It is important to note that nutrition advice from fitness experts are always worth backing up with your personal research. Although Paleolithic diets are partially backed up with substantial scientific research, not all advice circulating at gyms regarding nutrition is completely accurate.
The Paleolithic Diet
It is important to check up on the nutritional advice you’re given, even if it comes from your Crossfit coach. A common tip given by gym coaches is to follow a Paleolithic diet, or a “paleo” diet, which is comprised of foods presumed to have been consumed by Paleolithic humans- mainly meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts, with little to no grains, cereals or milk products.
This would mean the restriction of modern-day foods like dairy products, sugar, potatoes, soy beans, lentils and grains (such as corn, bread, pasta, cereals).
Does the Research Support It?
Although the emphasis on nutritious foods in Paleolithic diets does agree with today’s research with regards to nutrition, there are still parts of the diet that pose a risk to overall health. For example, a major component to a healthy diet is an adequate intake of whole grains- found in bread, barley, rice, oatmeal etc. Such foods were definitely unavailable during the Paleolithic era, but definitely required for a healthy diet in modern times.
According to a Harvard study, which examined the risks of a gluten-free diet, one of the cited concerns about it was that it tends to stray people away from eating the required amounts of whole grains, which could eventually lead to diminished health.
A Paleolithic diet also tends to discourage people away from their adequate daily fat intake. The idea that fat intake should be completely minimal is a common misconception among some in the fitness industry. However, major research studies have recently shown that lower fat intake is actually correlated with a shorter lifespan.
According to Dr Andrew Mente, a researcher at McMaster University: “Our data suggests that low fat diets put populations at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
“Loosening the restriction on total fat and saturated fat and imposing limits on carbohydrates when high to reduce intake to moderate levels would be optimal.”