The Problem With Eating Paleo

paleo-table.jpg

Diet fads come and go, but since the onslaught of Crossfit low carb diets have seemed to really gain momentum. One in particular being the Paleo Diet. For those of you who may not be familiar with eating paleo, its based on our Paleolithic ancestors. Forming their meals around lean meats and fish, fruits, non – starchy veggies, nuts and berries.

Now, I know this probably feels like I’m setting up for a rant however I like the overall concept. It teaches people to stay to the outskirts of the grocery store and to live by the saying, “if it ran, flew, grew or swam….eat it!” Processed shit, all tightly wrapped up or canned is a no go, which is why so many people notice a large drop in weight and an increase in energy, once on the diet. Cutting out the man-made, simple carbohydrates removes a host of useless, fattening calories that the body doesn’t need.

This extremely low carbohydrate diet can only be sustained for so long (usually 3-4wks), until you start to feel cloudy, irritated, and tired!

At this point you’re probably wondering where the problem is? The problem lies with people’s “all or nothing” mentality and massive under-eating of vegetables. As the theory of the diet gets passed from person to person, carbohydrates get an increasingly worse reputation. Almost to a point where people think when you go paleo carbs are taboo!

This extremely low carbohydrate diet can only be sustained for so long (usually 3-4wks), until you start to feel cloudy, irritated, and tired!

To help you understand why this is happening I’ve put together a short list of all the benefits of carbohydrates (glycogen):

  • The body requires 60 grams of carbohydrates to carry out basic processes of the brain.

  • Carbohydrates are the body’s primary form of energy.

  • Stored glycogen (carbs) increase the size and fullness of the muscle.

  • Keeps your body anabolic by “sparing” excess protein.

  • Carbohydrates enhances the conversion of dietary protein to muscle protein.

  • The body requires adequate amounts of carbs to metabolize body fat.

  • Triggers the release of serotonin (makes you relaxed & sleepy).

In order to compensate for the lack of carbohydrates, which are primarily coming from veggies and fruit. The body turns to ketone bodies, which at the product of incomplete burning of fats. The ketone bodies try to step up and replace carbohydrates, the only issue is they’re no where near as efficient at providing energy. So, if you’re in this state for too long, you’ll begin to feel sluggish (bad for training), mental processes will suffer and you gradually become dehydrated. The worst of all, while in this Ketosis state your body starts to metabolize larger and larger amount of amino acids.

Meaning that you’re in a catabolic (breakdown) state and part of that protein shake you just drank is partly being used for energy, not rebuilding! This is bad news for anyone looking to improve body composition. As we can see, any serious type of nutrient deprivation is not a good idea.

Complex carbohydrates should mainly be consumed 1 1/2 hours prior to a workout, right after your workout or at dinner. This will ensure that the carbs you consume will be stowed away within the muscle!

So what is there to do!? Not every carbohydrate you eat is going to make you fat. The ones you need to worry about are the “processed carbs”, such as; sweets, white breads, pastas, things that are not natural and come in a box. We want to focus on complex carbs; boiled potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat sprouted bread, squashes and rooted veggies.

Now, it is possible to over-eat and put on fat with even complex carbs! So it’s important that we eat them at the right times! Complex carbohydrates should mainly be consumed 1 1/2 hours prior to a workout, right after your workout or at dinner. This will ensure that the carbs you consume will be stowed away within the muscle for your next workout and not stored as fat!

In conclusion, the Paleo Diet is a great way to eat. As long as you remember what carbohydrates need to stay in your diet and when to eat them!