The paleo diet is a health and fitness craze that has rocked the fitness platform of America. As an extreme diet, its followers either swoon about it or detest it. Because the paleo diet is a “minimalist diet” that urges the culture of our ancestors, it’s largely followed by men who train in Crossfit and other minimalist, more ancestral work outs, such as barefoot running.
The paleo diet also known as the caveman diet, is defined as the diet in which our ancestors consumed before the Agricultural Revolution. In other words, all processed foods such as grains, dairy and legumes are considered to be genetically modified and are not allowed on the diet. The paleo diet encourages consumption of unlimited meat, seafood, fruits, vegetable and nuts.
However, there are some experts who say the paleo diet or caveman diet might not be a healthy long term diet for women; especially not for women who follow intense workout regimens. Women need a certain amount of calcium to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. Because the paleo diet cuts out dairy, it makes it almost impossible to build bone strength. Also, the diet cuts out a lot of carbs. For runners and other endurance athletes, carbs are important for fueling the body. While fruits and vegetable contain some amounts of carbohydrates, it doesn’t give the body the same amount of energy as whole grains and sports gel packs do.
Some women on cardio regimens have complained about the loss of menstrual cycles. According to an article on paleoforwomen.com, women need to consume carbs to have a menstrual cycle. If women restrict calories and maintain a workout regimen, the body can become fatigued and that combined with continued weight loss, can cause amenorrhea, which is the loss of menstrual cycle. According to the Mayo Clinic, women who are involved in rigorous training, such as ballet, long-distance running or gymnastics, may find their menstrual cycle interrupted. Several factors combine to contribute to the loss of periods in athletes, including low body fat, stress and high energy expenditure.
There are many positive aspects to the caveman diet such as the fact the diet promotes the consumption of eating only “foods you’d find on the outer parameters of a grocery store.” How can you go wrong with eating only fresh foods? You can’t. However, cutting out whole food groups can be dangerous for women who engage in intense work outs. The diet might be better for people who have high cholesterol and need to initially find a better short term diet, but for women who have intense exercise lifestyles, the hunter gatherer approach might not be the healthiest in order to maintain a healthy reproductive system and bone mass. So before you plan to run 15 miles a week while cutting down on whole grains and dairy, consider how your energy levels could be effected. It’s possible to use the paleo diet as a guide for healthier, fresher eating while still maintaining a healthy amount of food from all food groups. For more information on the latest diet trend, go to: http://thepaleodiet.com.