How the Paleo Diet Didn’t Change my Life

Lately, it seems that everyone is talking about the Paleo diet. Lots of people love it, say it’s cured all that ailed them, claim they’ll never go back. And lots of people hate it, say it’s unbalanced, unrealistic, unnecessary.

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Everyone who know me knows that I’m a health nut. I want to put the best foods into my body so I can get the best performance out of it. If you know me well (or read this blog), you also know that I’ve struggled with digestive issues for a long time. So as I watched the Paleo diet climb in popularity, and as I read all the raves from Paleo devotees, I became intrigued. I became hopeful that the Paleo diet would finally be that magic bullet that would make me run faster and feel better. 

So I tried it. I read It Starts With Food and followed the Whole30 in October and November. After the Whole30, my diet stayed Paleo, with some holiday divergences, and I kept it up until this month.

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The Paleo diet didn’t change my life. Here’s why:

(Note: I am aware that this was not exactly a highly controlled scientific experiment. There was more than one variable, so not all of these can be blamed on Paleo.)

  • I didn’t have abundant energy. Now, my energy levels aren’t unusually low or anything, but a lot of Paleoites claim that the diet makes energy levels stay steady and fairly high all day. Nope. At 3:30 every day, the kids walked out of my room and I sank into my chair, exhausted, like every other day of my life. 
  • I ran slower. This is one of those “too many variable” instances. I started the Whole30 the day after my last marathon, and for the next few months, I ran easy. Now that I’ve started eating grains (i.e. more carbs) and doing speedwork, even my easy runs are speeding up. Is this all due to diet? No. Duh. Speedwork = getting faster.
  • I gained weight. I expected to gain a couple of pounds when my training level went down, but I definitely gained more than a couple. I was eating extremely clean, especially during the Whole30, but the Paleo diet is relatively high in fat, and for me, this didn’t work. Not because “fat makes you fat” (we all know that’s not true, because it’s not 1995), but because fat is high in calories, and eating too many calories adds poundage. And eat too many calories I did.

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But the main reason I’ve decided that eating Paleo is not for me is…

  • It didn’t make me feel better. I didn’t feel any worse, either. I felt pretty much exactly the same as always. And if I’m not going to feel any different, why keep adhering to a stricter (and expensive) diet?

I’m not by any means claiming that the Paleo diet is evil. In fact, I think the Paleo diet can be very healthy, if you do it right (Hint: Doing it right means eating lots and lots of veggies and some meats, not basing your diet on bacon and paleo “treats.”). 

am saying that the Paleo diet is probably not the cure-all miracle diet that some make it out to be. Diet is an individual thing; what works for some doesn’t for others. And this didn’t work for me.

On to new experiments!

What are your thoughts on/experiences with the Paleo diet?

Did you know that if you Google “caveman,” you get cute, goofy images like the ones in this post, but if you Google “cavewoman,” you get nothing but scantily-clad women? Stay tuned for my next post, “Why the Internet is stupid.” (Just kidding; I’m not really writing that post. But seriously…why?)

 

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17 thoughts on “How the Paleo Diet Didn’t Change my Life”

  1. I completely agree with you on this post. I think too many people make Paleo out to be a miracle diet, when it’s just another way to eat. It is all about nutrient dense foods and much less about losing weight. Also, it is not healthy to shove massive amounts of meat into your mouth. Meat occasionally is awesome, meat for every meal is not awesome. Think about how often we actually ate meat when we were hunter/gatherers. Meat is HARD to catch.

    Great post!

  2. Ugh-I won’t try any “diet” that makes me restrict things I think my body needs. Lentils? I cannot give up. I think so many of these diets are too restrictive and make you think too much about what you eat. Sure a week here or there of cleansing is different than an entire lifestyle change, like paleo or others. Glad you are validating other reasons I don’t want to try it!

    1. I know. I figure I’m gonna have to eliminate something, eventually, when I find out what’s causing my issues. But if you’re not allergic or intolerant and you feel fine eating healthy stuff like lentils, I say why not?

  3. I feel like it’s the same thing with every fad diet. Miracles are claimed, but when put in practice with a tough exercise regime, they don’t hold up. Your statement on doing what works for your body is spot on. That’s what I tell my clients!

  4. I like the idea of Paleo but I feel I would be the same way – I can’t imagine feeling better and I KNOW my energy would be way down. I DO wish that eating healthy was not as difficult / confusing / conflicting though !

  5. it is so interesting to hear people’s successes and not with this type of diet, for me whole 30 made me feel better but it wasn’t sustainable. now i follow 90/10 paleo and I dig it. it works for me but i understand that it doesn’t work for others.

  6. Love this post! I’m a freelance magazine writer, and as someone who writes for health magazines, I constantly have to sift through fads and new diets and things ways of living/eating that will supposedly change your life. It’s refreshing to read such a “real” post about something that SO much people have heard about but just don’t fully understand.

  7. Great post! I never tried paleo and will not because there are too many things I eat that aren’t part of the diet. And I don’t really like diets with “rules” or things you CAN’T eat. Very cool that you tried it out for a few months and came to an honest conclusion about how it work/didn’t work for you. I had to laugh at your comment about being exhausted at the end of the day with students! I’m a teacher too, and I can’t think of ANY diet that will help me have a ton of energy by the time the school day is over! I’m wiped by lunch. 😉

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