One of the questions I get asked most frequently now days is ‘What is the Paleo Diet’? Before I go into the details of this particular way of eating I want to give a little bit of background as to how I came to find the Paleo Diet.
Fed Up With the Standard American Diet (SAD)
We are all very familiar with the SAD diet. It involves eating a whole host of products that even under dire circumstances shouldn’t be considered food. This includes products such as potato chips, crackers, highly processed breads, and any of thousands of junk snack foods that Americans consume multiple times per day.
The SAD diet utilizes a food pyramid that literally flies in the face of what current research says we should be eating. Grains and carbohydrates form the base of the diet even though the human body isn’t designed to run on anywhere near this amount of carbs. At the top are fats. For 50 years fats have been decried as the reason behind heart disease, cholesterol and a whole host of other health issues.
But changing my diet happened more as a result of a personal goal.
I have always been into fitness and have been working out for as long as I can remember. I haven’t always had a particular goal in mind with my workouts other than wanting to stay in good physical shape. Eventually I reached an age where the thought struck me that I would like to have a six pack before I become so old that it becomes physically impossible.
From years of working out I knew that time spent in the gym did not equate to becoming more lean. My lowest body fat composition was around 13% and this was when I was working out 5-6 days each week for well over an hour. It included lifting weights and cardio. It didn’t matter how much I worked out. I wasn’t getting any leaner.
This led me to do some research on the best way to get a six pack. After digging around a bit I found a thread of information on Mark’s Daily Apple. This was a voice that was espousing information that was entirely foreign to me. After reading pretty much the entire blog I had a TON of information that I wanted to personally test.
The Paleo Diet
The information on his blog turned on it’s head everything that I knew about nutrition. The right kinds of fats are GOOD for you, too many carbs are VERY bad for you. One of the things that struck me was the history behind these ideas. For millions of years of evolution humans were eating the exact foods he was describing. It’s been within the last 75 years that our diet has changed to include the massive amounts of carbohydrates and processed foods that we now consume.
I decided to turn myself into a test case. I immediately cut out grains such as wheat, oats, and rice. This was a bit of a challenge since for 25 years of my life my first thought upon waking up was to eat multiple large bowls of ‘healthy’ cereal.
Instead I was consuming 3-4 eggs with butter, perhaps some bacon, and vegetables. Within a couple of weeks I was already noticing results. I began to lean out. I also noticed that I was sleeping better. And in general I felt better overall.
Now I’ve been on the diet for almost 4 years. Of course there are challenging times. But there are a whole host of substitute foods out there that allow you to ‘cheat’ on occasion. One of my favorites is Gourmet Paleo. They make cookies that contain no grains, no dairy, and no soy. And you would never know they are Paleo.
More than anything else that I’ve done, the Paleo diet has led me to an overall healthier lifestyle. This is just the beginning. We’ll dive deeper into Paleo in upcoming posts.