With all the hoopla and hype surrounding the Paleo Diet it’s high time to take a deep look at the diet to uncover if it’s going to get you the results you’re after.
There are a lot of pluses and some minuses with the Paleo Diet but one thing I really have a gripe with is their all or nothing stance not allowing any modifications based on individual needs.
You’ll know you’re around a hardcore Paleo follower when they instill guilt onto you for eating some beans or give you death looks when they see you eating a slice of bread.
It’s true I’ve had my fair share of encounters with those adamantly following the Paleo Diet to the point of rabid fanaticism. This is when things start getting nutty…
What Is The Paleo Diet?
Essentially, the Paleo Diet is about eating the same founds our knuckle-dragging ancestors ate during the Paleolithic period since our genome has remained the same since that era. This means you’re going to be eating a lot of meats, vegetables, nuts and some fruits.
I definitely agree with what Paleo says you should be eating for the majority of your diet, but what I really have a problem with is the some of the stuff they tell you not to eat.
If it has sugar, gluten, dairy, grains, trans fats, artificial ingredients or has been processed in any way then you should chuck it directly into the garbage can. This also means no rice, raw milk, beans, peanut butter or supplements.
Although some less hardcore Paleo enthusiasts are willing to eat sweet potatoes and dark chocolate there are many hardcore followers who stick strictly to the Paleo guidelines.
The Good Part Of Going Paleo
There’s no doubt that eliminating processed foods and ingredients like sugar, artificial sweeteners and trans fats is going to shed fat, boost your energy and better your health. The focus on eating real foods from Mother Nature is undeniably the key to a fit, lean, healthy and energetic body.
In my opinion, the Paleo Diet is going to be very effective for the average sedentary, overweight and insulin resistant individual looking to lose weight through dieting. Those who aren’t following a training program will see fast and impressive results if they stick to Paleo. Plus they get to eat bacon while “dieting” so who can complain about that?
The Paleo Diet will help to regulate blood sugar levels, drop weight, improve your immune system and your body will thank you for relief from all the years of fast food and TV dinners. Most people welcome its simplicity as all you have to do is follow their basic “eat this but don’t eat that” methodology. It’s pretty obvious the more complicated things are made the less likely people are to follow it, and this is right on the money when it comes to nutrition.
Unfortunately, for decades most weight loss focused diets and vegans berate you to not eat meat because eating fat is going to make you fat. But we need those natural saturated fats and cholesterol from animals for optimal hormonal production.
I grew up learning the fallacy of the Food Pyramid, which told us to make the majority of our diets grains while minimizing fat to just a very small amount per day. This was absolute poppycock, and I’m proud I didn’t have the obedience back then to unquestionably follow their guidelines.
The Big Problem With The Paleo Diet
But the problem with the Paleo Diet, like all diets, is it’s way too cookie cutter to really appeal and maximize efficiency for everyone.
Take athletes and workout enthusiasts for example. Our bodies really need those starchy carbs such as potatoes, rice and steel-cut oatmeal to to fuel our anaerobic system especially if we’re training that day. We also need fast digesting protein such as a whey protein supplement, which isn’t technically allowed on the Paleo Diet.
I’ll agree that our bodies did evolve to largely consume the foods that our ancestors ate throughout the caveman days, but restricting our diets to solely prehistoric times would also mean neglecting all modern advancing in nutrition. To me it sounds like having your Neanderthal buddy knock out your bad tooth with a club instead of going down to the dentist.
I once overheard a Paleo follower enthusiastically proclaim he was going to fry his food in bacon grease. Whenever you take things to extremes like this then you should have someone give you a good hard slap across the face to get your common sense back. I know not ever Paleo follower does this but keeping your common sense when things sound fishy is absolutely necessary.
Just because you’re Paleo doesn’t entitle you to eat mounds of bacon and then sip the grease through a straw like it’s a milkshake. Never allow anybody or anything to brainwash you into becoming a non-thinking cult follower. Now this doesn’t only apply to the Paleo population because a lot of those who are on it aren’t crazy, but you should always use your common sense and do your own research instead of blindly following someone elses.
Fixing The Paleo Diet
Overall, the Paleo Diet has it’s core principles right by eating a diet varied in meats, vegetables, some fruits and nuts. But if you’re working out then you’re going to need to eat those starchy carbs such as rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, steel-cut oats, etc.
Without these carbs our bodies become depleted and when combined with intense anaerobic workouts it’ll cause us to actually lose muscle and slow down our metabolisms. This essentially means you’ll be busting your butt in the gym only to see your body get worse.
I have mixed thoughts on gluten and I try to minimize it in my diet because I noticeably feel better without it. We should be limiting our grains in general and I personally try to only eat grains with gluten on my Cheat Days. I’d recommend you try going off gluten for a week or two and see how you feel without it. If you feel better then don’t eat it. Simple as that.
If you’re really overweight or focused on dropping weight then you probably shouldn’t be consuming dairy as it causes an insulinemic response, but if you’re an athlete or physically active then consuming some raw milk here and there isn’t going to kill you. I personally think it’s hilarious when anti-dairy crusaders say humans are the only species that drinks milk other than their own. I reply, “yes this is true but we’re also the only species that can critically think too.” If I was following my dogs diet I’d be in the backyard eating my own poop. Seriously though, stick to raw and full fat dairy products and don’t go overboard with them.
There are some supplements out there when combined with a badass nutrition plan will enhance your health, and should be taken regularly. A greens supplement like Athletic Greens, whey protein, BCAA’s, fish oil and a good multivitamin are the foundation for an enhanced fit and healthy body. I consistently use these few supplements year round, and would noticeably feel a decline in my health, body and energy if I stopped taking them.
Is The Paleo Diet Right For You?
If you don’t workout (which I definitely do not recommend), sedentary, obese and insulin resistant then the Paleo Diet will undeniably help you lose weight and get healthier. But if you workout, and if you’re reading this blog post then you probably do, then I’d recommend a more modified version of the Paleo Diet.
Include the starchy carbs, raw milk, supplements and other foods I talked about in this blog post combined with the foundations of the Paleo Diet. Having a Cheat Day or some Cheat Meals isn’t going to kill you and can actually help you burn more fat and increase your metabolism if you’re strictly sticking to the diet.
Just because a particular diet worked for a friend of yours doesn’t mean it’s going to work well for you. Everybody is different and with that come different needs. I would never recommend blindly following any diet plan before doing your own research. The best part of being a human that can critically think is being able to try a diet, measure the results and then analyze to see if it works for you. Something our caveman ancestors didn’t have the luxury.