First things first, lets discuss the obvious. Your diet (what you consume regularly and consistently) has a direct correlation on your wellbeing, health, and fitness. For example: if your diet is poor, you will likely perform poor when it comes to exercise, become ill more often, be of an unhealthy weight, and/or a long list of other negative effects. Simple, right?
The chances are you’ve trailed your fair share of diets ion the past. Whether that’s to lose a couple of pounds, and/or pack on the muscle. The truth is, whatever you put in your body has a huge effect on a long list of bodily functions. Therefore it is no wonder that elite level athletes (and those taking their training very seriously) maintain a strict, nutritional diet. This is where the Paleo diet comes in.
On the surface the Paleo diet is pretty simple, It basically goes something like this: ‘If a caveman wouldn’t eat it, then neither should you’, and ‘if it’s not natural, don’t eat it’. You get the idea. The Paleo diet is built around the idea of only eating natural, whole foods, and steering way clear of anything processed. So, from what you’ve just read the Paleo diet probably sounds extremely healthy; and you’d be right. However, it’s not always as easy as it seems to give up certain foods. Take a look:
What you can eat:
- Meats (Grass fed is best, but don’t go bankrupt buying meat! Do what you can in your situation.)
- Tubers (Eg: Sweet Potatoes)
- Oils (Olive oil, coconut oil, etc)
Basically anything that you could find, hunt, farm, or dig up way back in the day is OK. Think fresh!
What you can’t eat:
- Wheat cereals
- Sweets of any sort
Once again, if it’s not natural (I know pasta is basically natural, just bare with me) it’s a no go. If it didn’t exist for cavemen, it’s a no in the Paleo diet. Starting to get the idea?
The thing I really like about the diet however, is simply that you can completely forget about counting calories. Instead you’ll be wholly focused on consuming the RIGHT foods, in the right amounts.
This diet isn’t for most people, because (and believe me) its hard. However if you like the idea of eating like our ancient ancestors, to build a strong, natural, body (and immune system) the Paleo diet may just be for you. In addition I’ll throw in a couple of meal ideas that abide my the Paleo diet a little further down. For now however I’m about to steal a few lines of content from another blog. (I know I’m terrible) However in my defence I couldn’t have said it better myself, and I’ll drop a link to HERE to give full credit to Steve over at Nerd Fitness.
The average Homo Sapien back then: muscular, agile, athletic, and incredibly versatile.
The average Homo Sapien now: overweight, out of shape, stressed out, unhappy, sleep deprived and dying from far too many preventable diseases due to lifestyle choices.
SO why am I telling you this? Well, from what you’ve just read the average Homo Sapien nowadays sucks! Especially compared to that of the same anatomy back in the day. The solution? The Paleo Diet!! But you already knew that. Right?
The Advantages of the Paleo Diet:
- Extremely nutritional: Whole foods, and high quantities of vegetables, is a recipe for a whole load of nutrients.
- Simplistic: Think simple, with meat and vegetables, a sprinkle of salt. Bon appétite.
- Excellent of loosing body fat: The diet by nature is a little low on carbohydrates,and the carbs we do consume are mostly accounted for in our vegetables. Don’t worry though, our bodies were designed to run on a lot less, doing a lot more.
- Develops a strong immune system: Nothing unnatural in the food, along with an abundance of vitamins and minerals.
- No additives, preservatives, or chemicals in your food
- Often more minerals and vitamins in your diet
- You will rarely find yourself hungry: That is what is great about the diet. It’s all good stuff! And therefore you only eat when you’re hungry and you eat as much as you like.
The Disadvantages of the Paleo Diet:
- It can get expensive: Now I’ll be honest, eating grass-fed meats, and organic vegetables can rack up the price. Although you and me both know that its possible to eat well for less if you’re clever with your money. (As I mentioned before, don’t go taking out loans for a couple of steaks, do what you can in your situation.)
- Dairy is a no go: In the Paleo diet dairy is a no go, however its abit of a tough one. Why? Because yes, dairy (eg:Milk) is natural, it comes from cows, and yes, cavemen would have had access. However back then milk was only consumed by infants, and that is because (just like today) our bodies were not designed to consume loads of dairy. Although dairy is shunned by those on the Paleo diet, some do consume a little.
- It is argued that high level athletes need more carbs per pound of body weight than the Paleo diet can offer. However, back in the day (Caveman days) our bodies ran for miles on end to hunt, on a lot less carbs than we consume today. This means that with a couple of weeks/month on the diet our bodies re-adjust to running on fumes as such. (It’s not unhealthy)
- The diet is virtually impossible for vegetarians and vegans: With a large percentage of the diet being made up of poultry, vegans and vegetarians alike will struggle to find a healthy amount of nutrients.
- It can be hard to stick too: I’ll admit, the diet is really simplistic, and leaves no room for breads, sweets, or any sugars other than those originating from fruits. Such a change can from people off, that’s why I suggest you take gradual steps towards going Paleo.
What to eat on the Paleo diet:
It’s all well and good knowing what roar ingredients we can and can’t consume under a given diet. But its a whole other matter when it comes to devising meals from those ingredients. If there’s one tip I can give, it is to keep it simple. (Just like the diet its self) Consuming meals such as steak and vegetables, meats and vegetables (chicken etc.), big omelettes, and so on. Here a couple ides for each meal throughout the day:
Breakfast is a tricky one because we love our fry ups, some toast and our cereal. Unfortunately that’s also a no go. Instead you can have smashed avocado and eggs. Or an omelette, or maybe even poached eggs with a bit of bacon.
Rest of the day:
On the Paleo diet you can never go wrong with meat and vegetables. As simple as that. However I know you can’t live on that alone, that’s why you can also have stuffed sweet potato, stew, stir fry, salmon, shepherds pie, etc.
(Remember that these are just a few examples; and that there are a wide variety of other recipes on the Paleo diet)
In conclusion the Paleo diet is in some ways pre-historic. It focuses on steering clear of processed foods, and focusing on natural, whole foods instead. Much like our ancestors did many hundreds of thousands of years ago, when they had to hunt for their meals. The diets simplistic nature makes its concept pretty easy to follow. Just remember ‘if cavemen wouldn’t eat it, then neither should you’.
Yes the diet can be hard to stick to, and that is why I recommend that you give it a go, and take small steps to gradually work your way into going Paleo. Furthermore the Paleo diet is free from preservatives, additives and chemicals, making you less susceptible to illness, and a suppressed immune system. One of the things I love about it, is that you just eat when you’re hungry. No strict schedule, and most importantly, no counting calories.
With a powerful list of benefits, the Paleo diet is a very strong option for athletes taking their training seriously. (Or those just looking to improve their lifestyle) Which is one of the reasons why Paleo is the diet that Crossfit promotes. However just like anything the diet is susceptible to criticism, although its concept is intriguing, it is unavailable to vegans and vegetarians, and it can easily become expensive.
Finally, overall I highly recommend that you give the Paleo diet a chance. As intense as it seems, it can have a great effect on your overall wellbeing, health, and fitness!
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