Paleo Diet & Running

I saw this article posted on facebook from Runner’s World about the Paleo DIET and runners.  Here is the original article.  I suggest reading it before continuing.

Did you read it?  If not here is a brief synopsis: this article is geared specifically towards the Paleo diet and runners.  This is interesting because runners heavily rely on carbohydrates for fuel (as we should), but the paleo plan prohibits a fair amount of carbohydrates such as grains & legumes – both are wonderful sources of complex carbohydrates – which are excellent ways to obtain “fuel” i.e. glucose.  Additionally the Paleo plan prohibits dairy, alcohol, salt, peanuts, potatoes, coffee, cereal grains (so rice, corn, soy beans, quinoa, wheat etc), refined sugars, and vegetable based oils.

The Paleo Plan promotes: grass fed/grass produced meats, fish and seafood, fresh fruits & vegetables, eggs, nuts & seeds, oils and fats like: olive oil, avocados, coconut oil etc.

Ok.  So the the foods we get to keep aren’t bad.

But back to the article – the article cites ultrarunner Timothy Olson, a runner who switched to the “paleo way” he states he experiences less swelling and this recovery time is less.

The article continues on to discuss “Dr.” (he’s Ph.D – I’m just saying) – Cordain (bt-dubs – a majority of the research that “substantiates” the paleo principles (so the articles listed on the “paleo diet” website have “Cordain” names as authors on the studies – conflict of interest much?).

Anyways he states that the foods that are “prohibited” raise your body’s acid levels and leach minerals from your bones.  Cordain also states that grains and legumes are also full of phytates and oxalates and inhibit nutrient absorption, but this point was disputed in the article (by an RD -holla!!)

This is as far as I’m going to summarize the article – I think it was a very good article from Runner’s World.  The Paleo diet is a hot topic right now, as it is perceived as incorporating very healthy foods.

For a majority of this post (my post) I have referred to Paleo as a “diet”, because essentially it meets the criteria of a fad diet – it is not necessarily restrictive in calories, but it is categorizing foods as good and bad, based on unsubstantiated evidence.

The byproduct of paleo and even gluten free diets IS more healthful eating when done appropriately.  BUT THE DIET IS NOT CAUSATIVE of the new found health.  The new found health is typically a byproduct of this eating plan.

For instance, if you go head first into a paleo plan – you can absolutely see negative impacts in your lipid levels and even weight.  Same thing for gluten free – gluten free brownies – are still brownies- and they probably filled with more crap than making brownies from scratch and using (God forbid) white flour (provided you legitimately do not have Celiac Disease or a Gluten Intolerance).

BUT.  These diets both promote an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables – NOT a bad thing.

SO.  My ultimate proposition is: Why can’t we just eat lean proteins, grass produced meats, fish, eggs, appropriate portions of whole grains, and legumes, fruits, vegetables, use the right amounts of oils whether it be coconut, almond, or olive, with a little milk or yogurt?  With the occasional indulgence of frozen yogurt, or cake, beer or wine?

Why do we have to categorize things as good and bad?  True, somethings are more nutritious than other things.  I would venture that elimination of refined and processed foods played a much bigger role in Timothy Olson’s better recovery and performance than by just incorporating more grass fed meats, and coconut oil.

I think the foods that are “allowed” in these diets are given a lot more credit than that fact that when people start following these diets a lot of process and highly refined crap is cut out.

Additionally a lot of claims made by paleo plan are just not substantiated – plain and simple.

Saying sugar and/or salt is toxic.  That completely depends on the context and the dose, the purpose that claim serves is for shock value.  Blaming sugar exclusively for obesity and poor health is just a convenient way to ignore that things like obesity are multi-faceted problems

Saying that dairy intake will make you acidic.  Ok, milk and dairy products to not produce acid as a part of their metabolism.

I also find it laughable – that this whole premise is “eat the way our ancestors did” – ok well I don’t think our ancestors were making paleo pumpkin smoothies they found on pinterest.

And in terms of grains and the phytates claim, as the RD in the article states – nutrient loss is minimal, and additionally phytates can also be found in vegetables.

So my final point is this – WHY OH WHY can’t we just eat healthy?  Why is it over-complicated, or have to be labeled?


At the end of the day these are the things to incorporate daily: lean proteins (beef, chicken, fish, and eggs), dairy if you choose (Greek Yogurt etc), vegetables, fruits, whole grains and complex carbs, nuts, water, herbal tea, sparkling water, wholesome oils (olive, avocado, coconut).  Things to incorporate less often: sweets, beverages with calories, refined goodies like chips, cereals, and crackers, eating away from the home.

And again – portions matter!  So even though I say “incorporate nuts and whole grains”, do so in the right portion.

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