Thursday, May 5, 2011

Just what is this Paleo Diet?

So I read Friel's training bible. Chapter 16 is all about fueling up for big rides and adjusting one's diet for endurance vs intensity as a racing season progresses. He's also co-authored a book entitled "The Paleo Diet for Athletes" with Loren Cordain, author of "The Paleo Diet".

I got curious. What is a Paleo Diet? What does it entail?

The simple answer: eat like our caveman ancestors did.

What does that mean?

You'll find there are as many answers to that question as there are paleo diet proponents, but they all have some common guidelines:

1. Avoid processed frankenfoods
2. Eat your vegetables
3. We can run great distances because we isolated and chased our prey like wolves do, so eat your meat.
4. Avoid grain based foods.
5. Most vegetable oils fall under #1, though a few exceptions apply, so cook with animal fat when you can

Where the proponents begin to differ is in what else is "okay". Many are okay with dairy, as long as it's not fat free.  Most are okay with carbohydrates from root vegetables and fruit. Many of these foods have a low glycemic index and low glycemic load and therefore won't send your pancreas into a tailspin dumping insulin everywhere.

I've been taking baby steps. My wife and kids aren't cave dwellers, so I indulge in spaghetti or a sandwich every so often.

But I notice I eat fewer calories overall on the days I lean towards paleo (eggs, bacon, a salad, grilled meat and grilled vegetables), while I tend to eat too much on the days I eat more grains. 

I won't completely avoid grain based foods: I enjoy beer. Heck, I brew the stuff.