Caveman Approved - Page 2
Scientific and Anecdotal Evidence
The Paleo Diet, colloquially referred to as the Caveman Diet was first popularized by gastroenterologist and author of The Stone Age Diet, Walter L. Voegtlin, in the 1970s. Later Dr. Cordain posited our bodies are best adapted to the diet of Paleolithic ancestors' over 10,000 years ago. This translates into a meal plan of organic fruits, vegetables, animal protein and nuts and berries. Foods newer than 10,000 years, such as legumes, dairy, grains and refined sugars, are off the menu.
"While they aren't toxic in the short term, humans won't flourish over a lifetime on a diet comprised primarily of these foods," explains Friel. Of his own Paleo ventures, Friel says, "I was getting more vitamins, minerals and protein in my diet, which enhanced my recovery."
Dr. Cordain has written many scientific papers on the downfalls of the Western diet. "Friel's and my dietary recommendations come from an evolutionary perspective and are consistent with the most recent analyses of the human genome," he says.
Regardless of the genetic and digestive details, some runners say they just feel better on a Paleo diet. When 52-year-old runner Dave Reid, of Toronto, Ontario, failed in numerous weight-loss attempts, he subscribed to the Paleo plan. Reid dropped 20 pounds in two months, and another 15 in the following two years. He says, "I'm now putting in better training than I ever did before."
John Durant, also a runner and the mind behind Hunter-Gatherer.com, a website chronicling the life of a Paleo dieter, says he too feels healthier since starting this ancient diet. "My body just seems to work now," he says.
Friel says the Paleo Diet allows an increase in training load. He credits these adaptations to the boost in micronutrients and protein that the diet offers. In particular, Dr. Cordain points to the high intake of omega-3 fats in the Paleo Diet, which has been shown to have strong cardiovascular benefits.
"Higher protein intake reduces cardiovascular disease risk, promotes bone health and reduces mortality from all causes combined," says Dr. Cordain. "Whereas high-glycemic-index carbs promote metabolic syndrome [a group of metabolic risk factors like abdominal obesity or elevated blood pressure], epithelial [skin] cell cancers, inflammation and numerous other common Western diseases."
Dr. Cordain claims Paleo eating forces the body to transition from burning glycogen to burning fat, which is more efficient because our bodies have limited glycogen stores and days or months worth of fat stores. Says Friel, "There is a limit to how much carbohydrate a runner can process during a race, so if a runner relies to heavily on glucose, they will be forced to slow down in the later stages." However, Glycogen aids high-intensity exercise. "The runner with the most glycogen remaining at the end of a race can run at a greater intensity," says Cordain. For example, when your body relies mainly on fat stores during most of a 20-mile trail race, you will be able to tap into glycogen stores for a solid finishing kick.