A Diet So Simple Even a Caveman Could Do It

Shirts are Optional in CrossFit Workouts

As a dietitian and CrossFit evangelista, I am constantly asked about my views of the Paleo diet as I’ve discussed in previous posts.  While I do not follow it or recommend it, I have come to recognize that there are some aspects of healthy eating that Paleo promotes.

After a particularly grueling CrossFit session last Friday (The Sevens Workout), a group of us went to enjoy a cup of coffee and the Paleo-ists started divulging their secrets to me. I won’t use their names as that would just be too incriminating.

I still use cream in my coffee,” one admitted.  Another said, “I eat what I want on the weekends.” And another referred to it as his  “detox diet,” that he goes on after he eats and drinks too much.  What was also funny were the ones who are strict vegans and still try to follow some type of Paleo principles.  A really hard feat when you don’t eat any animal products.

Since I have yet to met anyone who follows Paleo exactly, I figure what’s nice is that people are modifying it to meet their needs, and taking bits of some of the healthier Paleo guidelines and using them to improve their overall diet.

I refer to what they loosely adhere to as Cheater’s Paleo or Paleo Light.

The benefit of trying a Paleo Light diet is that it will help you lose weight and encourage you to eat real, whole foods while naturally limiting saturated fat, sodium and sugars.  These are all messages consistent with the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The principles below are adapted from one of the only reviews of the diet that I could find in the medical literature. All of them are prudent and can improve your diet.  Start by trying one and if you master that, move on to adding another principle.

A Part-Time Paleo Diet So Simple Even a Caveman Could Do It

9 Principles of Ancestral Eating for Modern Man

* Eat whole, natural foods instead of those that are highly processed

* Enjoy plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and limit refined grains and sugars.

* Increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, fish oil, and plant sources

* Avoid trans-fats and limit saturated fats by  eliminating fried foods, hard margarine, commercial baked goods, and most packaged and processed snack foods.

* Substitute monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (ie, olive oil and canola oil) fats for saturated fats

* Increase consumption of lean protein, such as skinless poultry, fish, and game meats and lean cuts of red meat. Cuts with the words round or loin in the name usually are lean.

* Avoid high-fat dairy and fatty, salty processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and deli meats

* Drink water as your primary fluid.

* Enjoy a wide variety of  physical activity, including aerobic conditioning and strength training and stretching.


Adapted from: O’Keefe and Cordain, Mayo Clinic Proceedings


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