A couple of weeks ago, Nathalia left the following question in the comments of my post:
I’ve begun reading / following a few of the main ancestral health proponents but I must say the more I get into it the more I’m getting confused about paleo vs. primal vs. Whole30 vs. I don’t know what. Would be interested to hear your take on it…. as long as you tell me I can still eat cheese
You might not like the answer, at least where it comes to the cheese. (Fair warning!)
I’ll start off with Primal, and if you’re going to do it properly, you should head over to Mark’s Daily Apple, as Mark Sisson is pretty much the source for the Primal methodology via his book, The Primal Blueprint. I’ve noticed that some people gravitate towards Primal since it is a bit more liberal with certain things, particularly dairy. Ruth broke down some of the differences back in her post from 2010, although there are likely some updates to that topic in the almost four years since it was written. At it’s core, Primal encourages basing your meals around a protein source, lots of vegetables, good fats and adding some fruit and nuts to top things off. It also is based around eliminating grains and sugars.
Paleo has many definitions, depending on who you ask. This is largely why I refrain from using the term, as people have gone too far afield with how they interpret its meaning. At the core, Paleo is based upon the theory that our ancestors did not exhibit many of the modern diseases we now see. From there, it was hypothesized that emulating the eating patterns of our ancestors may alleviate those illnesses. Now you’ve probably heard this before, but this has actually worked for a number of people as anecdotal evidence. There have been some studies to look at various factors of the Paleo diet, such as eliminating gluten, but very few, if any, have focused on having people strictly on a Paleo diet. Boiling it down to the basics, it will sound familiar. Paleo encourages eliminating all grains, dairy and sugars, basing your meals around lean protein sources, lots of vegetables, good fats and adding some fruit and nuts. They also encourage avoiding legumes, which includes beans and peanuts, due to the potentially inflammatory lectins contained within.
There are a few areas where people tend to go wrong with Paleo. One is when they think they need to dress as a caveman, eat their meat raw, or shun utensils. If you think this, please stop. You’re being ridiculous. Another misstep is when people use the argument that anything available to a caveman is therefore fine to eat in unlimited quantity. Keep in mind the avoidance of sugars and quit with the arguments that honey or maple syrup are okay because they’re “natural”! Lastly, and somewhat related, is when they focus on converting desserts and snacks to “Paleo-friendly” recipes. Whole9 had a recent post on their Facebook page to this topic:
…we’re not the only ones who think the widespread focus on Paleo treats does the ancestral health community overall a disservice. People don’t need help making more desserts – they need help making consistent, sweeping changes to their lifestyle that fosters success with their goals, vibrant health and surprising amounts of happiness. If you write a blog or share recipes, we challenge you to write more everyday recipes, publish more tips for shopping or saving food dollars or finding quality animal products in your neighborhood. If there was never another Paleo recipe ever published, there would already be more than you could ever eat in your (healthy) lifetime.
I’ll close by talking about Whole9 and their Whole30 program. Almost a year ago, we at Intrepid decided to become a Whole9 Nutrition Partner. This is because of all the various sources available, Whole9 makes the entire approach to food very comprehensible and easy to implement. We like the Nutrition Guide they put together and we are proud to distribute it to new Intrepids when they have nutrition questions. Last year prior to the Nutrition Challenge, I put on a seminar and we handed out the guide to all attendees. If you’re an Intrepid regular who didn’t get a copy and want one, please let one of the trainers know!
Whole9’s criteria for food is based on whether it meets their 4 Good Food Standards. I’m going to sound like a broken record, but this ends up being based around protein, lots of vegetables, good fats and occasional fruit and nuts. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?
During the Nutrition Challenge, when people told me they were going to follow the Whole30, then transition to Paleo, I wondered if they knew what they were talking about. As you can see, the two should be identical, but maybe they were thinking of a definition of Paleo where honey and maple syrup were allowed?
Speaking of Nutrition Challenges, mark your calendars now. The 2014 Nutrition Challenge will be starting in January 2014. More details to come…
Max Height Box Jump
10 Thrusters (95/65)
10 Hang Power Cleans (95/65)
50m Partner Carry
Athlete does thrusters while partner does hang power cleans. Both will run out to street, perform partner carry 50m, switch and return.