Understanding How the Paleo Diet Works

The Paleo diet, or Paleolithic diet, is a ‘down-to-Earth’ approach to dieting and is a healthy approach to dieting. It started back in the Paleolithic era roughly 15,000 years ago. It has been followed habitually for many thousands of years from the cavemen days to just a few generations ago in lesser developed countries, eating natural food has been the norm.


What Foods Are Allowed on the Paleo Diet?

The main things we want to eat on the Paleo diet will be foods that have been around for hundreds of years. Some examples include chicken, turkey, ground beef, steak, salmon, lettuce, tomatoes, walnuts, almonds, apples, oranges, pears, and bananas. Prepare with olive, coconut, almond, grape seed, or flax seed oil.

We want to steer clear of sugar and artificial sweeteners. We want to avoid junk food, grains, legumes and beans, dairy, and alcohol.

The idea is to take in the highest quality foods possible and to avoid anything the body isn’t supposed to have. Our diet will be based on meats and fish. Our next largest intake will come from vegetables. Then fruits, fats, nuts and seeds.


Does Paleo Work Well with Bodybuilding?

For many of us, a diet is only worth considering if it can serve as a complement to our bodybuilding training program. The Paleo diet has many of the same aspects as a bodybuilding diet. Whether we are bulking or cutting, we usually take in many of the same foods as we would when on the Paleo diet.

Meats and fish are always a primary factor in a bodybuilding diet. Vegetables have always been important. Fruits have served as an effective snack and source of vitamins and minerals. Paleo practices healthy fat intake and while it is not subjective to the type of nuts and seeds, there are many healthy options that exist.

Protein intake is primarily derived from animal flesh. This is a type of protein that is recognized for its anabolic traits. It is also effective for muscle cell production. The Paleo diet will help to further the imbalance, supporting a greater amount of muscle cells and a reduced amount of fat cells. This also supports excessive energy being converted into glycogen by the muscles, instead of triglycerides by fat.


Pros of the Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet brings on many health benefits when properly followed.

The cells in our body are composed of saturated and unsaturated fats. These two must be balanced efficiently for the body to accurately send ‘messages’. This type of diet allows for this healthy balance, making for healthier cells.

A primary source of fat and protein in the Paleo diet are coldwater fish. More specifically, wild-caught salmon. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which contain DHA. DHA has been proven to improve functioning and health of the eyes, heart, and brain.


Cons of the Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet is based on the way that cavemen would eat. Think of a grown man leaving his rock cave to go and hunt food. He would kill a pig and gut it to get it’s meat. The way that he gets his ‘Paleo food’ is not the same as how we get our food. We don’t have the same means of access, so it is not easy to get lean meat. Modern animals are often given artificial foods –at best, we can get most of our meat from pastured animals.

The Paleo diet takes a strong stance against bread. This is not something that is detrimental to one’s diet or health. In fact, bread can be healthy if made in the right way. Not being able to consume bread also limits a lot of meal options. It is an unpleasant rule to say the least.


Conclusion: Is the Paleo Diet an Option?

Chances are, anyone looking into the Paleo diet here is active from a fitness standpoint. If this is true, then the Paleo diet is a mix of good and bad. In essence, many of the fundamentals are okay to follow; it’s hard to go wrong with the foods in the Paleo diet, given the healthiness of these foods.

But as bodybuilders, we have some of our own dieting measures to follow as well. For example, many of us use protein shakes after a workout. Protein shakes are from protein powder. A popular protein powder for bodybuilders is whey. Whey is derived from milk. So our main source of post-workout nutrition is now no longer acceptable. Our solid food alternatives are harder to prepare and do not provide nutrients to the muscles as quickly.

The Paleo diet is healthy. That’s not the concern. The only issue is whether the diet is sustainable. If it is a diet plan that eliminates certain staples of our current diet, then chances are it won’t work out well. On the other hand, the Paleo diet is a great choice if we do not have any strenuous nutritional requirements and we simply want a diet that helps us feel healthy and strong.