I get asked quite a bit about nutrition and diet. One that has been popping up the most is the Paleo Diet. Over this past weekend I attended the 2013 NSCA Personal Trainers Conference in Las Vegas. There was a great line up of speakers such as: Lou Schuler, Chad Waterbury, Alan Aragon, Bret Contreras , Nick Tumminello, Todd Durkin, and more. It was cool to see them speak on their topics because I own some of their books and have read many of their articles.
One of the presentations that interested me was by Alan Aragon, “The Paleo Diet: Claims Versus Evidence,” which I thought to be very interesting and thought provoking. He shared the claims of the Paleo Diet and showed there were really no scientific evidence behind the claims.
When someone makes a claim there are only two things you should say 1) That’s interesting… 2) What evidence do you have?
First off what is the Paleo Diet?
The diet is also known as the Caveman Diet, Evolutionary Nutriton, and Ancestral Nutrition depending on where you are looking. The Paleo Diet is based on the nutrition of humans during the Paleolithic era 15,000 years ago. Basically, try to put yourself back in time when humans had to hunt and gather for their own food to survive. Then think of the food that was provided during that time. The biggest draw to this diet, what I’ve heard, is the fact that it can get you shedding off fat, feeling strong, and have my energy.
Robb Wolf, well known supporter of the Paleo Diet, claims, “our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility.” In my opinion that is a pretty big claim to make. Yes I do believe refined foods, trans fats and sugar are unhealthy but is it really the root of evil?
Here’s a quick food list for the Paleo Diet:
That is just covering a small portion of the foods thats are allowed and not allowed. I thought it was pretty funny when Alan pointed out that fact that the Paleo Diet allows the consumption of beef but not the consumption of milk. It’s as if during the Paleolithic Era the humans made a kill, found milk, and thought to themselves, “Oh no milk! That’s not on the list of foods allowed.”
My Opinion and Stand on Paleo
I know many people who are on the Paleo Diet who experience great results. But on the other hand I know others including myself who don’t follow the Paleo Diet and still get great results.
The man thing I like in the Paleo diet is the avoidance of refined processed food and the focus on whole foods. That gets two thumbs up from me.
But, Paleo swears against grains such as rice, pasta, potatoes, and breads. But is it really that bad? I’ve cut out starchy carbs from my diet for a whole month. Didn’t feel much different but was definitely lighter. The main reason being the decrease of calories coming in from that food source. It’ll probably do the same if I cut out all fats too.
My main quarrel with the Paleo Diet is how can they really compare humans today with humans during the Paleolithic Era. Today’s activity levels are different, majority of the people today sit behind their desk and dont have to worry about hunting down a mountain lion for dinner or worry about being chased home by a bear.
So in that case, it doesn’t make sense to me.
When it comes to nutrition, I believe we do have to draw the line between different food sources. But I’m also okay with stepping over the line every so often. I’ll make this real simple. If you are looking to get lean and live healthy.
1) Eat whole foods
2) Don’t eat more calories than you burn
3) Make sure you take in enough protein
4) For goodness sake don’t be afraid to eat some cake. I agree with Alan Aragon that 10-20% of your diet should be whatever you want.
Mahalo. Aloha. A hui hou.