What is Paleo?
Here at CrossFit Awaken we believe in the Paleo diet and we strongly encourage all of our clients to do the same. What is this crazy sounding diet, you ask? Here is a little bit about Paleo…
The Paleo Diet is different in its approach than the “average” low carb diet. Like other diets it is higher in protein, but it is premised firstly on a historical basis: for millions of years our ancestors ate substantially less carbohydrates (i.e., less grains, refined sugars, starch, bread, processed carbs, etc.) than in the modern, western diet. In fact, they ate virtually none of the above foods. Then, the agricultural revolution came with cities, civilizations, and different foods.
Ironically, we can give credit to the agricultural revolution for bringing us much of the chronic disease and obesity that are epidemic in our modern world. Many of these problems can be alleviated or diminished by following The Paleo Diet – and much of it has to do with the fact that this is a natural lower carb diet. The foods that agriculture brought us (cereals, dairy products, fatty meats, salted foods, and refined sugars and oils) are disastrous for our bodies, which are essentially unchanged from that of our Stone Age ancestors – bodies that are ideally adapted to a diet of lean meats, fresh fruits and veggies.
Many researchers now consider diet to be the most important facet in maintaining a person’s health … and unless you’ve been camping out in the desert for the past decade, you probably know that Americans are the fattest group of people on the planet. Despite the variety of new diets offered each calendar year, we’re getting even fatter. As a result, we are also considerably less healthy as a society.
The Paleo Diet (also sometimes referred to as the Hunter-Gatherer Diet, the Paleolithic Diet, the Caveman Diet) has introduced thousands of people to the concept that the healthiest diet is one based on the way our Paleolithic ancestors ate. If you are overweight, you will lose weight on the diet and it will be long-term, permanent weight loss.
The Paleo diet is nothing more than ditching today’s processed food habits and switching to high quality (preferably raw) foods that our digestive systems were meant to consume. By doing so, the argument is that our bodies begin to run in a best state. Anecdotally (and scientifically), reports are all saying the same thing about this type of diet – that multitudes of health problems go away, digestion operates efficiently, migraines go away, excess weight is lost, sleep disruption and anxiety problems decline and energy levels become optimum.
There is considerable evidence that eating the Paleo Diet can alleviate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. The diet eliminates certain food substances called lectins – which are able to cross the gastrointestinal barrier and enter circulation, where they may be able to interact with the synovial tissue that is impacted in people with rheumatoid arthritis. It also reduces inflammation, which is involved in all joint pain.
And it’s exceptionally simple! Following a Paleo diet involves no measuring or calorie counting. All you need to do is remember this mantra:
Meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch and NO SUGAR!
You can get a little more complicated than that by also avoiding legumes and nightshade type foods or consuming everything (including meat) raw, but in a nutshell (pun intended) the simple sentence above is all you need to keep in mind when eating.
Given how our bodies and organs operate, the basic theory is that food should only be eaten as they were by our ancestors. Some of the things that should not be eaten include dairy products, sugar or sugar substitutes, and wheat based products or high glycemic veggies such as corn. Animal fat is fine (and actually encouraged).
A Day in the Life (of Paleo)
A nice Paleo friendly day of meals, for example, could look like this:
Breakfast: 2 eggs, an apple and a handful of almonds
Snack 1: homemade beef jerky (low sodium) and some berries
Lunch: Salad with chicken, lettuce, cucumber, snow peas and an oil based dressing
Snack 2: dried berries (no sugar added) and nuts
Dinner: Salmon filet with a spinach salad (with sesame seeds and strawberries)
Snack 3: Some pistachios and pumpkin seeds or maybe a bit of chicken or some more jerky
Paleo diet friendly foods are low glycemic and have minimal effect on blood glucose levels. As such, those of us with blood sugar related problems (that are generally related to food) often find that episodes of hypoglycemia, for example, are more or less gone while on a Paleo diet. Similarly, Paleo diets tend to keep hunger at bay and as a result, it is possible to maintain a calorie restricted diet more easily on a Paleo diet.
For liquids, water, tea (unsweetened, no milk), coffee (black) are the basic drinks. Alcohol is unfortunately a no-no (although many Paleo dieters tend to disregard that in a social setting).
Keep in mind that it’s very difficult to maintain a strict Paleo diet along side a social life. When engaging in social situations, don’t feel overly guilty for falling off the bandwagon temporarily. Keep prepared, however, and try to consume protein with drinks and try as much as possible to avoid the sweets.
Remember – No Sugar
If you’re finding that the newest and greatest diet isn’t working for you, or if you simply don’t have the time to measure out your portions and count calories, try out the Paleo way. It’s simple – just eat high quality foods as your body is meant to, and remember: meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch and NO SUGAR!
So hopefully that helped to explain it a little more. If you still have questions we are always here to help! Call, text, or email Chris Brown at 719-201-0040, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Danielle Ring at 719-201-4040.