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.
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.
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.
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.”).
I 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?)