Promise and Premise:

This diet claims to be “the world’s healthiest diet.” WOW. That’s a claim.

The diet is based on what “our ancestors” in the evolutionary Paleolithic era (2.6 million years ago to 10,000 years ago) ate. Caveat #1: You have to believe that evolution is true to think that this diet has any basis. I don’t, so let’s just pretend like this may be how people ate when the world was created. Let’s continue.

The Paleo diet creators say that the diet of the era was that of a hunter-gatherer or a “caveman.”  The foods consists of meat, vegetables, meat, nuts, meat, fruit, and meat. It also claims to be based on good research. (Check out the research section of their website, and notice that all the articles listed are authored by the diet’s creator, Loren Cordain…coincidence?)

That’s pretty much it. Yes it eliminates processed foods and sugar, but it also eliminates important pieces of a human’s diet like grains and dairy. Note: there has been new research in the past few years that actually uncovered starch grains on apparent human ancestor teeth. Oops, Cordain, did you know that?

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Paleo Pros:

  • It eliminates processed foods, added sugars, and alcohol.
  • It promotes whole foods.

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Paleo Cons:

  • No dairy, which we know keeps our bones strong and healthy and provides many essential vitamins and nutrients.
  • No grains, which we know, when whole, provide fiber which can lower cholesterol (greatly needed in a diet full of meat) among other things.
  • Plant-based diets have more research backing them to help people live longer lives, decrease cancer rates and other chronic diseases, and promote weight loss. Each of these promises are  also made by the Paleo diet (but the Paleo is meat based with less than 50% coming from plants).
  • The Paleo diet is not founded on reliable research (even if it wasn’t based upon evolution). The “Diet Team” consists of exercise buffs with one member having a nutrition degree but is not a prominent nutrition professional but a trainer and strength instructor.

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For me, I will stick a diet of moderation.

  • Mostly plant-based enjoying fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Consume fat-free dairy products.
  • Focus on lean proteins (mostly from seafood, nuts, beans, poultry, and lean meats).
  • Have healthy fats (olive and canola oils and peanuts).

Good enough for me.

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What are you doing to promote moderation in your diet? or life in general?

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