it’s so easy, a caveman could do it! thoughts on paleo and intuitive exercise.

So I’ve been reading more on this paleo fad – short for paleolithic diet – and have come across two interesting articles so far. One of which is from the Montgomery Advertiser – Eat like a caveman? and the other from the New York Times – The New Cavemen and the City. The Montgomery Advertiser article gives a good premise of the paleo diet, and the RD in me silently did a happy dance in my head when I saw…numbers! Us RDs secretly – or some of us not so secretly – love love numbers. We love how exact our field can be, for nutrition is a science, don’t you forget. Ohhhhh, baby. Makes me all warm n’ fuzzy inside just thinking about RDAs and serving sizes.

Ahem. Anyway. Paleo recommendations include:

Paleo Recommendations

% of daily calorie intake

Fat: 39%

Carbs: 23%

Protein: 38%

And to compare, the US dietary guidelines:

US Dietary Guidelines

Fat: 20-35%

Carbs: 45-65%

Protein: 10-35%

Those are some significant differences, my friends. In addition, the paleo diet does not include dairy, legumes, or even whole gains. And refined sugars are out of the question. The NY Times article actually goes so far as to refer to those eating paleo as cavemen. Seriously? I think that’s going a little too far. But apparently, there’s a group of people in NYC who actually live out paleo and do things like:

1. Go anywhere from 24-36 hours fasting because that is what our hunter and gatherer ancestors had to do during times when food was scarce

2. Exercise, but not just any exercise. Jumping, squatting, sprinting. Things that our ancestors would have had to do if a saber tooth tiger was hot on their trail.

3. Frequently donating blood. Which is great to do if you’re able to, but these individuals donate since our ancestors may have been up to a pint short of our usual blood volume today due to hardships. Think losing a pint to a wildebeest attack because you were trying to feed your fam. It was a rough life!

 Basic paleo guidelines according to Fitting Back In

Basically, eating paleo seems to be a lot like eating a low-carb diet with additional restrictions. While I agree with eating grass-fed meats if you’re able, increasing the vegetables, nuts, and seeds in your diet, and getting your fill of vegetables, I don’t agree with the total elimination of whole grains and dairy and consuming high fat meats daily. Consuming high amounts of saturated fats over time will only increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other heart-related ailments. I could go on about this – specifically about the saturated fats that are found in coconut milk/oil – but this is for another post unto itself 😉 And while the American diet is pretty grain-heavy, we do benefit from whole grains as a source of energy – though some may be adamant that adequate carbohydrate stores can be acquired through the consumption of enough fruits and vegetables. This may be true, but in my opinion, getting in your carbohydrates from grains like whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, bulgur, and barley is not a bad idea. Especially for those endurance athletes out there burning through miles and miles of energy!

A few things about eating paleo that have struck my fancy: I came across one paleo website that talked a lot about being in tune with your body – one thing that I think is so so important for good health and is often overlooked. Being in tune with your body means eating when you’re hungry. It means listening to your body when you’re exercising. And no, the burn of your muscles is not always a reason to skip your daily bought of physical activity 😉 For me as a runner, this means that I will often revise my run on the fly, AKA literally will revise my workout for the day while I am running. There’s been days where I’ll start a track workout, only to feel sluggish and weak after the first few repeats. This is when I have a heart-to-heart with my bod and come up with a new plan for the day that will maximize how I’m feeling. And yes, sometimes this does mean leaving it on the track and packing my sorry lil boot-ay to the gym to bang out a good weight-lifting and killer ab session instead of mile repeats. When I do this, I always come back the next day feeling stronger and more fit, and ready to tackle that run. Junk miles are eliminated, and I’m left with nothing but a slew of quality workouts, runs, and lifting sessions for the week. And a happier, fitter me.

The trick, however, is that intuitive running – or any form of exercise for that matter – takes time. It takes awhile to know when that twinge in your muscle will benefit from a hard workout sesh or when it’s the warning sign of an injury. So be patient, and enjoy the journey of learning to hear what your body is telling you. And if you want to read a little more about intuitive exercise, take a peek at this post I enjoyed by RD Aaron Flores on intuitive running.

And now, this post has gone from paleo to intuitive exercise, so I apologize for the altered train of thought. Hope that you were able to get at least a little bit of knowledge out of it, however, or had something spark your interest 🙂

On another note…while I was writing this, I got a call back for an interview with a metro Detroit hospital!!!! I really cannot contain my excitement, and I have an interview on Monday, so please, PLEASE if you could, I’d love if anyone out there could send good vibes my way, say a prayer, whatever strikes your fancy. The job hunt has been rough lately, and I was so so excited to get this call just now 🙂