Thursday, April 11, 2013

Eat Like A Caveman

I'm sure you've heard of the paleo diet. It's the most recent in an ever changing sea of fad diets and quick fixes that promise to get you lean, toned and healthy if you just follow their simple rules. Here's the thing about this one.

It's actually for real.

Now, I don't actually ascribe to any particular author or practitioner's point of view on the paleo diet but the basics are incredibly simple. If you can't pull it out of the ground or rip it off a dead animal and make it edible with fire, you can't eat it at all. This means a focus on lean animal proteins, lots of fruits and veggies and some nuts and seeds. Pretty straight forward.

I love the paleo diet because it doesn't follow any ridiculous rules or make any psuedo-science based claims about its efficacy. We all know processed food is bad. We all know more natural food sources are good. This is quite literally the heart of the paleo plan.

Now, I'm not going to say I'm full on paleo all the time. It's pretty hard on your social life and unlike some practitioners who claim you should just re-align your friendships with people who are more like you (not terrible advice but a little extreme and short sighted) I think it's healthy to get out and live a little from time to time. Plus, I love my craft beers and I will never let paleo take them away from me.
That being said I think the paleo template is a brilliant one to follow. Trying to stay as close to paleo as possible is a good foundation and you can make alterations as necessary.

It does, however, bear mentioning that if your one goal is to lose fat and get as shredded as possible, paleo might be the next best thing to plastic surgery. Seriously. The people I know who are hardcore paleo are all shredded as f*ck. Some of this is because the paleo lifestyle and hardcore exercise tend to go hand in hand but I've seen hardcore exercisers go from looking fit to cut the f*ck up in a matter of weeks simply by switching to paleo.

There's also a fair amount of evidence that the paleo diet, despite having a serious focus on animal protein, is significantly better for your cardiovascular system than a lot of other diets. Paleo dieters tend to have higher levels of HDL, lower levels of LDL, lower levels of circulating triglycerides and a few other markers of CVD risk. It also promotes that positive hormonal environment I'm always harping on by forcing you to subsist on low glycemic index foods. These are both really good things not just in terms of how you look, but in terms of your overall health.

I saw an article the other day where someone criticized the paleo diet saying that our ancestors probably didn't really eat like that. It then used this and some bullsh*it logical leaps to draw the conclusion that paleo is not good for you.

Give me a break.

I don't advocate paleo because it's how our ancestors survived. Frankly, hilarious cave man clip art aside, I don't really care how they survived. That's not the point. Whether it was called the paleo diet or the meat and veggies diet i would still advocate it because it's good for you. Again, I'm not a doctor and there are people with certain health conditions that require a very specific dietary intake of certain nutrients. If you are one of these people you should consult your health care practitioner before making any major dietary changes.

Oh, and I wish I didn't have to say this but if you interpret the paleo diet as an excuse to eat all red meat all the time and nothing else you have missed the point entirely. Every meal should still be balanced. Eat 4-5 times a day at regular intervals. Try to get a piece of lean protein that's rougly the size of your hand with your fingers curled at the second knuckle (yes this is actually a guideline registered dietitians use because it's fairly instructive) and then fill the rest of your plate with veggies. Fruits are good too but try to keep them to earlier in the day or as a preworkout-fuel snack.

EDIT: I can't believe I forgot to add this in. So, despite what I said literally five sentences ago in the paragraph directly above this, one of the best parts of the paleo diet is the amount of animal fat you can actually consume without suffering any real adverse effects. Again, you should still be shooting for a balanced diet but one of the greatest parts of eating paleo is being able to polish off a quarter lb of bacon at some random time of day because you needed a snack. Yea. You can do that and keep losing weight. It's feckin' crazy and awesome. When you eat this way and have for a while your body simply becomes better at processing the fats and using them as a fuel source so rather than ingesting some bacon and having it screw up your cardiovascular system, make you feel groggy and gain weight, your now finely tuned digestive system takes the fat and preferentially burns it for energy. One of the many, many awesome things about maintaining a positive hormonal environment.

Well, that's it for today. Happy to take any questions or feel free to leave a comment about some diet you tried and how it played out. As always, good luck and good lifting.


Todays Workout:
Dynamic Warm Up - 10-15 min
45 Thrusters - 95lbs
45 Pull-Ups (working on my butterfly's getting there)

Run 5k (because it's too nice to stay inside)

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