04 Oct Can We Really Trust The Paleo Diet?
Paleo nutrition continues to gain momentum in the health and fitness circles around the world.
But, does it really work or is it just another diet fad?
For your background, the Paleo diet is eating like our Paleolithic ancestors ate.
In the simplest terms it’s eating lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. And, yes it is a “low-er carb” diet.
Refined, processed carbs and sugars are eliminated.
Think “whole, natural” foods with the elimination of processed foods and carbohydrates.
Is it just another “low carb” diet?
I don’t think so and I’ll tell you why.
The key concept with this type of eating is centered around controlling insulin response with food intake.
In this article, I’ll only scratch the surface on the role of the most powerful hormone in your body: insulin.
When you eat food, you have an insulin response. Insulin is a powerful storage hormone. It’s job is to rapidly clear glucose from the blood stream when food (carbohydrate) is ingested and store it either as glycogen (in muscles or the liver) or as fat.
Insulin is anabolic (whether fat or muscle).
When insulin levels are low, fat burning is high and vice versa.
If glycogen levels are full (as they normally are), the excess glycogen is coverted to fat and it is stored away (and accumulated).
It is, however, beneficial to elevate insulin levels at certain times (i.e. around training) and extremely hazardous at other times.
The usual problem with the Standard American Diet is that insulin is chronically elevated. It is elevated at the wrong times and much, much too often.
Your body can only hold so much glycogen (around 500 grams or so), so if you are already holding that amount, the rest is stored as fat. Your body has a limited capacity to store glycogen, but an unlimited ability to store fat. This is very important to remember.
This is why so many people in today’s world are overweight or obese.
I even heard a crazy stat the other day that 80% of Americans over the age of 25 are overweight. 80%!!! That’s insanity man.
So, in simple terms, it really is all about controlling insulin for weight maintenance and for peak health. A high carbohydrate diet is really not the best choice for most people, including athletes (oh man, here comes controversy).
The majority of people OVER-CONSUME the wrong type of carbohydrates, plain and simple. This is what makes Paleo so effective and beneficial.
Remember, you only have 3 choices when you eat. Protein, carbs, or fat. That’s it.
Burn this in your brain: fat doesn’t make you fat.
There are healthy fats and “unhealthy” fats. Obviously, you want to consume the healthy fats (like nuts, seeds, and oils) and avoid the unhealthy fats (trans fats and high amounts of polyunsaturated fats).
You don’t need to be a biochemist to understand that eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods is the key to effective weight management, peak health, and peak performance.
Carbohydrates are sugars which are converted to energy or stored as fat.
Again, for most people, good nutrition is about managing insulin response (preventing insulin resistance and maximizing insulin sensitivity).
The claims of the Paleo diet are that it promotes optimal health, weight loss, fat loss, and provides abundant energy and improves performance, among other benefits.
Check this out, you can actually train your body to selectively burn body fat by shifting your body’s metabolism through proper eating. This is the key and what makes Paleo so beneficial for radical body composition changes.
Is there scientific evidence of this? How about 2 million years of history and evolution to support the claims.
The Paleo diet has a long, extensive history, strong basic physiology, an overwhelming body of evidence, and countless case studies showing the results.
What do I know about it?
I’ve done it for the last couple of years now and have never enjoyed this level of health, energy, strength, and physical fitness in my life, despite nearly 3 decades of exercise training and what I thought was “healthy” eating.
Yes, it works.
After reading numberous books on the subject such as The Primal Blueprint, The Paleo Diet, The Paleo Diet for Athletes, The Paleo Solution, and It Starts With Food, I have found the body of evidence to be overwhelming and extremely convincing.
So, can we really trust the Paleo diet?
Yes. Absolutely we can!
However, there may be some tweaks to it depending on your training goals, physical state, and level of health.
For most people, a straight forward Paleo nutrition approach will work out extremely well.
I would say that if you train at a very high level, then you may need to implement other nutritional strategies, as well.
For example, in the book “The Paleo Diet for Athletes” Dr. Cordain writes about optimizing carbohydrates around training to maximize performance and promote recovery. Again, we’re not “over-consuming” here, we are using carbs around our training programs. And, the level and type of training are the variables.
This is absolutely something I also do personally. It’s called “Nutrient Timing” and it’s another proven strategy in performance nutrition. Again, this strategy will totally depend on where you are and what your goals are (much more about nutrient timing will be coming soon, as well).
For muscle building and peak performance training, your body will need carbohydrates (especially doing the type of training I do as with explosive kettlebell and barbell lifts). This is where nutrient timing comes into play.
The stored glycogen will fuel your workouts with resistance exercise for optimal muscle building.
The strategic use of carbohydrates around your training is very powerful, indeed.
Paleo nutrition combined with the strategy of nutrient timing has been highly effective for me in terms of training performance and body composition improvement.
Paleo will work for most people, without a doubt. But keep in mind your current state, your training goals, and recognize that if you are training hard (which I hope you are), you may also benefit by implementing nutrient timing principles into your training program.
Believe the hype on the Paleo Diet approach.
It’s insanely effective, the evidence is overwhelming, and it’s here to stay.
For more specific information on this, grab the FREE “Stealth Fat Loss Report” now and I’ll see you on the inside.
Thanks for reading and much more on this topic to come.
josephPosted at 18:20h, 05 October
When it comes to diets, it seems that the ‘one size fits all’ approach is an oversimplification. Each person has different nutritional requirements for food based on their genetics. Some require higher protein intake while others need higher plant based input and more carbs. Many fall in the middle as mixed types. I believe Dr. William Donald Kelley got it right in the 60s when he stated that dietary choices should be based on the activity of one’s sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (Metabolic Typing). Dr. Kelley recovered from pancreatic cancer using a plant based diet. When he used the same diet on his ill wife she continued to decline until he added meat. I feel the Paleo diet has some merit but it ignores bio-individuality. Eating like a so called caveman could be detrimental to some. Also, our requirements for healthy fats (including animal fats) are much higher than Paleo diet allows for. Check out the work of Dr. Weston A. Price
ScottPosted at 14:20h, 07 October
Thanks for the comment. The topic of nutrition is really amazing with so many different ‘schools of thought’ so to speak. When it all comes down to it, the Paleo type diet approach makes the most sense to me for most people.
While I do agree that we all different, we’re all human too and have the same genetic code and potential, as Mark Sisson brilliantly put it. We can all train our bodies to selectively use fat as fuel, instead of the over consumption of carbs, as is the case with most people. Whether ‘metabolic typing’ or Paleo, I think the carb intake is in the same ballpark and the more I read and learn about Paleo, the more convincing it is, both from a scientific standpoint, as well as common sense.
Check out a great documentary on this topic called “The Perfect Human Diet.” A Very powerful movie and I highly recommend watching this important and revealing film on optimizing health.
I’ll be sure to take a look at the book you mentioned by Dr. Price, as I’m always open to learning other viewpoints. One thing with nutrition that amazes me is that you can have 2 complete opposite opinions from international thought leaders, one says one thing and the other says the complete opposite. At that point we look at the data and use our own common sense for what’s best for us.
Again, appreciate the comment and “food for thought.”