I became some what of an evangelist for the paleo diet for a short while and I’m still a fanatic of the concepts but it’s not for everybody. Most people are just not willing to give up their starchy grains and dairy permanently. The idea of never eating a slice of cheese cake or having another scoop ice cream ever again doesn’t seem possible. Life is too short to not enjoy really tasty foods.
Even before I really bought into the whole paleo diet thing, I really thought it wasn’t sustainable. Creating sustainability is really what health and fitness is all about. For some people, following the paleo diet is like asking a non-exerciser to workout every day for the rest of their life. It’s just not going to happen.
It’s too bad that the paleo diet is so counter intuitive. Who ever thought eating a sandwich would be considered unhealthy? Whole wheat bread, brown rice and counting your calories was how you got lean and stayed lean.
So how much should you buy into the paleo diet stuff? Without embellishing, I will tell you it has made a significant positive impact on my life. Learning about the paleo diet health and nutrition world from Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson as well as many others has given me a brand new view on nutrition.
I believe there is a way to getting whatever you want out of your body, it’s really a matter of figuring out how your body works. I’ve discovered that sticking to a low carb paleo diet has worked really well for me. It has served as a good reference point for most of my personal nutritional choices. I’m very inclined to say it can work for you too. However, it might not be your best option? There is no easy answer, everyone is a little different and our genetic variations work for us and against us.
Some people get a better satiating effect from eating carbs. There are people like me that don’t get very satisfied after eating carbs. In fact, starchy and sugary carbohydrates act as an appetite stimulant causing certain people to eat more. Some individuals respond and perform well to eating high amounts of starches. If that’s the case why would you ever stop eating pasta, bread and rice? If I could eat bread and maintain my ideal weight I would, but it doesn’t seem to work that way for me.
Here is a very brief summary of my general starting recommendations for starting a “paleo style Atkins diet.” Start by cutting and eliminating all grains, dairy and starchy carbohydrates for 3 weeks. This includes corn, any kind of potatoes, fruits and any sweet food/drink. Of course you stay away from all packaged processed food when possible. For the most part, this means eating lean meats and green leafy vegetables. Evaluate if you’ve lost body fat, feel better and sleep better. Ask yourself the following question “is eating like this making me feel and perform better?” If the changes are significant enough try to keep up with it, but I advise after 3 weeks you start adding back some of the foods that were eliminated like fruits, some grains and dairy. Do a self-assessment after week 4 and decide if it’s worth it. Do you feel better? Are you leaner? Are you making progress in your fitness performance goals? You’re trying to determine how much carbohydrate intake you can tolerate without affecting your negatively impacting your body composition and performance.
That’s my advice in a nutshell. It’s really hard to provide a one size fits all approach when it comes to nutrition, but here is Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Transformation if you need something with more detail. His first book, The Paleo Solution is a really good read, but may contain more information than you have time to read. If your a nerd who like to “geek out” on fitness info the book will be a better choice instead of Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Transformation. It’s worth buying if you need a more detailed step by step guide.
Mark Sisson also has his own guide that I’ve also read. His approach is less strict as he promotes dairy and supplements.
Although we are very similar, we all have many variances in our genetics, lifestyle and exercise programs that affect our ability to get and stay lean. If you would like more of my view on a paleo style Atkins diet, comment on this blog post. I’m working on putting my own guide together.
My process of coaching and training clients is the following philosophy: If it is working, don’t fix it. If you are not making progress, change something so that you do make progress. If you plan on starting the paleo diet (or any diet) make sure you track your overall progress and not just your body weight. If you can, see if you can get your body fat % measured. Pick a method to measuring endurance and strength. Re-evaluate in 30 days to see if everything is moving a positive or negative direction. Let your results be your guide for what to do next, and don’t depend on what someone says (even if it is a personal trainer). Of course, take into consideration experts’ opinion, but you should know what works for you and have your results and knowledge of your body be compass to your progress.