Why I follow the Paleo Diet

Let me start by saying I hate the word “diet.”  

Diet implies a temporary change.  Diet implies starting and stopping.  Diet's don't work.  Life changes do.  The paleo diet is a lifestyle which is one of the reasons why it works for me.

The Paleo diet has gained popularity over the past few years and has been referred by a number of different names.  You are probably familiar with Paleo, but it's also been called the Caveman Diet, Primal Diet, Evolutionary Diet, Neanderthal Diet and the Anti-Inflammatory Diet.  There may be minor variances but the core principle is all the same:  

“Eat garden vegetables, especially greens, lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch, and no sugar.”

paleo_food_pyramid

The overall reason for eating this way is that our bodies haven’t evolved fast enough to keep pace with the advancements in agriculture and food processing.  Robb Wolf, a former research biochemist and best selling author says that our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar is the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility.

So how did I get started eating this way? 

Well let me start from the beginning. I had been personal training for about a year. The gym owner brought in a Naturopathic Doctor to work with the clients and trainers to improve nutrition and get better results.

So this guy comes in a presents us the Paleo Diet.  I was skeptical.  Quite skeptical.  No potatoes?  No bread?  No cheese?!!!  How am I supposed to get my calories or eat food on the run.  And, wait - no cheese? Cheese is awesome.  No cheese?? Really!!!  Name me one food that doesn't take better with some form of melted cheese on it. This guy is talking some nonsense, clearly he doesn't expect to me break 315 lbs on the bench press eating this way.  Did I mention cheese is the best?

Even though this guy is clearly insane, I figure I am going to try this bs Paleo Diet just so I can prove this idiot wrong. I will give it a week and then go back to eating my cheese and potatoes, bodybuilding and doing my best to look like Terry Crews.

Fast forward seven days later.  I’m about 7 lbs lighter.  My knees which have hurt for 10 years no longer bother me. My skin cleared up. My sense of smell which has been non-existent has started to come back. I have pretty much stopped getting tired on the basketball court. I am literally staying on the court for 3 hrs without getting tired and suddenly running circles around everyone else. And my largest fear that I wouldn't have enough energy for strength training is proved wrong by the fact that I am still doing the same in the weight room if not better.

I was sold!  Apparently said “Naturopath” actually knew his stuff.

That was 2004.  Since then I have played around with paleo quite a bit adding and subtracting different foods. Practicing with varying degrees of strictness. I have done bodybuilding and gained weight on the Paleo, I have done HIIT and lost weight on the Paleo. I even ran the 2010 Chicago marathon while following paleo principles.

Do I ever eat a piece of pizza? Yes.  Have a cocktail? Um, definitely. I live in Chicago. The food here is amazing! So of course I enjoy it.  But, I see it as a treat as opposed to the norm.  I eat delicious and healthy meals the majority of the time and I pick my spots when I am going to cheat.  And, yes, my cheats usually consists of eating mass quantities of cheese!

Bottom line is I think the Paleo way of eating is awesome.  It personally works for me and has helped a lot my clients look better, perform better, and most importantly feel better.  I challenge you to do the same thing I did. Try it for a 7-14 days. Prove me and that idiot naturopath wrong!

For more info:

Kelly O'Connell Schmidt, RD, LDN is a dietitian I work with and is a great local resource Robb Wolf is a former research biochemist and a New York Times Best Selling author of The Paleo Solution – The Original Human Diet.