The Paleolithic diet, a.k.a., the Paleo diet is a diet that is based off of the hunter-gatherer concept. Way back when there was no agriculture, Cavemen ate the buffalo they hunted; and they ate the berries they gathered. There was no alcohol, no sugar, and no grains.
Today, we have absolutely every type of food available to us… and right when we want it. Making food so close within our fingertips at moments notice, the quality of food we eat has gone down significantly. For instance, chickens and cows are given growth hormones so that they grow faster, to be slaughtered faster, all to be sold that much faster; they are kept in cages, unable to roam around limiting proper muscle development and unable to eat the foods they would naturally eat. In the end, quality is compromised for quantity. That is definitely not the kind of chicken cavemen ate.
I am not encouraging you to go hunting in your backyard hoping a deer will come walking by, I’m asking you to rethink what the diet of the human species should be. Prepackaged, processed food with additives is probably not what we were designed to eat. We have adapted to these foreign substances, but the adaptation is what may be the source of degenerative diseases (Jonsson T, et al.BMC Endocrine Disorders 2005 5:10).
The Paleo diet consists of the following:
o Nuts and seeds
o Some fruit
o Little Starch
The Paleo diet specifically EXCLUDES the following:
o Beans and Legumes (including peanuts)
The ‘No’ list is very long. However, it’s for a very good reason. Staying away from dense carbohydrates, i.e. grains, beans, legumes, and dairy will help keep your insulin level even with your glucagon level, a very important ratio to maintain. Secondly, gluten, soy, dairy, and sugar have various harmful effects to your body. Here is just a short list:
o Sugar suppresses your immune system for hours
o A high carbohydrate diet is the very cause of ‘Syndrome X’ and diseases of affluence
o Gluten damages your intestinal lining (yes, even if you don’t have Celiac’s disease)
o The soy molecule mimics the estrogen molecule and can function in the same manner
o Dairy contains harmful hormones and chemicals that wreck havoc on your liver.
o Alcohol kills brain cells and is dehydrating
The Paleo diet works wonders if you want to lose weight and get healthy. People report having increased energy, weight loss and increased power in their workouts.
The benefits of eating the Paleo diet:
o Decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, acne, gastrointestinal disease, autoimmune disease, and more.
o Ideal performance
o Ideal body weight
o Optimum health
CrossFit pushes two types of diets: the Paleo diet and the Zone diet. Personally, I like Paleo better because of the associated health benefits. The purpose of eating is to provide our bodies with energy so that our cells can go to work and keep us alive; so that we can exercise; so that we can hunt and gather more food. Although eating is and should be a pleasurable experience, let’s not forget why we need to eat in the first place. The paleo diet provides your body with very dense nutrition, as opposed to foods that have little nutrition and are high in calories. Remember, anything in excess, whether it be a carbohydrate, a protein or a fat, your body respectively turns it into glucose, amino acids, or fatty acids and it will either use it right away or it will STORE it. Eating nutrient dense food minimizes having to eat excess foods that are absent of nutrition to make up for the missing nutrients. The Zone diet, although great for losing or gaining weight, weigh loss or weight gain is NOT the only thing to consider. Eating for your health and your performance will increase your longevity- you will live a happier healthier and longer life eating foods that your body was designed to process-not foods that are processed.
By Mandi Frattalone, LMT,
CrossFit Trainer Level 1, Nutrition Counselor, Graduate of University of Florida, Food Science and Human Nutrition, 2008