3. The Paleo Diet
What it’s all About:
With the CrossFit craze, the Paleo Diet (also known as the Caveman Diet), which the CrossFit website mentions as “perfectly consistent” with CrossFit principles, has seen a noticeable increase in popularity recently. The Paleo Diet is pretty simple in execution: you only eat foods that could be hunted or gathered during the Paleolithic era, which, unsurprisingly, consisted of healthful, whole foods and no processed junk. Proponents of the Paleo Diet dine exclusively on lean meats, seafood, eggs, nuts, fruits, and veggies. By default, people who are Paleo are also gluten- and dairy-free, which might make for some difficult transitioning if you’re used to having milk in your coffee or pretty much any kind of bread, pasta, or rice. Legumes are also forbidden because Paleo proponents claim that they cause inflammation and inhibit nutrient absorption. Starchy tubers like yams and potatoes are point of contention for some Paleo enthusiasts, with some saying you should avoid them completely, and others saying that you can enjoy a baked potato every once in a while, but that you should limit your consumption to a few times a week.
Does it Work?
Generally, yes. Los Angeles-based nutritionist Emily Dingmann is a fan of the Paleo Diet because “it focuses on real foods: quality protein, good fats, and healthy carbohydrates,” which she says is “an ideal way to look at [eating].” Dingmann says that she would recommend the diet to her clients because many people have found the plan “sustainable for the long-term because they feel good and aren’t hungry” because of the lean sources of protein and healthy fats that abound in the Paleo diet. However, eating Paleo can be restrictive and especially limiting in your social life because it makes it difficult to do things like eating out and occasionally grabbing drinks with friends. In addition, completely eliminating foods like dairy from your diet opens you to potential nutrient deficiencies. Paleo completely eliminates the notion of enjoying our not-so-healthful faves like brownies, chips, and candy in moderation, but a modified, individualized version of Paleo-style eating, perhaps with an occasional cheat meal or day, could allow for more freedom.
It’s definitely worth a shot. The Paleo Diet is rich in plant foods and lean sources of protein, the cornerstones of a healthy eating plan. Also, while eating Paleo may be restrictive, this may be a good thing in the long run. With her clients, Holmberg has found that “the better [people] eat all the time, the lower the threshold of what constitutes a treat.” That is, the longer you eat healthful food, the less you’ll crave processed junk foods. After a while, a Paleo diet cheat might end up being a low-fat yogurt instead of French fries. If you’re still up in the air, check out our article about the Paleo Diet.