Nutrition

People are so confused about what to eat! Eat like a Caveman… Treat your “diet” as a group of foods that makes up your choices of what to eat rather than a “diet” in which you restrict foods and calories. The Paleo diet, aka Caveman diet, is part of a lifestyle. Most people are best off with making small changes and slowly moving to a better way of eating. If you are like me just and want to cut right to it just look at this great graphic from CrossFit Geelong that pretty much sums it up!

What is the Paleo diet? The Paleo diet mimics the way our ancestors ate before the invention of agriculture about 10,000 years ago. Before agriculture, humans lived the life of wandering hunter/gatherers whose existence was largely free of chronic disease. Diet-related chronic diseases represent the largest cause of death in America and can be linked directly to modern diet and lifestyle choices. These diseases were rare or nonexistent in the Paleolithic era and can largely be blamed on excessive consumption of modern foods including cereals, refined sugars, processed vegetable oils and industrially-raised meats.

The Paleo diet is NOT a diet in the way most people think of the word “diet” – restricting your calories and starving yourself. The word diet here refers to the range of food best fitted to promote health and longevity in a given species (in this case, human). You should not be starving while eating like a caveman!

Why do I want to do this? CrossFit is a part of the paleo lifestyle, but your results of all your hard training will be less than optimal unless your diet is right. Eating paleo will allow you to feel better, gain strength, and drop body fat while gaining lean muscle.

Even if you feel great there are certain food groups (like grains, dairy and legumes) that are probably having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it!

Cut to the chase – What can I eat/not eat on Paleo? A Paleo diet involves eating meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, little starch, some fruit and no sugar. It means no grains, legumes, pasteurized dairy, or alcohol. It means staying away from all processed foods. It means eating as our hunter-gathers ancestors did.

What is included in the Paleo diet

  • Proteins: beef, poultry, pork, shrimp, fish, eggs
  • Vegetables: all, except for corn and peas
  • Fruit: choose berries, oranges, apples, pears, plums, and melon – limit portion of bananas, pineapple, and other high-fructose fruits. Remember fructose still turns to sugar in the body, so limit your fruit intake if weight loss is your goal.
  • Fats: coconut oil, lard, olive oil (don’t cook with olive oil but unheated it is great), sesame oil, nut oils, flaxseed oil, avocados, nuts and seeds
  • Herbs and Spices: as many as you can find
  • Beverages: water, unsweetened coconut water, seltzer water, tea, (some) coffee

What is NOT part of the Paleo diet

  • Any processed food – no chips, soda, bread, crackers, etc. If it comes in a box, don’t eat it!
  • Grains in any form – cereals, rice, pasta, oats etc.
  • Legumes – no beans or peanuts
  • Pasteurized Dairy in any form – if you want to include milk and cheese – make it RAW, WHOLE milk or cheese
  • No alcohol in any form – if you must have an occasional glass of red wine or shot of tequila, it would not be the end of the world. But really, limit it!!!
  • No sugar in any form
  • No added salt
  • No white potatoes

What if I slip up? Get right back on it. Don’t put it off. Start again. NOW. Figure out what went wrong… were you unprepared with your snacks, did you succumb during a special event? Did you slip up when you went out to eat? Address the problem and start again.

FAQs

What about portion sizes?

Make a loose fist. That is the size of your serving of protein. Fill up the rest of your plate with veggies and (optionally) some fruit. Give it a sprinkling of nuts or seeds.

How often should I eat?

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. A general guideline is 3 meals with 2 snacks, but 4 meals with 2 snacks, or even 5 small meals may be necessary for more active athletes.

What if I am STILL hungry?

If you are still hungry, eat more veggies and drink some water. If this is a regular issue with you, you are probably not getting enough fat in your meals and you should choose protein sources with more fat.

What about Fruit – what is “SOME” fruit?

If losing body fat is your goal, limit your intake of fruit to once a day or less. The best time to eat fruit is right after a workout or mid-afternoon. Some fruits, such as pineapple and banana, are higher in fructose (a natural sugar, but a sugar nonetheless) than other fruits, such as berries, apples or melon. Limit the portion size of higher-fructose fruit if fat-loss is your goal.

What about Nuts?

Limit snacking on nuts and nut butters if fat loss is your goal. Note: Peanuts are a legume not a nut. Neither peanuts nor peanut butter is allowable on Paleo.

And what is “little” starch?

White Potatoes or corn are never a good choice for a starch. Sweet potato or cooked carrots are acceptable starches but should be consumed in limited quantity – limit intake to one serving, or less, each day. All products made of grain should be avoided.

What can I drink?

Water is the best drink – drink plenty of it! Other acceptable choices are unsweetened coconut water (during and after workouts primarily), seltzer water, and unsweetened tea (and some coffee). If you normally take your tea or coffee with milk, unsweetened almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk is a good substitute for pasteurized dairy. Avoid fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, and all soda. Raw, whole milk and cream are good for you and are incredible in coffee.

What… I can’t drink any alcohol? Where’s the beer?

Beer is made from grain and is not gluten-free. To REALLY follow this diet, go no alcohol for 30 days. BUT IF the prospect of no alcohol is what is going to keep you from doing this know that anoccasional glass of red wine or occasional shot of tequila is considered OK by most paleo diet followers.

What about the quality of meat and produce?

Industrial-farm raised meats are not the best choice; for example, grass-fed beef or cage-free chicken or eggs are a better choice. Eat grass-fed beef and organic, locally grown foods whenever possible.

Can I eat sausage, deli meats and bacon?

Yes, if you eat the nitrate-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free versions of these.

What about artificial sugars? What about natural sugars?

Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc.

Isn’t sleep part of the paleo lifestyle?

YES. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night in as dark a setting as possible.

Isn’t working out enough?

No. Working out intensely is just a part of the paleo lifestyle, but it is an important part!! Be sure to CrossFit at least three times a week.

Will I have enough energy to get through my tough CrossFit workouts?

YES! Keep in mind that the first few weeks may be difficult. You may initially feel tired and shaky as your body re-adjusts its Insulin levels; make sure to seek out support and know that your body should adjust by week three, if not sooner.

But I am an endurance athlete and run/bike/swim a crazy amount of miles each week. Can I do this? Won’t I bonk?

Yes you can do this. Endurance athletes can follow a paleo diet although you may need to consume more fat to keep your energy up.

My mom/family says I’m crazy and that this can’t be good for me!

Your family has likely been fed the same old food pyramid and low-calorie, low-fat tale that promotes less than optimal health. There are numerous studies which have concluded that following a Paleo diet results in:

  • Weight loss
  • Improved glucose tolerance
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Significant reductions in total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides
  • Increased feeling of satiation
My husband/wife/kids won’t eat like this! What do I do?

If you feel you must keep some non-Paleo food and snacks on hand for the family, designate one small area that is out of your direct line of sight and limit the number of offerings. The better you eat, the better your kids will eat!

I feel like I am dropping weight too quickly!

Increase your fat intake.

How can I do this? I don’t have time!

It does initially take some planning and some adjustment. However consider that most meats and vegetables do not take long to grill or sauté. Fish and eggs cook quickly and you can purchase pre-cut vegetables, organic salad mixes, and even pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.

Also, consider ordering your meals from the Paleo chef online at paleochefonline.com.

How can I eat out at a restaurant?

Order grilled meat with vegetables – avoid highly salted foods and sauces. Another good choice is a salad – without cheese, croutons, or dressing – with grilled chicken, beef or shrimp.

Reading Time

What is Paleo?

Why Do I want to do this?

How Do I get started?

What do I eat?

What foods should I avoid?

You have any good recipes? The internet is chock full! Here are a couple:

Any other resources and books?

The blog that we used during our last challenge – may answer some of your random questions: http://cfjcpaleochallenge.wordpress.com/