You are a bodybuilder. You’re training for extreme levels of muscle mass while at the same time you are trying to get as lean as possible. So, what’s the best type of diet to get you to your goals? You’ve heard about Paleo and think that it might be the thing to get you there, but you’re not sure if it’s the right fit for a bodybuilder? Perfect – we’ve got the answers you need.
What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo (short for Paleolithic) diet was invented in 1975 by Dr Walter L. Voegtlin. Voetglin was a gastroenterologist who was searching for a dietary treatment for Crohn’s disease. This led him to a study of the eating habits of Paleolithic (early Stone Age) humans. Adopting such a diet cured not only Crohn’s, but also Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Colitis. This led Voegtlin to the view that optimum health can be obtained by returning to the hunter-gatherer diet of our early ancestors. After all, he reasoned, the genetic make-up of humans has remained largely unchanged. For that reason, our eating habits should also be in tune with our paleolithic forebears. In practical terms that means eating a diet high in proteins, fats and low in carbohydrates. The recent surge in popularity of the Paleo diet is the result of two popular books, The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain and The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us About Weight Los, Fitness and Aging by Art De Vany.
The Paleo Diet is also known as The Caveman Diet, The Stone Age Diet and the New Evolutionary Diet. It is a modern day attempt to emulate the eating habits of Paleolithic humans. The Paleolithic period lasted from some 2.5 million years ago until the start of the agricultural age, which began around 8,000 CE. During that period of time people ate what they were able to hunt, kill and gather. That means that their diet was high in . . .
Nuts and seeds
Green leafy vegetables,
The Paleo Diet, then, is composed of a simple maxim:
Eat what our cave dwelling ancestors ate and stay away from what he didn’t eat
That means avoiding as many processed foods as possible. Agriculturally based products should also be kept to a minimum. Cavemen didn’t spend all day preparing foods in the kitchen and neither should you.
How the Paleo Diet Works
The Paleo diet is built around 4 fundamental principles:
The genetic code of humans has remained fundamentally unchanged. Society and environment have changed beyond belief but the nutritional needs of the body haven’t. The modern diet is killing us. We need a return to the basics of our cave dwelling ancestors.
The Plants eaten in Paleolithic times grew naturally in the wild. Their lower glycemic load resulted in reduced negative impact on insulin levels. This meant that the zig- zagging blood sugar levels that lead to energy spikes and crashes today were not known back then.
Meats derived from wild game, were largely free of saturated fats. Today we should source our meats from grass fed rather than grain fed animals. Wild game are preferred over farm animals. The leaner the meat the better.
The plague of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other modern health issues are directly related to agriculture and the processing of foods that are part of our modern lifestyle.
From these fundamental under-pinnings come the following guidelines:
Before you put it in your mouth, ask if a cavemen would have eaten it. If he would chow down. If not, throw it in the garbage.
Find out where your food came from before it arrived in the supermarket. Ideally meat will be from wild animal sources or grass fed animals.
Eat as many fruits and root, water and leafy vegetables as you want. Avoid dried and canned fruits (canned foods didn’t own any can openers!).
Avoid processed foods. You want foods in their simplest, most basic form. Preservatives, flavoring and colorings were unknown in Paleolithic times, so don’t go near them.
No table salt – it’s a post caveman food additive!
You can cook. Yes, cavemen had fire – but they didn’t have convection ovens or microwaves. So, while raw is best, you can cook to a limited degree.
Is It Right For Bodybuilders?
Paleo bodybuilding works very well. It removes starches, along with offending foods, it focuses on whole foods, it reduces sugar, consumes a lot of fruits and vegetables, fibers and carbs and lean, organic proteins. However the Paleo diet for bodybuilders is an extreme diet. You need to work into the diet to be successful. Most bodybuilding paleo diets modify to allow a little starch from good sources of carbohydrates, especially post workout.
The Paleo diet will get you lean. However, you need to ensure that you are taking in enough protein in order to to prevent yourself from also losing muscle tissue. This is another reason to add in more starchy carbs from non-vegetable sources to fuel you through your workouts.
Paleo will also accelerate your lean muscle mass growth. You will be eating pure grass fed proteins, more healthy fats and vegetable based starches. When you eat this way you are sensitizing your body to insulin. This will make your body more sensitive to carbohydrates, meaning that you’ll be able to get leaner quicker over the long haul.
The bottom line is that the Paleo diet, modified to increase post workout carbs, is a smart move for bodybuilders.