The Paleolithic is a period of prehistory extending from -2.9 million years to -12,000 years. During this period appears the first species of the genus Homo: Homo Habilis. The man is then a hunter-gatherer who has not yet learned the farmer or livestock. It only feeds on foods in its environment.
The paleo diet is inspired by the diet of men of this period. It excludes certain foods. The goal is to have a diet supposed to be healthier and less oily, ideal for those who want to lose weight. Fashionable since the 2000s, this diet however requires some adjustments for people wanting to gain weight and muscle.
The origins of the paleo diet
We have to go back to the 70s to hear about the Paleo diet for the first time. In 1975, the American gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin is interested in feeding men who lived in the Paleolithic. It was not until 1985 that came the idea of drawing inspiration from this diet to make it a diet. The anthropologist and radiologist S. Boyd Eaton publishes an article in which he indicates that the Paleolithic diet would be better.
According to him, our ancestors were not victims of degenerative diseases. He also explains that it is our genes that determine our nutritional needs. However, the human genome has changed by only 0.02% since 40 000 years. In other words, the diet of men living in this period would always be perfect for our body.
In 1996, this theory is taken up by Dr. Jean Seignalet publishes a book containing the ideas launched by Dr. S. Boyd Eaton and in which he proposes a diet that would be more effective to fight against autoimmune diseases: the paleo diet .
Nevertheless, it was really in the 2000s after the publication of Dr. Loen Cordain’s book that the paleo diet became truly known. In this book, Loen Cordain notably describes the diet of our ancestors that he advises us to follow.
The main principles of the paleo diet
As mentioned several times since the beginning of this article, the Paleo diet is based on the diet of Paleolithic men. Having not yet developed agriculture and breeding, our ancestors fed themselves by recovering the food present in their environment. We are talking about hunter-gatherers. In fact, they fed themselves by gathering fruits and vegetables made available by nature and by hunting animals.
The paleo diet therefore takes over this diet based on fruits, vegetables and proteins. Specifically, our normal and modern diet is divided into 4 food groups: milk and dairy products, meat and alternatives, bread and cereals, and fruits and vegetables.
The paleo diet retains only 3 groups: fruits and vegetables, meat and substitutes (proteins). It excludes everything that comes from grain farming and dairy products.
The interest is to have a healthier diet and promote weight loss.
This diet allows the following foods:
– Lean meats from organic farms or from wild animals
– Fruits and vegetables low in starch
– Seeds and nuts
Some foods are allowed, but in moderation:
– Dried fruits
– Cold pressed oils
– Tea and coffee
– Alcoholic beverages
Foods to exclude
The paleo diet advises to avoid the following foods:
– Milk and dairy products
– Fatty meat
– Processed products
– Vegetables rich in starch
– Foods too salty
– Sugar and starchy foods
Naturalness at the heart of the paleo diet (suppress industrial and processed foods)
Following the paleo diet requires motivation and application in the choice of foods. In particular, dairy products and cereals should be avoided. Habits that are not easy to change because they are foods that are part of our food culture. For example, scrupulously following the paleo diet, you must do without bread.
Once again, the goal of this diet is to get as close as possible to the food that our ancestors of the Paleolithic used to eat, that is to say, a diet as natural as possible. The most important thing is to suppress industrial and processed foods. These are the most proscribed when you follow the paleo diet.
This diet encourages you to consume local and organic products that you will for example find on the market.
The effects of paleo nutrition on your health and well-being
Like most diets, its supporters introduce the Paleo diet as the ideal solution for maintaining good health and losing weight. In reality, things are never so simple, and you should know that the miracle diet does not exist. Weight loss requires above all motivation.
In bulk, the paleo diet would:
✓ Reduce the risk of certain degenerative diseases due to low carbohydrate consumption and the intake of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins present in high doses in fruits and vegetables.
✓ Reduce blood pressure.
✓ Regulate blood glucose.
✓ Reduce bad cholesterol in favor of good cholesterol.
✓ Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
✓ Reduce inflammatory pain.
✓ Prevent diseases such as osteoporosis.
✓ Decrease the risk of autoimmune diseases.
✓ Improved sleep quality.
✓ Improved skin quality.
It is difficult to know what are the real effects of the Paleo diet on our health, especially as there is currently no study. What is certain is that this diet reduces the intake of bad fats, sugars and processed salts and various chemicals.
On the other hand, the diet actually allows a rather rapid weight loss during the first months. The low carbohydrate intake and the satiety effect quickly obtained thanks to proteins and dietary fibers favor this weight loss. However, the yo-yo effect is relatively common for this type of diet. In addition, the large quantity of forbidden foods induces a certain monotony and the food is reduced to its first usefulness of indispensable element to survive, by occulting the sensation of pleasure. This dietary restriction can more easily, over the medium-long term, shift the individual into a period of excess.
The benefits of the paleo diet for bodybuilding
It should be noted that the paleo diet is low in carbohydrates. The latter, however, facilitate physical effort and bodybuilding. Fortunately, this diet is rich in protein and fat.
The paleo diet is not necessarily the most suitable for bodybuilding. Despite this, former NFL defender John Welbourne is following the Paleo regime that he has adapted to his needs. Indeed, it measures 1.95 m for 143 kg and 11% of fat and it is able to raise 226 kg to the bench press.
To summarize, the strict paleo diet may be enough for a dry bodybuilding, that is to say without weight gain, but if it is still advisable to supplement it with some food supplements (vitamins, omega 3 …).
Mass catch: adapt the paleo diet
As I just said, for a dry bodybuilding, the paleo diet can suffice. On the other hand, if you wish to gain strength with weight, this diet is no longer sufficient. At least, it is necessary to adapt it.
You can keep the main lines, that is to say favor fruits, vegetables, meats and substitutes and preferably by choosing natural products. However, carbohydrate intake is essential to increase your weight. We must therefore integrate certain foods such as rice, pasta and potatoes.
Not to mention the food supplements that will also encourage this muscle mass gain.
Typical day menu
Even though the number of forbidden foods is relatively high, there is still enough choice to vary the menus.
Breakfast: The cereal in a bowl of milk is typically what you should not eat while on a paleo diet. More generally, avoid all dairy products and cereals in the morning. Opt instead for fruits. If the salty in the morning does not bother you, I recommend the scrambled eggs. Perfect for starting the day.
● Entry: the melon is ideal as an input food. A small shrimp salad is also a delicious idea of Paleo entry.
● Dish: at the main course, a wide choice is available to you. The most important is to favor fruits, vegetables, meats and substitutes. Turkey schnitzels with a spinach salad are a menu that fits perfectly into the paleo diet. In winter soups and soups are an excellent choice.
● Dessert: you will understand, sweets are to be avoided as pies, cakes and other pastries. Nevertheless, if you do not want to eat fruit for dessert every time, there are different dessert recipes that respect the basic conditions of the paleo diet. For example, it is possible to make different cakes and tarts from fine flour as a delicious raspberry pie.
● Beverages: logically, when we think of a drink in total agreement with the paleo diet, we think of water. No need to follow this diet so that water is your main drink because it is vital for our body. In addition to water, you can indulge yourself with some fruit-based refreshments: homemade juice, smoothies, and more. The most important is to ban sodas and other soft drinks and industrial.
The risks and dangers of the paleo diet
In theory, the Paleolithic diet covers all of our nutritional needs. However, it is essential to vary its diet, otherwise the risk of food deficiency can occur.
For the moment, few studies have been done on the long-term effects of the Paleo diet. If the supporters of this regime are numerous, there are also slayers including the British Dietetic Association which ranked this scheme among the worst regimes practiced by celebrities in 2015.
The biggest complaint is the exclusion of two major groups of food products: dairy products and cereals. Foods that are not really harmful to health as long as they are not consumed excessively. On the contrary, cereals bring many indispensable elements to our organism. This diet is strongly discouraged for children and adolescents who need dairy products, carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
The paleo diet can also lead to caribou sickness, or protein intoxication, which results from excessive consumption of lean meats and a lack of certain nutrients such as carbohydrates.
My opinion on the paleo diet
The paleo diet is fashionable. It makes it possible to exclude processed sugars and, more broadly, processed and industrial products. Which is good and needs to be encouraged.
However, the principle of having to eat as our ancestors did in the Paleolithic is not really founded. Not only was their life expectancy shorter, but it is difficult to know whether they already had certain contemporary diseases. In addition, diet is not the only cause of these diseases. Lack of physical activity, pollution and longer life expectancy are also essential.
To totally ban grain and dairy products as if they were harmful products does not really make sense. Especially since the Cretan diet recognized for its benefits integrates perfectly these foods.
Without forgetting that according to the scientists, our ancestors of the Paleolithic were nourished mainly of vegetables and more rarely of meat, because more difficult to find. And when they ate meat, it was generally swallowed raw, which does not specify by the paleo diet.
In the end, the Paleo diet has certain virtues by promoting natural and healthy foods, but it is more difficult to get and especially more expensive. This is a relatively simple plan to follow in the first weeks and months, but in the long run it is more complicated. In addition, dietary deficiencies can occur when the diet is not sufficiently varied.
For bodybuilding and CrossFit, the paleo diet is not the most suitable because of its low carbohydrate, but it may be suitable as long as you vary its diet and accompany it with food supplements. If you want to take the mass, it will be necessary to make some exceptions by integrating 3 to 4 meals a week containing foods rich in carbohydrates (cereals, potatoes, starchy foods …).