The Paleo concept is new for most people and this newness can spark many questions. We like people to not only read about and educate themselves on this topic but also to “get in and do it.” Experience is perhaps the best teacher and often cuts through any confusion surrounding this way of eating. Now, all that considered, there are still some common counter arguments to the Paleo diet that happen with sufficient frequency that a whole paper was written on it. Enjoy: Evolutionary Health Promotion. A consideration of common counter-arguments.
Advocates of the diet argue that the increase in diseases of affluence after the dawn of agriculture was caused by changes in diet, but others have countered that it may be that pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers did not suffer from the diseases of affluence because they did not live long enough to develop them. Based on the data from hunter-gatherer populations still in existence, it is estimated that at age 15, life expectancy was an additional 39 years, for a total expected age of 54 years. At age 45, it is estimated that average life expectancy was an additional 19 years, for a total expected age of 64 years. That is to say, in such societies, most deaths occurred in childhood or young adulthood; thus, the population of elderly – and the prevalence of diseases of affluence – was much reduced. Excessive food energy intake relative to energy expended, rather than the consumption of specific foods, is more likely to underlie the diseases of affluence. "The health concerns of the industrial world, where calorie-packed foods are readily available, stem not from deviations from a specific diet but from an imbalance between the energy humans consume and the energy humans spend."
A strict paleo diet does not allow dairy products because hunter-gatherers did not milk cows. Some paleo dieters say dairy is OK, especially if it is grass-fed because grass-fed butter, for example, has more omega-3s. Fermented dairy products are also OK for some paleo eaters because they have a lower content of lactose and casein, the two concerns paleo dieters have with dairy.
The theory is our bodies were designed, and still optimized, to eat what our Paleolithic ancestors ate. Like your hunger-gatherer forefathers, on Paleo you get all the meat from wild animals and unlimited fruits and vegetables you can eat. But no starchy vegetables (like potatoes), no legumes (like lentils or beans), no wheat, and no grains (like quinoa or corn) because those plants were invented by human beings during the agricultural revolution after our Paleolithic ancestors left the planet. You get one cheat day where you can eat whatever you want (“Occasional cheating and digressions may be just what you need to help you stick to the diet.”) No oil because it puts omega 6 and omega 3 ratios out of whack which should never exceed 2:1, except olive oil if you must. Dairy is also prohibited. And meat must come from animals that weren’t fed grains (like corn) because grains lead to inflammation and increased fat.
Sweden's Staffan Lindeberg has a home page Paleolithic Diet in Medical Nutrition [archive.org]. A recent study of Staffan's has A Paleolithic diet improving glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease. Also see his first web page, an overview of his Kitava study: On the Benefits of Ancient Diets. Now he has a book Food and Western Disease: Health and nutrition from an evolutionary perspective. Here's a book review: Easy to Read, Informative, Packed with Footnotes on Studies.
According to Adrienne Rose Johnson, the idea that the primitive diet was superior to current dietary habits dates back to the 1890s with such writers as Dr. Emmet Densmore and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Densmore proclaimed that "bread is the staff of death", while Kellogg supported a diet of starchy and grain-based foods. The idea of a Paleolithic diet can be traced to a 1975 book by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin,:41 which in 1985 was further developed by Stanley Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner, and popularized by Loren Cordain in his 2002 book The Paleo Diet. The terms caveman diet and stone-age diet are also used, as is Paleo Diet, trademarked by Cordain.
A 2015 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that 76 people who followed the Paleo diet for 60 days (as well as those who followed vegan, Mediterranean and DASH plans for the same length of time) lost an average of 9 pounds and showed improvement in their blood pressure levels. The effects were greatest and most sustained among people who also attended regular diet support group meetings.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to pack on muscle mass, blast away body fat or train for a specific sport, basing your diet on whole, high-quality foods such as fresh protein, vegetables, and healthy mono/unsaturated fats can only be a good thing for your health. In addition, the Caveman diet is gluten free, appealing to those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
And she has a point: Many of the foods on the "no" list have nutritional benefits and can be a smart addition to a healthy diet. "Whole grains, beans and yogurt are really important for our gut health, yet on this diet, they are not allowed," says Brooke Zigler, RD. "By eliminating these food groups, people could be missing out on key nutrients in their diet."
No cheating, kids. Hartwig emphasizes the importance of sticking to this plan with zero slip-ups, so you give your body the complete break (from not-so-healthy food) it deserves. If life happens and a glass of wine or a piece of bread gets in the way, Hartwig recommends starting over. She wants you to feel the full benefits of the entire 30 days. We're not gonna lie: We've let a glass of wine slip before, we didn't start over, and still felt on top of the world at the end. (We aren't suggesting you do the same, but we're just being real with you.) For a full list of rules, visit Whole30.com.
That said, plenty of people who try the Whole30 diet do end up losing some weight. "The benefit of Whole30 is that it encourages eating whole foods, which are foods in their most natural state," says nutritionist Sara Haas, RDN, LDN. Cutting out sugar means that you'll probably end up avoiding empty calories from baked goods, and alcohol. You might also find that your belly feels flatter as a result of avoiding highly processed packaged foods, which tend to be loaded with sodium.
It's especially hard saying no to drinks or a trip to the ice cream parlor when friends are involved. Rather than hole up like a hermit for the month, try taking food out of the social equation. Ask friends to go for a hike, see a movie, or meet at a café and sip black coffee or tea. Your loved ones have the power to seriously set you off course when it comes to dropping pounds—here's how you can stay on track.
The Paleolithic Prescription: A Program of Diet & Exercise and a Design for Living by S. Boyd Eaton, M.D., Marjorie Shostak and Melvin Konner. This book, published in 1988, was the start of the Paleolithic diet movement. Its recommendations are not in line with what today is considered a paleo diet, as whole grain breads and pastas, legumes and some low fat dairy products are allowed. However, it is still a profoundly important book. Used books are available for a reasonable price.
So what does the science say about the paleo diet? Some research suggests that the health claims hold truth. A review analyzed four randomized, controlled trials with 159 participants, and researchers found that the paleo diet led to more short-term improvements in some risk factors for chronic disease (including waist circumference and fasting blood sugar) compared with other control diets. (4)
Greg Glassman has gone on record saying he wants the Games to reflect the international impact CrossFit is having. The current format doesn’t allow for that. If you remember the 2018 Games flag ceremony, only a handful of countries were represented. Even then, American flags (Canada included) were the overwhelming majority. BORING! Everyone knows CrossFit is an international sport and our main event should be represented as such. Good Job Glassman!
I’m not going to say I didn’t have some pretty difficult moments. For example, don’t purchase an ice cream maker the day you start your Whole30 and let it sit in your entryway for 30 days to taunt you. I did that; it was dumb. Also, there were points in the program on those days when I felt off that I broke down or wanted to throw in the towel. Feeling bad on top of the normal Lyme symptoms wasn’t great, but I’m glad that I stuck it out.
Evolution of the Human Diet: The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable by Peter S. Ungar. Diet is key to understanding the ecology and evolution of our distant ancestors and their kin, the early hominins. A study of the range of foods eaten by our progenitors underscores just how unhealthy many of our diets are today. This volume brings together authorities from disparate fields to offer new insights into the diets of our ancestors. Paleontologists, archaeologists, primatologists, nutritionists and other researchers all contribute pieces to the puzzle. The book has four sections: Reconstructed diets based on hominin fossils--tooth size, shape, structure, wear, and chemistry, mandibular biomechanics. Archaeological evidence of subsistence--stone tools and modified bones. Models of early hominin diets based on the diets of living primates--both human and non-human, paleoecology, and energetics. Nutritional analyses and their implications for evolutionary medicine.
The Carnitine Miracle by Robert Crayhon, M.S. The nutrient carnitine is abundant in red meat. According to Crayhon carnitine helps balance blood lipids and blood sugar levels, maximizes energy levels, increases endurance, eliminates discomfort in ketosis, promotes burning of fat and building of muscle and increases overall well-being. See reviews at Amazon.
'So here I am. I signed up, and for the first time I’ve enjoyed the open. I competed with members of our CrossFit Type 44 community last Friday. .. I Sat and smiled from my rower thinking so this is why people do it. It was quite a difference, I wasn’t yelling from the ground, puking, or so concerned about my score with other top athletes, I simply enjoyed what my body can do still with minimal training. & for once just felt happy/proud of my effort....& well I beat clint so that was fun. 💃🏼 This week I got to test a past workout, one from my first year I qualified for the games.... & who would of guessed. The girl who trains 4-5x a week mainly lifting, about 90 min a day max beat my old score of the crazy competitive girl who trained 6-7x a week 2-4 hours a day and had no chill. I don’t train TTB much unless it’s strict, but I do lift more. I’m stronger, and I’m in a great balance with life. It’s probably the most proud I’ve been of how far mentally and physically I’ve come. I smiled during my workout not yell. I felt confident in what I could do, and I did it. I had some of my members cheering me on & I loved it.
It should be noted that U.S. News & World Report just released its annual ranking of diets, and Whole30 ranked dead last. Why? Essentially, the expert panel of over 20 registered dietitians, academics, and medical doctors found the program unsustainable and potentially unhealthy, since, among other issues, it restricts certain food groups and is high in sodium and cholesterol. But, Whole30's co-creator Melissa Hartwig stands behind the program, telling Cosmopolitan.com that its animal protein recommendations are in line with government recommendations, and that there are no nutrients in temporarily restricted foods, like grains and legumes, that you can't find in fruits and vegetables.
As part of our #MyFoodFreedom book club this month, Whole30 Certified Coach, Kate Baldacci is sharing her tips for how to share your Whole30 experience with your loved ones. You can connect with Kate by visiting www.coach.whole30.com/coaches/kate-baldacci/ Visit whole30.com/2019/01/book-club-2019 for the Food Freedom Forever reading schedule and list of events.
The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith is against industrial farming. She spent 20 years as a vegan, and now reveals the risks of a vegan diet, and explains why animals belong on ecologically sound farms. And as all the neolithic foods we avoid are produced on industrial farms, she is against the foods we avoid. Here's a well thought out review by Eric Wargo: Clubbing Vegetarians Over the Head With the Truth.
Ever start a diet and get immediately discouraged when the number on your scale hasn't budged after a week or two? Whole30 forbids weighing yourself — a practice which can help shift your mindset to how you're feeling as your success metric. "The scale shouldn’t drive your mood, food choices or overall mindset," says Amy Shapiro, RD. "Continue to live a healthy life and measure how you feel energy and clarity wise." Which means being honest with yourself about how your body feels after going to town on that cheese plate. One of the biggest realizations for me was how much clearer and more energetic I feel when my weekend diet doesn't consist of vodka-sodas and takeout food.
The biggest downside of this diet is how restrictive it is. A month is a pretty long stretch to make it without taking bite of quinoa, popping a chickpea, or sneaking a sip of wine (especially if you’re a busy, social person), and the protocol does not allow for even the smallest of slip-ups. From the manual: “One bite of pizza, one spoonful of ice cream, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30-day period and you’ve broken the “reset” button, requiring you to start over again on Day 1.” (Yikes!)
The top CrossFit Open performers for individuals and teams in each region advance to the regional events, held over the following two months around the world. Each regional event qualifies a specified number of its top finishers to send to the Games. The Games include divisions for individuals of each gender, co-ed teams, and a number of Masters and Teenage age groups.