How to Make the Paleo Diet Work for You and Your Fitness Regimen
What I’ve come to learn about the human diet is that there are no universal answers, no ‘Holy Grail’. Humans have traveled across the world time and time again, and they had to adapt to strikingly different circumstances every time. Of course, one of the cornerstones of this adaptation is the alteration of dietary habits. Today, we are such a messy melting pot of genetic influences that it can be hard to find that one diet that works for you.
Personally, I have tried a bit of everything – from pure veganism to the carnivore diet and everything in between. I’ve changed my diet and lifestyle many times as I tried to solve health and aesthetic issues that plagued me since childhood. As it turned out, the Paleo diet is the first thing that truly works for me, combined with a disciplined schedule of workouts. This is a post for people that feel this lifestyle scenario may work for them as well.
The essence of Paleo
The paleo diet is about going back to the basics. The term is a shorter version of “paleolithic”, and the entire endeavor is about eating like your ancestors. But don’t worry, you’re not required to build your own spear and go out hunting every night. It’s all about trying to eat organic, grass-fed meats and a diverse selection of fruits and veggies while avoiding foods that were not available in the days of yore. This is actually harder than it sounds.
The addiction to harmful foods and fitness
If you are on a fitness regimen of, let’s say, three intense workouts a week, give or take, it can be hard to resist the ever-present comfort foods. This goes double for people that work long hours in addition to working out. We’re all somewhat addicted to pastries, pizzas and caffeinated drinks. But here’s the kicker – most of these foods did not exist in contemporary form only fifty years ago. Modern-day fast food is a minefield of additives and dreadful combos of sugar and flour.
You need a solid Paleo meal plan
Due to this addiction, the ‘detox’ period after you’ve embraced the Paleo diet can be quite rocky. In fact, I’ve known a few people who had tried this diet and relapsed into their old habits with a disturbing intensity that wasn’t there before. This is why you need a solid paleo meal plan to pull you through. A 7-day plan will work for starters.
Stick to it as if your life depends on it and, after a few weeks, you can begin creating your own Paleo schedule. It will (and should) be an active work in progress that changes over time as you find what works for you and learn more. This is another aspect of the Paleo diet that makes it so different – you will reap so many rewards in the long run as you actively increase your knowledge about concrete dietary habits through a variety of books, paleo blogs, and other resources.
Limited carbohydrate intake
The Paleo diet is meant to keep you energized as you exercise your way to a healthier life. First of all, you’re about to say goodbye to grains. You’ll need to keep your meals as simple as possible, basing your meals around a protein-rich source of food combined with the least starchy vegetables. You might be noticing a pattern here. Your carbohydrate intake is strictly limited to root veggies, certain types of fruit, and fat.
Keep it simple
Dishes should not be too complicated, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Paleo recipes can sound truly delicious, especially if, like me, you’ve got a gourmet streak in you.
They are particularly enticing if your workout is getting more intense and frequent, but you will reap all the benefits if you literally ‘eat like your ancestors’ and ingest as much raw food as possible.
The perfect marriage of food and exercise
Now, soon after I got rid of candy and grains, I felt the ‘brain fog’ lift and the influx of energy was undeniable. I decided to ride this tidal wave of energy with the outdoor workout routine which mostly entails natural movement.
That’s quite an appropriate Paleo exercise because it helps you connect to the essential philosophy behind the diet. These natural activities include running, hiking, squats, lunging, carrying heavier loads across the natural terrain and, if you are a fan of it, doing yoga.
For more definitive answers about the Paleo diet, you’ll have to look beyond online guides and hit the books. There’s hardly enough time or words in the blogosphere to cover everything, but the text above should serve as a quick introduction for those considering it. One such instance of personal experience ‘inaugurated’ me into the ways of Paleo as well, and that is actually all it takes. We usually know a good thing when we see it.