The Paleo Diet: Eating like your ancestors doesn't guarantee you'll lose weight. While the diet emphasizes plenty of foods that are good for weight loss, such as lean protein and fruits and vegetables, you would still need to eat fewer calories to drop a few pounds. So if you're binging on nuts and fruit, you could actually gain weight on the Paleo Diet.
The CrossFit Games are the world’s premier test to find the Fittest on Earth™. They are world-renowned as a grueling test for the toughest athletes and a thrilling experience for spectators. Since its inception in 2007, the CrossFit Games have become “one of the fastest growing sports in America,” according to Forbes. The Games season is broken up into three stages. The first stage is the Open, the largest participatory sporting competition in the world. After the Open, top athletes from each of the 18 worldwide regions qualify for the second stage of competition—Regionals. Following Regionals, the top 40 men, 40 women and 40 teams move on to the final stage of competition: the CrossFit Games. The Games present the playing field where the fittest athletes are given a chance to distinguish themselves through consistently exceptional performances across broad time and modal domains. At the end of the competition, the Fittest on Earth are crowned™. To learn more, visit Games.CrossFit.com or Facebook.com/CrossFitGames.
Paleo critics point out that not all grains are created equal—whole grains do not spike your blood sugar as much as refined grains. Even so, paleo dieters still steer clear of grains because they contain different compounds and proteins like gluten, lectins and phytates, which they claim cause inflammation in the body and block other nutrients from being absorbed. Paleo critics say these compounds are not a problem unless you have an allergy or sensitivity.
Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition, like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies, or chronic pain, that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms are often directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?
ICYMI: Whole30 is an elimination-style diet that asks dieters to ban all soy, dairy, grains, alcohol, legumes, and added sugars from their diet for 30 days straight. The point is to flush your system, so when the 30 days are up, you can slowly add different food groups back and get a sense of which ones have been secretly affecting your physical and mental health. The creator, Melissa Hartwig, also says Whole30 will change your entire relationship with food.
A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the benefits of following a Paleo diet versus a diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association in 24 participants with diabetes. After two weeks, researchers found that the Paleo diet led to greater improvements in blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity than the conventional diabetes diet. (4)
For immediate weight loss, Paleo is a great and healthy solution. But after carefully reading and considering, I’m unconvinced that Paleo is optimal for long-term health. I think, in fact, it might lead to heart disease and other ills associated with heavy meat consumption. Although many of Cordain’s theories fall apart long-term, I thoroughly enjoyed the read and highly recommend the book. You should read critically and decide for yourself.
The Great Cholesterol Con: The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick reveals that high cholesterol levels do not cause heart disease; that high-fat diets–saturated or otherwise–do not affect blood cholesterol levels; and that for most men and all women the benefits offered by statins are negligible at best. Other data is also provided that shows that statins have many more side affects than is often acknowledged.
The data for Cordain's book only came from six contemporary hunter-gatherer groups, mainly living in marginal habitats. One of the studies was on the !Kung, whose diet was recorded for a single month, and one was on the Inuit. Due to these limitations, the book has been criticized as painting an incomplete picture of the diets of Paleolithic humans. It has been noted that the rationale for the diet does not adequately account for the fact that, due to the pressures of artificial selection, most modern domesticated plants and animals differ drastically from their Paleolithic ancestors; likewise, their nutritional profiles are very different from their ancient counterparts. For example, wild almonds produce potentially fatal levels of cyanide, but this trait has been bred out of domesticated varieties using artificial selection. Many vegetables, such as broccoli, did not exist in the Paleolithic period; broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale are modern cultivars of the ancient species Brassica oleracea.
This is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth—the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.
The Whole30 is not a diet, a weight-loss plan or quick fix – it’s designed to “change your life,” the founders say, by eliminating cravings, rebalancing hormones, curing digestive issues, improving medical conditions and boosting energy and immune function. The theory behind it is that all sorts of physical and mental health issues – ranging from acne to depression to allergies – could be due to your diet. But you can’t know which foods are to blame for what ails you unless you cut out all traces of sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy and legumes for 30 days. By day 31, you’ll be free from your food fog and may not even miss your nightly wine ritual or morning muffin fix. If and when you reintroduce food groups, your body’s reaction will tell you which foods you should continue to avoid – or at least limit.
The Whole30 program is only 30 days, but it’s a very restrictive 30 days. You’re urged to eat real, whole foods, including lots of veggies, while carving out things like sugar, grains and dairy. There is no “cheating” – even a chew of sugar-free gum or splash of skim milk in your coffee sends you right back to day one so the body can completely heal from inflammatory foods, diet co-creators Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig say.A couple things you don’t have to worry about on the Whole30 plan are counting calories and weighing or measuring yourself. In fact, the plan forbids the latter in order to bring participants’ attention to the benefits of healthy eating outside of weight loss. If you usually go out to eat or order take-out, you’ll need to learn to meal prep, grocery shop (with a plan!) and cook. If you’re a social butterfly, you’ll need to strategize how to order water and carrot sticks at the bar instead of beer and wings – or stay home. Fortunately, the program’s resources suggest solutions to these and other conundrums that may pop up. What’s more, the program’s strong emphasis on social – much of it virtual – support can keep participants inspired and accountable.The Whole30 program is outlined neatly online, where followers can read FAQs, lists of foods that are and aren’t off-limits and download a program guide. Melissa Hartwig’s latest book, “Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food,” details how to stay in control of food, rather than allowing it to control you, for a lifetime.
Interestingly, all of these seemingly unrelated diseases share a common cause: damage to the intestinal lining which allows large, undigested food particles to make their way into the body. This is called “leaky gut and the autoimmune response”. Here is a 7-part video series by Prof. Loren Cordain describing the etiology of Multiple Sclerosis. And please watch this TED talk by Dr. Terry Wahls, MD as she describes how she reversed her Multiple Sclerosis with a paleo diet. If you have an autoimmune disease you might consider trying the autoimmune protocol of the paleo diet. If you do, please tell us about your experience.
As far as food goes, you’re simply going to eat a lot of fresh, good-quality eats and ditch the processed stuff. Beyond that, you’re removing all grains, dairy, soy, legumes, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol from your diet. All of these foods (especially in excess), according to the authors, have been linked to systemic inflammation, hormonal imbalance, gut issues, and more. The idea is to remove the stressors from your body and give it the nourishment and time to heal itself it needs. This means less inflammation, a healthy metabolism, hormonal harmony, a happy gut, clearer skin, and improved energy! Sounds good to me. (Although if we’re honest, I panicked a bit when I realized no cheese would hit my lips for a full month.)
Rice is a grain, and grains are a paleo no-no for sure. Our family has recently re-introduced small amounts of white rice and even smaller amounts of red potatoes. We don't eat it often, and when we do, we don't eat large portions. For the most part, we are an active family (especially Rob and I, what with CrossFit and all) and replenish every now and then with a little extra starch. We don't have any medical conditions that can be aggravated by eating these starches, so it's a personal choice that we have made. White rice is making a comeback in most paleo circles, but this is a personal choice for you. Don't do it just because it's in this recipe if eating white rice doesn't agree with you.
Additionally, the Paleo diet puts a heavy emphasis on meat products. For this reason, the Paleo diet may not be suitable for everyone, and you’re unlikely to find a Paleo diet vegetarian or vegan modification out there. While meat in moderation is perfectly healthy, excessive meat consumption may not be. A high intake of red meat, for example, has been linked to an increased risk of mortality and colorectal cancer. (6, 7)
Joel Runyon is the founder of Ultimate Paleo Guide and CEO of Paleo Meal Plans. He's a precision nutrition, and Gym Jones Level 1 certified, and helped millions of people get healthy and lose weight since 2012. Joel is also an ultra runner and endurance athlete - and in 2017, he became the the youngest person to run an ultra marathon on every continent in the world to build 7 schools with Pencils of Promise in developing countries.Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Athlinks and read his full bio here.