Going Paleo seems to have become a decision that’s made based on fitting in, rather than getting fit. When it comes to nourishing your body in pursuit of health and happiness, you need to know the how and why behind what you are doing. So to answer the oft-asked question, “Should I go Paleo,” let’s take a look at what going Paleo even means.
Science vs. Sanity
Paleo refers to Paleolithic, like caveman. Thus, the Paleo Diet is based on the concept of eating foods that would have been readily available to a caveman; wild plants and animals. Some research into the topic suggests that eating like our ancestors promotes health because we are genetically adapted to this type of ancestral diet. Therefore, a true Paleo diet would consist of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. That would mean the removal of grains (bread, pasta, and baked goods), legumes (beans, peanuts, and lentils), dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. Your friend who is a full-on subscriber to the Paleo Diet can’t chew gum, have a beer, or use protein powder. When they go out to eat, they have to ask where the steak came from, what the veggies are cooked in, and has to pass on dessert.
Seem a little farfetched? I thought so too. Okay, one of two things is happening. One, your friend is insane and needs to lighten up. Or, two, your friend is a liar; because they still have cake on their birthday, cream in their coffee and beer(s) on Sunday.
Now, don’t go getting all uppity because I just called your friend (you) an insane liar. I am not here to tell you that going Paleo is awesome or terrible, I am simply advocating for a little sanity in the matter. Instead of going “Paleo” why don’t you go “healthy?” Eating organic, grass-fed, locally sourced foods you foraged or hunted with your own hands means absolutely squat if you are going to eat an entire pizza on your “cheat day.” You are not fooling anyone when you make a scene at the restaurant about the lack of “Paleo friendly” options, then go home and take a spoon to a carton of ice cream.
You might be saying, “Well I am Paleo, except…” WHY!?!
You can eat high quality and nutritious foods, eliminate processed crap, and still enjoy yourself from time to time without a title. Or, if you prefer, just pick a different title. How about fit, healthy, or a smart eater? All I am saying is don’t sweat the small stuff. Now, if you have food allergies, a medical condition, or digestive issues Paleo might be your only option and your saving grace. Perfect! But, for everyone else, keep it simple and don’t allow your life to be taken over by a never ending quest to avoid all foods produced in the last 2.6 million years.
You Should “Go Healthy”
Here is a look at how I fuel my body, select my foods, and why. Not saying this is how you should eat, but it works really well for me.
- To promote strength and energy, while maintaining a healthy weight and body composition, I eat REAL food.
- I do my best to build my food selection around lean protein, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. If it is possible I shop at the farmer’s market and buy local, but don’t get too stressed if I can’t.
- It is not about low carbohydrates or low calories, but high nutritional value.
- I am sensitive to gluten so I avoid grains, bread, and baked goods.
- I don’t eat processed food, junk or sweets.
- I eat a lot of fat; healthy fat like nuts, coconut oil, and avocado.
- I do this 90+% of the time.
- So, should you go Paleo? That is for you to decide. My suggestions; small, well informed, easily obtainable changes made one at a time to reshape your body and lifestyle.
Joe is a writer, trainer and fitness entrepreneur who co-founded Hybrid Athlete LLC, Kettlebell Cardio™ and Race Day Domination. Currently building @fittinsider, a platform for founders, executives, & investors redefining fitness/wellness. Investing in health/fitness companies