As a sports performance coach, one of the first things people ask me about is my diet. “What do you eat in a day?” “What meal plan do you follow?” Well, it took me years to figure that out. I tried every style of eating out there. I went low fat, then low carb, and none of it worked for me, until I found the Paleo Diet.
What is the Paleo Diet?
Simply put, the Paleo Diet is based on what our ancestors ate. I’m not just talking about your grandparents, either. (Spam casserole is NOT my idea of a healthy meal.) Paleo looks at the foods that our caveman ancestors had available to them, and focuses on those. Basically, they had access to meat and vegetables and nuts and things of that nature, but not to muffins or cakes or cookies. Best of all, the Paleo diet doesn’t require any calorie counting or macro balancing – it’s all about eating the right foods, and leaving the rest.
How does it work?
Well, the hunter-gatherers of old hadn’t figured out agriculture yet. They weren’t growing food, they were just hunting or harvesting what they had available to them. That meant that their digestive systems were designed for that specific diet. When the agricultural revolution happened, early humans suddenly had grains and other foods available to them, but their digestive systems just weren’t equipped to handle them.
Fast forward a few thousand years, and we still don’t thrive on grains. It’s no wonder – we weren’t meant to! We spent 99.5% of human history eating hunter-gatherer style, and only the last 0.5% eating grains. We just haven’t had the time to catch up!
So, the Paleo Diet takes us back to the time before agriculture. By eating the foods our bodies were designed to eat, we allow them to operate at peak efficiency. We’re going back to our lean, mean caveman physiques – with better hair removal systems.
So what can you eat?
You’d be surprised! On a Paleo Diet, you have LOTS of food options available to you. You can eat:
- meat (grass-fed, since grain-fed kind of defeats the purpose)
- vegetables, including tubers like sweet potatoes and yams
- oils from sources like olive, coconut, avocado, etc.
- honey and maple syrup
The main things you’re eliminating are grains, legumes, sugar, and processed foods.
What about dairy?
That’s a tough one. While our ancestors drank milk as babies (primarily from their mothers), dairy wasn’t something they continued to consume into adulthood. Some people who follow a Paleo Diet choose to include it, and some don’t. Usually, if they do, they choose easier-to-digest goat dairy, since the goal is to eat foods our bodies can handle well.
Is this diet right for me?
No diet will ever be right for every person, since every body is unique. Always consult a doctor or nutrition practitioner before changing your diet in a major way, but if they’ve given you the go-ahead, give Paleo a try! Even if you’re not ready to go “full Paleo”, understanding how certain foods affect your body can help you make better choices at mealtimes.
If you’d like to know more about what eating Paleo has been like for me, let’s chat! Sign up for a FREE introductory session, and we can swing some kettlebells while we swap our favorite Paleo dessert recipes. See you at the gym!