The topic of the Paleo Diet can be an intimidating one. For those who are new to CrossFit, confusion and skepticism are likely the first reactions to the mention of Paleo and the “caveman diet”. This post aims to give you a brief understanding as to what the Paleo Diet is and what is to be expected if you decide to do the challenge in September. Everything will be covered in more detail prior to the start of the challenge and there will be time for you to ask any questions you may have as well.
Essentially, the Paleo Diet is a concept based on the idea of eating like our Paleolithic ancestors did way back in the day. Think waaay back. The “diet” or lifestyle is based on the consumption of ethically sourced animal products (dairy is controversial), vegetables, fruits, some starchy tubers, nuts and seeds.
An inference from your notebooks, some of the basic commandments of the Paleo Diet are as follows:
- Thou shall eat a high amount of animal protein compared to that of the Standard American Diet (e.g. more than what is recommended by government food agencies).
- Thou shall obtain carbohydrates primarily from fruits and vegetables, not from grains, starch, and refined sugars.
- Thou shall eat a large amount of fiber from fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
- Thou shall eat a higher than recommended amounts of saturated fat from animal products (e.g. lard, fat, ghee) and moderate amounts of unsaturated amounts of fat from olive oil, nuts, and avocadoes not from refined vegetable oils (e.g. corn, canola, soybean oils).
So at this point your probably thinking…where’s the whole wheat? What about the tofu? Where is the cereal? I won’t take too much away from the seminar you’ll receive at the beginning of the challenge but essentially if you can’t hunt it, gather it, or eat it raw, its probably not paleo.
Before you click that little red x at the top of the page because you don’t think you can do this, hear me out. Once you familiarize yourself with paleo foods, cooking becomes a cinch. There are gazillions of paleo recipes for all your favorite comfort foods; brownies, donuts, shepherds pie…pie. Before you get all giddy, keep in mind that these things are still treats and to be consumed in moderation just like the real thing.
One of the first things you may notice once you start eating paleo is the grocery bill. This can be a bit of a set back, especially if you’re on a budget. The reason that junk food is more expensive is because we’ve subsidized it, but an investment in real whole foods is an investment to your health. Check my post on how to eat healthy on a budget.
For further reading on the Paleo Diet and a thorough background of when and why this ideology emerged, you can borrow the following books from the local Milton Library:
- The Paleo Answer by Dr. Loren Cordain (one of the forefathers of the Paleo movement)
- Everyday Paleo Family Cooking by Sarah Fragoso
- The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Dr. Loren Cordain
- Gather: The Art of Paleo Entertaining by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley
- The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf
- The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
- Practical Paleo by Diane SanFilippo (check out her website balancedbites.com for more information)
- The Paleo Slow Cooker by Arsy Vartanian
- Paleo Cooking by Elana Amsterdam (visit her website elanaspantry.com for more paleo recipes)
There are more than 20 paleo diet books and guides alone at the Milton Public Library although most of them are always checked out so you’ll have to place a hold on the most popular ones.
On the internet there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of paleo blogs and websites. Some of the most reputable are:
- Mark’s Daily Apple
- Everyday Paleo
- Civilized Caveman
- The Paleo Mom
- Paleo Parents
- Nom Nom Paleo
I’m not joking on that last one. Type in paleo [insert comfort food favorite here] and you’ll get 5 million hits instantly (e.g. paleo brownies, paleo cake, heck there’s even a such thing as paleo bread). Again you’ll want to stick with whole foods as much as possible but these recipes are great for a special occasion or once after a balls-to-the-walls workout.
If you’re ever in doubt about the paleo-ness of a certain food just type in: is____________ paleo. 10 million answers instantly.
Calorie counting and fat loss
If counting calories doesn’t absolutely drive you to the edge of a cliff or if you have a specific goal in mind such as fat loss, you might want to consider using a calorie counting website or app to ensure that your macronutrients support your goals. MyFitnessPal or Livestrong.com are reliable websites to do just that (you can find their free apps on the iTunes store as well) but keeping a food journal is just as effective. I’ve personally done both and find them both to be helpful.
Smartphones, iPhones, and Androids
Believe it or not you can hear about Paleo on your ipod, iphone, or regular PC. On iTunes some of the available podcasts are by Paleo authors such as Robb Wolf, Diane Sanfilippo, Sarah Fragoso, Mark Sisson, and Chris Kresser to name a few. Each podcast is structured such that the authors answer a series of related questions about the paleo diet submitted by people via email. Each podcast addresses a series of different questions and provides accurate and thorough explanations for each question. Most if not all podcasts on the topic of paleo are free and can be downloaded to an ipod, computer, or iphone and listened on your own time.
As for apps there are more than enough to go around. From Paleo Magazine to recipe apps to meal plans, take your pick. Most apps are free but others cost a few dollars. Don’t go nuts and download everything because chances are you won’t really need them for long.
You can even purchase paleo books and audio books to read or listen to on your phone or computer. For kindle books you can also check Amazon; they have daily deals and even include free downloads from time to time. You don’t need to have a kindle to download ebooks from Amazon; you can download kindle for pc, kindle for iphone, or even kindle for ipod.
There are many more useful resources that will help you understand the concept of Paleo. Some of the most interactive are to follow Paleo authors like Robb Wolf and Diane Sanfillipo on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media websites.
Perhaps most importantly, talk to other members at the gym that are also participating in the challenge. Share your struggles, accomplishments, solutions, recipes, goals, and resources that have helped keep you on track. Surround yourself with people with like-minded aspirations and perceptions and you’ll succeed at whatever you want to do because you’ll have a steady network of support.
“It’s only effort until its routine” –Sarah Ballantyne