If you haven’t heard of the loved-by-some-hated-by-others Paleo Diet, you’re probably living under a rock from the cavemen days. The premise of this diet is to go back to our caveman roots and eat as if we were still hunters and gatherers. This means nixing the added sugar, dairy, grains, and legumes, and focusing on lean meat, fish, fruits, and non-starchy veggies. The Paleo Diet is essentially a low carbohydrate high-fat diet (LCHFD).
This diet has been met with mixed reviews, with opponents pointing out that some of the foods our ancestors ate aren’t even around anymore or have changed immensely. Most experts do not agree with the way Paleo cuts out entire food groups, but agrees with the promotion of lean sources of protein, fruits, and vegetables. Proponents of the diet have written testimonies about how Paleo has improved their health.
Some studies have suggested a LCHFD may help promote weight loss and curb type 2 diabetes. Researchers at the University of Melbourne, VIC, conducted a study with prediabetic, obese mice to further investigate. When the mice reached six weeks of age, one group was fed a LCHFD and the other group remained on the standard diet for nine weeks.
After five weeks, the LCHFD mice gained more weight than the standard diet mice, even though this weight gain was not associated with eating more calories. At the end of the nine-week study, the LCHFD mice had lower levels of circulating triglycerides in their blood, which is linked to a lower risk of heart disease. However, the LCHFD appeared to worsen insulin resistance, seen in type 2 diabetes. The researchers said their results do not support using a LCHFD in individuals diagnosed with prediabetes. And, outside of a laboratory research setting, it is almost impossible for people to consume zero carbohydrates.
While this study does not recommend using a LCHFD to help with type II diabetes, there are still parts of this diet we can endorse. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean cuts of meat and fish is a staple of any healthy diet. But don’t forget about low-fat or non-fat dairy, and whole grains—carbohydrates are the main fuel for running.
RUNNER-FRIENDLY, PALEO-STYLE GUIDELINES
Load Up on Veggies
Centre meals around the good stuff by stir-frying, roasting, or tossing together a veggie-packed salad
Go Lean with Protein
Reach for lean sources of protein, such as chicken breast, turkey, fish, nuts, and beans. With running-approved Paleo, beans are always included, especially since beans are a great source of iron and fibre
Fruit makes a great dessert or sweet addition to salads and plain yogurt, without added sugar
Dairy is Not Off-Limits
Dairy is a great source of protein and calcium. Choose low-fat or non-fat options to help keep your kilojoules in check. Life is not as fun without cheese.
Eat whole-grains for a burst of energy and important nutrients, like fibre and B vitamins. As runners, our bodies rely on these complex carbohydrates for fuel during runs, especially the long ones.
Lay Off Franken Food
Cook your own meals instead of relying on packaged or canned versions. By preparing your own food, you are in charge of how much fat, salt, and sugar goes into your body.