The Paleo diet has taken the fitness industry by storm. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a fitness expert who hasn’t drunk the “Paleo Kool-Aid”.
Is this love affair with Paleo due to its incredible effectiveness? Or is it just another bandwagon that so many people can’t resist jumping on? Read on to find out the truth!
For those of you who don’t know, the Paleo diet is based on the hunter/gatherer style of eating. Put simply, this diet calls for copious amounts of meat and vegetables with a small amount of fruit.
The Paleo diet is essentially a low-carb diet that emphasizes the consumption of whole, natural, and unprocessed foods. Additionally, it requires the omission of dairy, sweeteners, modern oils (such as canola oil), and soy.
Most Paleo practitioners recommend eating only organic produce. They also recommend consuming free-range animals that were never treated with antibiotics or hormones.
The principles of this diet are definitely sound and will benefit those interested in losing fat, controlling blood sugar and blood lipid levels, decreasing systemic inflammation, and improving digestion.
However, the problem (or The Great Hoax) of Paleo dieting does not lie in its principles. The problem is in its application.
You see, lately, many “experts” have been hailing the Paleo diet as the best muscle-building diet since sliced bread. This assertion is simply untrue. Here’s why:
One of the most important components of a good muscle-building diet is carbohydrate intake.
Sorry guys, but a little low glycemic fruit here and there isn’t going to get you jacked.
In order to build muscle effectively, you NEED to eat some carbs. And I don’t care if cavemen ate them or not.
There are two main reasons why carbohydrate intake is critical to building muscle: insulin and glycogen.
Insulin is the most anabolic hormone in the body. Its muscle-building effect comes from the following:
a) Inhibition of excess muscle breakdown
b) Transport of nutrients into muscle cells
c) Synthesis of protein in the muscles
Glycogen, on the other hand, is stored carbohydrates in your muscles (and liver).
Glycogen gives your muscles a readily available source of energy. Your ability to train intensely is directly proportional to the amount of glycogen stored in your body. So fill ’em up!
Additionally, when your glycogen stores are optimal, your muscles appear full. Believe me, this is much better than the “flat and depleted” look that is so common among uninformed, no-carb dieters.
Do I have proof of this? Yes I do! 20 years’ worth, to be exact.
In fact, recently, I had a pair of Paleo practitioners come in to see me for a consultation. They were well read, hard working training partners who were struggling to build muscle.
They couldn’t figure out why they weren’t experiencing better results since their training was dialed in and they were on such a “perfect” diet.
After five minutes of analyzing their journals, I understood why they weren’t experiencing great muscle-building results: they were following a strict Paleo diet.
They were somewhat shocked when I pointed my finger at their diet as the muscle-inhibiting culprit.
They put up a good fight at first, but I was finally able to convince them to include some Paleo “forbidden” foods in their meal plan.
Before long, they started noticeably building muscle and increasing strength. In fact, in just six weeks they gained four and six pounds of muscle respectively and broke PRs!
These results may seem impressive, but the truth is that they were highly predictable.
The point is that if you’ve been eating a low carb diet for a while, adding some carbs into your meal plan could do wonders for your muscle and strength.
So don’t be afraid to consume some forbidden carbohydrates. Regardless of the “prehistoric man” argument, these so-called deadly foods will not kill you. In fact, they will help you build a lot of muscle quickly.
If you follow this simple advice, you won’t be part of the “Pure Paleo” cult. However, perhaps you can start your own cult – one whose members are bigger, stronger, and more muscular. I’ll join that one. Thanks.