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What Is Paleo Diet? – Fad Or Holy Grail?

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As more and more people start climbing out of their old pizza boxes, fast food bags, chinese take out containers and start taking a personal interest in their own well being I’m beginning to notice more and more of a trend toward people taking up a paleo diet.

What Is Paleo Diet?

The paleo diet is essentially the caveman diet. You eat what they ate. This includes meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. There’s one big staple of Western dieting that is missing. Grains! Yes! Paleo is a starch free diet (excluding some variations that allow potatoes or sweet potatoes) that essentially reduces the amount of carbohydrate we take in. What does this mean for us? We’re going back to whole foods!

What Is A Fad Diet?

Oh geeze oh petes. I can remember fad diets being around as far back as when I was in middle school, so roughly around 2000. I’m sure a lot of the older generation may remember some even further back than that. Dieting isn’t a new concept for us here in 2016, but it may be a little more prevalent in our day in age because the percentage of the population is either overweight or obese.

To undo years of havoc and neglect people put on their bodies they think they can start some wacky diet that promises them to lose 30+ lbs in a month. This kind of instant gratification is exactly what causes fad diets to spark up overnight and fizzle out into nothingness. So what are the different characteristics of fad diets?

  1. Ridiculously caloric restricting diets. If you’re eating less than a thousand calories a day, you’re destined to fail. At everything. Just stop now.
  2. Diets that focus solely on one food. Lets face it. We’ve all done it. When I first started working out I ate chicken and rice six times a day. It sucked. A lot.
  3. Diets designed for weight loss, not fat loss. Like above, eating 1000 calories or less a day will more than likely cause your body to go into starvation mode, eat up your muscle and pack on fat. The scale moved but in the process you royally f&$#ed your body composition.
  4. Diets claiming effortless weight loss. It took considerable effort to get over weight, it will take considerable effort to reduce your weight. There is nothing effortless about dieting. It IS a struggle. But it’s totally worth the willpower to overcome your past eating habits.

Why Isn’t Paleo A Fad Diet?

As we already covered the majority of the characteristics of fad diets above, paleo doesn’t seem to fall into any of these. Paleo is a diet that forces the user to change it’s lifestyle and move away from the highly processed foods of the West and go back to the roots of eating whole foods. Somewhere in the last twenty to twenty five years, Americans in particular, have adopted a fast paced life style that stopped them from sitting down at the dinner table and enjoying a home cooked meal with their family. Instead they’ve rushed around the city filling their time with work, play and taking care of their children and relying on third parties to assemble a meal for the exact moment in time they would be hungry.

What’s The Downside Of Paleo Diet?

I’m sure many of you reading this may have caught on to the one glaring issue paleo does have. As a strict, no grain paleo diet, it doesn’t serve athletes very well. It doesn’t serve athletes very well because it is a very carbohydrate restrictive diet. And athletes need to be consuming hundreds of grams of carbohydrates to keep up with the amount of energy expenditure they exert during sports and their heightened metabolic resting state.

So for the normal population, paleo is a fantastic tool to help change their lifestyle and begin down a path that will ultimately create positive eating habits. But for athletes it’s just not enough. Whereas the normal population blows up and turns into overweight slobs eating processed foods, athletes flourish eating processed foods. With the foundation of a paleo lifestyle with its whole foods, supplements to fill in any holes in a diet and high, caloric dense processed food athletes could build a fearsome diet.

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