Paleo Diets and Exercise

Often called cave-man diets or Neanderthal diets, Paleo diet principles implore us to return to hunter-gatherer practices of the Paleolithic period of human evolution more than 10,000 years ago. This requires that we refrain from eating grain foods, potatoes, beans, milk, and refined sugars — foods only eaten within the last 10,000 years and which are deemed to be unsuitable for consumption because of an insufficient time for Homo sapiens to adapt to these foods. The Paleo diet is high in meats, vegetables and fruit.

What can go wrong with Paleo diets?

Protein. As with all high-protein diets, the caveats above in the discussion on very low-carb diets apply. However you won’t have a problem getting sufficient protein for exercise on this diet.

Carbohydrates. Although fruit consumption is encouraged, this is still a relatively carbohydrate-restricted diet. Heavy exercisers may find it difficult to consume enough carbohydrate to fuel their activity without some sugar and grain foods. Heavy fruit and vegetable and fiber consumption also has potentially disastrous implications for social acceptability at the gym considering the flatulence that many people are prone to. This is not exactly the savannah or rain forest!

Essential fats. Paleo dieters make a special point about the omega-3 to omega-6 fat ratio, which they say is skewed too much in favor of omega-6 fats found in seed oils and nuts. Omega-3 fats from fish feature strongly in the Paleo diet.

Summing up, the Paleo diet could be a healthy diet with restrictions on red meat and saturated fat and cholesterol accompanied by sufficient fruit and vegetable consumption. For vigorous athletic activity, including weight training, Paleo diets may have to be modified to make allowances for additional and alternative carbohydrate consumption.

Fad Diets – Blood Type, Metabolic Type, Raw Food

Last in the list are diets which I suggest are gimmicks or at least scientifically unproven or even biologically illogical. I won’t spend much time on these other than to say that you don’t need them, and some may even be unhealthy, the raw food diet being an example.

You can tell a fad diet by the fact that you either need to choose components very carefully according to some characteristic of your body or metabolism, the scientific basis of which is either absent or wildly extrapolated from only mildly relevant research; or to comply with a perceived healthy eating era, region or esoteric premise or religious requirement.

Summing Up Extreme and Fad Diets

The basic principles of eating for health and physical activity are clear enough: don’t get waylaid by extreme diets. You don’t need them for healthy living and above all you don’t need them for weight training. See the Bodybuilder’s Weight Training Diet for more detail of a suitable diet.


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