Sunday, 27 January 2013

A Paleo philosophy

That’s right, I’m one of those nutrition snobs now.  Until the last few months, I really never gave much thought to my diet.  I figured that since I was not fat and I got exercise often, I could shovel whatever I wanted into in my body and assume that I was a relatively healthy person.  As I come into my own as a maturing human being, one of the things I realize more and more is the way I treat my body.  Your body is a meat vehicle that physically drives you through life, and you only get one.  This summer I had done a lot of thinking about what I actually eat.  My unexpected good results in the Calgary half-marathon last May prompted me to consider a serious venture into a running career.  One of the major aspects of this project that I had to consider, that I had previously neglected was what kinds of food I was using to fuel my body.
One the things that attracted me to long distance running is that it’s the original human exercise.  Our slender, bipedal bodies are designed to run very long distances.  For hundreds of thousands of years our human ancestors hunted large game animals on the plains of Africa by running them to the point of exhaustion.  Humans are the only animal in the world able to run long distances at such high speeds.  It’s likely the reason for many of our uniquely human body features compared to other great apes such as the Achilles tendon and our bald and sweat gland covered skin.  My fascination and emulation with our evolutionary ancestors did not stop at long distance running.

This July, I listened to an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast featuring Robb Wolf who is the author of the book The Paleo Solution.  I was not actively looking for a particular diet but I was immediately drawn to Wolf’s Paleo diet because of the simplicity of its philosophy.  Eat what our bodies are evolved to eat.  Cut out grains, legumes, processed sugar and dairy and eat as much meat, fruit and vegetables as you want.  What really got me intrigued with the diet was his claim that a breakfast of bacon, eggs, fruit and coffee is a healthy way to start the day.  What was really eye opening for me was the science behind Wolf’s ideas.  Many of the things he talked about were things I had not previously thought about like the co-relation of increased corn consumption and increased obesity rates and how nutritionally empty wheat and other grains are for our bodies.  If you think about it, grains, dairy and legumes are a very new addition to our diet, dating only back to the advent of agriculture.  In an evolutionary time scale, that is a tiny fraction for how long anatomically modern humans have existed.  It seems our ability to be extraordinarily clever (and lazy) has come back to bite us on our collective fat asses.  Our bodies are designed to process mainly animal protein, fruits, nuts and vegetables.   There’s a reason that so many people you know have gluten and lactose intolerances.  It’s because our bodies have really no idea what to do with these substances.  Most grains such as wheat need a very high amount of processing in order for them to be even palatable for our stomachs.

I have now followed the paleo-diet more or less (with the exception of beer) for about a month now.  I admit I feel better both mentally and physically than I was the months prior to starting.  My mood has considerably improved, even though my daily routine, environment and living conditions have not changed.  Although I really miss cheese, cookies and a few other things, cutting out the bad stuff in my diet that were staples for me before, was much easier than I thought it would be.

Anyone who is looking to eat healthier, I highly recommend giving the Paleo diet a look.  The Paleo Solution by Robb wolf is a fascinating read and his appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience is definitely worth a listen. 


  1. Good post Scott! But cheese? C'mon!
    Seriously I think there is something to it, but the problem is that most of us don't spent the whole day running after our food.
    We drive to the store; amble around till we find what we want, and then drive home and cook it.
    I run up and down the stairs to my office (at home) but that adds up to 10 minutes a day.
    I suppose I could dust off that treadmill in the corner- ---

  2. True we don't run after our food anymore, but its really not hard to eat properly as well as live a modern life. Most people don't think much of their diets but if you do just a little research and know what to avoid at the grocery store its one of the simplest changes to make. Personally its one of the easiest changes for the better that I have ever made.