*Another great post by Jason Seib!
Because our society is plagued with diets, most of which make no sense, many people come into this paleo thing with a few preconceived notions. I would like to address some of these misnomers and get us back on the same page. The following is a short discussion of the things paleo is often assumed to be, but in reality is not.
The most important one for me is that The Paleo Diet is not a diet. I know, it really
doesn’t make any sense when you say it like that, but it’s true. The Paleo Diet is the modern nomenclature for human nutrition, and the fact that we need to name the concept of “human food” means we have reached a completely ridiculous place in the evolution of our species where we have forgotten who we are and where we came from. It seems like I say this every time I open my mouth or sit down at a computer, but here I go again – humans are the only creatures on earth that use the word “diet” as a verb. Animals don’t do diets, they have a diet. They also don’t suffer from the extensive list of noninfectious diseases that we do. What is the lesson here? We need to try to find the ideal human diet in today’s modern world. Or by definition, go paleo.
Another thing that paleo does not define is a macro nutrient profile. The word “diet”, even in most research papers, is synonymous with weighing and measuring food, even if it’s only part of the intake that we’re interested in, like carbs or fat. Paleo is simply food choices. This means that higher carb paleo and lower fat paleo are completely acceptable as long as your goals reflect those choices. For example, high carb paleo with lots of sweet potatoes, yams and butternut squash is still paleo, but it probably isn’t the best choice for fat loss. On the other hand, if you are an athlete and you need more carbs for peak performance, there is no reason why paleo will not work for you and plenty of reasons why a more neolithic way of eating will be detrimental.
Paleo is also not inherently a weight loss or muscle gain plan. It is a health plan. If you are over weight, getting healthy will mean getting leaner. If you just gave up running marathons, getting healthy will mean gaining some muscle mass. Beyond basic health, paleo and training can be tweaked for more muscle gain or fat loss. That is not something that can be said for most “diets”. Try packing on muscle mass on Weight Watchers sometime.
Finally, paleo is not an excuse to not exercise. Proper nutrition is absolutely essential, but it doesn’t change the fact that the acquisition of food was inextricably tied to movement for all but the last miniscule fraction of time that our genus has been biped-ing it up on earth. Since the kitchen, in all it’s glory, is is merely steps away these days, you will need to get out and mimic proper human movement. Please note that I said “mimic proper human movement.”
Perspective is everything. All this stuff will fall into place for you when your perspective is right.