I have been going to CrossFit for almost a year now. And I’m finally beginning to drink the kool-aid about the Paleo diet. I have to admit I was skeptical at first, but as I began to read more about it, it began to make a lot of sense. I see real results from the diet every day in the people at our gym. I’m not sure I’m ready to dive in and commit to such a big lifestyle change forever, but nothing is stopping me from trying it out for 6 weeks and evaluating how I look, feel and perform.
What is the Paleo diet?
My favorite description of the Paleo approach can be found on the Whole9 site:
I eat “real” food — fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit. I choose foods that are nutrient dense, with lots of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition. And food quality is important — I’m careful about where my meat comes from, and buy produce locally and organically as often as possible.
It’s not a low calorie “diet” — I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy and a healthy weight. In fact, my diet is probably much higher in fat than you’d imagine. Fat isn’t the enemy — it’s a great energy source when it comes from high quality foods like avocado, coconut and nuts. And I’m not trying to do a “low carb” thing, but since I’m eating vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal and pasta, it just happens to work out that way.
Eating like this is good for maintaining a healthy metabolism, and reducing inflammation within the body. It’s been doing great things for my energy levels, body composition and performance in the gym. It also helps to minimize my risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack and stroke.
But you don’t need to be on a diet:
The paleo diet isn’t necessarily a weight loss diet, it is mainly a “health diet”. It’s primary purpose is to increase general health and wellness, and decrease the incidence of gastro-intestinal disorders and diseases like heart disease and diabetes. However, it is entirely likely that you will lose fat while eating this way.
Is this just another diet and weight loss fad?
The paleo diet is different from other diet “fads” that you may have tried in that it does not focus specifically on how many calories you eat. In its simplest form, the paleo diet is an “elimination” diet. You strive to avoid eating certain types of foods which our bodies are not well adapted to digesting. In fact, if you eat proper food with abundant amounts of protein and fiber in them, controlling the amount of food you eat probably won’t even be an issue!
Have I gone crazy?
I realize that there are a wide variety of diets that claim to be the healthiest possible way to eat. I’m not claiming Paleo is the only answer to healthy eating and all other foods are some sort of deadly enemy. This is just Sean and me taking one step toward cleaner eating and trying a lifestyle that most of my fellow CrossFitters swear by. The six-week challenge will begin on May 6th (had to start after Sean’s favorite food holiday, Cinco de Mayo!) and I know it is going to be tough. We have a group of friends doing it with us, including Suz, Matt and Jess!
We will need all of the support and encouragement you can give us!!