Monday, September 21, 2009

Eating Like A Caveman Part II

I first read about the Paleolithic diet back in 2005. In his book "The Paleo Diet for Athletes, the author Loren Cordain states that the Paleo diet will make you fitter and healthier. The author also calculated that Paleo man got 55% of their calories from meat (more protein than what is currently recommended) but the Paleo diet also contains much more fiber, calcium, vitamins, iron, folate and essential fatty acids, but much less sugar, salt and saturated fats than we now get from our current diet. The meat from Paleo man's era were also not burgers or anything like the Atkin's diet.

To the author, grains were the original fast food back then as it is fairly cheap, easily obtained and overly processed (humans first began cultivating grains about 10,000 years ago). Moreover, grains have a lot less nutrients than fresh fruits and vegetables. Since most of our current available grains were only available in the last 10,000 years, our Paleo ancestors ate no bread, pasta, pancakes, kuay tiao, bee hoon or rice as these "modern" grains were not available then. Cordain believes that we live healthiest when we consume a diet similar to what early (or Paleo) man ate as even now our digestive systems are not adapted to process grains properly.

I was rather skeptical upon reading this as I had been brought up on a diet of pasta, bread and rice especially (since I am from Singapore where it's fried rice paradise).

Well, this is what Joel Friel, renown triathlon, multisport and cycling coach who has written "The Training Bible" series of books on cycling, triathlon etc had to say. He first tried the diet to actually proof Cordain wrong. In Friel's first two weeks, he felt terrible but by the third week, he felt strong enough to increase his training by 50% and another 50% on the fourth week and since then he's been a true believer.

Friel explained in great detail on how to get the best carbohydrates before, during and after training or races. He is especially particular about the post exercise or post race period breaking it into 3 separate stages where you eat/ drink fruits and fruit juices to potatoes and sweet potatoes and finally to the last stage where you mix carbs and protein.

According to Cordain, the Paleo diet will likely increase your protein and fat consumption while lowering your carbohydrate intake slightly. But since your carbs are mostly coming from fruits and vegetables, you will have a lot more micronutrients. Protein is from lean meats with low saturated fat levels and from fish (with high levels of healthy omega-3 fats) and fats from canola, walnut and olive oil (which is healthy monosaturated fat).

I feel like having a big greasy burger for lunch after this with my favorite fries especially since I'm no longer racing. But after writing all that, I think maybe I should have steam vegetables instead.....


Loren Codain (2005). The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance. Published by Rodale Inc

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