Recently I received an email from a fellow fitness-minded woman who I befriended on Instagram! She had asked me if I “recommended paleo“. She also noted that some people said it was amazing and other claimed it made them gain weight.
Let me say this before I get into the discussion: this is based solely on my research and my experience. Everyone will view it differently and will have different results.
The Paleo Diet is defined in the fitness world as: Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.
From a fellow CrossFit Affiliate page I found this explanation to better describe what exactly eating paleo means:
“Proper nutrition begins with food quality. It is essential to eliminate junk foods and processed foods from the diet. We should eat natural, whole foods that support the optimal functioning of our bodies.
Why not processed foods? The human body didn’t evolve eating the diet of modern agricultural societies. Our paleolithic human ancestors ate the diet of hunter gatherers: primarily meats, plants, roots, fruits and berries, nuts, and seeds.”
Hopefully you have a basic understanding about what this diet allows. The idea and definition behind it is WONDERFUL – we eat what a caveman had available to eat!! I thought, what a great way to eat and I was SO excited to try it out. In CrossFit, we weigh our self and we do a benchmark workout BEFORE we start the paleo challenge and then we do the same workout and weigh ourselves AFTER the challenge and compare our results and see if we have improved! My results were not what I had hoped. I actually did worse in the benchmark workout and I ended up gaining weight. Throughout this challenge I was told there were certain things I could not eat because a “caveman” wouldn’t have had it available to eat. For instance, I was told I could not use agave nectar (although it is natural), but I could drink potato beer.. Yes, I was just as confused as you are now.
Everywhere you go and every one you talk to will have a different view of paleo. They will tell you some things can be eaten while other things cannot. I was told potatoes are NOT paleo.. so I couldn’t eat bread, rice or potatoes. If you are familiar with CrossFit you know we sometimes lift heavy weight for a lot of reps.. how do you recover from a workout such as that without carbs? Well body didn’t know how, no matter how much protein, how many veggies or how many fats I had, I was sore, cranky and always hungry. But I stuck it out, I wanted to give the diet a fair chance. Although I did not look, feel or perform the way I had hoped I learned a lot about my body! First I learned that I, in fact, CAN stick to a diet and more importantly, that my body needs carbs. Not only to feel good, but to perform and recover.
Let me also say, that some people DO WONDERFUL on paleo! Some people provide the correct amounts of what foods to eat and at what times and the paleo diet allows them to perform optimally and feel their best! ..I just wasn’t one of those people.
I’ve done many diets, including a Keto diet where you do NO CARBS with high fats. Although I lost a lot of weight, I was week and too thin.
What I have learned through years of training, different dieting and working in the fitness industry(and to answer the question Is The Paleo Diet Right For Me?) is that every BODY is different and as much as that sounds like common sense, theres more too it. I feel that everyone should test different foods (not diets) and pay attention to how their body responds to that food – are you bloated, are you tired, are you gassy, do have energy, are you able to go to the bathroom? You also have to as yourself – what are my goals? Do you want to gain muscle, do you want to lean out, do you want to lose weight, do you want be faster or stronger? Answering these questions will also determine what your ultimate “diet” should be.
Through learning what foods work for you, you will find a “diet” that keeps your body happy while keeping your goals aligned. It’s been a long journey for me and finding what works, but I now have a pretty well moving metabolism, feel great, eat healthy and am able to cheat without feeling guilty or offsetting my goals.
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