5 Myths about Paleo and Why they aren’t True

These 5 common misconceptions often cloud people’s judgement about Paleo, so can this primal diet really help you become a better athlete?

Just like any other diet, Paleo has inspired a heated debate throughout public and expert opinion. The discussion is still ongoing as to whether going caveman nutrition-wise is truly healthy, sustainable, and suitable for the 21st century.

While some nutritionists are embracing the idea of following in the dietary footprints of our ancestors and asserting the Palaeolithic diet’s benefits for the 21st-century crowd, those who swear by other eating regimes continue to voice fierce criticism in an attempt to burst the Paleo bubble. The rationale behind the vilification of Paleo rests on five main points, and we will address each of them here in depth.

paleo crossfit diet
Choose wisely

1. THE (LACK OF) SCIENCE BEHIND PALEO

According to some nutrition experts, the caveman diet lacks sufficient scientific evidence to back its beneficial effects. Admittedly, Paleo is a relatively new kid on the dietary block and extensive research into its effects is yet to be carried out, but the few studies conducted so far support the gains served on the Palaeolithic plate. A 2007 study showed that patients diagnosed with heart disease and high blood sugar levels or diabetes type 2:

  • Improved glucose tolerance,
  • Stabilized blood sugar,
  • Reduced waist circumference,
  • Lost more weight,
  • Consumed fewer calories

Following the Paleo agenda, compared to the control group on the Mediterranean diet.

2. WHAT DID GROK EAT, SERIOUSLY?

Paleo critics also often quote a lack of scientific consensus on the list of staples early hominoids feasted on. Grok may not have been so thoughtful as to carve in stone the specifics of his carte du jour as a dietary signpost for generations to come, but we do know that our Palaeolithic ancestor was a scavenger by nutrition.

paleo diet crossfit performance female athlete after barbell lift
Eat well. Train hard. Lift big

Instead of cultivating land, early hominoids gathered food (mostly fruit, plants, roots and eggs), and though we may not be 100% certain exactly what and how they actually hunted throughout the lengthy Palaeolithic era, it is only logical that they did get to taste meat at least once in a while. An average caveman did not have to go wielding spears to sate his carnivorous tooth – he could have just chanced upon an injured animal and used his trusted biface to help the suffering critter meet its creator without further ado.

On top of that, fire and tools became widely available to hominoids in the Middle Palaeolithic, allowing the intrepid ones among our ancestors to engage in recreational game hunting both on ground and in water.

3. WE ARE (NOT) SUPPOSED TO EAT MEAT AT ALL

Some Paleo opponents maintain that various scientific studies have pointed to the unsuitability of carnivorous eating habits for the modern man’s digestive system. The arguments this group of Paleo critics lists seems solid – granted you have little medical education under your belt.

paleo diet male crossfit athlete kettlebell press
Eat paleo: Get primal

The human digestive system has been a matter of analysis ever since the first dice-happy individual figured out they can slice open another being, and after centuries of dissection, surgeons’ views are unanimous. The average Joe and Jane does have the gut for animal protein breakdown. And not only do we have the stomach for Paleo ingredients, but the caveman diet can also help keep our tummies in proper shape as it advocates the avoidance of:

  • Processed foods
  • Artificial ingredients
  • Refined sugar
  • Vegetable oils
  • Alcohol

Glitch-fee gut function translates as overall health, stable energy levels, and improved mood – so going Paleo is neither a dietary throwback nor is it ill-suited for the human gastrointestinal tract: it is in fact a step forward.

4. DIFFERENT TIMES CALL FOR DIFFERENT DIETS – OR DO THEY?

Even the nutritionists sitting on the Paleo fence tend to agree that the world has changed since the Palaeolithic era. Modern times dictate a lifestyle and diet which are poles apart from those of a regular caveman.

Paleo diet nuts, veg peppers
Eat for optimal performance

We do not go chasing around unwary prey – we are usually on the lookout for sedentary (or at least not forage-oriented) jobs; the climate has changed, and for the worse; we have more spare time than Grok and we get to choose when to have the next meal; hunting and fishing can lead to the depletion of natural resources; the list goes on. This all holds water – but it still does not mean that the Paleo diet cannot have its rightful place in the modern era.

Paleo is pretty tenable from the environmental standpoint granted sustainable fishing and hunting, which are already a common practice across the globe. In addition to that, many people are put off from the caveman plate over popular myths and misconceptions, so every critic should do their in-depth research first before they proceed to throw rocks at the Paleo eating system based on hearsay.

5. GOING GRAIN-LESS GOES AGAINST THE GRAIN

Whole grains play an important role in the human diet, and ditching them from the plate is the flipside of the health coin, or so say Paleo antagonists.

Whole grains contain:

  • Fibre
  • Protein
  • Complex carbs

They are also a precious source of micronutrients necessary for a normal physiological and cognitive function, such as:

  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • B-group vitamins
  • Magnesium
  • Folate
  • Antioxidants
Paleo diet crossfit girl on roller mobility work
Work hard in all areas of your fitness

But then again, grains are also high on gluten, and celiac disease and other diet-related immune problems are all too real for an increasing number of people around the globe. Going grain-free is not all hunger and no cookie.

In fact, the no-grain diet can help:

  • Boost your mood
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Oust brain fog
  • Prevent many autoimmune disorders, dementia, seizures, and neurological impairment.

Plus, the grain-free diet is delicious, too, because there are quite a few flour substitutes Paleo eaters can use to make cookies and pastry. Still picking grains? Good luck with that.

The Paleo diet may not be everyone’s all-time dietary favourite, but that still does not give you the right to go on flailing argumentative cudgels without scientific data to back you up. Yes, there are certain risks, and no, shifting to the caveman eating regime is not easy – but do not diss Paleo quoting mere excuses.

After all, it is your life, and you need not justify your nutritional ways to anyone – but at least do Paleo justice and be honest about the real reasons you have not flipped the dietary switch just yet.


paleo crossfit diet © BOXROX

paleo diet crossfit performance female athlete after barbell lift © RX'd Photography

paleo diet male crossfit athlete kettlebell press © RX'd Photography

Paleo diet nuts, veg peppers © BOXROX

Paleo diet crossfit girl on roller mobility work © RX'd Photography

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About The Author

Samantha has a B.Sc. in nutrition, and has spent two years working as a personal trainer. Since then, she has embarked on a mission to conquer the blogosphere. When not in the gym or on the track, you can find her on Twitter, or in a tea shop.

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