The Paleo diet may well be the most popular “fad” diet around these days. We have to use the word fad loosely here, as this so-called fad was likely very similar to the actual diet that cavemen consumed … and it really can’t be a fad if for hundreds of thousands of years the only two options were to eat Paleo or starve, right? To get everyone up to speed, let’s take a quick look at what’s on the menu.
In a nutshell, Paleo consists of all the foods that can be foraged from the land, but absolutely none of the ones that cannot. In other words, we’re talking about plants and animals, or more specifically, meat, fish, eggs, non-starchy vegetables (i.e. broccoli), fruits, seeds, and nuts (nutshells notwithstanding). On the no-no list, there are grains, dairy, starchy vegetables (i.e. potatoes and corn), and obviously any of the obscenities some people call “food.” I’m talking to you Hostess, you tasty devil.
There’s a certain simplicity to eating Paleo that just makes sense: Eat the foods that humans ate for countless generations, foods that were only phased out when the agricultural revolution provided easy access to food and, thereby, extra time to do something other than spend the day tracking a moose so you could feed your tribe! This eating plan also aligns pretty well with what we know about dieting and good health. Overall, when I hear someone say they’re going Paleo, I tell them, “That’s great!” which I never say about any “fad” diet.
Now we know that Paleo is certainly better than the majority of the diets out there. However, any individual can eat Paleo yet still not optimize the diet for their athletic endeavors. What I mean by that is this: Just eating from the Paleo menu is not always good enough — you still need to maintain variety within the context of the diet. In other words, you need to “do it right,” just like anything else in life.
Here’s a hypothetical example. Consider the CrossFit athlete John Smith. John eats Paleo, but he just doesn’t like the taste of meat cooked without butter, so he only eats primarily fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts. However, fish is a little more expensive, so he only eats it for dinner and ends up with an average daily protein intake of 90 grams. Thus, John is meeting the daily minimum requirement for protein according to American guidelines and is still a damn healthy guy.
But John does CrossFit and weighs 190 pounds, so he needs more than the minimum amount of protein to support his activity level. One classic protein study conducted by Dr. Tarnopolsky at McMaster University found that the RDA for protein of about 0.8 grams/kilograms per pound of bodyweight per day was fine for sedentary individuals, but strength athletes had a decrease in muscle recovery processes at that amount. The strength athletes only recovered these processes after nearly doubling their protein intake to 1.4 grams/kilograms per day.
At 1.4 grams/kilogram per day, John needs 120 grams of protein as his minimum, so with the Paleo diet he’s on he’s about 30 grams of protein short for optimizing his recovery, performance and body composition. Remember, this is only the minimum. In a lot of cases, more is not always better, but when it comes to protein, more really is better.
An article recently published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition has found that overfeeding on calories from protein (~800 calories more in the high protein vs. normal protein group), with amounts over five times the RDA, had practically significant improvements in BOTH muscle gain and fat loss, which is pretty amazing with the caloric surplus. As you can see, more protein will only help athletes, but too little protein is absolutely detrimental.
Let’s now refine our example CrossFitter’s diet. After experience lackluster results on his initial Paleo plan, John has learned to season his meat well enough to make it enjoyable to eat, and he has increased his protein intake to an average of 140 grams per day. After reading the above study, he wants to increase his protein intake even higher to 180 grams daily to be certain that he is achieving at least better-than-average recovery. However, John is not sure where to find the time to prepare this extra food, and he would really like to time his protein intake before and after his training.
Unfortunately, the easy, grab-and-go protein sources that would be perfect for John are usually whey or GMO soy proteins that are filled with artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and other non-Paleo ingredients. Instead of these “unclean” products, Paleo athletes can safely choose Paleo-compliant beef and egg protein powders. More work coming from McMaster University published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found 20 grams of egg protein ideal to maximize muscle recovery. What’s more, beef protein also has been shown to have the same robust increase in anabolic activity as other quality proteins, such as whey. Clearly, beef and egg proteins get the job done.
Nowadays, John is taking one serving of MHP’s PALEO Protein before and after his training each day to maximize his muscle gain, fat loss and athletic performance. With PALEO Protein, MHP has provided the #1 answer for Paleo athletes with a combination of carefully sourced non-GMO egg white and hormone-free beef isolate proteins. With PALEO Protein, there will of course be no shortage of protein and amino acids, with 20g of protein per serving. Best of all, unlike other proteins, PALEO Protein has zero artificial sweeteners, lactose, gluten or artificial flavors, keeping it all natural for your unique Paleo needs.
You no longer need to compromise to meet your Paleo diet high-protein needs — all you need is MHP’s PALEO Protein. Get it at the Vitamin Shoppe today.