The Paleo or “caveman” diet is based on a belief in eating more natural foods and only consuming foods that were available to our ancestors in the Paleolithic age. The diet consists primarily of non processed, non dairy, grain free foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have found to be most available. Lean grass fed meats, seafood, eggs, some fruits, most vegetables, and healthy fats from nuts and non processed oils make up the base of the diet choices. High starch items like potatoes and legumes (including peanuts) are typically avoided.
The Paleo diet could also be referred to as the official diet if Crossfit since it is commonly taught and adopted by many of its practitioners. There is an obvious advantage to eating low sugar foods, and unprocessed foods in their natural state when it comes to health and weight management. Many people find this diet helps in improving their body composition and research has shown that it can contribute to better overall health with claims being made that it will help reduce heart disease, blood pressure, and inflammation.
Attributing dietary benefits to how the caveman ate is more about marketing than a relevant selling point. Cavemen ate anything they could get their hands on to survive, not necessarily what was most ideal or on a set meal plan. Plus, their body composition isn’t something we can reference to promote their diet. And their life expectancy, although due to many factors, would definitely not be a bragging point. The Paleo diet does eschew some foods which many people find beneficial in a fitness diet such as potatoes, brown rice, some forms of dairy like greek yogurt, etc. Still, other people are allergic to dairy, wheat, etc., and removing them from their diet allows for better and faster success.
A fitness diet needs to allow for energy, recovery, promote health, and be varied enough for long term compliance. The number of people who have achieved positive results while on a Paleo diet and advocate its benefits seem to indicate that for hard training fitness athletes, it can be a good option. Although this diet may not be for everyone (be prepared to cook as no pre-packaged foods are allowed) it is strongly embraced by many who have tried it. Some hard trainers may thrive on a higher starchy carb intake for energy and recovery, and want more fresh fruit than is typical in a normal Paleo diet. But if you’re looking to change your diet, either long-term or for a set time period, the Paleo diet has proven itself in enough hardcore fitness circles to warrant consideration as an option for serious fitness enthusiast.
Photo: C. Redd